Bridgewater, Va. – On March 11, 2020, Bridgewater College students, coaches and staff received word that would change the entire landscape of the 2020 Academic year. All classes would go online to a virtual model. There would also be no sports, as ODAC cancelled all conference play.
With the loss of the college season also came the cancellation of high school level sports.
High school sports being paused put college coaches in an unfamiliar place as they would eventually lose in-person recruiting for most of the summer.
The college did not allow coaches to resume in-person recruiting until July.
Because coaches were not allowed to recruit off-campus during the spring, most resorted to watching videos of recruits. Men’s and women’s tennis coach Jordan Robinson was one of those coaches who had to rely on video.
“I usually go to the state championships every year and at least get to see some players even if they aren’t initially interested in BC but with the loss of high school sports that wasn’t possible,” Robinson said.
Robinson revealed that there are two student athletes on his team he still has not had the chance to see play in person and that this fall will be his first chance to do so.
Head Baseball Coach Ben Spotts voiced some of the same experiences as Robinson as he too was forced to recruit in an unorthodox way.
“We used streaming services we purchased or that were provided to watch events that were still going on,” said Spotts.
Spotts mentioned that the program was eventually able to go out and recruit in-person in July in the state. Recruiting efforts were allowed to venture beyond the Commonwealth in late July.
The Eagles baseball program also landed a local transfer over the summer. The team picked up a player that was playing in the nearby Rockingham County Baseball League.
”Anytime you have a chance to see a player play that has an interest in your program, no matter if they’re a high school player or in this case a transfer, we’re definitely going to pursue it,” Spotts said about the RCBL player.
Spotts noted that RCBL was an effective recruiting tool in the absence of high school baseball.
Head Men’s Basketball Coach Steve Enright had much of the same to say about how he and his staff are adapting their recruiting methods during the pandemic.
“There’s a lot of tape out there you gotta get through and watch,” Enright said.
Unlike Robinson, Enright and Spotts have been able to make recruiting trips this summer. Enright was able to travel to South Carolina on Sep. 3, 2020; this trip, and every other, must be approved by the college.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have altered the way that college sports recruiting happens; however, coaches now know what technology is offered to them to make engaging with potential athletes possible.