Committed Athletes and Recruiting During COVID

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Ethan Smith ’21 scans over the field during his final season at Hollis-Brookline. Smith will play soccer next year at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Smith is “Ready to go” on playing at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts next year.

Joseph O’Reilly, Staff Writer

 Committed Athletes find a silver lining amidst COVID concerns and overcome covid difficulties to find their dream schools to continue playing the sports they love. Although 2021 has been a rough year for many athletes in High School and college, these athletes fought those challenges and overcame them. Hollis-Brookline will have around ten athletes playing in college next year. It has not been the easiest of routes to be recruited during the pandemic, but these individuals found a way in the end. 

Ethan Smith ‘21, who has committed to Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) to play soccer for the class of 2025, gave insight to why it was hard getting a perfect fit during Covid-19 “not being able to tour/visit a lot of the colleges I was looking at in Mass. Leaving me to talk with a majority of coaches over the phone,” said Smith.

As many athletes looked into colleges, more schools that lived in higher populated cities or states took hits as they had tougher Covid restrictions compared to others. This made it a  massive challenge for students to tour urban colleges. Smith committed in November of 2021 and was able to tour the campus before making his verbal commitment. Captain on the HBHS Lacrosse Team,  Hunter Hudzik ‘21,committed to King’s College back in September.. The main factor in their decisions was making connections with the coaches and players currently on the rosters.

 Hudzik said Kings was the best fit for him, because “I could really envision myself doing well in his system and it helps when they believe in you just as much as you believe in yourself.” Smith, agreed. “I had a chance to meet a few of my teammates that were freshmen this fall when I toured the campus. They gave me a good insight on MCLA and the many benefits and opportunities the college has to offer,” said Smith. 

Upon other struggles they had when they reached out to the school’s, Smith told us that the  “Biggest thing that I did during the covid pandemic to be recruited was staying active on all of my recruiting websites and lining up phone calls with college coaches. Having my profile viewed while sitting at the ease of my home kept me confident in the whole process.” Recruiting websites like Hudl, SportsRecruits, and even Youtube are very helpful because it just takes the click of a button and a coach’s interest in a potential athlete skyrockets.

 Hudzik had a more difficult time with covid struggles. “I had to adjust from physically visiting campuses and all of their facilities to drive through tours and online tours as well. This adjustment is especially important for a potential student athlete because the athletic facilities are where you will spend a lot of time, and not being able to get an actual feel of them was difficult for us all, coaches included,” said Hudzik. 

He added that recruitment was tough. “Since there were limited recruiting events it was really up to the players to get your names out to specific schools that you wanted to play for.” Covid-19 had shut down Hudzik’s junior season and early summer club season’s recruitment. 

As we are about a year past the initiation of when quarantine and masks started, the spread has slowed down and campus visits for nearly all colleges have reopened, However, the overall lockdowns made this past year a weird year for student-athletes looking to play in college. As a result of the protocols, it could promote a lot of problems in the future because kids never got the full aspects of recruitment such as in person tours, overnights, or having coaches physically watch your games. 

Scott Walsh ‘21 committed back in Sep. of 2020 to Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, being 1 of 3 men’s lacrosse commits in HB’s senior lacrosse class, and one of six lacrosse players who have verbally committed on both men’s and women’s sides since August. Walsh, who is a goalie on the HB lacrosse team and captain, had an easier route as he was more interested in solely Saint Joseph’s of Maine the whole time. 

 Why St Joseph’s? “The biggest factor for choosing Saint Joseph’s was that the coach was a very nice guy and he really cared more about our grades more than our skill because he was a teacher.” This quote is a huge aspect of being a student-athlete is the student part, because grades come before sports” Walsh said.

Hudzik, spoke to the importance of finding a good school education wise as well. “ I’m most looking forward to studying subjects that fully interest me and are chosen by me. I’m starting out as a Physician Assistant major but I’m also looking at civil engineering which the school offers as well.” The challenge of not only getting on campus, and getting the attention of college coaches were not the only hard aspects, but not having to visit schools and see the classes or labs they would study in was another difficult challenge. 

Through grit and resilience, HB athletes were able to find the school that fits best for them academically and athletically during the duration of the pandemic. We are so excited to see what they can be able to accomplish on the field/court and in the classroom over the next four years!