Track & Field Recruitment During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is continually changing the collegiate track and field landscape in more ways than one.  Coaches and athletes are facing unexpected challenges when it comes to training, competition and recruitment. 

We are living in a time of uncertainty; student-athletes around North America and the rest of the world are experiencing different conditions and a vast unknown down new pathways toward the same end goal: signing and competing with a university/college.

Fret not! During this unpredictable time, Streamline Athletes is still here to help student-athletes make confident decisions about their futures. Though the 2020 track and field season hasn’t been what we expected, recruitment is still happening and coaches/athletes need to continue making safe plans for the future. 

Read on to learn more about the current track and field/cross country landscape looks like with COVID-19 causing shifts in recruitment and how Streamline Athletes can support you right now!

In order to understand how recruitment has changed, it is important to start with basic knowledge of what the recruiting process looked like prior to the outbreak of the Coronavirus.

 

RECRUITMENT PRE COVID

The sport of track and field is unique because there is a place for everyone in college track and field/cross country, regardless of the level of an athlete. This makes the recruitment process different for everyone. Moreover, event groups are scouted differently by recruiters and coaches; a shot put thrower, for instance, will have to meet different marks and criteria to that of a sprinter/hurdler. Different programs focus on certain event groups over others or have geographic recruiting preferences, too.  Something that is true for everyone, no matter what event, is that every athlete should be proactive and take charge of their own recruitment journey, no matter their performances. After all, college coaches can’t find every single recruit on their own!

Here is a quick rundown of how the process generally works:

For prospective student-athletes, coaches look towards stats: valid and accurate data/performances, history within the sport, and accessible information (contact info, grades, and test scores); a coach wants to know about your best times and marks, your progression in an event, and if you meet certain academic requirements for university admission. 

Based on this info, coaches will try to reach out to athletes that they think would fit well into their program and team. Recruits can and should reach out to coaches, too! Don’t be shy – take the lead on your own recruitment journey! Coaches are more likely to spend time on a recruit that takes initiative and shows a high level of interest in their school.

After these initial conversations are had, athletes (with the help of coaches and institution representatives) can plan unofficial and official visits to school campuses, continue connecting and learning about athletic/academic programs, and begin making their decisions. 

Once a choice is made and an athlete knows where they want to go, conversations will progress with the coaching staff, the prospective student-athlete will sign a letter of intent, and rest is history! 

 

RULES & DEFINITIONS:

There are no restrictions on athletes requesting or receiving admissions materials and brochures, researching universities, and touring campuses in their own time; but, a college coach can not contact a prospective high school student-athlete by phone, email, or other mode of communication until June 15th before their grade 11 year of high school. (Athletes, if you decide to enroll in grade 13, coaches can start contacting you in both grade 11 and 12). 

Athletes: Keep in mind that when you feel ready, you can reach out to coaches too! On StreamlineAthletes.com student-athletes have the ability to contact any coach they want with the simple click of a button.

Definitions 

Official Visit: 

  • ON-CAMPUS: When a prospective student-athlete is invited and given financial assistance in order to visit a school campus by an institution representative
  • OFF-CAMPUS: When a prospective student-athlete is given financial assistance in order to meet with an institution representative at an off-campus location

Unofficial Visit

  • ON-CAMPUS: When a prospective student-athlete visits a school but the entirety of the trip is funded by the recruit and their family
  • OFF-CAMPUS: When a prospective student-athlete meets an institution representative at an off-campus location but the entity of the trip is funded by the recruit and their family

Letter on Intent

  • A document used to indicate a student-athletes commitment to a college/university
  • Student-athletes don’t have to sign a letter of intent, but many student-athletes do because it brings closure to the recruiting process

 

Association Rules

In the NCAA D-I, schools, off-campus contact, official visits, and unofficial visits are allowed starting August 1st before an athlete’s grade 11 year. Recruits can still visit campuses in their own time, before their grade 11 year, but they just can’t meet with coaches. 

In the NCAA D-II, athletes can take an unlimited amount of unofficial visits, make phone calls and reach out to college coaches. Just remember coaches can’t respond until June 15th before grade 11.

In the NCAA D-III, there are little to no restrictions, meaning that coaches can contact potential recruits at any time and vice versa. One restriction put in place is that official visits are only permitted starting on January 1st of grade 11 in high school.

In the NAIA, there is more leniency and coaches can contact athletes freely. The NAIA does not regulate the contact between coach and high school student-athletes. While the NAIA national office does not recognize a letter of intent, a school or conference might do as part of their own rules; however, the NAIA does regulate campus visits.

In U SPORTS, prospective student-athletes may be contacted at any point during the year with no age restriction and partake in official/unofficial visits at any time.

 

RECRUITMENT DURING/POST COVID

So, how have things changed?

Keep in mind everything is subject to further change as the state of the pandemic is constantly developing. Timing of when track and field will return back to normal is determined by local, state, provincial and national governing bodies.

A major change to note is that recruiting is happening largely online. This means coach and athlete meetings are happening over Zoom, students are participating in virtual tours and, since the majority of competitions are cancelled, time trials are being used to demonstrate fitness and replicate races. Coaches are still very much interested in performances and academics; however, now they have to evaluate other factors and take into consideration what the absence of a season means for athletes.

Here is the latest from the North American Collegiate Landscape:

 

CANADA

U SPORTS

    • There is an extended moratorium (temporary ban) on all in-person recruiting including: all in-person recruiting visits, all scheduling and rescheduling of any future in-person recruiting, all travel arrangements
    • Recruitment can be done by phone call, text message, social media, email, or other non-person mode of communication

 

  • Note: U SPORTS has cancelled 2020 Fall Term National Championships, including Cross-Country

 

 

USA

NCAA

    • NCAA D-I extended the suspension of all in-person recruiting through to August 31st 2020
    • NCAA D-II extended its quiet period of recruiting through to August 31st 2020. In-person recruiting is allowed on campus
    • NCAA D-III has not made any major announcements; however, Streamline Athletes have been in touch with D-III coaches, which have said they are going ahead with in-person campus visits. If there is a specific school you are interested in, directly reach out to a program/coach for their own recruiting plans

 

  • Note: All NCAA divisions have granted an additional season/semester of eligibility for senior students and the NCAA cancelled all 2020 Spring and Winter sports

 

NAIA

  • The NAIA has chosen to postpone the majority of NAIA National Championships to the spring season, giving conferences a chance to determine when to conduct their regular-season contests throughout the year
  • Note: The NAIA has granted an additional season/semester of eligibility for senior students
  • CLICK HERE FOR MORE NAIA UPDATES

 

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR ONTARIO ATHLETES/RECRUITS

There is a lot of adaptation going on. Since the primary chunk of the 2020 track and field season was cancelled and limited meets are popping up throughout the summer, athletic performances from the 2019 season are being prioritized. 

It is important to know that certain coaches will be more considerate when looking at your potential than others – they are aware that a whole season of competition was missed. What it means to be a recruitable athlete has shifted and if you are doing time trials, documenting training, and remaining active, it is a telltale sign that you are committed to improving and dedicated to the sport. Coaches will love it and appreciate the effort!

Since recruitment is based on data (performances, grades, etc.), this new means of data collection (time trials, videos, etc.) will be a part of the information coaches will use to make decisions. As a result, having recent time trials could help your chances and give coaches something more concrete to work with than last year’s performances.

Now more than ever, it is important to build a recruiting profile and continue to manage it as you move along the recruitment process. With Streamline Athletes you have access to your own free profile, where you can browse colleges/universities, contact coaches, and get recruited!

 

Streamline Athletes is happy to help you with your own journey towards collegiate athletics. They are the only free-to-use recruitment platform dedicated to track and field/cross country. Email them at info@streamlineathletes.com if you have any questions about finding your way to college/university or head here for more info!

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