All-NOVA senior guard Christina Trivisonno committed to Washington University without having played in front of the school's coaches in person.

NOVA standouts adapt to COVID-altered college recruiting process

In the midst of a global pandemic, going about our daily lives has an added twist as we adjust to a new “normal.” The sports world is no exception, and for the athletes in the process of figuring out where they will play at the next level there is a lot more to consider, and many more obstacles.

It’s always interesting to watch the deserving, talented prospects of NOVA come to these decisions, but now it has generated much more curiosity. For Marshall senior Christina Trivisonno, the process posed new challenges but wasn’t anything she couldn’t handle. Missing out on her final AAU season meant the opportunity to be seen by several college coaches went up in flames.

“When COVID happened I had to get creative and think outside the box in order to get the attention of coaches,” she said via email.

A consensus on many social media feeds was that many schools would miss out on recruiting players they would’ve otherwise seen, while others would come away with steals. Trivisonno, however, already had a resume to back up her skills. She finished her junior season having passed the 1,000 point mark, while also racking up All-District, All-Region, and All-State honors. The highlight of Marshall’s season, one could argue, was its spoiling of powerhouse Madison’s undefeated season in the regional title game.

Christina and her sister Mary committed to Washington University in St. Louis at the end of September, without ever having met the coaches or played for them in person, or seen the campus.

“I loved communicating with and getting to know both my new coaches over the phone. I really connected well with them personally, and I also know that they run a team that I feel my abilities and style fit perfectly with,” Christina said.

Like everything else this year, this coming winter season will look different than any before. We’ve yet to see how COVID will impact us once we can put it behind us, but we’ve already seen how it can bring out positives amongst challenges.

“It forced me to be creative and reach out to people and advocate for myself, and now I am committed to a school that I know is where I’m meant to be and that I’m so excited about,” Christina said.

While many players have still found their next home at the next level, there has also been a mass public to private school exodus. Among those include Virginia Academy guard Ta’zir Smith, whose transfer from Colgan allowed him to reclass into 2022, giving him an extra year to be recruited.

Tazir Smith. Photo credit Jeff Malmgren, Prince William Times
The talented Ta’Zir Smith transferred to Virginia Academy. Photo credit: Jeff Malmgren, Prince William Times

“I planned on this summer being a huge summer for me. Then COVID shut everything down,” Smith said. “Reclassing will hopefully give me a better opportunity to become a bona-fide student athlete.”

Smith ran the point for Colgan most of last season and averaged 15 points a game, including a 28-point performance in a huge win over Potomac. Private schools are not members of the VHSL, and will therefore make their own plans for competition this winter. Virginia Academy, which boasts numerous transfers from public schools, is slated to begin its season in early December.

The VHSL’s plan for condensed seasons as of now is to have teams begin practicing in early December, and for games to tip off around Christmas. Schedules are being finalized and many details are still up in the air, but fans are excited and eager to watch this season unfold.

Not as excited as the kids, though. For those who aspire to play at the next level getting back on the court as soon as possible is imperative.

“Social media has become such a force when it comes to getting noticed,” says Tau Hamilton, whose non-profit company NOVA Unified provides playing opportunities and mentorship to kids attempting to navigate the college recruiting scene. “COVID-19, though, has had a profound effect on the recruiting process of many athletes with just the cancellation of summer and fall basketball.”

–Max Nagle