College coaches are used to familiar ways of doing things when it come to recruiting potential student-athletes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected forced cancellations of collegiate winter and spring sports and postponements of professional sports leagues.
“It’s affected a lot,” Nanooks hockey head coach Erik Largen said by phone Tuesday.
On March 13, the NCAA banned in-person recruiting for Division I programs until April 15.
UAF has four NCAA Division I sports — men’s hockey, coed rifle and men’s and women’s Nordic skiing — and six Division II sports — women’s and men’s basketball, women’s volleyball, women’s swimming and men’s and women’s cross-country running.
“Really, we’re just only able to contact recruits. There’s no in-person evaluations, there’s no in-person communications,” Largen said.
It also means that currently there’s no campus visits, which can be a critical element of recruiting.
“A lot of times, we’ll bring up kids after the season,” said Largen, “and then for our staff, we’ll be able to go and watch the end-of-the-year (postseason tournaments) for all these different junior hockey leagues.
“It’s (COVID-19) definitely put a halt, a slowdown into recruiting.”
Before the cancellations, head coach Kerri Nakamoto and assistant coach Jessie Craig, of the UAF women’s basketball team, were on the road scouting potential recruits at junior college postseason tournaments
“We didn’t get to see a lot of kids in the spring that we normally would just with everything shutting down so early,” Nakamoto said by phone Wednesday.
Last week, the NJCAA, the national governing body of athletics at two-year colleges, canceled the remainder of its winter sports season and its entire spring sports season because of concerns about the spread of the virus.
The NJCAA’s action came not long after the NCAA did likewise for Division I, II and III winter and spring sports.
“We’re still trying to reach out,” Nakamoto said “We had some visits planned and things, but obviously we can’t do those now.
“We’re trying to figure out a virtual way to do that stuff.”
The virtual method would be similar to a FaceTime or Skype conversation.
“Be able to kind of show a presentation of what the school looks like,” Nakamoto said. “There’s a virtual campus tour we could utilize, but trying to give them the best way to understand what it’s like to be a part of the UAF community and team without actually being there.”
Eliska Albrigsten has used online recruiting in her two seasons as the acting head coach of the UAF Nordic ski team.
“There’s not many races we can go watch,” Albrigsten said by phone Wednesday.
A part of Albrigsten’s recruiting method is to follow a potential recruit’s progress based on his or her points in events sanctioned by the International Ski Federation.
“It makes recruiting much easier,” she said.
UAF’s Nordic ski program has traditionally had international student-athletes, particularly from Europe. However, travel bans worldwide due to the coronavirus have created a recruiting road block.
“We’re always looking at international students but if the coronavirus keeps spreading,” said Albrigsten, “we’re not going to be bringing in any international students (for the 2020-21 season).”
Albrigtsen said an option is to look at a lot of potential recruits in Alaska.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.