The travel ball season is now upon us. The John Dakes Invitational (AZ), USA Elite Select 18 Gold Invitational (MO), Diamond Nine Showcase (FL), have all been played. It has not been that long ago, that the season literally did not start until April, and ended in August. The start of these tournaments also means the new recruiting year has started. The pressure to perform, and end up being noticed is always a topic around these parts of the country. I by no means am a recruiting expert but I do know three things that will get an athlete recruited – talent, communications, and honesty.
I would like to start with talent. Talent is either God-given or developed. In my opinion, there is no way to teach speed. Speed is in demand, but an athlete can develop other desirable talents, such as hitting, pitching, or catching. These talents can be developed and there just seems to always be a place for these talents. Talent also incorporates academics. A dedicated and talented student-athlete is also desirable on the college level. A commitment to academic talent shows a willingness to expand on natural abilities. Talent opens the door to the recruiting process.
Honesty is another factor of recruitment that needs to be embraced. An athlete needs to be honest with themselves about their commitment and talents. A coach, recruiting a showcase tournament, told me that less than 1% of all competitive softball players make it to the Division I level. The majority of athletes will receive their scholarship at other universities. Parents and coaches need to be honest and help the athlete pursue their dreams in accordance with their commitment and talents. Once an athlete is honest about their abilities and commitment level then true enjoyment of the game can begin.
Communications is of the utmost importance in the recruitment process. Communications is a collective effort of the coach, recruiting coordinator, and the athlete. A good communication plan is literally relationship building. Honesty and Integrity should be the focus of the communication plan . The recruiting coordinator is the person that most colleges initially meet. They need to be a champion of the team first and foremost. The recruiting coordinator needs to work diligently, at distributing the team’s schedule. The coordinator should convey the college needs to the competitive team’s coach. The coordinator should relay the athlete’s needs to the college coach. They need to be able to develop relationships with colleges and maintain the relationship with the comp-ball coach. The head coach needs to be able to build on the work of the recruiter. They need to be a champion of the athletes first and foremost. They have to be able to communicate an honest assessment of an athlete’s strengths and weaknesses, to the college coaches, and coordinate the college needs with the athlete’s needs and abilities. And finally the athlete needs to be able to develop a relationship with the college coach. The use of email is the preferred method. Updating the coach of game highlights, academic honors, and general interest on a regular basis is imperative in the recruiting process. Communications closes the deal on the recruiting process.
The recruitment of a fastpitch softball player is a process, a process that takes patience and perseverance. It should not be hurried. Take time to enjoy the journey. At the end of the day, college recruitment is about earning a degree to prepare for life’s journey.