Continue to take the required NCAA core courses. Download the current online version of the NCAA’s Guide for the College Bound Student Athlete. Be sure you’re on track to complete 10 core courses by the end of 11th grade. Track your core course GPA to ensure you are getting the very best grades you can! Review the NCAA guide to be sure you understand current recruiting guidelines. Read/reread your copy of Preparing to Play Softball at the Collegiate Level. Continue to play competitive travel ball. Continue to research schools and teams to find out what sort of collegiate experience will be right for you. Begin taking unofficial visits to colleges (following NCAA visit guidelines/parameters.) If you want to know if you’re a prospect for some Div. I teams, make a skills video and upload it to YouTube. Put together introductory packets to send college coaches as per Cathi Aradi’s book. Plan on writing at least 40 to 50 colleges. Alternately: Consider sending out a simple introductory postcard with your grad year, contact information, travel team, video link and upcoming travel ball schedule to a variety of programs. Optional: Register with the NCAA and NAIA Eligibility Centers. Optional: Attend college camps or clinics, however, be sure you understand that the actual number of players recruited for a given graduation year from a given college camp will be extremely small--perhaps 1 or 2 and sometimes 0. There is no guarantee you will be considered a top prospect simply because you attend a camp and are interested in the college. But camps can be a great opportunity to see coaches in action and to familiarize yourself with college campuses. Check in regularly with your travel coaches to be sure they know you’re staying on track and doing what needs to be done. MOST IMPORTANTLY…NURTURE YOUR LOVE OF SOFTBALL! (College ball is not fun at all if you don’t love what you’re doing.)
NOTE: Recruiting timelines vary tremendously from Division I to Division III and NAIA schools. Since 75% of all players will compete at the D-II, D-III or NAIA level, keep in mind that while coaches at Top 25 D-I schools may be scouting freshmen and sophomores, (as well as juniors), the majority of college coaches are more likely to be focusing on juniors and seniors.
For most athletes, this process is a marathon, not a sprint, and you may have to continue to contacting coaches into the fall or even the winter of your senior year. By staying on track from the beginning to end of your high school career, you will hopefully find the school that can offer you the collegiate experience you’ve been dreaming of!