In my work with families, I constantly stress how challenging and demanding it is to play for a top D-l program like Washington or Alabama. I watch parents nod and smile as they think to themselves, “No worries. My (Susie, Molly, Teri, or Amber) is up to it." No matter how realistic a portrait I try to paint, they believe that since they themselves would love that life (or so they think), so would their daughter. But I have had clients play at the highest levels of college ball, and it always comes down to this. Your player had better really, really, really love the game of softball and be ready to be pushed to her limit if she wants to play for a big name team.
In my experience, once they are in college, most kids find that they want balance in their lives, which usually means a little less softball and a little more life. I’m not passing judgment on any of this or anyone's personal choice. I just know that a lot of kids quit college teams after a year or even a semester because they weren't prepared for what would be expected of them. This is particularly true at high level D-I programs where the young ladies may have given commitments when they were only freshmen or sophomores.
I need to remind families that there are different levels of competition and different levels of expectation. While almost all college coaches want to win--regardless of whether they're at D-I, D-II, D-III or NAIA programs--the road to winning won't be the same at all schools. So when you're telling people you'll only consider a D-I program (or your daughter should be playing at a big name school), make sure you know what you're really saying. Figure out what is the best college experience for her, and then figure out what type of college team will best fit these long term goals!
1-14-16 SENIORS! GO GET THAT MONEY!
If you're a 2016 graduate and you hope to find financial aid to help with your college costs, now is the time to get cracking! File your FAFSA as soon as possible. Http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/
Check with your individual state government to find out if there are additional grants available to residents attending college in state. For example, in California, there is the Cal Grant option.
Check with the college you plan to attend or those you are considering attending to ensure you meet any specific financial aid deadlines they have at their campus and to find out what aid options they offer.
Do some online research to investigate other types of scholarships or grants for which you might qualify. Your local service organizations such as the Rotary Club or the like may also offer scholarships. Ask your high school counselor for help. There are numerous ways to fund your college education, but you have to do your homework!
2-1-16 GET SERIOUS ABOUT YOUR COLLEGE SEARCH!
So...you're a 2017 graduate, and you've really been meaning to get serious about your college softball search, but you've just been TOO busy! Sound familiar? You have 10 (or maybe 50) excuses--many of them legitimate--for why you haven't started creating your resume and letters of introduction, identifying college coaches you want to write, and starting to crank out those snail mail packets...as described in my book, Preparing to Play Softball at the Collegiate Level.
Well, I don't want to be a pain in your derriere, but the truth is, every day that goes by from here on out that you don't do something proactive (vis-a-vis your college search) may put you even further behind. While it is true that many (if not the majority) of college coaches won't make their final recruiting decisions until this summer or fall, you have to get on their radar if you want to be considered a prospect.
Think of recruiting as a slowly building tidal wave. It doesn't look like much when it's in the distance, but by the time it hits the shore, it may roll right over you. If you wait until the summer or fall to start your college search, you might still find that ideal college and team. But if you don't, you may end up kicking yourself in the pants because you didn't prioritize when it mattered.
By sending out your letters this spring (be they introductory to new coaches or update notes to coaches you've already written), you will ensure that you can enjoy playing summer travel ball without worrying about all the things you haven't done, and you'll be able to start your follow-up calls in August knowing that at least some of the coaches you've written will be looking forward to talking to you!
2-12-16 YOUR TRAVEL TEAM IS ONLY ONE PIECE OF THE RECRUITING PUZZLE
Every year, I see frustrated parents searching for a newer and better travel team for their daughters, believing THIS will make the big difference, hoping this will be the solution. It might be...if the team you were originally on never plays in any tournaments that college coaches attend, or if you're sitting the bench 95% of the time. Unfortunately, since many parents don't really understand how recruiting really works, they buy into the belief that changing teams will eliminate the need to make a video, send out letters, and so on. A new coach may even tell them they don't have to do anything but play for him to get recruited...because this suits his agenda. But what that coach won't tell you is that if a college coach is truly DONE recruiting for your grad year, he or she isn't going to go after your player no matter how good she is. Might they offer her a walk on spot? Possibly. But there you go. That only works if Mom and Dad have $25000 for you to go somewhere and you're happy sitting the bench.
There's nothing wrong with changing teams if your current situation isn't helping you learn and grow. But if do start searching for a new one, try not to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. In other words, make sure you know just what you're getting into with the new team and coach.
I want the best for every player. But to me, the best is a great school, a great education, and a team that really wants HER! So just do what I recommend straight away, and you'll save me a lot of grief. You're also more likely to succeed and reach your goal before your friends and teammates! Cheerio and Happy Valentine's Day! Enjoy your chocolate hearts!