Recruiting 101 – Fact versus Myth
By Tom Mauldin
According to Webster’s, a myth is a “widely held but false belief or idea.”
Synonyms and antonyms for myths include delusion, falsity, untruth, errors, falsehood and misbelief to name a few.
Let’s add “illusion” – a misleading image presented to the vision … something that deceives or misleads intellectually.
When it comes to college recruiting, softball recruiting in particular, our world is filled with myths. There are many.
In order to get a true grasp on recruiting, anyone who is wanting to play at the next level needs to know fact from myth.
The best advice: learn all you can about recruiting. Learn all you can about the colleges that are of interest. Learn how they recruit, what type of players they recruit. The more information, the more prepared recruits and their families will be.
The internet is filled with recruiting information. Here are the most common myths and not in any order of importance … all are important.
Myth: If I am good … college softball coaches will find me.
Reality: If you’re not 6-7, weigh 300 pounds, run the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds and play tight end, there is a very good chance college coaches will NOT find you. There are many high school athletes every year that could play in college, but don’t pursue being recruited. They were not proactive and thus they were “out of sight, therefore, out of mind.” College coaches have limited time and limited recruiting budgets in looking for recruits. You need to contact colleges on your own. It starts with you.
Myth: Every scholarship is a full ride.
Reality: Rarely are softball scholarships full ride. With rosters of 20 and only a dozen scholarships for NCAA D1 programs, you do the math. And NCAA D2 programs are limited to 7.2 scholarships. Some two-year programs offer substantial scholarships, but many are limited to tuition and partial tuition scholarships. Do your homework and do the math.
Myth: Division I is the best option
Reality: Not always. NCAA D2, NAIA and Junior College levels also offer scholarships as well as outstanding education opportunities. While there are few D1 opportunities, the other divisions make up the majority of college softball players. And don’t count out D3 schools because they don’t offer athletic scholarships. They do offer financial aid, academic scholarships, grants, loans, etc., to help with the cost of tuition. Oftentimes, these schools’ options are better than partial D1 scholarships.
Myth: Recruiting starts your senior year in high school
Reality: It’s really never too early to start the recruiting process and recruiting begins with the softball player. Coaches want prospective athletes who communicate. That’s where connections begin. The earlier you start the recruiting process, the better your chance for success. Don’t wait until your senior year in high school to get on their radar.
Myth: If you receive an email from a coach you are being recruited.
Reality: Coaches send out letters and emails to hundreds of prospective softball players. They also talk to many, but eventually sign only a few. Receiving an email from a college coach doesn’t mean you are being recruited. But it can be the start of a relationship that could prove promising. Depending on the program, they could be sending out many letters and camp invites. Many programs use the first letters simply to find out if a recruit is interested. Additionally, camps are a big money maker for coaches and their programs. Unless they are personalized letters, don’t take the letter as a serious sign of interest.
Myth: I’ll get discovered at the big tournaments and showcases
Reality: Coaches don’t attend these events hoping to discover talent. They come to the large showcases with a list of athletes (who likely have contacted them) they want to evaluate. Coaches are making initial evaluations on film or through scouting reports, then coming to these events to make their in-person evaluations. You can get discovered if you happen to catch a coach’s eye, but you stand a far better chance if you contact the coach before the event.
Myth: My scholarship will cover most of the costs of college
Reality: Only full-ride scholarships come close to covering 100 percent of the costs associated with college, but most scholarships are NOT full-rides. The majority of scholarship athletes are asked to pay for 50 percent or more of their education. Do your homework.
Myth: My scholarship is good for four years
Reality: Scholarships have been one-year agreements since 1972. When coaches say you have a “four-year” scholarship, it is only a verbal commitment and not an official four-year offer. While many coaches make good on their word and renew the scholarship each year, coaching changes, injury or academic eligibility are all reasons why you could lose your scholarship.
Myth: Verbal scholarship offers are the same as official scholarship offers
Reality: Coaches verbally offer scholarships to athletes to help with their recruiting lineup, but injury, coaching changes and a change of heart by athlete or coach means a verbal is just that — verbal. When the athlete receives their official Letter of Intent, then it becomes an official offer.
Myth: Coaches don’t want to be contacted by prospective athletes
Reality: College coaches WANT TO HEAR FROM PROSPECTIVE PLAYERS. Communication is paramount. It’s never too early to let them know who you are, your goals … get on their radar and keep them informed.
Myth: Good grades don’t matter if you are a good athlete
Reality: It is true that elite athletes often receive more opportunities, grades are high on every coaches list. The lower the grade point average, the higher the risk that a player will be eligible come softball season. Coaches don’t like gambling with taxpayer or private dollars when it comes to offering scholarships. There are far more scholarships for academics than softball.
Myth: My club or high school coach will find me a scholarship
Reality: Coaches can be pivotal in the recruiting process for their players, but it’s not their job to find you a softball scholarship. You are in charge of your recruiting process. Coaches are busy and many don’t have the time, contacts or experience to help their athletes with recruiting. You must do the legwork. If your coach is willing to help, provide them with information they need to assist.