Rio Americano High School
During+the+spring+sports+season%2C+the+baseball+field+is+usually+occupied+by+players%2C+coaches%2C+and+fans+during+games+and+practices.+However%2C+it+has+remained+largely+unused+since+the+halt+of+prep+sports+at+the+onset+of+the+pandemic+last+year.

Photo By Katelyn Newton

During the spring sports season, the baseball field is usually occupied by players, coaches, and fans during games and practices. However, it has remained largely unused since the halt of prep sports at the onset of the pandemic last year.

Virtual recruitment delays commitment, creates difficulties for baseball players

February 4, 2021

With the coronavirus pandemic shutting down in-person recruiting for many states, modified NCAA protocols are leaving high school athletes with limited recruitment opportunities. 

In October of 2020, the NCAA announced that it would be granting an extra year of eligibility to winter sports athletes at Division I, DII, and DIII schools, a decision severely impacting the recruiting process of high school athletes. 

Shortly after, the NCAA made another key announcement: an extension to the Dead Period for D1 sports through Apr. 15, 2021, meaning athletes are prohibited from going on official visits to schools and talking to coaches in person. 

For athletes in the class of 2021, these regulations have posed unforeseen challenges in the recruiting process. While they would normally be attending tournaments and visiting schools this time of year, instead athletes are creating highlight videos and sending out emails in an attempt to draw the attention of college coaches. 

Despite these difficulties, athletes in the class of 2021 are making the most of any opportunity they have to take their sport to the next level.

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Nolan Barry makes most of limited college showcases

Senior+Nolan+Barry+plays+catcher+for+the+Varsity+boys+baseball+team%2C+and+hopes+to+compete+in+college.

Senior Nolan Barry plays catcher for the Varsity boys baseball team, and hopes to compete in college.

Nolan Barry, a senior, is a catcher on the varsity baseball team hoping to play at a D1 or D2 college. When athletic activities were put on pause due to the pandemic, Barry, like other athletes, found himself uncertain of what was to come.

After having his junior season canceled right as it was underway, Barry was disappointed, however, he remained optimistic about opportunities to showcase his skills over the summer. When summer came around and the NCAA announced its first extension of the Dead Period through Sept. 30, Barry had no opportunities to play in front of college scouts and coaches.

However, towards the middle of fall and early winter, Barry came across a couple of opportunities to take the field.

“Since the beginning of school, I have been lucky enough to go to 2 or 3 showcases,” said Barry. “One of those showcases helped me get in contact with Chico State, which is the main college I’m pursuing as of now.”

Though Barry was able to visit Chico State easily due to its close proximity to Sacramento, he was unable to meet the baseball coach in person due to the extended NCAA Dead Period.

“I visited the Chico campus on my own, but everything recruiting-related has been over the phone,” said Barry. 

When asked about challenges in the recruiting process caused by the pandemic, Barry cited the modified NCAA protocols as a key factor.

“One big problem many athletes including myself are facing is that all the college athletes from 2020 and even this year in 2021 will be given back an extra year or two of NCAA eligibility so that almost doubles the competition for any high school athlete to get playing opportunities,” said Barry. “Had COVID not have happened, I believe I would have been committed by now.”

As Barry continues his talks with Chico State and keeps his eyes open for other schools, he continues putting in the work to ensure that he’s ready to take the field next year regardless of where he may be.

“Thankfully, I’ve been able to still workout and find places to do hitting and skill work,” Barry said. “I train at Hyperthrive Athletics 5 days a week in a small group and masks are mandatory. When I go hit, it’s usually only with 2-5 people and we all wear masks.”

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Elijah Rogalski uses technology to get step up in recruiting

Senior+Elijah+Rogalski+practices+his+swing+at+Hyperthrive+Athletics%2C+a+gym+near+Sacramento+State.

Senior Elijah Rogalski practices his swing at Hyperthrive Athletics, a gym near Sacramento State.

Elijah Rogalski, also a senior on the varsity baseball team, has modified his approach to getting recruited in hopes of taking his game to the next level. Rogalski, who is a pitcher and shortstop, has offers from San Diego Christian and Arizona Christian, both D1 schools in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), as well as an offer from Ottawa University Surprise in Arizona.

Rogalski has taken advantage of the fact that many coaches have resulted to using online platforms such as Hudl and other sites to recruit players and has compiled clips of his own for coaches to see.

“I created a website that has videos of me hitting and fielding and I email the link to coaches at different colleges,” said Rogalski. “If the coach likes me, they will normally reach out over email or text and take it from there.”

Rogalski, like other seniors, saw his opportunity to be scouted in live games taken away due to the pandemic and the extended Dead Period.

“It’s unfortunate because some of the schools that I was really interested in couldn’t come to watch me play,” said Rogalski.

With offers already on the table, Rogalski is remaining as flexible as possible in his next steps.

“I don’t really have a dream school in mind, I just want to take my game to the next level,” Rogalski said. “I’m keeping all of my options open.”

Rogalski is keeping his skills in check in anticipation of playing collegiate baseball next year by training at Hyperthrive Athletics, where he participates in a mixture of weight training as well as pitching and fielding drills.

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