USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the recruiting process. This isn’t about where just the top five-star athletes are headed but rather a guide to the process and the pitfalls for student-athletes nationwide from Playced.com. This week’s article is written by Ross Hawley, the president of the company. Playced.com is an industry leader in college recruiting. Their technology based recruiting service identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and provides a recruiting system that is second to none for student-athletes of all talent levels and ages.
Marty Slimak’s been coaching baseball at Cal Lutheran since 1994. In his time as the Kingsmen head coach, he’s guided CLU to 12 conference championships, 13 regional appearances, four World Series appearances and as of May 30th, one NCAA Division III national championship. That’s a grand total of 688 wins. Holy cow, that’s a lot of w’s!
If you’re a high school baseball player reading this article, it’s safe to say Coach Slimak is a guy you want to be playing for at the next level!
I sat down with Coach Slimak this week to hear what it takes to get recruited by an elite college baseball program like Cal Lutheran. Here is what he had to say.
Q: How does a recruit get your attention?
A: If we haven’t seen the young man play, the best way for a recruit to get our attention is to get in touch with us, directly. The first step would be to go on to our website and fill out the recruiting questionnaire for prospective student-athletes. That questionnaire basically gives us everything we need to know about a player to get the ball rolling. From personal info and academic achievements to athletic achievements, it’s geared specifically to help us make an initial impression on a player.
The next step would be to have a coach reach out to us on your behalf. Most of the time, if you’re a legitimate recruit, your high school coach is going to want to help promote you to college programs. If we get a good report from your high school coach and you’ve filled out that questionnaire, we’re going to take notice. That’s really the best way to get our attention if we haven’t seen play.
Q: What does the ideal recruit look like for your program?
A: It goes without saying that we’re always going to be looking out for the best athletes when we’re out recruiting. We’ll get our share of the big physical players, but at the NCAA Division III level, we don’t always land those type of guys. With that in mind and specific to our program, we are really focused on recruiting speed. We recruit bat speed, leg speed and arm speed. We’ve had a lot of success in that sense because by focusing on speed, we don’t allow physical stature to get in the way of us making a decision on a guy. Speed comes in all shapes and sizes and if a guy possesses speed in any of those areas, we know that the kid is an athlete. And typically speaking, if we’ve got a lineup full of better athletes than the guys across the diamond from us, we’ve got a great chance at winning a lot of games!
Physical talent aside, we’re looking for grinders. We want the guys that are always hustling, always encouraging and just battling in every sense of the word. You may not be the fastest guy on the field or have the strongest arm on the field, but do you consistently get the job done? When you strikeout, are you willing to let the next guy up know what you saw so he might have more success than you had? That’s the stuff that shows true character and that’s what it means to be a true, baseball grinder. This game is all about handling failure and moving on to the next play. Boy, when we see that kind of player with that physical talent I talked about, we’re excited.
Q: What’s your advice to parents of student-athletes going through the recruiting process?
A: Do I want to get to know the parents of a player we’re recruiting? Absolutely. Parents are a huge part of getting their kids to this point in the first place. But as a coach at this level, I don’t need mom or dad acting like their son’s agent. I don’t need them telling me how great their son is or how much better he is than all of the other guys out on the field. I need their son to be the one telling me that he’s going to be that guy for our program.
Parents should help their kids to do all of the little things that maybe 17 or 18-year olds aren’t quite sure how to do yet. Help them to stay organized and let them know that they’re the ones that the coach wants to hear from. Get them focused on taking charge and let them know that you’re going to follow their lead. Listen, it’s your son that’s going to be with us for the next four years. They need to know that we expect communication and interaction with them and we’re not interested in mom or dad doing all the work for them.
Q: What does it take to win a national championship?
A: We’ve been to the World Series six times in my tenure at Cal Lutheran. Twice, we’ve played in the national championship game. Man, we know what it takes to get to there! Yes, we needed some blessings along the way like getting the right draw or getting the right matchups. But to actually breakthrough and finally win one, it really was all about our players. This wasn’t our most athletic team or even our most talented team ever but make no mistake about it, our guys played for themselves. They weren’t playing for the coaching staff or the friends or their girlfriends, they were playing for each other. It was that clubhouse that got us through the ups and downs of the season and took us to the next level.