Peter Murphy, Tommies’ women’s hockey head coach, walks through the home of Tommies’ hockey with a potential recruit. He shows her everything the Grant Harvey Centre has to offer — the locker room, weight room and of course, the ice.
Only this time, the prospect isn’t actually in the arena. Murphy acts as a videographer, holding his iPad while on FaceTime.
The high school hockey player isn’t allowed to be in the arena due to the Atlantic University Sport’s rule of no facility tours due to COVID-19.
Murphy said it’s been tough to recruit during the pandemic because of travel issues. In a normal year, Murphy tends to travel throughout the country, going from Moncton to Saskatchewan. Potential recruits fly down to visit Fredericton and get a tour of St. Thomas University, as well as the Grant Harvey Centre. While the option to tour campus is still in place, recruits are not allowed to visit facilities, a new rule from the AUS. He also cannot meet anywhere in person.
Don McKay, head coach of the women’s volleyball team, has faced similar issues.
“You’re trying to take in a few tournaments, you’re trying to go to provincials,” McKay said. “Especially provincials in Nova Scotia or [Prince Edward Island].”
This year, with the potential of high school and club teams not being able to play, McKay is relying on contacts from coaches and his former players who will refer players to keep an eye on.
Julien Phillips, a high school volleyball prospect from École Sainte-Anne high school, said the process as a player had made it difficult to choose a school because he could not tour them.
“It was more online seminars [to see] different buildings on campus,” said Phillips. “It was difficult, decision wise … you wouldn’t be able to see the real things.”
Phillips has a desire to play volleyball overseas in his future, which means playing in university is vital.
Phillips had been messaging university coaches his game tape as a reference to his abilities, before committing to the University of Alberta, where he’ll study computer science. He met with coaches online to speak and see the campuses.
Phillips committed to Alberta on Oct. 17, after receiving multiple offers from different schools.
Another issue coaches face this year is the implemented rule of eligibility. Student-athletes are eligible to compete for five seasons but this year, whether or not sports resume in the winter, players will not lose a year of eligibility. Murphy and McKay said they’ve talked with fourth and fifth-year players to discuss the possibility of them coming back to STU next year to further their education, so they get an idea of which positions to recruit.
“It’s great for the individual but for coaches and planning, usually you’re trying to have a fairly [accurate] number of those leaving,” said McKay. “So down the road, those [younger] players are moving into key positions.”
But for Phillips, this isn’t a concern. He knows he must continue to train to earn his spot.
“I’m just trying to develop and earn that spot to be a starter,” Phillips said. “Practicing against [university players] … it’s going to help me develop and mature myself.”