5-1-16 SO YOU WANT TO PLAY IN COLLEGE... If you want to make sure you get the chance to play in college, here's what you need to do!
1) Develop a strong work ethic and a positive attitude. 2) Keep your grades up. Put the same effort into your school work as you do into your softball. 3) Improve your softball skills every year. Never rest on your laurels...or your stats. 4) Keep your options open. It's fine to aim for a Top 25 D-I program, but remember, there are 1175 other schools out there, and (statistically speaking) you have a much better chance of ending up at one of them than you do at Alabama or Washington! 5) Become an outstanding hitter. No matter what position you play, hitting sells. If you can consistently hit good pitching, plenty of coaches will notice. I cannot stress this enough. See ball, hit ball...hard!** 6) Play the game for love. There's really no other reason to do it. 7) Understand that college softball will challenge you, push you, and demand more of you than anything you've ever experienced. Success may not be handed to most of you as freshmen, nor will a .425 batting average and All-Conference honors. But you can win at this game if it's what you really want! 8) Be prepared to WORK. Competing against thousands of other prospects and showing coaches how much you want to play may seem daunting. But playing in college is a reachable goal IF it's the goal you most want to reach. Remember, I'm here to help and I can keep you moving forward. 9) Last, but far from least...HAVE FUN! Seriously. If you're not enjoying yourself, there just is no point.
5-14-16 TRANSITIONING FROM HIGH SCHOOL TO TRAVEL BALL High school ball is winding down in most states that play spring ball, and most travel ball teams are getting ready to start their summer season. If you've done your "homework," you'll be able to make the transition from HS to travel a seamless one. The challenges of faster pitching, multiple games in a day, and weekends spent traveling will be one you relish. You'll be able to carry the drive to win from your high school league games with you into summer tournaments even if they're showcase events.
If you're hoping to play college ball, you'll have sent out your snail mail packets and followed those up with an email reminder to lots and lots of coaches at many different levels of collegiate competition. You can relax and look forward to having fun this summer even as you'll work hard to perform at your very best. Why? Because you'll have the confidence that comes from knowing you've done everything you can to prepare yourself on every front--athletic, academic and recruiting.
Of course, if you haven't done your homework, you could spend the next couple of months stressed out, dealing with stressed out parents and coaches, and wondering why you're playing softball in the first place because it sure isn't very much fun anymore!
6-1-16 WHILE WATCHING THE WCWS, LISTEN TO THE SUBTEXT! This is an exciting time of year for softball, and hopefully, many of you will catch the NCAA championship play on ESPN. It's wonderful to see these athletes excelling at the highest level, and as you watch the games, you're bound to experience a lot of thoughts, ranging from "Wow!!!!" to "Gee, I could do that," to "My kid is way better than their starting 2nd baseman." But let me interject a word of caution at this point. It's never as easy as it looks!
When you're watching these games, pay attention to the "subtext" of the game---e.g., listen to the things the commentators say that would normally go in one ear and out the other. If you really listen, you'll hear that the work load of most players at the very top of the collegiate softball pyramid is tremendous. Their coaches are tough. They expect, if not demand, an intense commitment to winning. This includes hours of conditioning---both mental (psychological) and physical---extra time working on skills and drills, as well as the willingness to make the necessary sacrifices to achieve both team and personal goals.
Being good is a gift to appreciate, but it's not nearly enough. There are lots of good players out there. Yes, you should celebrate your All-League achievements, and yes, you should be very proud of everything you've accomplished so far. But keep these things in perspective. Ask yourself if you are the kind of player who truly lives, eats, breathes, and sleeps softball? If softball is your life, then you should pursue the kind of championship team where that's a given--whether it's at a D-I, D-II, NAIA or D-III school.
And if softball isn't your whole life, that's okay too! There is still a great place for you in college ball...just as long as you really love the game! There are all sorts of programs out there; you simply need to find the one that's right for you. All college ball at all levels of competition will demand more of you than you expect. And that's a good thing. It's the only way you'll grow. You should want to work hard, to get better, and to set new goals for yourself, because while making a college team is the culmination of all your efforts so far, it's also the beginning of a new chapter in your game.
No matter how good you are, there are other players out there who are just as good, if not better. And between us, most of those players feel they deserve a spot on a college team more than you do! How are you going to react to this? You've got to have "game", of course! You've got to want it! You've got to be willing to fight back and show some coach that you are the one who deserves a chance! And maybe most importantly, you've got to be smart about it. Get cagey, get competitive. Understand how the process works, and make it work to your advantage!