Iowa soccer recruiting on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions

In-person visits are out of the question due to restrictions put into place as a result of the virus. Coaches are only allowed to contact recruits over the phone or by email during this recruiting dead period.

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Wyatt Dlouhy

Iowa Head Coach Dave Diianni speaks to the team during the Iowa versus Ohio State game at the University of Iowa Soccer Complex on Sunday, October 27, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Buckeyes 2-1 in double overtime.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter


Getting recruited to come play soccer at the University of Iowa was simple for junior Sara Wheaton. The same was true for fellow third-year Hailey Rydberg.

With COVID-19 halting recruiting, the process is anything but simple at the moment.

“It has really created a big void not only for the institution and the coaches, but for the high school players looking to be seen and evaluated,” head coach Dave DiIanni said.

Having family in Iowa, Wheaton already had some interest in the school. After sending emails to a multitude of coaches, Iowa was one of the programs that came and watched her play at a showcase, and things fell in place from then on.

“I was really familiar with the Midwest, and the minute I knew I wanted to play soccer in college I knew I wanted to get away from Arizona,” Wheaton said. “Iowa saw me play at a tournament and [DiIanni] liked what he saw I guess.”

Rydberg also knew that Iowa was the right place for her from the beginning. The coaching staff noticed her at a tournament and recruitment carried on from there.

“I remember when I went on the visit, I loved the campus immediately and loved how close it was to home,” the midfielder said. “I connected with the girls [on the team] and the environment that they made there.”

None of this is currently possible because of COVID-19. All campus visits, scouting, and in-person communication has been scrapped since March. There is no sign of the dead period being lifted.

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The NCAA recently extended the dead period for recruiting once again until Sept. 30 at the earliest, causing plenty of headaches for scouting teams looking to fill roster spots.

The only thing coaches can do right now is talk to players on the phone or via email.

This combined with all major youth competitions being canceled in the spring, and it has been difficult to identify new talent to bring into the program. As youth leagues begin to play again, coaches will still not be allowed and watch the teams play because of current restrictions.

Another issue that may present itself is whether the coaching staff will have access to traveling once recruiting restrictions and games begin again. With possible restrictions and quarantine rules in place, the staff may still have to stay close to home.

“I don’t know if it will be just local, but it may just be drivable events,” DiIanni said.

It will be a scramble to find players once things do return to normal, but coaches and athletes alike will have to come together and make it as easy a transition as possible.

“We have some unknowns in our country and on our campus, and it has created some anxiety, panic, and stress for both the student-athletes and the colleges,” DiIanni said.

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