FPOS Recruiting for Success - IntroductionAs we embark on the recruitment journey, your first step is to define what success is for your softball player. Since each person is unique, her vision of what will make her happy in college is as well. Due to the trend of early commitments, we are asking young girls - some who have barely started high school - to think of what kind of college experience they want. In many ways this sounds crazy, but it is happening. It is not unusual to hear of a player in her 9th or 10th grade year who has "verbally committed" to a college. If she is verbally committing in the 10th grade year, that means she was on a college coach's radar in the 8th and 9th grade!
Parents need to be involved
FPOS does not advocate early commitments for all players. Each player and her family need to figure out the right fit for them. We say player and family - and yes, parents need to parent their child through this - because there is a financial component that a young lady just cannot grasp. We hear from some parents "I am leaving this college stuff up to her to do" - we do not recommend this. Think of when your daughter started doing homework. Did you help her? Did you check it? I am not saying do all of what needs to be done in the recruiting process for her, but as a parent you need to be involved to assist and "check her homework". Remember, she is going to college, but your money is going with her!
Knowledge is power
In this course, you will learn about the different opportunities there are in college softball. This course will also help players to start asking the right questions about what is a good fit for them. Think of recruiting as determining the right fit - not as a contest to see who can go to the most famous program. Softball will have a short life of 4 years in college, but the degree gained in that time will have a lifetime of impact.
Although each player will have a different idea of what she wants in a college, one idea is universal. You will need to be proactive. This includes learning about the different opportunities, doing a proper marketing campaign, being on the right team, and financially doing your due diligence.
Let's get started
When does recruiting start?
Well, this is a very good question. Prior to April 2018 I would say recruiting was happening earlier and earlier. But in April of 2018, the NCAA passed new softball recruiting legislation.
On Wednesday, April 18, 2018, the NCAA Division I Council announced that it passed legislation establishing September 1 of a prospective student-athlete’s (“PSA’s”) junior year as the start date for all softball recruiting contact, effective immediately, pending NCAA Board of Directors approval.
This means that all recruiting communications between Division I softball coaches and PSAs and their families will be impermissible prior to September 1 of the Junior Year.
Student Athlete Experience Committee (SAEC) proposals 2017-111, 2017-112, 2017-113 were approved, establishing September 1 of junior year as the start date for official visits, unofficial visits and recruiting conversations at camps and clinics for all sports except for football and basketball. Since these SAEC proposals passed, softball’s request to include incoming telephone calls and off-campus visits were voted on and approved as “noncontroversial legislation.” This means that for softball, all recruiting contact will begin September 1, junior year.
One NCAA interpretation that is critical for this new rule to work is that third parties, including but not limited to travel ball and high school coaches, may not be used to circumvent NCAA recruiting rules.
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. We 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.
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 successful college coaches at the Division I and II level for a combined 27 years, we have credibility to give you some insights into the recruiting process from the college coach’s perspective. Here are some realities.
· We received thousands of letters, emails, videos and other communications during the year. The days before a major showcase tournament, the number of emails received was staggering.
· The head coaches do not look at most of the communications. They forward them to their overworked assistants to put into a database. They have their assistants look at the videos and report back to the head coach the ones that they thought were outstanding.
· Coaches will print out the database and bring it with them to tournaments, but do not use the database to determine the players they are going to see.
· Emails, letters and profiles that came from “recruiting services” usually go in the trash. If a player did not show a personalized effort in contacting the school, she was a low priority. Also, emails that came with the coaches’ names spelled incorrectly or sent to the wrong coach went in the trash immediately.
So how did we choose the players we would go to see? How did we create our “must see” list for a recruiting season? Here were some keys for us.
1. First, a player had to fit our need for that recruiting class. If we did not need a pitcher, we did not recruit one.
2. We had to look at our scholarship budget to figure out what players we could get based on the money we had available. Programs are very individualized in terms of what they can award, whether it’s athletic, academic, or need-based aid. They are also very different in how they can award it, which is why it was often difficult to give a prospect an exact answer of what kind of aid would be available to them right away.
3. We would talk to summer coaches and high school coaches we respected and get their input into who the good players were. We would also try to find out who the problem prospects were and stay away from them. When we talk about "problem" prospects at time we are talking about players with academic issues but it can also refer to "high maintenance" players who are going to require more monitoring socially than I as a coach wanted to give or who needed to be motivated to play. As I coach, I did not want to feel I had to always "motivate" a player on a day-in day-out basis.
4. We would go through emails/profiles looking for personal highlights. If there was something that made a player standout, we would look more closely at her. Awards and who the prospect played for also mattered, at least as far as getting a player on our must-see list.
5. If a player sent us multiple communications, we noticed and it mattered to us that she had a real desire to attend our particular program. Again, we looked for personalized communications, not form letters or emails sent to a group of coaches.
6. Players quickly made it off our list if we saw poor attitude on the field or a lack of hustle. There are too many players out there, so we tried to avoid taking on a headache.
A player making our “must see list” was only the first step in the process. Then we would try to decide if our college would be a good fit for both parties. Was she talented enough for our needs? Could she succeed academically at our school? Would she fit socially and culturally at our 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 attending.