I get it. There is a lot going on. College coaches across the country are trying everything they can do to simulate as much of a visit as they can, without actually having the athlete on a visit. Of course, the athlete can still come on a visit if the school is allowing academic visits to campus, but not all are and so coaches are doing probably what they are all best at and adapting to the situation. Zoom calls with the team, professors, academic advisors and of course the online campus tour, all seem to be staples in the pandemic world of recruiting.
Athletes are still visiting campus though. On their own dime and without interacting with the college coaches. Even now that D2 schools are back to a normal recruiting schedule (while D1 is still on a Dead-Period) it can still be a struggle to get passed protocols and be able to interact on campus with coaches and players. It is possible to get pretty close to good-old campus visit (yes I called it old) but I don't think it's the same thing.
We've lost the face to face interaction; we don't get to spend all day with recruits; they don't get to watch us coach or train the team; we don't get to ask them questions and engage at a more human level; they don't get to really hang-out with the team; we don't get to sit down for a meal with the family; we don't get to walk around campus together, sharing stories and insight into the future; we don't get to show athletes where there future volleyball home will be.
We've lost a lot.
As we slip further and further into uncharted territory, I worry that the importance of the campus visit might go away entirely. There certainly is a growing precedent for this. So far we've seen - offers only lasting for 24 hours; only offering athletes that are willing to commit WITHOUT taking a visit; I've seen both athletes and coaches put the other in a position to make or receive an offer without coming on a visit. Kudos to those coaches and athletes that are waiting until the dead period is over before making a decision; and I also say kudos to those coaches that lasted as long as they could before they started making offers to athletes without coming on a visit, even though that was always a part of their process.
How long would I have held out for?
As we plunge deeper into this cave of the unknown, I really hope we are able to crawl back out again. In a year from now are we going to be back to sticking to our guns and the important parts of the recruiting process? Are we going to have athletes out on a visit before we offer them? Or will this trend continue and will athletes stand outside our campuses and wait for an offer before they enter?
I always thought that the campus visit was the MOST IMPORTANT part of the recruiting process for athletes and I'm going to keep thinking that. As college coaches, we almost all think "If I can just get them on campus..."
Right now the campus visit doesn't seem to be that important. With everything going on and the adaptation that college coaches have made in many ways is the next best thing. But I hope we don't have to stay with the next best thing for too long. I want athletes and coaches to get back all of those pieces about the visit that made it so special and so important.
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