As far as I’m concerned, playing on a team solely because a coach assures you you’ll get a scholarship is a potentially deadly mistake. Yes, you want to play on a competitive team. But don't be swayed by promises that may not turn into something real. Unfortunately, by the time you find out that Coach Joe Blow was a Blow Hard, you'll be behind in your college search, and a lot of smarter players may have taken spots on teams you would have loved to play for.
If you play travel ball, make the most of it. Face as much good competition as possible, get information to as many college coaches as you can (in advance), and try to have fun while you’re improving your game. Spend extra time in the gym, get caught up on your conditioning, and don't forget to keep your brain (mind) sharp as well. These summers can be full of good memories, and they’ll certainly be full of hard work. But they should never be time wasted!
7-13-13 COMPETITION ISN'T COMPETITION IF IT'S EASY!
All summer, I've had the opportunity to watch a number of very strong 16/U teams compete. Some of these teams had a few juniors (2014) grads on them, making them not really--in anything but the literal sense--a 16/U team. But many of these teams were loaded with sophomores and even freshmen (2015's and 2016's) who were extremely competitive. Some have simply matured early, and some are actually top talents. However, one thing keeps running through my mind as I watch these athletes in action.
If--on average--100 to 150 players total end up being recruited by Top 25 Division I programs every year, and if roughly1000-1200 players total will go to any type of Division on program in any given year, you have to ask yourself some hard questions. These include: What matters most to me? Is a top education my primary concern (as it should be)? Is playing rather than sitting the bench a primary concern? You also have to ask yourself, am I willing to do whatever it takes to be the kind of player a top program looks for? This is extremely important because if you're not, it doesn't mean you can't play in college. But it does mean you may need to focus on other types of colleges and teams.
Anyone who knows me knows my motto is, "recruiting isn't fair." So if you (or mom and dad) are tempted to grumble and complain that it's not fair that other kids are bigger, stronger, more dedicated, harder-working, and so on, I'm just going to nod my head and say, "I agree. It's not fair." But it IS what it IS! And you either deal with it or decide college softball isn't for you.
8-2-13 SUMMER DOLDRUMS
As I talk to players and parents this time of year, I often hear very little in the way of upbeat optimism. Some players are talking to coaches who saw them over the earlier part of the summer, and they may feel like there is--at least some--forward momentum. But many players aren't hearing much back or are only hearing general information. It's very important not to let this stress you out!
Coaches at many colleges are on vacation right now and aren't doing much in the way of active recruiting. Some may be planning on attending a late summer tournament over the next couple of weeks, but many are trying not to think about softball for a while because they'll have to be back on campus in less than a month. (Unless they're on the quarter system. In that case, they may not have to be on campus until mid-Sept., and they may very well put recruiting on hold until that time.)
The bottom line here is don't get discouraged. It's early days yet. If I go through my recruiting classes going back many years, the pattern is almost always the same and very predictable. Some 2014 grads have committed. Others may be in active discussions regarding visits, and they will probably commit by November. Some players who don't have a lot going on now will find a school by November and will also commit early. Another group won't commit early, but they will narrow down their lists and do applications and be on what I call "final approach"--e.g., they may not officially decide until spring because they're waiting on admissions, financial aid, etc. And a few will labor away all winter trying to find that perfect fit. But between now and next May, all of them will figure out what they're going to do and by this time next year, most will be getting ready to go off to college.