File // THE CHIMES
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the sports world and has pushed back all competition until at least late January. With a hopeful starting date approaching, the coaching staff must continue to proceed as naturally as possible for the years to come. Nov. 11 was the opening day for the National Signing Period of incoming 2021-22 athletes. Even in the midst of a pandemic, high school seniors and collegiate coaches found a way to persevere through the tedious recruitment process.
Torrey Stricklin, Biola’s new men’s soccer head coach, has not let his first-year position and the pandemic stop him from persevering through an unusual recruitment methodology. Stricklin has relied heavily on previous connections to entice recruits to Biola.
“My assistant and I have enjoyed and embraced the new challenge of recruiting this year,” Stricklin said in an email. “I certainly prefer to see players play in person multiple times, but we have found other ways to feel really confident in our current signings. We watch highlight videos, multiple full games and speak with their previous coaches and other trusted sources about each player.”
It is not the typical way of offering positions, but it is the cards all sporting staff members have been dealt with. Stricklin is unbothered by the reconstruction.
“We decided early on as a staff that we were not going to be victims of this pandemic and we chose instead to look at this as a positive challenge,” Stricklin said. “I am a firm believer that if you want to accomplish anything in life that is meaningful, then you have to be willing to embrace and handle adversity well.”
With face-to-face contact out of the picture, connecting with an athlete and understanding their character has been challenging. Extensive communication has become critical before making official offers to prospective athletes.
“We are not only looking for the right players that fit our system, but equally as important we are looking for the right people to fit our culture [and] environment,” Sticklin said. “There is no 100% full proof way of knowing if a player is what you think he is until they arrive on campus. However, we feel very confident that we have not sacrificed in any area with the players we have signed. We believe they are all quality players who are going to raise our level on the field and we also believe that they are quality men who fit well with the culture [and] environment we are creating.”
LET THE GAMES BEGIN
While the new process of recruiting is unlike any signing period previously, Stricklin explained how the proceeding has gone relatively well, given the current reality and circumstances in the world. Great excitement has been generated throughout the soccer program over the past nine months, and the entire team is progressively equipped for the future.
“Recruits are excited about the vision of our program and they have shown a strong desire to want to join this project right away,” Stricklin said. “We are all competitors. So, while we were really grateful to train this fall, we are all eager to get back to competing against other teams as soon as possible.”