Soccer player DeMott and golfer Reis navigate the altered terrain of athletic recruiting

Every year, college sports teams look at the most talented high school athletes in the country and try to recruit them. Many high school athletes, especially seniors, give it their all to make a lasting impression on coaches of the most competitive teams. Colleges give athletes the platform for potential athletic and academic success at a higher level, which is what many young athletes dream of. Recruiters make that dream a reality.That was before doing things in person became… complicated, and next to impossible in most cases. The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the landscape of everything, including sports. Seasons have been delayed or shortened. Practices and seasons have even been cancelled, but some athletes have found a bit of luck.
“I have been practicing,” senior and golfer Connor Reis said. “The course I’ve been practicing at is the only one that’s been open in Southern California during the whole shutdown, so I’m very lucky with that. Other than that, I’ve basically been practicing every day.”
Reis has gotten scholarship offers by many schools across the country, including the University of Minnesota, St. Mary’s College of California, the University of Wisconsin, CSU Long Beach, and the University of Colorado. The pandemic has hardly impacted his collegiate golf aspirations. But for others, practices during the pandemic are far from normal.
“We’re actually socially distanced still, so we’re not able to touch anyone at training,” senior and soccer player Jared DeMott said. “We walk in and we wear a mask for training, and then once we start training, we’re able to take the mask off and then just do drills that require social distancing”
A great deal of universities have already expressed interest in DeMott as a soccer player, including San Diego State, Point Loma, Cal State San Marcos, CSU Chico, and Dartmouth University. He’s still in talks with other schools, so more scholarship offers may be on the table for DeMott.
Currently, NCAA recruiting is in a dead period, meaning there are no in-person interactions between prospective athletes and coaches allowed. Despite that, DeMott manages to work with the situation and elevate his profile for colleges to see.
“We’ve actually gone to Arizona to play because we’re allowed to play there since they’re in a different phase than California is,” DeMott said. “Basically, all those games are recorded, then I make a highlight tape from each game and I send it out to coaches. That’s my way of showing them my style of play for the time being.”
On September 16th, the NCAA extended the dead period to January 1st. In a dead period, student athletes can still call, text, email, or DM coaches, but that is as far as contact goes between athletes and the colleges trying to recruit them. Reis has had some luck on his side, with the fact that recruiting for golf relies entirely on the analytics.
Both have kept themselves safe, with personal responsibility and team mandates allowing them to keep going strong for their senior year. However, with the current death toll passing the 200,000 mark and high number of cases at the moment, one cannot be entirely certain that things will return to normal in time for their respective seasons. Seven months have passed since much of the US first went into lockdown and there is a possibility that it could continue for the rest of the school year. With that in mind, both Reis and DeMott have plans as to what they will do if school should remain closed for the remainder of the year
“I’ll probably attend one of the schools that I’m talking to right now,” DeMott said. “Depending on finances, since colleges can’t really offer that much money right now, I’ll end up going somewhere that’s able to work something out down the road. It’s choosing the best situation for myself, for soccer, and obviously for academics.”
“For golf, they kind of started up,” Reis said. “If you look at the trend, if it doesn’t spike or anything, the college I’m looking at has already played a couple of tournaments, so when I get there for freshman year, hopefully they’re still playing tournaments. If not, I’ll still go there and they still practice a lot, so I’ll register there my freshman year.”
The school on the top of DeMott’s list at the moment is Point Loma University and for Reis, it is St. Mary’s. Nothing is settled just yet for either Reis or DeMott and they are still open to further scholarship offers from more schools. For now, Reis, DeMott, and all the athletes who are on the cusp of receiving athletic scholarships or support can only stay safe and keep going strong.