The Positives and Negatives of Recruiting During a Pandemic

Merrimack College head coach Scott Borek probably put it best.

“I’ve never watched so much video in my life,” he said.

But that’s the world of recruiting amidst a pandemic. The NCAA put a moratorium on in-person recruiting almost one year ago. That period is supposed to expire on April 15, but many are speculating that the NCAA could move that date to the start of fall athletics next season, in an effort to allow the COVID-19 vaccine to roll out as broadly as possible.

For Borek and the rest of the coaches in college hockey, they’ve been forced to recruit using only video and phone converastions.

“I never really believed in video recruiting,” he said. “I always preferred to be there in person because you get the best feel for the player. This year is different because we have to use video. It’s been challenging but I think we’ve been successful with it. Josh (Ciocco) and Dan (Jewell) are putting good players in front of us and we can study those guys. The positive is that we can study those players over multiple games and multiple years so you can track their development path.”

Before the Warriors opened their own season, Ciocco and Jewell, Borek’s assistant coaches, would split up a series of games to watch going into each weekend.

“We didn’t want them watching the same games,” Borek said. “Then the following week one or both of them would come to me with a player we should be aggressive with. The three of us would watch that video together and decide if we wanted to move forward.”

Another hidden positive is the time it’s allowing the assistant coaches to be around the team, instead of traveling on long trips away from the group.

“I’ve never been on a staff with assistant coaches around every day,” said Borek, who is in his third season at Merrimack but has been coaching college hockey since 1985. “It’s unique for them. But, I think it’s great for our team and their connection with our players will be at an all-time high. I think this could be a real positive for the assistant coaches across the country, and connecting with the players it could be a positive for the players across the country as well.”