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Coaches turn to alternative recruiting methods during pandemic

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Noelle Blumel
Staff Writer

Aside from figuring out how to keep players in shape for next season, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused University of La Verne coaches to adapt to a new process of one of the most important parts of their job: recruiting.

With sports seasons halted and in-person visits off the table, coaches must find new ways to see if potential recruits meet their criteria.

Jeff Hendershot, women’s volleyball head coach, said phone calls and Zoom meetings have become essential tools in helping him adapt to the new recruiting process.

“I’m making additional phone calls to high school coaches and club coaches to get their opinion on the intangibles of the athlete,” Hendershot said. “I think one advantage is it has made me really sharpen my delivery and ability to communicate what we do here at La Verne and why our school is a destination for recruits.”

Hendershot added that his goal is to get enough athletes in this recruiting class to increase the competition level in the gym during volleyball practices.

Chris Krich, football head coach, said his goal in recruiting is to find prospects that would not only be a great fit for the University, but make an impact on and off the field as well.

“The biggest struggle is not being able to have campus visits due to the campus being closed to non-essential personnel,” Krich said. “So it affects a prospect’s ability to see and experience the campus. However, our new approach is to individually FaceTime with a prospect and increase communication with the high school and junior college coaches to determine if a prospect is going to be a fit.”

Luckily for Hendershot and Krich, women’s volleyball and football are fall sports, so their seasons were not cut short. But for spring sports, the recruitment process gets a little bit trickier.

On March 13, the NCAA released a statement granting an extra year of eligibility to all spring sport athletes whose seasons ended earlier than expected due to the pandemic. This means that next year’s recruiting class will be freshmen along with this year’s current freshmen.

Scott Winterburn, baseball head coach, said it has been very different for him and his assistant coaches since they put face-to-face interaction as a priority in their recruiting process.

“We’re on the phone in communication with our recruiting base and also keeping in mind that next year is going to be a lot different, more than ever,” Winterburn said. “It’s still going to be different no matter what happens just because of the sheer number of freshmen that we’re going to have on campus.”

Softball head coach Dennis Blas said his biggest struggle is the recruits on “the bubble.” He said these are potential recruits that the coaching staff is still considering, but are not sure if La Verne is their final pick.

He said that video is a great way to see a player’s ability, but watching them live is something he holds as a priority and has had to adjust to due to the current circumstances.

“Luckily we already have our recruiting class of 2020 done,” Blas said. “So for the class I’m recruiting now, we are staying in touch with their coaches, but you can only take it with a grain of salt.”

Blass added that he thinks his team will be ready in the fall after taking this downtime to stay well rested and come back refreshed.

Noelle Blumel can be reached at noelle.blumel@laverne.edu.

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