Getting Recruited Looks Drastically Different In 2020
Despite the new realities COVID-19 has brought about, several club softball teams around the country went ahead with their summer schedules and played softball over the past couple months.
With protocols in place, club softball has looked different for much of the summer, but has still allowed aspiring college softball players to compete and be seen virtually by college softball coaches.
While the game of softball has remained the same, how it feels to play and watch the sport has certainly changed at the club level this summer.
"Playing with the COVID-19 protocols has been a little different in each place I have played," Abby Schaub, an incoming first-year college softball player at George Washington University, told Softball America about her club softball experience this summer. "One thing I have noticed is that a lot of tournaments give you games back to back in order to limit the time each team is in a given facility."
Along with the differences in game schedules this summer, other changes have also been made at the club softball level. Several players confirmed with Softball America that most tournaments they’ve participated in have provided game balls to each team to be in charge of throughout their respective tournaments. When a ball goes out of play, it is often immediately disinfected. Then, after each team is done in a dugout, the field crew or coaches are tasked with disinfecting dugouts and benches. To boot, no shaking of hands takes place after games at most tournaments around the country.
"Playing with the protocols in place is definitely different than usual," Schaub added. "But it gives me a sense of normalcy after having been off the field for a couple months prior to summer ball."
While Schaub had already committed to play college softball before the pandemic broke out, countless other players around the country have had to rely on digital recruiting this summer in order to get seen by college coaches. That has, understandably, caused some anxiety for prospective recruits and their families, especially for those within the 2022 and 2023 recruiting classes who are unable to communicate with coaches until September 1 of their junior year in high school.
With the recruiting dead period recently extended to Aug. 31, in-person contact with recruits and off-campus recruiting became prohibited for college softball coaches, thus forcing club teams to use companies like AthletesGoLive to give their players visibility to college coaches during their games this summer. Additionally, players have relied on the opportunity their social media accounts have given them to market themselves in front of a large audience of onlooking college coaches.
"I am continuing to control what I can control by working hard to get stronger and faster and posting my workouts on Twitter in hopes that coaches are noticing," Gracyn Hyatt, an uncommitted 2022 middle infielder, told Softball America. "I do feel like my options have been limited, though, because I’ve only had so many opportunities to showcase for coaches."
And though trying to get recruited to play college softball undoubtedly looks a lot different in 2020 than it has in previous years, several players are still grateful for the opportunity that digital recruiting has provided them to attempt to get recruited by college coaches this summer and live out their softball dreams at the collegiate level in the future.
"I think online recruiting has been a challenge for everyone involved," Abigail Madden, an uncommitted 2021 catcher/outfielder, told Softball America. "However, I am just very thankful that I am still able to have coaches see me play. The goal remains the same, but the pathway to get there just looks a little bit different."