Written by Mile High Sports’ Josh Shuford
Across the country there are thousands of college and high school students, who have worked all year training for their spring sport seasons, only to have them delayed until at least April 30 – or completely cancelled like the NCAA did with its spring sports. There is a lot of confusion and many questions being asked by student-athletes: What is a student-athlete to do? What about college athletes in their final year of eligibility? What about high school athletes in critical seasons for recruitment? How about high school seniors in their last season?
While the answers vary, and may depend on future decisions with regard to the pandemic sweeping the country, I got a chance to chat with Brian Bedard, the head track and field coach at CSU, who shared some of his insights to these unique challenges.
Josh Shuford: What, if anything, are you asking or allowed to ask of your athletes at Colorado State during this time?
Brian Bedard: We are not requiring any workouts at this point. If they can train safely on their own that would be ideal, but every situation is different, so we aren’t requiring anything. Some of our athletes are struggling to find a location to work out while practicing social distancing protocol. A few athletes have sent me videos throwing off the sidewalk or asphalt road into a vacant field.
JS: Will any seniors at Colorado State be returning for their NCAA-granted additional year of eligibility? What thoughts do you as coaches have about the additional year and what do your athletes think?
BB: We have a few track athletes that are considering returning for the added outdoor season. Some won’t be returning because they have jobs lined up or are ready to move on with their future. I think the NCAA made the right decision, but it creates another problem. How do institutions fund it? I just saw University of Wisconsin is not going to fund the additional season for spring sports.
JS: How have your recruiting strategies changed?
BB: Our coaches have had to pump the breaks on scholarship commitments to new recruits. Our administration and coaches at CSU are working through the COVID-19 additional season. How we’re going to fund it. It’s most likely going to come from unused scholarship aid and institutional aid or some combination of both.
JS: What advice would you give to high school seniors that have been recruited to run track but are now missing out on their senior year?
BB: Seniors, if you’ve been recruited and signed with a university just stay in contact with your future coaches. Make an effort to stay fit while social distancing. If you’re a senior and have not signed I would remain in contact with prospective schools. Much of our recruiting is based off Junior season marks anyway. Occasionally an athlete will have a huge senior season and we happen to have scholarship aid remaining late in the recruiting cycle, but that’s not the norm.
JS: Most high school juniors in spring sports will have their college decisions made by the time their senior season starts. What advice would you give to juniors in high school who are missing a very important season for times and throwing distances? In general, what do you recommend these athletes do regardless of what school they are looking to attend?
BB: Juniors, contact or stay in contact with college programs that are a good fit for you. The Fall21 class could be in a bit of trouble because the current juniors in our program, and others around the country will be awarded another outdoor season, too. If CSU track elects to award some of our current juniors another season it will throw off graduations and when scholarship aid is available to the Fall 2021 class of high school recruits.
JS: With recruiting being primarily based off of numbers from Junior year how do high school juniors show coaches they want to run?
BB: Be in communication with college coaches. Update them on training or send technique videos if you have a place to train safely while practicing social distancing. As coaches, it may push back signing certain athletes until we can see senior season marks and times. We obviously understand the situation and we will take it in consideration when evaluating athletes for scholarship aid or roster spots. Recruiting has changed a lot over the years and even more so in the last few months. Student athletes need to be self-motivated, be working out while practicing social distancing and be in contact with coaches and future coaches. With a little motivation and creativity your recruitment doesn’t have to miss a beat.
Coach Bedard is entering his 14th season as the Rams head coach and 32nd season overall with the Colorado State Track and Field Team. Coach Bedard coached the Rams to the 2018-19 Mountain West Conference indoor and outdoor track titles with both the mens and womens teams.