Question : My daughter is in 9th grade and has been playing travel ball for 6 years.  She is currently playing on an elite travel showcase team, and she has participated in a few showcase clinics. She has been tracked by some coaches and has sent emails, letters, profiles, and schedules to D, D-II, and D-III schools.  However, her high school coach said that this is very premature and seemed irritated that she informed him of her goal to play college ball.  Is this too premature?  She is afraid that she has gotten off on the wrong foot with the HS coach and that she might not make varsity. Would it be better for her to skip her high school year of ball and just continue with the travel ball to gain exposure?                                                                 

Answer: Unfortunately, there is no simple or even a right answer to this question.  It's never too early to send information to college coaches. For the most part, however, Div. II, Div. III and NAIA coaches do very little player identification when it comes to 9th graders.  So there's no harm--where those colleges are concerned--if the player wants to wait until she's finishing her sophomore year or even starting her junior year to begin reaching out to D-II, III and NAIA coaches.  (Remember, they represent 75% of all schools with teams!)

D-I coaches--at least those at the larger programs--are another story.  While many players many not reach their full growth and/or their full softball potential until they are juniors or even seniors in high school, if players want to find out whether or not they might be  D-I prospects, they need to start contacting D-I coaches by their sophomore year. 

While it doesn't sound like this high school coach is particularly supportive of her goal of playing in college, there are benefits to be gained from playing HS softball, so it seems like there should be a way to work around his bias.  Assuming your daughter wants to play for her high school, I would suggested that she simply keep her opinions/goals about college ball to herself and not involve her HS coach in the process in any way--at least not at this point in time.

It's unlikely college coaches will be reaching out to him for input on her, so let him do his best coaching job, and you daughter can work on her college search over the summer and through the next year or so without his help.  Her travel coach's input will carry more weight with college coaches in any case, so perhaps she can elicit that person's help where needed.  (Also, consider reading my book as it will provide valuable insights into the process.) If she chooses not to play HS softball, that's okay, but she should be prepared to have a clear and responsible reason to tell any college coaches who might ask--down the road--why she elected not to play in high school.  Hope this helps!

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