Soccer rebuilding after recruitment drain

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SNU’s soccer roster is thin, but recruiting continues.

Melissa Ledezma, Reporter

The damages of COVID-19 have hit Sierra Nevada University’s women’s soccer team drastically. From limited training sessions, to missing a season, it could be difficult to keep hopes up.
These struggles have not been easy to deal with, but players and coaches have managed to get by and form a strong women’s soccer team.
Kyle Kelly, the team’s coach, faced the challenge of recruiting new players during a pandemic. When COVID hit, the recruiting process took a turn.
“I had about 12 recruits lined up and because we chose not to go through with the 2020 season, quite a few decided to go to a different school,” Kelly said.
Before COVID, recruiting usually happened at tournaments around the country. However, SNU’s sports recruiters chose not to attend tournaments in order to stay safe. But the recruiting process did not rely heavily on tournaments this year, which may ultimately benefit smaller schools like SNU, which have gotten more attention from incoming student athletes, Kelly said.
“Because of COVID, there has been more interest in small schools. We’ve gotten a lot more interest, at least in the women’s side of recruiting,” he said.
But the COVID dip has been devastating for the team. When Kelly first signed on to be head coach, there were 14 players. Compared to the six players the team has now, that is a drastic change for an NAIA women’s soccer team.
The NAIA has set strict protocols for colleges and universities.
According to the NAIA website, “All members of the official party (student-athletes, coaches, athletics trainers, managers and staff members who travel with a competing team) who take part in a 2021 NAIA national championship opening round or final site location agree to do so knowing the inherent risks of contracting COVID-19.”
The team also felt the effects of COVID guidelines. Alexis Davila, women’s soccer team player, has experienced the disruption.
“We cannot go out on the field and train,” she said. “Team bonding has been super limited, unfortunately we cannot do team bonding like we used to, and we’re supposed to.
“We are still pushing forward and keeping our heads up, but the restrictions have definitely hit us hard.”
But the SNU Women’s soccer team is currently looking at a brighter future. As of now, there will be a soccer season this fall.
With new players coming in and a current strong-standing team, Kelly says the women’s soccer team has the potential to reach its goal of being one of the top teams in the conference.