The past year and a half have been really challenging for a lot of athletes—especially those who hope to play in college. But I always start my workshops with the warning, "If you’re not playing for the love of the game, it’s not worth your time!” While some players may get help paying for their education through softball, and some athletes will go on to careers as coaches and the like, the vast majority of college ball players will put away their gloves and bats when they graduate. Their future won’t be tied into softball other than possibly coaching their daughters or enjoying college games on ESPN in the spring.
In my many years as a recruiting consultant, I’ve seen it all. Youth softball, high school softball and travel ball (along with the college search) tend to make all parents (and sometimes players themselves) quite CRAZY! But one thing remains set in stone no matter if you’re ten or twenty. Playing softball should be FUN!
Why? Because it’s also going to be WORK! Whether you’re at a community college, a competitive Div. III program, on a small scholarship at a Div. II or NAIA team, OR, playing for a Top 25 Div. I coach on a full ride, college softball will not be “easy.” Virtually every college player I’ve ever spoken to has told me college ball was harder and more demanding than she expected it to be. And the stronger the team, the tougher the challenge!
You will have days, maybe even weeks when you wonder why you are playing a college sport when there are so many other fun things to do in college. Yet, if you truly love softball and can’t imagine not playing, you’ll stick with it and you’ll work as hard as you can. Being part of a team can provide you with friendships that last a lifetime, not to mention other benefits such as academic, and possibly financial support, structure during your college years, and so on.
But I promise you there’s not a single college coach out there who will say, “Softball here is a piece of cake. Show up for practice—maybe an hour or two—and then you can go back to your dorm and party with your friends.” The experience of being a college athlete is a comprehensive one that includes conditioning, attending class, maintaining a certain grade point average, being at every practice, and PRODUCING during games!
Consequently, before you start your college search, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Is it because you love softball and want to keep playing for as long as you can? Hopefully, your answer will be an unqualified YES! Because wherever you end up—and whether you earn a scholarship or not—the primary reward you get from your college softball experience should be the joy of stepping onto the field and doing your best to help your team win!