SALINAS, Calif. (KION) The coronavirus pandemic has made it challenging for high school student athletes. With limited competition and restricted travel for recruiters, student athletes are struggling to demonstrate their skills.
Corrine Sargenti, senior at Notre Dame High School. She began playing softball at the age of 10 and typically practices every day. She saw softball as an opportunity to get recognized by a college and
receive scholarships. The pandemic made her realize, she had to take a step back and look into schools that align more with her academic pursuits, said Sargenti
“COVID has definitely impacted it for me personally, the recruiting side
took a really big hit with the pandemic,” said Sargenti. “I essentially lost connection with some of the coaches I was talking to. It was hard for a little bit and you realized okay well maybe this dream isn’t going to happen.”
Aaliyah Huihui Martinez is also a senior and plays volleyball. She began to play at the age of 9. When she first stepped foot onto the court she realized she wanted to play professionally and Follow her mom's footsteps and play for the University of Hawaii.
“You know going from talking to colleges and coaches to them saying, oh our seniors are coming back,” said Martinez. “We don’t have a roster opening for you but, we would hope you find a college for you. It’s devastating because I put all this handwork.”
But just like high school seniors, juniors are also feeling their chances of playing college sports slipping away. Madison Kirk plays Lacrosse and in her freshman year of high school she told herself she was willing to go to any college as long as she was able to play. She feels like the option to pursue both athletics and academics has been taken away without her having any control over her future, she said.
“I feel torn, I feel like my heart was torn in two,” said Kirk. “I love this sport so much and then you watch something get taken away from you that you’ve worked so hard for and that really hurts.”
Many high school athletes are having to keep their options open when it
comes to colleges. Victoria Rey began to play softball when she was 6. Softball is her passion but with COVID she doesn’t have any particular college in mind anymore, she said.
“We have live streams so that colleges can watch us,” said Rey. “We use our social media. I use twittering I make sure to put videos of me practicing working out, clips from my games. Just so I can have more colleges look at me. It’s definitely a new for having colleges to see me.”
Despite many students facing the similar challenge, there are some who are
able to secure a spot. Samantha Rocha is also a junior and plays softball.
She says she has been active by reaching out to coaches and sending out
reels. Her work paid off after receiving an offer to play for Chico State.
But she says the recruitment process was still difficult to manage.
“It was more stressful having to balance everything and wondering, is this
college looking at me,” said Rocha. “Are they interested, are they not? Because there is only limited interaction you can have with them.”
California State University Monterey Bay Athletics Director, Kirby Garry said the NCAA has a logjam of student athletes with some athletes debating whether to extend their graduation time. This means fewer roster spots and scholarships. But according to Garry, coaches are continuing to interact with potential recruits behind a screen via email or zoom. He encourages student athletes to not give up, be proactive and remain patient.
“I know coaches really like to see in person full game footage, but I think if there's any way to get coach's attention, video clips,” said Garry. “Everybody has a camera in their hand these days with phones. Any ability to show themselves off, to get awareness exposure, I would
encourage it for sure.”