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.
Well, surprise, surprise. Augustana University won another National Championship. I feel like this is getting a bit redundant. It seems like every semester, we’re talking to another coach, from another Viking program, who just won another National Championship. All jokes aside, there’s something different about Augie Athletics. They win. A lot. And, if I’m a high school athlete wanting the best college experience possible, I’m putting this school on my radar, ASAP.
Next up in the “ship” series of AU coach interviews is Gretta Melsted. Widely considered one of the best coaches in all of college softball, Coach Melsted understands how to win, and she sure as heck understands how to recruit! Fresh off winning the 2019 NCAA Division II Softball Championship, here is Coach Melsted’s advice to high school athletes looking to play at the next level.
Q: Physical talent aside, what are you looking for in a recruit?
A: I think what makes them stand out, if I’m out at the field watching a game, it’s going to be how hard they’re playing and how competitive they are. We want athletes who want to compete. We want kids who work hard and who find a lot of joy in playing the game. That’s what’s going to stand out to me. And, we want kids who want to be really good teammates. So, if it’s a kid who’s working hard, who’s positive, who’s cheering for their teammates and just competing, that’s going to stand out to me. Don’t get me wrong, the physical talent is what gets a coach to the field. But it’s the other things that will get a young lady an offer.
Q: Walk us through the stages of when you first identify a recruit, to the time that recruit commits to Augustana.
A: I don’t know if I necessarily have a spelled-out process with every recruit, because every student-athlete is different. But once we start seeing some kids that we think might be a good fit, our first step is to figure out if they’re going to academically be a good fit for Augustana. You’re going to need more than just the physical talent to play here, and we make that our top priority. GPA matters and so do ACT scores.
Once we’ve deemed a recruit a good academic fit for us, we love to get them on campus for a camp or clinic. And the reason we want to have them come to our camps and clinics is simple; we need to see them in person. We want to be able to work with them and see how they work with us. We want to see what type of rapport we can build, and we want to get an idea of what they’re all about. For us to make an offer, a player needs to have the talent on the field, in the classroom and they’ve got to have the personality that fits with our program. Evaluating all of those components takes time and we’re certainly in no rush to sign the wrong player for our program.
Q: What types of things should a recruit look for when deciding on which school he/she will commit to?
A: Pay attention to the roster. Make sure that you’re not getting recruited by a place that’s recruiting six people playing the same position as you. Do you have a chance to play? Are you just going to be a number, or are they going to recruit over you? I think that’s important. I think the right fit has to do with the character of the kids on the team. What are they all about? Are they about what’s best for each other or are they about only themselves?
I think the best fit, coaching wise, is a coach that motivates you how you like to be motivated. Does the coach care about you off the field? Or is it all about performance? You should be very careful with who you surround yourself with in life. I think that sentiment absolutely applies to the school you make a commitment to and who you decide to play for. It’s about surrounding yourself with the right people!
Q: What type of players does it take to win a National Championship?
A: Self-motivated players. Players, who want to be a part of something special, who truly care about their teammates. You can’t substitute a player who is selfless and
strives to be great in all areas of their life. If you want to win a National Championship, you have to want to make a difference in ways you never thought. And, it’s not just in softball. It can be whatever area of life or career you choose to take on. The type of players it takes to win a National Championship end up being the people that lead in anything they do, for as long as they live.