Through the COVID-19 pandemic, many colleges across America had to adapt and change. Franklin College was no different. Since the beginning of the pandemic, athletic visits have differed sporadically for recruits as new protocols are developed.

Some recruits were able to visit, but could not go into the dorms and had other restrictions, such as having to wear masks or showing vaccination status. Others did not get a visit at all, which made it harder for them to make an accurate decision on their future with little experience on campus.

Randi Garrett, head volleyball coach, says players visiting used to just sign a paper allowing overnight visits to happen, but new policies have required people visiting overnight to be vaccinated.

“And I don’t know that it necessarily throws a wrench into a whole lot,” Garrett said. “I haven’t had any athletes not able to come to campus yet because they are unvaccinated.”

Garrett said there wasn’t a decline in the number of visits that took place due to COVID. She says it doesn’t have a direct effect on a recruit’s decision to come to campus.

Garrett also had to manage recruiting when spectators were not allowed at games because of COVID. They had to use different methods to help them choose who they want on their team.

“We did a lot of livestream games,” Garrett said. “It’s really hard for volleyball anyway to watch a video, and be like, that’s it. I remember one night I had like three different screens, my TV, and my phone, and then my computer, three different high school games.”

Lance Marshall, head baseball coach, agreed with Garrett about how he didn’t really notice a change in the number of visits and recruits because of COVID. 

Marshall also said that even with the change in policies, the dynamic of the visits are still the same. 

“Well, there are obviously more restrictions and things of that nature,” Marshall said. “But I think the essence of the visits is still getting to know the families and talking to the prospects and kind of sharing what we have to offer and learn more about them.”

Marshall, like Garrett, also used technology to help recruits when things were shut down.

“We did a lot of Zoom recruiting visits and even had prepared some Powerpoints and things of that nature to be able to kind of share what the campus looked like and what it would look like to be a student athlete here on campus,” Marshall said.

Claire Sampson, a freshman golfer, says her visit to Franklin her senior year was different compared to another visit she went on in Pennsylvania in terms of COVID restrictions.

“[The Pennsylvania College] was much more relaxed with COVID policies, which wasn’t necessarily a positive thing for me, but I was able to see more things on campus and meet a lot of people in person,” Sampson said.

She also talked about missing out on a full experience with her visit, but luckily had her mom to attest for the great things of Franklin.

“I remember we couldn’t go into the buildings and there were very few people on campus,” Sampson said. “My mom is an alumna and I was very familiar with the campus and surrounding area before my visit, but I still felt like I missed out on seeing the buildings I’d be spending a majority of my time in and getting a better idea of campus life.” 

Franklin was just the ideal place, despite not getting a real chance to visit all the campus had to offer, she said.

“I ultimately decided to come to Franklin because, despite a not super fun visit, I loved the campus, it was a really good fit for my major, and the opportunity to play golf was very exciting,” Sampson said.

Alex Cummings, a freshman football player, said his visit mainly consisted of one-on-one time with one of the football coaches.

“With COVID, it was just a one on one visit with me and a coach,” Cummings said. “Masks were obviously required for the visit.”

Compared to his other visits it was very similar and had the same rules applying to COVID. 

“The other college visits I went on were fairly similar, but I’d still be in a small group of 2-3 other athletes,” he said.

He said the main thing that made him come here was the small atmosphere and personal time he got with coaches and one on one time of his visit, despite the restrictions and limitations.

While COVID still affects athletes everywhere, Franklin didn’t see a significant drop in numbers for visits or recruits. 

Even though it was hard for coaches to see some games, they all worked together to find a way to see the recruits in action and the student athletes still enjoyed the time they spent on campus even though they missed out on a traditional campus visit.

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