Article Provided by: The National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA)
Article by: MEGAN BROWN, Asst. Coach, Univ. of Connecticut
Few topics are as heavily debated in college softball as recruiting. All one had to do was sit in on the Softball Summit at last year’s NFCA National Convention to realize there are a plethora of opinions and concerns. While I agree there need to be changes in the current recruiting process, I will leave that debate to another time.
We recently conducted a winter clinic, and, as one might expect, a young player asked about recruiting. While I know this will vary from one school to another, I would like to provide coaches and parents some insight into how college coaches view this process, mainly the beginning portion, by answering some common questions.
1. What are you looking for in a first email from a recruit? Since most college coaches literally receive hundreds of recruit emails each week, brevity is very much appreciated. While it is important for a recruit to show their personality to the coach in the email, here are a few things to remember.
Make sure to put your graduation year in the email, preferably in the subject line. With the restrictions on recruiting and whom we can and cannot contact, if the year is not known you stand a good chance of getting deleted.
The next is sending paragraph upon paragraph of life history, which is too much information. While we are glad to hear that you want to play college softball and that you have been playing since you were born, we really just need to know your graduation year, team, coach’s contact info and please, please, please send a skills video.
Remember recruiting emails are like fishing: It only takes a small worm to catch a big fish. If you have a strong skill set, trust me we will find out your life history when we call your coach.
2. What do you need in a skills video? Again brevity is your friend. Skills videos are like resumes. They will get you an interview, but not the job. If you are a pitcher, three of each pitch from behind and the side will suffice. For hitters, five swings off a tee and five off of front toss is perfect. The same with fielding. If you would like to include game footage, please let us know which player you are and, again, just a few at-bats, pitches or plays.
Please avoid interviewing your coach, school counselor, or mom during your video. Please do not have music that I am embarrassed if someone down the hall hears.
And finally, please do not spend a fortune on your video. There are some great services to help players and parents and there are some that just take advantage. If money is an issue, don’t be afraid to make it yourself. We do not need fancy videos, just quality players in them.
3. What if my top choice does not offer me a scholarship? College coaches have to make decisions based upon what is needed for their team and the resources available. Most often, coaches say “no” because the skill set of a player does not match what they need for their level.
Coaches also have to say “no” due to things such as positions needed, skill sets needed — such as speed or power — and scholarship money available. Coaches have to turn down players all the time that could make contributions to their program because they just don’t have the money or space on their team.
Many times, if a coach wants to include a player in the program but does not have any scholarship money available, they will offer walk-on positions. Remember, you do not have to have a scholarship to play college softball. Also know that as coaches we get told “no” as well. We can all testify that we don’t always get the players we want.
Recruiting can be an overwhelming process for many families. I would encourage all players and parents to take time to really discuss what is important to them.
I was blessed to have had a great college experience. I loved the school I played for, and I am thankful I had the privilege to play with its name across my chest. I would encourage young players to seek the same thing for themselves.
Choose a school that you love and that you will be proud to represent. In the end, it is up to each individual to decide what they want their four years to be.