When does recruiting start?
This is a an excerpt from the FPOS online class “The Road Map to College Recruiting Success” that is included with the FPOS Gold Membership
College coaches will tell you that, recruiting is happening earlier and earlier. The top Division I softball programs have lists of players as young as 8th and 9th grade. It is not unheard of to have a player “verbally” committing in the 8th grade. Later in this course, I will discuss my feelings about these early commitments, but they are happening, and it is very true that the longer you wait in the recruiting process, the fewer opportunities are available. Currently, one of the biggest recruiting tournaments in the country (where you will see the most college coaches) is the ASA 16 U Nationals, NOT the ASA Gold Nationals. The reason for this is that at Gold Nationals, all but a very few are “verbally committed” or signed.
Now remember, NCAA Division I is only one option, there are other types of schools that offer very challenging opportunities to play softball and they offer scholarship money as well. There are over 1700 colleges and universities sponsoring softball in the US that are able to offer financial aid packages. Eighty percent of these institutions are outside of Division I. I remind parents all the time that not every player needs to play Division I and finding the right fit for your daughter is really the most important thing. Appendix B describes 3 recruiting tracks.
1. For those players looking to play at the highest level of Division 1
2. For those looking to play at a lower D1 or D2 level.
3. For those looking to play at D2, D3, NAIA or JC level
The reality of the college softball recruiting process
As a successful college coach at the Division I and II level for 14 years gives me the credibility to give you some insights into the recruiting process from the college coach’s perspective. .
Here are some realities.
1. We received 1000’s of emails, videos and other communications during the year. The days before a major showcase tournament ,the number of emails was staggering.
2. I did not look at most of them. I would forward them to my overworked young assistant to put into a database. I would have my assistant look at the tapes and only give me the ones that they thought were outstanding
3. I would print out the database and bring i with me to tournaments, but I did not use the database to determine the players I was going to see.
4. Emails, letter and profiles that came from “recruiting services” usually went in the trash. If a player did not show me a personalized effort in contacting me, she was a low priority. Emails that came with my named spelled incorrectly or to the wrong coach went in the trash immediately.
So how did I choose the players I would go to see? How did I create my “must see” list for a recruiting season? Here were some keys for me.
1. First, a player had to fit my need for that recruiting class. If I did not need a pitcher I did not recruit one.
2. I had to look at my scholarship budget to figure out what players I could get based on the money I had available. Did I have to look at “in-state” only? At my school I had a certain number of “in-state” scholarships and “out-of-state” scholarships. Was I going to have to package an award with financial aid? If that were the case, then I would look at certain academic characteristics or if the player would qualify for need based financial aid.
3. I would talk to summer coaches and high school coaches I respected and get their input into who the good players were. I would also try to find out who the problems were and I would stay away from them.
4. I would read the emails and profiles and glance at the personal highlights. If there were something that made a player standout, I would have my assistant look more closely at her. Awards mattered and who she played for also mattered – at least as far as getting a player on my must see list.
5. If a player sent me multiple communications, I noticed and it mattered to me that she had a real desire to attend my particular program. Again, I looked for personalized communications, not form letters or emails sent to a group of coaches.
6. Players quickly made it off my list if I saw a poor attitude on the field or a lack of hustle. There are too many players out there, so I tried to avoid taking on a headache.
A player making my “must see list” was only the first step in the process. Then, I would try to decide if my college would be a good fit for both parties. Was she talented enough for my needs? Could she succeed academically at my school? Would she fit socially and culturally at my school?
All programs and coaches are different, but the bottom line is that there are many players out there, and you need to maximize your chances of being noticed by the type of schools you are interested in attending. You should not leave it to chance. Attending a showcase tournament does not guarantee that you will be seen by coaches and, more importantly, by coaches from the schools you are interested in.