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The future of athletic scholarships during COVID

High school seniors are staying motivated, waiting for colleges to call.

MINNEAPOLIS — Student athletes vying for college scholarships have a lot on their mind right now. With sports at college and the high school level moving seasons, cutting back or even being postponing game play, it leaves a lot of question as to the viability of an athletic future for students. 

It’s tough enough to earn an athletic scholarship, now imagine you’re a high school senior as COVID-19 causes havoc. 

When the pandemic struck, sports were put on indefinite hold. Eden Prairie Football coach Michael Grant admits no one, at any level, really knew what was going on. There was very little communication between college and high school programs, “I guess the best word is confusion.”

Then it turned into a dead period where no college coaches were visiting high schools because there was nothing going on. However, Dan Johnson the District Director of Student Activities at Hopkins Public Schools, says as of September 1 high school campuses are fair game. “They can start to get back out and onto high school campus if there’s a fall league going on or a club season going on…they’ll be able to get out and see some of those kids again.”

Just because colleges are looking at high schools again doesn’t mean there isn’t concern among senior athletes. Traditional fall sports like volleyball and football have been moved to spring.

Football coach Grant thinks the delay could have an impact on college programs signing players, “I haven’t heard the NCAA is going to switch their signing date of December 1. I think it makes it really hard on them evaluating kids.”

Performance as a senior can be the catalyst for recruitment, and with fewer in-person visits coaches and athletes are getting creative. Grant is putting together different recruiting packages so colleges get the information they need to evaluate the kids, “We care about these kids and we care about their future so when they come in we have to think of ways to … how we can help them get noticed. If you have the talent, these colleges are going to find you. We just have to do it a different way now.”

All the while, Johnson truly believes high school athletes are staying motivated in the gym, on the field and on the court, knowing college scholarships will still be up for grabs in one form or another, “The cycle will continue in athletics forever because as students graduate or they age out of the program or they injure out of the program or whatever their situation is we need to refill those teams.”