SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – For high school lacrosse athletes interested in playing at the collegiate level, the summer before their junior year is one of the most important of their career. The reason being that September 1st marks the first allowable day for coaches to contact these rising juniors.
Players train all year so that during the summer, they can participate in tournaments and showcase their talent to college coaches who come from all over the nation to watch them play. This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, many summer tournaments were canceled.
Like many others, Emma Dempsey, a high school junior and long-time lacrosse player, admitted that at first, the news about tournament cancelations scared her. Dempsey and many of her teammates feared they would not be seen by college coaches, thus affecting their likelihood of recruitment.
The Syracuse-based travel team that Dempsey plays for, Orange Crush Lacrosse Club, has only one remaining scheduled tournament for the summer.
To make matters worse, college coaches are not allowed to attend summer tournaments in person this year because of COVID-19. This means that college coaches will have to rely primarily on emails, highlight reels, and transcripts that potential recruits send.
This new way of recruiting is scary for the coaches, too, since the highlight reels that players send only showcase their best moments. Through videos only, college coaches do not get to see a true representation of who the players really are, on the field or off of it.
Dempsey explained that the restrictions put on college coaches heightened her fear of missing out on the chance to be recruited.
“I might not get looked at as much. It might just fly by,” she said. “I might not get as many chances as other girls might have in the future so that made me a little more upset about it.”
However, while many high school athletes remain discouraged since the tournament cancelations, Dempsey instead changed her mindset. She now uses the disappointing news to motivate her, and views the extra practice time as an opportunity to get better.
Dempsey has been running every day to maintain her fitness. She said it is important to stay active during the pandemic “so when you go back on the fields, coaches realize that you did work at home while all this [the pandemic] was going on.”
Dempsey has also been lucky to be surrounded by a strong support system of individuals who give her sound advice. Her Orange Crush coaches encourage her to be proactive in emailing college coaches and introducing herself. This method of communication has become increasingly important now that college coaches can’t see Dempsey play in person. When Dempsey isn’t busy improving her endurance, she is sending college coaches her highlight reels and transcripts to ensure she is on their radar.
Dempsey’s parents have also served as a lifeline and have been there to reassure her.
Her mother said, “As soon as this [COVID-19] is over, we can go on regular campus tours…that you may be interested in.”
Until then, Dempsey will be taking virtual tours of campuses to narrow down her search.