Recruiting During A Pandemic

Modern challenges prompt coaches to embrace virtual meetings with open arms, or screens.

Over the last few months, the world was taken over by a respiratory virus called COVID-19. This virus has affected just under 30 million people worldwide and has killed 931,000 people. It has turned the world upside down and has turned normal life into something very different now.

The virus hit the United States in mid to late March of 2020, and it has been here ever since. It has caused many businesses to close, not just temporarily, but permanently for some of the smaller ones. Everyone is required to wear a mask while maintaining a distance of six feet from others. The CDC, or the Centers for Disease Control is calling for “social distancing.” All of these rules are required, however most people do not follow them.

In March, all sports at all three levels of the NCAA were canceled until next season. This put a damper on all athlete’s seasons, but it also put all coaches recruiting processes in a tough spot. The virus caused coaches to no longer be able to meet with high school athletes in person to try and recruit them. With this inconvenience, the NCAA extended the “dead period” because of the impact of the virus. During this time, the emergence of video conferencing apps such as “Zoom” and “Microsoft Teams” took center stage as the new leading tool, for now in college recruiting.

At Waynesburg University, Microsoft Teams has been the most used app when it comes to recruiting.

The Waynesburg women’s basketball team has been using Microsoft Teams since the end of March. They have not only used it for recruiting, but also keeping in touch with current players. 

“Microsoft Teams has been such a big tool for us,” said Waynesburg Head Women’s Basketball Coach Sam Jones. “We use it to check in with our current athletes, whether it was checking in on how their workouts were going, or just in general to check in on how they are doing.” 

The women’s team has also used it for recruiting purposes as a bridge between new style and old school recruiting.

“I use this app to talk to recruits, this virus has brought us new tactics and also old tactics such as talking on the phone, it brought a new aspect to recruiting.” Said Jones.

The Waynesburg softball team is also using Microsoft Teams. It has grown their recruiting greatly, helping them talk to more recruits than ever before. 

“This year due to this virus it put a hold on our in-person recruiting, but teams have allowed us to get out to more recruits than ever before,” said Waynesburg Head Softball Coach, Brett Shimek. “I like this app a lot, I also think that it has caused recruiting to evolve more than it ever has.”

With cross country and track and field, it has helped keep athletes up to date with what is going on with each team. It has helped with recruiting for them as well. 

“Teams have helped us a lot, it keeps us in touch with our athletes,” said Cross Country Coach and Interim Track and Field Coach, Chris Hardie. 

“This has helped every coach here at Waynesburg with recruiting because, at this level, in-person recruiting is key for us. Not having that right now, teams give us the next best thing and that is great for all of us.”