In our effort to help you achieve your collegiate fastpitch softball dreams, we reached out to Dustin Combs, Head Coach at William Jewell College and 2014 National Pro Fastpitch Coaching Staff of the Year award winner for his work as Assistant Coach with the Akron Racers. In his nine years at the helm of the William and Jewell softball program, Combs has lead the Cardinals in seven winning seasons. He’s seen his fair share of recruiting at the DII level and here’s Part 1 of his advice on getting seen and starting the conversation with coaches. Check back next week for Part 2!
One of the most common questions that I get from parents and coaches are how early an athlete should begin the college search and where to begin in the process. I certainly don’t think an athlete’s freshmen year is too early to start the process. I recommend for a freshman to start by listing what priorities are important to them when considering colleges; ex. location or distance they feel comfortable living from home, what degree plan interests them, the softball program qualities that are important to them, and their ability level. The most important priority of the process is finding the right “fit.” Once priorities are established they should research colleges that fit the criteria of their priorities. Start with a list of 20-30 colleges (this can vary from athlete to athlete) and in the early stages can change as the process evolves. The athlete should share this list with their current coaches and keep them in the loop as to communication that is made. Parents, athletes, and select coaches should be educated to the level of communication a College coach can have with an athlete in regards to age and this level of communication varies from NCAA, NAIA and Junior Colleges.
Step 1: “Getting Seen”
The sport of softball is growing at a tremendous rate and has never been more popular. Therefore recruiting at the college level has never been more competitive. There are thousands of young softball players that have aspirations of playing at the collegiate level. As an athlete it is very important to find a team that puts their players in the best situation to be seen by College Coaches. Find a program that will challenge you as a softball player and that plays in exposure tournaments that College Coaches are attending.
Step 2: “Starting the Communication”
An athlete should begin the communication process by email. I feel strongly that there should be a better emphasis on email etiquette when it comes to an introduction email. Athletes should be personal in the email addressing it to each coach personally for the respective college they’re emailing. “Coach Combs” for example, should be used and never; “Coach”, “Hey Coach” or “Coaches” etc. when beginning an email. Be clear and concise with the body of the email and most importantly use good grammar.
Typically an email should include a player bio. (Academic information, team information, contact information, coach’s contact information etc.) If you are contacting a coach regarding an upcoming tournament you are competing in, be specific to the tournament and tournament location as well as game times with field information. A link to a skills video is also valuable and the content of a skills video will be discussed later.
College programs/coaches receive hundreds of emails a month from potential recruits so the best advice I can give is be persistent and consistent with your emails, however, understand the difference between persistent and obnoxious.
Check back next week for Part 2 covering “Get in Front of the College Coaches on Your List” and “Play the Game the Right Way”. Have any questions for college coaches? Let us know in the comments and we’ll get them answered!.