During the pandemic, athletes never stopped training, so the recruiting process had to adjust to a new normal amid the restricitions
Graphic by Esra Rakab, production Coordinator
Throughout the pandemic, many students had to go through many new experiences in their everyday school life, from remote learning to digital club experiences and much more. Above all else, student-athletes have possibly seen the most change in their school lives, as not only was their regular season cancelled, but their practices had to become something completely new to make sure they continued training and got better.
One of the biggest adjustments that new athletes have seen during the pandemic is the altered recruitment process. In typical years, coaches would have meetings with potential recruits, show them the campus, have them join the team for practice and whatever else they feel is necessary to help improve their odds of landing more talent.
However, this year, the recruitment process bore no resemblance to the past.
Matthew Rugosi — a new commit to the McMaster men’s volleyball team — discussed the process that he experienced and some major differences from what he originally expected.
“It was definitely different than what I was expecting . . . My brother went through the same recruitment process [years earlier] and he got to visit the McMaster campus and talk to the coach and practice with the team,” said Rugosi.
As Rugosi discussed the experiences and interactions he had and the recruitment process he was put through, the student-athlete expressed that he originally expected a campus tour with the head coach and an opportunity to practice with the team — but unfortunately received none of the above.
“I had to figure it out on my own and see how I like the campus. Before COVID, I was talking to [head coach] Dave Preston and he had me come to one of the games so I could see the game live. That was probably the most interaction I got in person with them,” explained Rugosi.
Rugosi missed out on many typical aspects of the recruitment process. For many athletes, it is a once-in-a-lifetime event to be recruited by university teams. To miss out on all the enjoyable parts of the process is devastating. From understanding what a typical practice looks like, to exploring the campus and figuring out the general vibe that a school holds, all these aspects play a big role in the recruitment of an athlete.
Rugosi was fortunate to have some level of familiarity with the team given that he had an older brother who was rostered, but even then the interactions he had were limited, forcing him a difficult time selecting a school. For Rugosi, it came down to head coach Preston.
Rugosi remarks that Preston being a main factor on why he chose McMaster was because he really cares about his players and appreciated his coaching style.
“Another reason why I chose McMaster is because Dave Preston went out of the box and wished me a happy birthday, which none of the other coaches did. I thought that was something really cool and unique,” said Rugosi.
In a year with limited interactions, anything personable can go a long way, and clearly, in this instance, it made a big difference. Recruitment processes are very different than ever before, so every move is vital for schools in their efforts to get the best talent on their team rosters.