Canceled: Potential recruits stay on top of their game despite losing spring season

With the spring travel and AAU seasons being canceled, many athletes were forced to change their expectations of what the season would entail.

These cancellations have caused drastic changes to an athlete’s college recruiting process, as athletes now must primarily rely on communication rather than being able to demonstrate their athletic abilities at tournaments.

For athletes, the spring and summer seasons of junior year are the most important in the recruitment process because athletes attend showcases to capture the attention of college coaches. Additionally, student-athletes are able to visit different schools and programs in person. With in-person showcases on hold, both athletes and coaches have had to find new ways to stay in touch with their teams and coaches.

Junior Abby Alter plays on a travel soccer team, which has found different ways to continue their training while at home. Her team utilizes two different apps, one that gives them different soccer drills to do and another that gives them weightlifting and running workouts. In addition to using these apps, her team also has biweekly Zoom calls.

In one meeting, they watch films from different soccer games and complete a written assignment based on the footage they saw. In the other, they discuss the college process and how to reach out to different coaches via email.

Tryouts for some AAU basketball teams were planned to take place in March, but many were canceled due to the coronavirus. Junior Jake Rulnick was disappointed about the cancellation of his AAU season. Without having access to a gym and weekly practices, Rulnick has had to resort to practicing in his driveway and doing workouts from Power Train gym through the Team Buildr app.

“This is the most important time for college basketball recruiting, so it is really unfortunate that it looks like there will not be any showcases or camps for the foreseeable future,” Rulnick said. “I have really tried to get in touch with coaches via email, text or phone call, which is really the only thing I can do right now.”

Athletic Director Becky Silberman believes that the role of a coach is more important now than ever.

“We [coaches] have to talk up our athletes and be able to describe what they are like without having these college coaches see them play,” Silberman said.

According to Silberman, the cancellation of the spring, and, possibly, summer sports seasons have had dire financial repercussions at both the high school and collegiate level. Many AAU and travel organizations have gone out of business because they are no longer receiving revenue. The nation’s three major credit rating firms have said the NCAA and college athletics programs have lost about 475 million dollars with the cancellation of March Madness and other significant collegiate athletic events, which may force colleges to cut some of their smaller athletic programs.

One prominent soccer league, U.S. Soccer Development Academy (DA), recently filed for bankruptcy and shut down. In response to the closure of DA, Major League Soccer (MLS) created a new youth league for soccer players who had played for the DA. The new league is made up mostly of MLS clubs, but a few DA select teams were chosen for the league as well.

Sophomore Juliano Perczek played for the DA, so his team had no league to play in after the DA shut down. Luckily, Perczek’s team, the Baltimore Armour, was chosen by the MLS to be one of the few teams from the DA given the opportunity to compete in the new league.

“I am very excited to get back and field and start preparing for the new league as it will be very difficult to compete [in],” Perczek said.

Since the league is made up mostly of MLS teams, the competition will be at a much higher level than what the Baltimore Armour had previously faced. By participating in a more competitive league run by the MLS, Perczek will have more exposure to college scouts and will have the opportunity to be noticed by an international audience.   

“This is a very positive thing for my soccer career because this will open up opportunities both domestically and internationally,” Perczek said.

This story was featured in The Lion’s Tale’s June 2020 magazine.