Continue to take the required NCAA core courses. Review the NCAA’s Guide for the College Bound Student Athlete to be sure you understand current recruiting guidelines. Take the SAT and ACT again at least once. Check with the NCAA and the NAIA Eligibility Centers to make sure your certification is current. Reread Preparing to Play Softball at the Collegiate Level. Continue to play competitive travel ball. Follow up (by phone) with schools you’ve contacted or who have contacted you. Begin/continue taking visits to colleges, particularly to schools that are recruiting you. 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. Apply to your Plan B colleges as needed. If you commit to a particular college for softball, however, you may not need to do this. Remind your parents to apply for financial aid beginning in the fall (October) by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Check with your individual colleges for any additional financial aid requirements. Check in regularly with your travel coaches so they know you’re staying on track and doing what needs to be done. When you commit to a college (or decide not to play softball next year), be sure to notify everyone concerned…e.g., travel and college coaches with whom you’ve been communicating.
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!