Establishing Your Own Collegiate Needs and Interests
In Cathi Aradi’s book, Preparing to Play Softball at the Collegiate Level, she claims that “establishing your own collegiate needs and interests is probably the most important aspect of your college search.” It’s crucial that young athletes take a serious look at what college life is about and whether they are truly serious about playing college softball. Student athletes often come back to school and tell us that there college experience has been “everything I dreamed of” or “it’s takes a lot of your time” or even “it’s nothing like I imagined”. The point is for you to take the time to investigate what college sports is all about.
It’s very important for you, your parents and coaches to have a realistic idea of your athletic abilities when determining the direction you take to play at the next level. I believe every athlete can play beyond high school if they spend the time to understand the process, target the correct level of play and set realistic goals. Regardless of the level you are trying to reach it will take hard work and determination. The college recruiting process can be really confusing and, as a coach, I get to witness the insanity this process places on families. If you are serious about wanting to play at the next level then make a plan and go for it! We’ll support you 100%. But, keep your wallet close to your pocket and realize that the majority of the work in the recruiting process must come from you and not a recruiting service or a guarantee from a coach. Start by talking to collegiate athletes.
Cathi Aradi has some good points in her book that every athlete should consider:
1. How much softball-related work will it take for me to get from where I am now to where I’ll have to be to play college? Do I need to start:
- following a conditioning/training program
- playing softball all spring/summer/fall – perhaps commuting to another city or county to play really competitive ball
- working out regularly with a pitching or hitting coach
2. What will I have to give up in order to reach my college potential? Will working towards this goal mean:
- going to weekend tournaments all summer instead of going to the beach or getting up early on Saturdays to go to work out with my pitching coach
- speinging extra time to keep my grades or staying after school to work with a tutor.
3. What do I want to do while I’m at college besides study? Is softball my number one priority (after getting an education) or do I hope to:
- join a sorority or different club
- work part time
- have an active social life – e.g. go to lots of parties and campus events
- take part in student government
4. Will playing softball make it difficult or impossible for me to do these other things?
If you ever get the chance to talk to college players, explain that your’re interested in playing collegiate softball and ask them about the time commitment. Ask how they balance academics, sports and a social life; whether they spend their off-season playing softball; whether the benefits of playing outweigh the disadvantages; and any other questions that will help you decide if collegiate softball is for you.
5. Go back and look at your answers to questions 1-4. Then ask yourself, “Do I think it will be worth it?”
It’s important for you to have realistic goals based on good judgment. Sit down with your coaches, parents and guidance counselor to develop these goals and take the time to interview other athletes to find out about their experiences. Having a solid set of goals and direction will only increase the likelihood of having a great collegiate athletic experience.