How high school athletes can adapt to recruiting challenges amid COVID-19 crisis

The coronavirus pandemic is changing the future for athletes across the country, including high school students looking to get recruited by college sports programs.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The novel coronavirus pandemic has changed lives, but it is also changing the future for high school athletes across the country, especially in how college recruiting is done.

COVID-19 has emptied venues everywhere and high school athletes might feel the virus is threatening their future as much as their lives.

Malachi Nelson should be facing his teammates in spring football at Los Alamitos, but instead he disinfects his hands and throws against air with his private coaches. College coaches should be meeting with high school athletes now, but the coronavirus requires separation, which means the high school athlete should start recruiting the college.

"If you have to reach out to those coaches on your phone, do things like that to get yourself out there because at this point you don't really have another choice and you kind of have to think outside of the box and do things you normally wouldn't do," Nelson said.

The kids most directly impacted are high school juniors who compete in spring sports like track because their season was wiped out and by the time they compete in their senior year, chances are they've already chosen a college.

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"The kids are stressed," said Sherman Oaks Notre Dame head track coach Joe McNab. "Their parents are probably stressed, especially for the junior parents. I'm stressed, coaching them trying to get them places they want to be. It creates a little more anxiety than we are all used to."

It's important to remember the NCAA is considering changes to allow some student athletes to regain lost eligibility. How that affects students in high school is uncertain, but it's possible rules might change to help high school kids as well.

"Hopefully next year things change a little for the kids who will be seniors because they didn't have a chance to make mark." McNab said. "But hopefully colleges can take that into consideration."

Jason David is the founder of Stars in Anaheim and works with Malachi and other athletes at all levels. His advice is for the student and the athlete is to remain positive and don't dwell on being at home, take advantage of being at home and focus on what you need to improve on.

"The stress is going be felt from all athletes and really not just from athletes, but from students as well," David said. "You're in the same boat as the kid from Florida or the kid that's in Texas."

Remember it's a new process for college recruiters like Patrick Corrigan as well. While coaches might not be able to see a player in person, social media is an avenue that is not only commonplace, it's a necessity.

"Make sure their Twitter has their highlight tape and their information because a lot of recruiting goes on Twitter," Corrigan said. "Make sure you talk to your high school coach and your travel ball coach and make sure they're reaching out to schools for you."

"Because of technology we're able to communicate with these coaches and they're adjusting like we are," Stars coach Chris Flores said.

The coronavirus pandemic will end and stadiums will be filled again, but for the young student athlete, it's important not to idly wait for that day to come.
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