Student athletes try to make the best of missed opportunities & an uncertain fall season

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB-TV) – It’s a tough time for high school athletes who are collegiate athlete hopefuls.

With summer canceled, and fall still up in the year, some high school juniors who are entering their senior year are missing crucial opportunities to get noticed.

“For the juniors right now, it’s pretty difficult because they are missing out on their opportunity to attend camps, get in front of coaches, get feedback, and kind of see what level they are at. Are they a D1 kid, a D2 kid, or a D3?” said Tom Repicci, who mentors student athletes.

Repicci is a national scouting coordinator for PrepStar. He says normally, high schoolers are using summertime to meet with coaches and get a feel for the programs.

He has concerns for the high school athletes, such as smaller recruiting budgets.

“Less visits on campus…a number of the things that allow you to get in and have connections with coaches and schools to make these opportunities possible,” Repicci said.

Gerrit Hinsdale already committed to Washington and Jefferson College. As an incoming college freshman, he doesn’t have the same hurdles as peers one year younger than him, but he and other incoming freshmen have challenges of their own. Will there be fall college sports, and if not, will fall 2020 college athletes get to hang onto to that season of eligibility like the collegiate athletes of this past spring were afforded?

The ever-optimistic CSP 2020 state champion is already thinking about how a hypothetically delayed or canceled season could benefit him.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for me to get bigger, stronger, faster, and for me to be able to learn the system and the offense,” noting his coaches have sent him and his teammates a home workout routine.

Hinsdale says he’s staying positive and staying level-headed about the big picture.

“We have to know when it’s not all about us. We have to know it’s about our elders, and it’s about the people that we care about that we need to stay safe, and that’s really the big thing why all this stuff is getting canceled,” Hinsdale said.

Meanwhile, Repicci says the pandemic exacerbates an already existing disadvantage: Buffalo, he says, is not a major football recruiting market, and high school seasons here in New York State have less games than states where football is a bigger part of life. He says that could pose a problem for student athletes who have less opportunities for their highlight reels.

“They’re getting half the experience of a kid in a more football-competitive state, and if we don’t have football at all here, and they do there, I think they’ll fall behind even more than they usually do,” Repicci said.

There may be a different set of questions for incoming spring sport athletes, like baseball and softball players hoping to earn scholarships due to the NCAA decision that players whose seasons were canceled this past spring will get that season of eligibility back.

“With the NCAA bringing back the spring kids, that takes away a few [scholarship] spots. It also keeps new kids coming in from probably getting as much time on the field for the coming season,” Repicci said.

Above all, Repicci says he tells his kids to stay focused and to keeps their grades up, because in a year where there may be less opportunity to stand out on the field, good grades could help a prospect apart from the competition.

Erica Brecher is an anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of her work here.

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