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The pandemic's competitive landscape for high school athletes

River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

Existing college athletes staying on teams to make up for the COVID-19 off-year is making it harder for graduating high school athletes to get in the game.

The pandemic has created a surplus of prospective college athletes, making slots on a college team more difficult to land for graduating high school students. Soccer player Justin Ancelet struggled to find the right program and enlisted help from an agent for prospective college athletes, a new niche industry born from the pandemic. Justin and his mom, Pam Ancelet, and his agent, Dan Rothert, join Ben Kieffer to discuss COVID-19’s impact on graduating athletes.

Later in the hour, director of the Institute of the Study of Youth Sports Dan Gould shares how the emphasis on the business of youth sports could be hurting young players and creating more inequity.


  • Justin Ancelet, soon-to-be student-athlete, North Central College
  • Pam Ancelet, former college athlete and Justin’s mother
  • Dan Rothert, founder and agent, Top Student Athlete Recruiting
  • Dan Gould, director of the Study of Youth Sports, Michigan State University professor of kinesiology
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Dani Gehr is a producer for River to River and Talk of Iowa. Dani came to Iowa from her hometown in the northwest suburbs of Chicago to attend Iowa State University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in journalism, international studies and French. Before coming to IPR, Dani covered local government in Story County for the Ames Tribune and Des Moines Register.
Natalie Dunlap is a rising junior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and minoring in gender, women's & sexuality studies. She is from Iowa City and in her free time enjoys getting coffee and reading downtown with friends.