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.
It’s officially June. What a great time of the year for high school athletes, everywhere. School is letting out. The temps are heating up. It’s time to break out the flip-flops and tank tops! And, for all you high school softball players out there, June is even a little more special for you. Because it’s that time of the year again for the NCAA Division I Women’s College World Series.
For all you Oklahoma City dreamin’ softball recruits, this article is dedicated to you. Here’s a look back at some of the highlights from our softball coach interviews. From what it takes to be successful, to where you fit in as a softball player, you won’t find better recruiting advice than right here!
Mike Candrea, Arizona
Q: What advice would you have for the student-athlete that wants to play in college and has the ability, but is not receiving much recruiting interest?
A: I truly believe there is a place for every athlete to play in college. Here’s the secret: It is up to the athlete to figure out where that place is. More often than not, high school athletes can honestly provide an accurate assessment of their own abilities. If these student-athletes could follow their gut on which schools they should pursue and attend, the recruiting process would be a total success for so many more of them. Unfortunately, outside distractions or parents make the college recruiting process about ego or pride. I would tell these student-athletes to be honest with themselves and take ego out of the equation.
Heather Tarr, Washington
Q: What are your biggest predictors of success for student-athletes you recruit?
A: You can see it in their behaviors. How someone goes through their daily moments, generally, tells you if they’ve got a good chance of having success on this stage. What do their personal interactions look like? What do people say about them? I think accountability is something we, as coaches, really try to investigate. It’s critical for us to see ownership in all circumstances. It’s not always easy. When things don’t go according to plan, how do you respond? Are you able to own the bad, as much as you can own your success? Every opportunity you encounter presents a choice. The kids having success at this level are trying to win every choice they make. They’re disciplined in their daily moments.
Mike Reed, UT Tyler
Q: What is something that every high school athlete should know about the college recruiting process?
A: What’s important to you? That’s what I would ask any high school athlete that is going through this process. Because how you answer that question determines the path you need to take in finding the right college program. Every recruit has a priority block system. Sure, the order of priorities is going to be different for each one, but every recruit has a pretty good idea about what really matters to them. You have to have a strong sense of what you are looking for as you start the process, and as you move through the process. Let those priorities guide you through this experience. Also, be open to all the possibilities, at all the levels. So often, recruits dream of playing just for the schools they are watching on TV. Understand that those opportunities are smaller and limited. Not every athlete is going to get the opportunity to play at their “dream” school, and that’s ok. By setting your priorities beyond what you are seeing on TV, you are going to open yourself up to some amazing opportunities and most likely, the right fit for you!
Ashley Cozart, North Alabama
Q: What is your advice to a recruit interested in your program?
A: The main thing for a recruit to understand about getting identified by us is that we have to see you play. For us to really recruit you and advance the process, we have got to see you play. That said, send us an email and make it personal. Research us and send us something that isn’t just a generic note. Try to give us a reason to come see you play or invite you to one of our camps. Really, with recruiting starting so early, coming to one of our camps is the easiest way for us to see how you would fit in with our program. We put our campers through our actual practice plans because we want to see how they perform with our expectations and coaching style. And per NCAA rules, we are allowed to talk to recruits on campus for a camp, when we might not be able to do so if we were just out watching a game. Camps are such a valuable resource during the recruiting process for both the coaching staff and the recruit.
Lori Meyer, Minnesota State
Q: When you’re out recruiting and watching games, what catches your eye about a player?
A: It’s pretty easy to walk into a ballpark and see an athlete right away. When a player has that athleticism, everybody’s going to notice them. So, I wouldn’t say it’s the athleticism that draws us into a player, because that’s a given. What I’m really interested in would be the things that go beyond your physical abilities. Are you a good teammate? How do you respond to umpires? How do you respond to your coaches, opponents or even your parents in between games? How you handle real situations within the grind of the game speaks volumes about you, more so than how good of a softball player you are. Softball is a game a failure and guess what, life isn’t always easy either! So, when I see a player that’s mature enough to handle whatever’s put in front of them, I’m taking notice. I’d rather have an athlete with a little less talent, who understands how to treat others, than a more talented athlete who doesn’t. That’s an easy choice to make.