Written By Robby Wilson
You hear it all the time. From your neighbor, from a teammate, from a cousin’s friend that heard it from a college player they once knew. It seems these days that since the college softball recruiting process is getting earlier and earlier as well as getting more competitive by the day, everyone continuously seeks out the answers and direction, but they’re often looking in the wrong places. Like with anything else, there is no shortage of people who will volunteer what they know about a topic. It’s human nature, we automatically interpret our “opinion” as a “fact,” but in choosing which information to follow which will determine your child’s collegiate and even athletic future, don’t leave it to opinions, get the facts. If your child had a life-threatening illness, would you trust the remedy that your neighbor told you they heard worked for someone you don’t even know? No. You would go to a doctor, be referred to a specialist if necessary, and make sure that your baby girl (no longer a baby of course) had the best care. Leaving your child’s collegiate and athletic future to chance is no different. Get the facts and know for sure.
Parents, athletes and travel/HS coaches ask all the time “what is a college coach looking for?” The truth is, there is no set standard of what “they are looking for.” The first thing one has to realize is that college coaches are human. Regardless of division, regardless of sport, they are human. Which means they have individual beliefs, individual pet peeves, individual factors that are non-negotiable, and an individual type of player that the coach typically recruits, regardless of position. What does that mean? That means that what does a college coach look for in a player? Bottom line is they look for a good “fit” for their program, their university, and their personality. Period. They look for “that kid” that is going to help propel them to the top of their conference and more. And players/parents hoping for their kiddo to play in college should be no different, you should look for the best “fit” for your athlete. How do you find the best fit? There are a number of things that you should keep in mind:
1. Talent level
2. Academics necessary to attend
3. Academics offered and do they offer your major
4. Where does the coach place his/her emphasis position-wise
5. Communication between the coaches and yourself during approved communication time periods and/or prospect camps, etc.
6. How well you “mesh” with the current athletes already committed to the team
7. What was your impression of the University when you toured the school? (Make sure to tour the school either via admissions or by simply going yourself)
8. What graduation rate does the softball program have for their athletes?
9. What % of athletes in your major are accepted into graduate school? (If you’re considering a post-graduate study)
10. How is the University ranked Nationally in the major you intend on studying?
There are various other things as well that can help you determine if a program is a good “fit” for your needs academically and athletically. Often times a softball athlete has a top dream school, then 2-3 others in mind simply because they know the name of the school. However, they have trouble listing 50 other schools out of the 1,458 there are across the nation. I see it all the time that as soon as the athlete begins paying attention to “finding the right fit,” their priorities change and they begin listing other schools at the top of their list that originally weren’t there. Why? The academics, the coach(es), the current players, the campus, the atmosphere, the location, and so forth. Bottom line is that the first step in answering “what is a college coach looking for,” leads to the fact that the college coach is looking for the right fit in an athlete, as the athlete should be doing as well.
One of the things I tell all of the college prospects I work with is to consider the simple statement: “Who is recruiting who?” We will dive into that in a separate post next time, but essentially, that is the next step. Once the coach has begun his/her process in determining if you’re the right “fit” at his/her program, and you’ve begun doing the same, as he/she begins taking a closer look at you, if you’re genuinely serious about playing at his program, you should be taking a closer look at him/them as well. If you and the coach both continue recruiting each other, then the coach gets a player that he/she knows is dedicated to playing for them and attending their university as well as the player gets to play for a coach that has put in the time and effort to in their due diligence and determined that they want you to be a part of their softball family.
Take home message? It’s simple:
1. Keep your grades up
2. ACT/SAT brings added value in dollars and demonstration of work ethic
3. Talent is king, but is nothing if standing alone
4. Don’t take advice from everyone else. Seek the college coaches themselves and/or a resource that works in college recruiting daily.
5. Do your research on the school, the coaches, their recent signees, and post-grad opportunities
6. Taking the next steps instructed by the coach if he/she so chooses to begin recruiting you.
7. Reciprocate by recruiting that program and the coach as well.
8. Do not be afraid to walk away if the interest is not mutual.
9. Be realistic about your talent level and where you should be playing. By targeting the right schools within your talent range you ensure higher levels of interest from programs that are a better “fit” for you anyway.
10. Stay dedicated. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Fully understand what it takes to be a college athlete and do a self-evaluation on whether or not you’re willing to sacrifice as much to achieve such.
The recruiting process can be complicated, it can be scary, it can change at the drop of a dime. But although less than 2% of girls get to go on to play college softball, it is however, possible. Like anything in life, it is best to evaluate the situation yourself, and come to your own conclusions. Don’t give up! It will be tough. It will be emotional. It will be a constant grind. But at the end of all of that is that beautiful day sitting at the table, pen in hand, parents sitting beside you and coach behind you, where you finally put the pen to the paper and realize it was all worth it.
We will be covering various recruiting and scouting topics in the coming months, in no specific order other than it is what you’ve asked about. Please feel free to send us or Fastpitch.TV your questions and we may select yours to be covered in our next blog.