ROCHESTER, NY – Just as most individuals have had to make adjustments in their everyday lives during a pandemic, coaches at RIT have had to make changes in all aspects of their job, including recruiting. The coaching staff have had to get creative and come up with new ideas in all facets of recruiting future RIT student-athletes.
RIT admissions is hosting potential students for on-campus visits and tours. Families may contact the admissions office and set up a private on-campus tour following all COVID-19 protocols for social distancing.
“We can have prospective student-athletes visit campus, which has been incredibly helpful,” said RIT women’s lacrosse coach Erin Wagner. “Recruits are encouraged to register for a tour through the Admissions Office where they will go through symptom screening prior to campus tours.”
While on campus, recruits and their families can meet with the coach, following the same social-distancing and masking protocols.
With a lack of in-person contact with potential student-athletes, coaches have relied upon texting, emailing or FaceTiming recruits to stay in contact. “I have found myself FaceTiming recruits a lot more,” said RIT Women’s Basketball Coach and Senior Woman Administrator Amy Reed. “They actually prefer it, and you get that “face-to-face” interaction in the best way you can. I also text with them quite regularly.”
During the summer months many coaches will travel to watch potential recruits at various camps, summer-league games and showcases. However, RIT currently has enacted a freeze on all official travel, so all off-campus recruiting has been on hold since last spring, which means that recruiting has shifted primarily to an online/virtual setting.
Reed explained that many events were streamed, allowing her a chance to watch recruits from afar. “There are still AAU events being held, and a lot of those events were streamed live,” explained Reed. “The organizers knew most colleges weren’t permitting coaches to do in-person recruiting at this time.”
“I have not done any in-person recruiting since January,” said Wagner. “This summer and fall, I have been doing evaluations based on highlight videos and game film from tournaments.”
“We have been limited to highlight videos and any live-play video that is offered at the different events, said RIT Men’s Lacrosse Coach Jake Coon. “Many events have setup some sort of video but they don’t capture everything. We also use club and high school recommendations as a really important part of the process right now.”
With on-campus visits and travel curtailed, RIT coaches have had to get creative in their recruiting. Coach Reed sends recruits a video highlighting the reasons why a potential student-athlete should come to RIT. Wagner is planning a virtual “Junior Day” for her 2022 recruits.
Could the travel and in-person restrictions have a lasting effect on recruiting? “Depending on how long the restrictions last, it could start to affect the class of 2022,” said Coon. “We usually try to transition over to evaluating recruits in the fall, and as of right now we cannot. Because of this, next summer will be extremely important to catch up on evaluations and visits.”
“I think we can certainly recruit virtually as a supplementary way to extend our outreach and cast a wider net,” said Reed. “I do enjoy attending events in-person. I do not think that should end. You can see things in person that you wouldn’t normally catch on video. However, I think a combination of in person and remote is the future of recruiting.”