These times have affected all kinds of athletes. As a high school athlete, how can you adapt to the situation and make the most out of your college recruiting?


In these uncertain times, many things are just simply not going to be the same for a while. This includes athletes, who are definitely having to adapt to the new challenges that COVID-19 has made for college recruiting. Every high school athlete is uncertain with what is to come, and the NCAA extending the D1 dead period until April 15th, 2021, has just made everything even harder. 

For those who are currently seniors, many have already verbally committed or even signed the NLI if their sport fell under the November 11th national signing day. However, it is still not too late for seniors who haven’t found a school yet. For those who are still searching, it is very important to keep an open mind to all divisions and all schools, as there is always a place if one is proactive enough. Be realistic, dig deep for what fits you academically and athletically, and reach out to those coaches as soon as possible, as for the Class of 2021, spots are filling up in lots of schools daily. If you feel it is safe enough, play as many tournaments as you can and attend showcases in order to get noticed by more schools. If you aren’t comfortable with that, then be sure to send videos of you playing your sport to coaches at schools you are interested in. 

It is still quite early for juniors to verbally commit to schools, but it is still one of the most important years for recruiting as you are searching for the perfect fit and building up your rankings and ratings in order to stand out to schools. If you do not feel safe traveling and playing tournaments, that is OK, but be sure to film and put together a college recruiting video of you playing. It doesn’t have to be super fancy, it can be just as simple as a friendly match in a park. Take virtual visits of the schools you are interested in through the college’s virtual tours, YouTube, and Google Maps to help you get a good idea of how the school looks. And, if the college is close enough to your house, you can even just walk through the campus alone with your parents to get a feel for what the campus is like. Although these visits can’t beat a true official visit, it is still important to make the most out of the situation. And, since you can’t meet the team in person, the coach will most likely have you meet them over a Zoom call so you can get somewhat a feel for the team environment. Also, academically, prepare for the SAT/ACT and take it in the spring if you haven’t taken it yet. 

For sophomores, it is important to prepare for the junior year recruiting and make a list of schools you are interested in. If you feel comfortable traveling, play as many tournaments as you can in order to build up your ranking and rating. Train hard and improve your game. Personally, I feel that my sophomore year was key to building up my recruiting resume, and despite some injuries, I still played a lot of tournaments and did well in most of them. Some sports, including tennis, start their recruiting period on June 15th after sophomore year, which is when coaches can start talking to recruits. 

In freshman year, it is important to start building up a good GPA, and get good grades as all the classes that you take in high school count towards your GPA. If you blow your freshman year with bad grades, you may end up having to work really hard in your sophomore-senior year to fix your GPA, which will add a lot of stress. If you don’t have a good GPA, it is very hard to get recruited as you are less likely to get into the colleges that you want to play for. You cannot play for a college if you do not get accepted into the school. In sports, just focus on improving your game to be the best that it can be.

I was one of those athletes who had to quickly adapt to such changes. But, I was still able to find the perfect college fit for me, despite the new challenges. When the pandemic hit, I was in the spring of my junior year of high school, which is usually the peak recruiting time for tennis players. With tournaments getting cancelled and the NCAA dead period, college recruiting became a lot harder. On top of that, the NCAA also granted seniors an extra year of eligibility, college tennis programs started to get cut due to financial issues, and as a result the college athlete transfer portal became bigger than ever. Suddenly, I couldn’t play tournaments, and my college “visits” were now over Zoom, YouTube, and Google Maps. To make the most out of the situation, I had to be more proactive by reaching out to coaches in order to know how COVID affected the spots available for the Class of 2021. I also had to send videos of me playing, and even used my Twitter account to post some of my tennis videos. In fact, the pandemic actually gave me a lot of time to sit back and really think about what I was truly wanting and looking for in a college, and what my priorities were. Eventually, when the time came to make a decision, I knew which school was the best fit for me after doing extensive research. In August I verbally committed to play D1 tennis at UAB (University of Alabama Birmingham), and a few weeks ago I signed the NLI! 

  Speaking of signing the NLI, for those of you who have already done so, congrats! It is definitely a major reliever knowing that all your hard work has paid off and that you can continue your passion going into college! But don’t get too relieved, keep working hard to improve your game so you come ready and better than ever when you start playing college sports! 

Despite the many challenges COVID has thrown at everyone, us athletes have learned how to be resilient, adapt to the situation, and make the most out of it!