11-1-15 TAKE A MOMENT TO SAY "THANKS!" While you’re worrying about how you’ll pay next summer’s travel ball expenses or concerned that someone else’s player is getting recruited and your player is not, take a minute or two to step outside yourself. Try to identify the things to be thankful for as 2015 winds down. Be glad your daughter is healthy enough to play sports. Be glad she understands the importance of a college education and that she works hard to keep her grades up. Say thanks to all the people who have helped her get where she is today-coaches, teachers, mentors, friends…not to mention the family!
When you start thinking about New Year’s resolutions in December, assess your priorities. Make sure your daughter's health and welfare and happiness-both short and long term-are at the top of your list. Put getting a college education ahead of finding a big name team to recruit her. Look down the road and consider what a positive college experience and a university degree will mean to her when she’s 25 and 35 and 45! (It wouldn’t hurt to think about what it might mean to you in the event you need your children to support you in your old age!)
Here’s another good resolution. Develop a softball budget…and stick to it! Weigh the cost of two tournament tee shirts against the price of my book. Pack a healthy lunch instead of buying reheated, high fat, concession stand hot dogs. At a tournament, stay at a lower priced hotel even if it means you can’t hang out with the other parents every night (rehashing every pitch and swing and play of the day). And don’t buy that $350 bat just because it’s pretty or because you believe it will make your player a hitter. Put that money away for her education-or at the very least-for visits to colleges. Spend wisely, and it will pay off down the road. Finally, resolve to put your creative energy into a well-run college search, and that will pay off too!
11-14-15 NOVEMBER REALITY CHECK One of the unfortunate realities that cannot be ignored when it comes to recruiting is the fact that there will always be way, way more players who think they want to compete in college than there will ever be spaces available on teams. If you are from the West Coast, this is particularly true. In the old days, (ten to twenty years ago), just being from California or Arizona was enough to get coaches at Div. I schools to take a second look.
That has all changed. Not only are top players to be found all over the United States now, but many college coaches look first within their regions for strong prospects. They know it may be easier to develop loyalties and then recruit (and keep) students who are within driving distance of their schools.
If you live on the West Coast, you need to be prepared to either leave your home state for college or to look at a wider variety of colleges, including those that field Div. II, Div. III and NAIA teams. And you may even find that you have to work a little harder to convince coaches at Midwest and East Coast programs that you are serious about playing for them.
Another possibly unpleasant fact of life is that if you are from the west and you want to stay close to home, it may cost your family more. There are a limited number of Div. II and NAIA colleges in the region, and most don't have large scholarship endowments. And of course, Div. III coaches have no athletic money to offer. So the likelihood is that you may have to fund your education---and your softball---in ways other than athletic scholarships.
I'm not trying to discourage would-be West Coast college players, but I do encourage you to look outside your area when it comes to researching and pursuing your future college home!
12-1-15 USE YOUR HOLIDAY DOWN TIME WISELY! If the winter weather is keeping you off the softball field, you can put this indoor time to good use. Here are a few suggestions!
1) Start a conditioning program if you don't already have one. You don't have to become a world class body builder. But you do need to be in really good shape in order to survive the demands of a competitive college season. You should be doing both aerobic exercise for stamina and muscle building for strength.
2) Never forget that there are more would be college ball players who don’t find teams to recruit them than there are those who do. Become a savvy consumer. Research a variety of colleges that offer the kind of education you want. Look at schools outside your region (and maybe your comfort zone), and try hard to identify college softball teams where you have a very high "wow" factor.
3) Become a skeptic. Don't believe everything you hear, particularly from coaches who promise to “get you recruited” simply by showing up at a tournament or making a phone call. And don’t assume that every parent who says, “Oh, my daughter just went there and this coach saw her and offered her a scholarship,” is telling it like it really was. Sure, these things happen once in a blue moon, but quick and easy recruiting is the almost always the exception that proves the rule.
4) Take charge of your own college search, educate yourself, learn what is fact and what is fiction, and be the one who makes it happen instead of the one who sits by the phone and waits…and waits…and waits! In the meantime, have a great holiday season!