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College soccer is in their vision, but pandemic interrupts the recruitment process

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Evan Hannibal has focused on playing soccer at the collegiate level since the beginning of his freshman year of high school. He ramped up his recruiting process this past January and received interest from Division I coaches. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic brought his dreams to a near halt, as it has done to so many in the world.



a man holding a football ball: St. John's Prep senior Owen Siewert had his eyes on attending recruiting showcases this past summer, but because of the pandemic, those events were pushed to 2021.


© Barry Chin/Globe Staff
St. John’s Prep senior Owen Siewert had his eyes on attending recruiting showcases this past summer, but because of the pandemic, those events were pushed to 2021.

“It’s out of my hands, it got taken away from me,” said Hannibal, now a senior at St. John’s Prep. “It’s heartbreaking, you know?”

When the pandemic upended American life in March, the NCAA instituted a recruiting dead period — coaches were forbidden from going to see athletes in person, but they could still communicate with them. The NCAA has since announced that this policy has been extended at least through the end of 2020.

The result is countless high school athletes unsure if college coaches will be able to see them play, or if there will even be slots available on college rosters.

Hannibal said it’s good to be able to communicate with coaches, but there’s no substitute for being seen in-game.

“I was really banking on this spring and this fall to get seen and get in front of these college coaches,” said Hannibal, a 5-foot-10-inch forward from Ipswich. “Unfortunately, that hasn’t really been the case. I’ve been home a lot of the time.”

The ban on college coach visits isn’t the only obstacle for collegiate hopefuls. High school coaches say the drastic rule changes meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among players have made it hard for players to showcase their talents on film.

“If college coaches