Veteran coach shares tips for student athletes trying to land sports scholarships during pandemic


LELAND, NC (WWAY) — With the new school year underway, many high school athletes are likely concerned about how the coronavirus pandemic will impact their chances of being awarded any form of athletic financial aid or scholarship.

We reached out to former UNCW Basketball Coach Eddie Biedenbach to get his advice for high school athletes and their parents.

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With the high school sports seasons pushed back due to COVID-19, how will this affect athletes hoping to sign scholarships during the spring?

Biedenbach: All coaches are improved with the newest technology to help get the same job done to recruit well as was done in years past. All college coaches are 2 or 3 years out in recruiting. They have their recruiting lists of probably 20 seniors and that list will change from week to week as those players narrow their school preferences or decide on a school. The smaller schools that are progressive will keep an eye on some good players to see if those players are passed over by the bigger schools and will be watching the progress of players we call ‘sleepers’ who have potential for their team.

You have recruited athletes and know how that process works but how does the pandemic change the way recruiters see these prospects? 

Biedenbach: Not much will change. The college coaches will continue to rely on DVDs or videotapes of players from our high schools, junior colleges and foreign players. They also rely on scouting services, other college coaches as well as Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) coaches. The connections between high school coaches and college coaches is great. The college coaches will find good players. Plus, their own college team players will be an asset because they know the younger athletes from their own area.

The larger universities usually spot their top recruits early in their high school career. How will the smaller schools see some of those lesser-known athletes this year? 

Biedenbach: Generally speaking, the college coaches will locate their prospects in the same manner as they have done in the past by word of mouth from connections with AAU coaches, one’s past and current team, and even officials. Alumnae are not allowed to recruit players but they can report on who is good in their area. Also, coaches from the larger colleges will pass along names of good players they cannot use on their level to their coaching friends at smaller colleges.

What about college athletes looking for a chance to sign a pro contract? How will the pandemic affect their prospects?

Biedenbach: If a player is great, nothing changes. The pro coaches communicate with college coaches. There are very few surprises but each year late bloomers or great players surprise the pro coaches. If a player is great, he/she will get his/her chance. Also, there are pro tryouts for every sport and every team. Even if you are an unknown and are really good, there will be someone that will get you into a tryout. This is true for USA but there are foreign leagues on all athletic levels as well.

What’s your advice for parents of athletes who are trying to be seen in order to move up to the next level?

My advice to parents is to:

  • Visit colleges before your child’s senior year and meet the coach.
  • Have your child’s high school coach (or hometown college coach) recommend schools to consider.
  • Ask your child’s coach to send a game DVD or tape to the colleges in which their child is interested. College coaches value the DVD/tape more highly if it comes from the coach.
  • Make sure your child is academically qualified for the various college levels they are considering.
  • Ask the right questions to ensure your child will have enough playing time (rather than sitting on the sidelines). Every parent thinks their daughter or son can play on the college level. But with most children, their college experience is enhanced if they have “time in the game” rather than “sitting on the bench.”
  • Cultivate your child to be dependable, responsible and someone with character. College coaches on all levels want quality young men and women who will make “good teammates.” Character is an important factor in being selected.
  • Carefully consider the cost to the household for participating in AAU sports before your child’s junior high school year including both the monetary cost and cost of time spent in travel.
  • It is my opinion, AAU travel can be expensive and cause financial hardships for many families.
  • While AAU play offers exposure, athletes also need to continue developing their skills by getting enough time playing the game and working out.