RALEIGH COUNTY, WV (WVNS) — The week of November 8, 2021, marks the initial signing date for all college sports other than football. While the pandemic changed the nature of recruiting, several high schoolers in Raleigh County signed their letters of intent.

Official visits, touring the campus and facilities, building a personal connection with coaches and players. These are all key factors of the collegiate recruiting process which became much harder to achieve during the pandemic.

However, this did not stop student-athletes like Michael McKinney, Peydon Smith and Mackenzie Maynard from putting pen to paper.

McKinney said coming from a smaller area, he had to make the extra effort to be seen.

“It made it a lot harder because obviously when you are that young anyway to have to go through a coach, they cant contact you so that made it hard anyway but with everything being shut down it was really hard, I relied a lot on Twitter videos to get myself out there,” said McKinney a senior at Independence High School.

And it paid off, as McKinney signed on as a shortstop for the North Carolina State University Baseball team. For McKinney, he not only fulfilled a lifelong dream but is excited to show others you can achieve what you set your mind to.

Mackenzie Maynard signed on as a pitcher for the Penn State University Softball team.

With camps, combines, and competitions canceled due to the pandemic, she said every game became crucial to showcase her talent.

“Camps and things kept getting cancelled and coaches couldn’t come to some tournaments in person so it was a lot of virtual so I had to make sure I did a lot more emails and then try to perform as best as a good on video so that hopefully they would like it,” said Maynard, a senior at Shady Spring High School.

Others had no trouble getting their name out there. But, the pandemic showed them they wanted to stay close to home.

“The fact that I can be close to home and all my friends it’s a very big part of my life and I’d never be at the place I am without, so I would definitely like to be in state to see them,” said Smith, a senior at Shady Spring High School who signed on the West Virginia Wesleyan Volleyball team.

No matter how it comes about, these student-athletes cherish the chance to play at the next level.