Student-athletes in Nassau County will miss out on playing sports this fall, after school officials announced that the fall season would be canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
With sports eliminated this year, high-school seniors are concerned that it will be incredibly hard to get scholarships for college sports, since scouts will not be able to make it to games to seek out the best players. Because New York shut down last spring as it grappled with containing the virus, students haven’t been able to train either.
“We were hit very hard,” said Jim Petricca, the director of athletics, physical education and health for Herricks Public Schools in New Hyde Park, Long Island. “The other warmer climate states had more of an opportunity to be outside and train. Our kids couldn’t do that. Some gyms in the West opened up outside and used parking lots to train, but we didn’t have that option here in New York,” he said.
The most likely course of action for student-athletes is for them to make videos of their past seasons, said Petricca, who typically has scouts recruit football and basketball players during the fall season.
“What some parents are doing is taking game film from through the years and putting together a highlight reel,” he said, adding that coaches then can communicate with the recruiting colleges about the student-athlete’s performance.
Larry Perrin, the national director of football for the National Scouting Report, a resource that connects student-athletes with college scholarship opportunities, said, “It’s very uneven, these kids not getting to play are losing out on opportunities. If they don’t get this season to film, then they are at an extra disadvantage.”
Claire Galante, a senior at Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, was hoping to get scouted for golf. She said that she’s definitely at a disadvantage for getting into her dream college. “I was hoping to get scouted this summer, but most of my tournaments got canceled for golf because of quarantine. But I’ve been going to whatever tournaments I can,” she said.
Petricca said some tournaments were held over the summer that college coaches attended, in order to see some student-athletes play.
The tournament that Galante participated in, a junior PGA tournament, had to adhere to guidelines mandated by the State Education Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the tournament’s website.
The inevitable contact between players and the potential for infection is why school officials canceled the season, said John Fechtmann, the director of athletics at Kellenberg Memorial High School. “By no means is this going to be something that resembles a normal season. The building has to be closed at 4 p.m. every day to be disinfected,” he said.
Michaela Hall, another Kellenberg Memorial senior, competes in the winter season on the diving team, but isn’t too concerned about the current state of scouting.
“A lot of the recruitment process takes place through emails with the coaches and a video you put together of your dives,” she said. “I think the colleges are trying to stay on top of it and keeping the process as fair as possible because of the circumstances.”
Beyond scouting is the effect the pandemic could have on scholarship money offered by universities, said Petricca. “If college students play less than 14 games, the current seniors can get an extra year,” he said, adding that such a decision could have a ripple effect on high school student-athletes. Since college players had their seasons cut, some before they had the chance to play in games, the seniors can play for another year, and the current high school seniors who will be incoming freshmen will miss out, he said.
“There is a general lack of knowing if colleges will even have funding to fully fund their scholarships,” said Perrin.