by Catharine Aradi

As we approach the end of 2021, I thought I’d use this article to do some light housekeeping…related to playing softball in college, that is.

1)    The first question you should ask yourself every time you get ready to go to a practice or a game, to go to a pitching or hitting lesson, to go to the gym, to write a coach, to research a college is this: Do I still love softball and do I really want to play softball when I go to college?

You might not respond with a resounding yes, but it should definitely be a yes without too many qualifications! College softball will be more challenging and demanding than any softball you have played to date. It may also be more rewarding…but only if you love what you’re doing and if you can’t wait to get to the field to work on your game.

If your answer to the above question is a no, then maybe it’s time to have a talk with mom, with dad, with your coaches.  Maybe it’s time to find something else that gets you going in the morning. Softball, as wonderful and exciting as it can be, is a game. Life will go on if you (or anyone else) decide to stop playing tomorrow.

2)    If you’re a 2022 graduate and plan on playing in college, are you on track to meet NCAA and/or NAIA eligibility guidelines? Have you registered with the NCAA and NAIA Eligibility Centers? Have you checked to see if there are any pandemic related changes to your eligibility requirements?

This may seem like a “Duh!” question, but you’d be surprised at how many players and/or parents seem to think the coach who’s recruiting the player will be able to “get around” those pesky requirements for athletic eligibility or even admission to a college. If you’re not on track, you will likely be looking at going to a JC or at not playing as a freshman at the 4-year college you hope to attend.

Note: If you’re a 2023, 2024 or 2025 grad, now is the time to make sure you’re on track to qualify by the time you graduate.  See my book or the organizations’ websites for details.

3)    If you’re a 2023 (or early starting 2024) grad, have you decided what you’ll do this spring to put yourself in front of college coaches?

In other words, are your grades in order? Do you have (or have scheduled) a skills video? Are you working on creating a profile/resume and an introductory letter?

Wait! What’s that you say? You were just planning on emailing college coaches and telling them they should recruit you? If that’s the case, you clearly haven’t read my book…or even this website. About 18 months ago, I surveyed several hundred college coaches from different types of programs, and one of the key questions I asked was how many emails they get from prospects every week.

Virtually all of the coaches said they get emails non-stop. The number ranged from 30-50 a week at smaller programs to 300-400 a week at better-known schools. Most of the coaches said they get even more emails in the summer and fall before big tournaments. (One coach simply answered, “Too many!”)

Email is great once a coach has shown that he/she will read and respond personally to your emails. But to be on the safe side, you might want to see Chapter 5 in my book where it talks about introducing yourself to college coaches through the United States Postal Service. I guarantee you that the coaches you want to contact aren’t getting 250 or 300 letters a week.  Letters take focus, determination, good grammar and the desire to stand out. Don’t you want to stand out????

4)     Finally, November and December are months were we should focus on gratitude.  Let us hope as 2021 draws to a close that we have even more to be grateful for and on a grander scale. I hope you and your loved ones are healthy and that 2022 becomes the best year ever.

But while you’re making out your Christmas list for Santa (or whomever) and thinking of things to say thanks for at the Turkey Day dinner table, here is a thought.

Softball is a team sport. Don’t forget to give thanks for your teammates, your coaches, the people who make sure your playing fields are safe and the people who make your equipment. Most importantly, give thanks for the people who pay your softball (and other) expenses, who drive you (and sometimes fly you) to tournaments, who cheer for you in the stands, and who ignore you when you growl and grumble and complain on the way to an 8 am game or driving home at 10 pm from a tournament …those sometimes annoying people known as your parents!

             Happy Holidays however you celebrate them.  May the last two months of 2021 be healthy and joyful!