Kathy Staib

Kathy Staib was in her 16th season as the Elizabethtown College softball coach in 2020.

For many college coaches, their incoming high school recruits from the Class of 2020 are mostly set.

More likely than not, those coaches are already looking ahead to their Class of 2021 and beyond.

That’s now presenting some challenges for college coaches of spring sports, however, because high school spring seasons have been wiped out as a result of  COVID-19. The pandemic has taken away some of the opportunities college coaches would’ve had to see future talent on the high school playing surfaces this spring.

“This is going to kill us looking at the 2021s,” Millersville women’s track & field coach Andy Young said. “Looking at the (high school) juniors, they’re not going to be able to put out times and distances. How do you evaluate kids who don’t have seasons?”

Some college coaches of spring sports will instead hope they get a chance to see high school student-athletes in summer club sports and showcases. But those might also be in jeopardy if the spread of the coronavirus is still going strong into June and July.

“We like to watch them (high school recruits) develop over time,” Franklin & Marshall men’s lacrosse coach Todd Cavallaro said. “I’m not sure we’ll have that luxury this year.”

“If it gets to the point where I can’t watch 2021s and can’t get them to come to camp,” F&M women’s lacrosse coach Mike Faith said. “I’ll have to go back and watch film of them from last November and watch tournaments from the previous June and July. So there is a way.”

And then there’s this: Current college freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors on spring sports rosters have the option of using an extra year of athletic eligibility, an option made available to make up for losing their 2020 spring college seasons.

As a result, there will likely be many more college players using a fifth year of athletic eligibility than originally anticipated, which in turn could have a ripple effect for years to come.

“We haven’t really pressed to see if any of our younger players plan to take that fifth year,” Millersville softball coach Jen Probst said. “But as we have those conversations it will definitely impact and shape our future recruiting. ... As players the next four years take advantage of their fifth years, it will push back recruiting for those positions by a year.”

“We might have eight to 10 guys who will reclassify,” Millersville baseball coach Jon Shehan said. “That changes everything. Our recruiting class in 2021 will shrink dramatically, and a little bit on the '22s.”

Then again, Elizabethtown College softball coach Kathy Staib said it’s important to keep in mind there is often attrition on college rosters.

“This is probably a general statement for a lot of coaches,” Staib said. “But not every student sticks it out.”