by Catharine Aradi

This spring, your college softball search may be way down on your list of “must do’s” right now. Nonetheless, if you’re one of those girls who is using some of her free time to work on contacting coaches, the information below might be helpful. 

I just finished an informal survey of a few hundred college coaches to get an idea of how they’re coping with school closures, seasons being cancelled and potential recruiting issues caused by current players getting another year of eligibility.  Based on the answers I received, here are some things for high school players (and parents) to think about.

It’s good to remember that most coaches are working from home. Some have no choice, while others are opting to do so. Quite a few said they are going into the office periodically to work, get mail, and deal with on-campus issues. But it’s still possible not all coaches will be getting snail mail as often as they otherwise would.

On the positive side, many coaches said they’re getting caught up on correspondence of all kinds-including emails. Some told me they’re done recruiting for 2020 and 2021-pending resolution of the NCAA’s extended eligibility issues. A few others said they’re on hold until they know more about the financial implications, players deciding to stay or leave, and so on.

When I asked how they think this extra year of eligibility will affects their teams, their answers seemed to depend upon their particular school/team's needs.  Most of the D-III coaches didn’t seem to think it would have any real affect. But the Div. I, II and NAIA coaches’ responses varied from team to team.

Several coaches said it won’t make much difference since they only had a few seniors and/or most of their seniors do not plan to use that extra year.  A few said they’re waiting to see how it all plays out because there could be an issue with seniors on scholarship staying and incoming freshmen expecting scholarships and/or playing time.  Additionally, a couple of coaches said they thought it would have more of an effect on the 2021/2022 classes if the NCAA extends this extra year of eligibility to juniors, sophomores and freshmen as well.

One coach felt this could have a ripple affect with players holding onto scholarships a year longer...meaning some coaches wouldn't need to recruit as much. She added that if travel ball is affected this summer or fall (travel or tournaments cancelled or restricted), that could impact recruiting as well.  Several coaches mentioned that if their seniors stay, it may delay incoming and some current players moving into starting spots-which could lead to dissatisfaction and even transfer requests.

Until we know if summer/fall ball will go on as expected--or be limited--and until the NCAA/NAIA resolve all the issues involved in adding a year of eligibility, we’re not going to have a complete picture of how this will affect all of you high school players. BUT, the odds are good that if current players do choose to stay another year, (and if that includes juniors/sophomores/freshmen), it could make competition for future spots and scholarships a bit tougher.

The bottom line is that it is now more important than ever that parents and players:

   1)  understand how recruiting really works
   2)  understand how to make the most of their players’ recruiting opportunities
understand that the best way to beat the competition and win a spot on a team is to be very proactive in their college search.

If you believe you’ll get recruited simply because you’re good, if you rely on your travel coach to make it happen, or if you just assume you’ll have lots of chances to be seen, noticed, and recruited thanks to travel ball, this year at least, you could end up that proverbial creek without a proverbial paddle.  Let me know if I can help!