Almost the entire sports world was effectively shut down for almost a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With a few exceptions in the professional leagues and some college conferences, most fall sports like Football, Basketball, Women’s Volleyball and Soccer were left without a season this year.
For student-athletes at Fullerton College, that meant uncertainty of what the future of athletic recruiting might be.
For those looking to transfer to a four-year school, there are no longer the benefits of recruiting visits or camps, and in addition a lost season and nothing on film to show potentially interested schools.
This has forced student-athletes to get creative and make tough decisions regarding their future playing career.
What made things even more disheartening for Hornet athletes was that other community colleges across the country were able to have a season, depending on their respective state’s restrictions.
Former Hornet star basketball players Luka Gelb and Devin Howlin made the tough decisions to compete at other community colleges in Illinois and Arkansas respectively where they were able to earn scholarships.
Gelb, Howlin and other players found it difficult to leave the Hornets basketball team, but they were left with few options.
“Coach Webster is one of the best coaches in the country, and I wouldn’t have wanted to leave if not for the canceled season,” Gelb said
Gelb and other players had to get creative in order to be noticed by other schools. He was able to draw attention to his talent through social media, specifically Twitter.
“[Getting an opportunity to play this season] was only possible because I composed a highlight video from [Fullerton College 2019-2020] season and tweeted it out to several coaches via Twitter and ended up getting and accepting a scholarship,” Gelb explained.
Most coaches and players are adapting much as Luka did.
With the NCAA’s suspension of all in-person recruiting until April 15, 2021, much of the college recruitment process is done digitally through Zoom meetings or over the phone.
As more coaches are stuck in their offices and student-athletes relegated to finding anywhere to showcase themselves, an online presence is more important than ever.
According to Next College Student Athlete, which is a for-profit organization that connects middle and high school student-athletes with college coaches, college coaches viewed NCSA recruiting profiles over 10 million times in 2019.
Student-athletes now must be proactive and advertise themselves in order to get the most attention and opportunities for success.
Along with recruiting issues, student-athletes are also having to make tough decisions regarding their future.
The lack of a fall sports season this year affected many athletes who played secondary roles on the team in past years and expected to get their shot as starters this year.
“It forced us to decide on waiting another year and potentially receiving a basketball scholarship or to just give up basketball and either get a job or apply to a school as a regular student,” Gelb said.
The postponement of the season also creates a recruiting issue because the pool of prospects grows while the amount of scholarships available remains the same.
“The pool of players four-year schools get to choose from is four times bigger than it has ever been. You have high school players [graduating in 2020 and 2021], [community college] players [graduating in 2020 and 2021] looking for a spot and all the players that played this season for their year back,” Gelb explained.
The canceled fall sports season due to the pandemic created a new challenge for recruiting at the community college level.
Athletes like Luka Gelb and Devin Howlin will have to continue to promote themselves and network with coaches and scouts at the next level in order to pursue their academic and athletic goals at the next level.