5-1-15 LET ME REITERATE! Now is the time to dot your i and cross your t. I know you're in the midst of proms and high school playoffs and finals and possibly starting travel ball as well. But if coaches don't know to look for you when they're attending that one tournament where they can see you in action, you shouldn't really be surprised when the coach doesn't recruit you on the spot.
Yes, they may recruit you after seeing you during a workout at their schools (D-II and NAIA), and occasionally players are recruited directly from a camp. But the fact of the matter is that most players are throwing darts at a dart board. If you aren't a professional dart player and you throw ten or fifteen darts from thirty feet away, what are the odds you'll hit several bulls eyes? On the other hand, if you throw eighty darts, chances are even the most inexperienced dart player will make a couple of perfect shots.
The same applies to your college search. Don't assume you'll be randomly discovered or that just because you're one of two hundred players' names sent to a college the coach will put you at the top of the list. Get that video and resume in the snail mail before June, then follow up with emails and phone calls. Target a lot of colleges even if you're sure you'll only need a dozen or so. Think of your extra efforts as recruiting insurance. If you don't need it, oh well...you're only out a few hours and some stamps. But if you do need it, you'll be very, very glad you made the effort and didn't rely on luck and the fairness of life to get yourself recruited!
6-1-15 SUMMER SOFTBALL WARS Back in the "good ole' days", summer softball was something to look forward to with both anticipation and clarity. You knew you'd start playing in late May or early June and you'd finish in late July or early to mid August, depending on whether or not your team qualified for Nationals. (Back in the day, there was really only one major national tournament in each age bracket with three or four smaller organizations hosting their nationals without quite the same fanfare.)
Your team probably played mostly local qualifiers and round robins with perhaps a few trips thrown in--to Colorado or some other major national tournament. You went to these events because you knew there would be college coaches there looking for players--particularly after your junior year.
Athletes occasionally went to camps at nearby colleges, although "back then", the camps were mostly pure skills camps and were open to kids from 10 to 18. You went to a camp to learn and have fun and not because you were sure that would get you a scholarship.
Ahh...the good ole' days. Now, there are too many tournament offerings and they all claim they will get you seen by hundreds of coaches and recruitment is practically guaranteed. Yet, with so many events--often running simultaneously in competition with each other--you actually see fewer coaches these days than you used to. Also contributing to this is the big fund-raising camps (whether at a college or piggy backing a tournament) which are held every week throughout the summer. These camps also offer the allure of possible recruitment, and some parents are willing to spend thousands of dollars to transport their players to these camps hoping for that magical discovery.
All I can say is Bah humbug! There are more terrific young ladies playing softball than ever before. Getting recruited is more of a challenge than ever before. And families and players are less willing than ever before to do the hard work that ensures they get recruited. Yes! If you are a super star player who's been visible to Div. I college coaches for several years, you can probably get away with doing less and enjoying it more.
However, if you're in the 75-80% group (which--let's face it--is the vast majority of players), you can run yourself ragged going to camps and tournaments all summer and still not get the exposure you need or be seen by the kind of coaches who are most likely to recruit you.
There's a solution, of course. And it works...like a charm. I've seen it work despite the changing trends in recruiting. You just have to be willing to step away from the herd, to ignore the (seemingly) quick fixes and easy solutions. If you do the work and identify your wow factor schools early on, YOU will be the one still standing at the end of the summer recruiting wars. I guarantee it!
6-15-15 LEAREN TO DISTINGUISH HOPE FROM HYPE Parents and would be college players face a number of dilemmas when it comes to the college search process. Hype is everywhere, and frankly, it's just easier for many parents/players to believe it. After all, when a camp ad seems to guarantee you'll leave the camp with dozens of coaches putting your number into speed dial on their cell phones, or a glitzy, corporate web site promises thousands of coaches will see your profile...and of course, recruit you...it just makes sense to buy into it. Or does it?
Families are so busy, and parents often have several children to get to practices, games, lessons, tutoring, and so on. On top of that, both parents often work, so logistics can be positively maddening. Teenage athletes have school and softball, not to mention other sports, friends, maybe a job, and of course, the ubiquitous social media. What a drag it is to have to write letters, address envelopes, attach stamps, make follow up phone calls, and so on. Why not just accept it as gospel when your travel coach says, "Email your top 20 colleges every week with your stats and such and you'll get recruited."
Oh, and by the way, if you believe this kind of hype, I have a bridge in San Francisco I can sell you...cheap! Yes, there will always be players who are magically, randomly discovered at major tournaments or camps. But you might want to keep in mind that those seemingly lucky players--most of the time--may also be the very best players or performers at that particular camp or tournament.
You can choose to buy into the hype and take what seems like the easiest way out. We'll all hope you get very lucky. Because if you don't, by the time you figure things out and realize that the college search for 90% of all players comes down to knowledge, perspective and hard work, chances are many, if not most, of the spots you might have taken on college teams will have gone to players who were savvy enough not to be dazzled by flash and glam. These spots went to players who were so committed to playing softball in college that they were not about to leave anything to chance. They learned the secrets that guarantee success and made the choice to take control of their own college search!