COVID and college: How student athletes are losing their chance at recruitment

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Seth Clausen

After COVID-19 ruined some high school seasons, student athletes are trying to make up for lost time in hopes of getting an athletic scholarship.

Lily Barrett, Student Life Editor

While COVID-19 has changed the lives of countless Americans, it has also altered the Class of 2021 athletes’ future plans. In the United States, roughly 7% of high school athletes go on to play sports in college. With COVID-19 ruining some athlete’s seasons, this number may be expected to drop.

The idea of playing a sport in college is many high school athletes’ dream. However, when the pandemic shut down schools across the United States in March, spring athletes lost their seasons. This left girls golf, trap-shooting and girls and boys soccer, track and field and tennis without a season and extremely disappointed.

PV soccer player Anna Kunau was fully prepared for her junior year season. She played on the junior varsity (JV) team her freshman year and worked her way to varsity by junior year, following a season-ending injury her sophomore year. 

She hoped to attract attention from coaches and recruiters for a future in college soccer, but COVID-19 had other plans for her season. “I prepared with months of physical therapy and training. Before my junior season, I was in the best shape in a long time. I was ready to give a fighting shot for a starting spot,” Kunau stated.

For athletes who wish to pursue their sport post-high school, junior year is incredibly essential for recruitment. Usually, recruiting classes fill up before senior year, so it can be difficult going into senior year seasons without knowing about possible college chances an athlete has.

Senior Seth Clausen recently signed to the University of Minnesota after being on the PV baseball team for four years. “Many coaches wait to see you in person before giving you a roster spot,” he stated. “Without having a season that becomes much more difficult for athletes.” 

Kunau agreed with Clausen. “The problem is I have no film to show coaches. The last time I played with the PV soccer team was freshman year, and then I was on JV, which is not filmed,” she stated. “Coaches need to see you play and that is very difficult when I don’t have any film. And when the season was canceled, it made it even harder for me to play in college if coaches can’t see me play.”

Luckily, COVID-19 didn’t ruin the baseball team’s chance at a season this summer. “We were fortunate to be in Iowa, it was the only state in the US to play their high school baseball season this last year,” Clausen mentioned. “So win or lose, we were all grateful for having the opportunity to play, especially those trying to get recruited.” 

After a fall season with no state-wide restrictions, Governor Kim Reynolds has implemented a new plan to slow the rise of COVID-19 cases in Iowa. A mask mandate and limited attendance to events still allows student athletes to participate in their sport, but limits the traditional feeling they would have playing a game in front of a crowd. For many seniors, their last season will be played in front of a smaller crowd made up of solely parents and family due to the two spectator rule.

Despite the unfortunate circumstances, many high school athletes are hopeful to make the most out of their seasons.