What it REALLY takes to play in college

So the story doesn’t end. Every year, right around this time, I hear from parents of players that went to multiple travel team tryouts and heard from those other teams “we will set up your daughter for college”. That was in quotes on purpose. Some kids as old as 10 years old are getting told that that if they sign with a specific travel organization, they will play in college.

Well, we don’t make those kinds of promises and we lose super talented kids because we don’t make that promise. We don’t make that kind of promise because we have been there. 6 out of our 8 teams are led by coaches that played Division I college ball. While we learned a whole lot from our travel ball experiences leading up to college, we all agree that it wasn’t our local travel team that got us into college.

Here is a list of our notes on the topic:

  • Your college coach, if you get that far, will likely start from scratch. You think you know the game when you are a freshman, but you don’t. College ball is different and from the moment you show up at that practice, you will know it. Sure, the drills will be different, but you will get broken down and put back together again. The reality is that in order to be successful in college, you need to be resilient and coachable enough to let that happen.
  • You have to find your future college coach, they probably won’t find you. There are plenty of kids like you. Really, there are plenty. The chances of you getting “noticed” at a showcase is slim to none for your work on the field. Coaches go to showcases to look at specific kids, not to window shop. So – in essence- if you aren’t on their radar – you have to make THAT play at the exact moment when they are watching. Instead, you have to find them. Belong to a program that will show you how to market yourself, that will teach you how to differentiate yourself from the hundreds of other kids that are just like you. Then take that knowledge and aggressive sell yourself to the coach. Cap it off by finding out So the story doesn’t end. Every year, right around this time, I hear from parents of players that went to multiple travel team tryouts and heard from those other teams “we will set up your daughter for college”. That was in quotes on purpose. Some kids as old as 10 years old are getting told that that if they sign with a specific travel organization, they will play in college.

Well, we don’t make those kinds of promises and we lose super talented kids because we don’t make that promise. We don’t make that kind of promise because we have been there. 6 out of our 8 teams are led by coaches that played Division I college ball. While we learned a whole lot from our travel ball experiences leading up to college, we all agree that it wasn’t our local travel team that got us into college.

Here is a list of our notes on the topic:

  • Your college coach, if you get that far, will likely start from scratch. You think you know the game when you are a freshman, but you don’t. College ball is different and from the moment you show up at that practice, you will know it. Sure, the drills will be different, but you will get broken down and put back together again. The reality is that in order to be successful in college, you need to be resilient and coachable enough to let that happen.
  • You have to find your future college coach, they probably won’t find you. There are plenty of kids like you. Really, there are plenty. The chances of you getting “noticed” at a showcase is slim to none for your work on the field. Coaches go to showcases to look at specific kids, not to window shop. So – in essence- if you aren’t on their radar – you have to make THAT play at the exact moment when they are watching. Instead, you have to find them. Belong to a program that will show you how to market yourself, that will teach you how to differentiate yourself from the hundreds of other kids that are just like you. Then take that knowledge and aggressively sell yourself to the coach. Cap it off by finding out where that coach is going to be and make sure you are at THAT tournament. Take fate out of it.
  • Make connections. This softball community is small. We all know the same people and have been around the block. Don’t make enemies with any umpire, opposing coach, or parent. DONT BURN BRIDGES. You will never know when those people will give you the chance that you might need to “make it” at the college level.
  • Calm your parents down. Okay, so this is less your job and more your parents. However, there are things you can do to stop them when they are on the crazy train. Crazy parents produce kids that don’t play in college. Ask any parent of a Division I player how involved they were in travel ball. Most of them will tell you that they were the taxi driver, waterboy, and cheerleader. They rarely, if ever, had a conversation with a coach.
  • Everything you do matters. Make your bed, wake up early, workout everyday, get amazing grades, don’t be a bully. No college coach will ask, but if you live a disciplined, respectful, and humble life – they will know right away. Those are the kids they want.
  • Forget about your “primary” position. Chances are that you aren’t going to stroll onto the field as a freshman and play shortstop like you have since you were 7. Maybe you will, but you will EARN it. Focus instead on being a ball player. Know the game from all 20 perspectives on the field. Be able to be a threat from both sides of the plate. Be able to play multiple positions. Make it hard for that coach to not take you. Better yet, make it hard for them NOT to play you.
  • Love the sport. If you don’t love it, don’t plan to play in college. It’s a waste of your time. College is hard. Super fun and amazing, but you will face challenges like no other when you get there. Softball can be your outlet for that – but you have to love it to wake up at 4am for workouts in the middle of finals week.
  • that coach is going to be and make sure you are at THAT tournament. Take fate out of it.
  • Make connections. This softball community is small. We all know the same people and have been around the block. Don’t make enemies with any umpire, opposing coach, or parent. DONT BURN BRIDGES. You will never know when those people will give you the chance that you might need to “make it” at the college level.
  • Calm your parents down. Okay, so this is less your job and more your parents. However, there are things you can do to stop them when they are on the crazy train. Crazy parents produce kids that don’t play in college. Ask any parent of a Division I player how involved they were in travel ball. Most of them will tell you that they were the taxi driver, waterboy, and cheerleader. They rarely, if ever, had a conversation with a coach.
  • Everything you do matters. Make your bed, wake up early, workout everyday, get amazing grades, don’t be a bully. No college coach will ask, but if you live a disciplined, respectful, and humble life – they will know right away. Those are the kids they want.
  • Forget about your “primary” position. Chances are that you aren’t going to stroll onto the field as a freshman and play shortstop like you have since you were 7. Maybe you will, but you will EARN it. Focus instead on being a ball player. Know the game from all 20 perspectives on the field. Be able to be a threat from both sides of the plate. Be able to play multiple positions. Make it hard for that coach to not take you. Better yet, make it hard for them NOT to play you.
  • Love the sport. If you don’t love it, don’t plan to play in college. It’s a waste of your time. College is hard. Super fun and amazing, but you will face challenges like no other when you get there. Softball can be your outlet for that – but you have to love it to wake up at 4am for workouts in the middle of finals week.