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altos

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Posts: 28
Reply with quote  #1 
Good day,

My daughter is an '11, catcher, ASA nats experienced with a 3.91 GPA.  We know we have to start writing letters to colleges in the next year.   From a "starting from ground zero" perspective, narrowing the initial list of schools to approach/write seems to be hit or miss.   School size, location, academic programs can be researched.  Ok, fine.  But when folks recommend evaluating coaches, staffs, programs, etc., that becomes highly subjective, assuming any information can be found at all that doesn't originate from the coaches/staff themselves. 

How have you dealt with this ?  Even at exposure tournaments, direct contact is not allowed (at this point).   So, how did you deal with the subjective part of narrowing the selection to a manageable number.   We don't want to blanket planet earth with letters of interest.   There are not a thousand Candrea's around.   Arati's book is good for helping narrow the scope based on tangibles.   But if you don't already know of someone in a schools program or are starting out totally blind, any hints ?

Insights sincerely appreciated.

Regards,


gomrpi

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Reply with quote  #2 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seabiscuit
Rule #1: Where would she like living for four or five years of her life?

Once Rule #1 has been determined then the list will narrow considerably.



I might follow that up with a corollary:

Where would she like to play softball at regardless of who is coaching?

Once you answer these questions have her rank them best to least favorite.  There is your start.


azure

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Reply with quote  #3 
Regarding Rule #1...where would she like to go to school. It really depends on the maturity of the player. I know my dd was not really able to understand the idea of going away to a college until her senior year. Talk about different schools in different places would have been pointless when she was a freshman. Heck, she was barely playing travel ball at that time. But some young players can really understand and make good judgments.

Regarding 'how do you know about coaches and programs?' You really don't. You can hang out in a forum like this and pick up the scuttlebutt. But you are really on your own, just the way it is. I realize now that current players and families are not necessarily going to give you a candid answer about their program. If you have the time to hang out at exposure tournaments with travel coaches, you can get some ideas about who's good to work with and who's not. But those judgments are extremely subjective.

I know that there's some finger-wagging on this forum that you should 'do your homework'. But it's really not feasible.



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Chapple

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Reply with quote  #4 

I really think there is a more basic question than that.  If you were not able to or no longer wanted to play softball, where would you like to earn your education to best prepare you for your future.  IMO, softball is an experience to enjoy in college and could provide some financial assistance for her eduction, but should not be the end all. 

I would think one needs to think in terms of if DD wants a certain degree, where is the best school FOR HER to get that degree? 

Once you identify that area you have narrowed your search, then you can begin to look at school softball programs.  Attending camps at those schools provides a good opportunity for her to see how she fits in.  Making unofficial trips is also a means to learn about coaches. 

Were there olders players that you know about who might know of the coaches at different schools.  Discuss with TB coaches of top teams to get their opinion. 

What area are you from?  THere might be many who can help you contact people with experience with coaches. 
NorthSouth

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Reply with quote  #5 
Congratulations to your daughter for being a successful student her first semester in High School.  Remind her that she will need to continue on the same track for 7 more semesters if she is going to go to college, with our without softball.

Let her decide who to write to.  Sometimes dreams do come true. If you try to decifer everything about a program right now, you will stress her and yourself out.  Ask a freshman and their answer may be something like, it's warm there, it snows, I like the school colors.  You, as a parent can do research, keep your eyes and ears open and make suggestions, but let her decide who gets the first batch of letters. 

Regarding the coaches and the program, this is a tough one.  Read their press releases, look at their schedule, afterall, you will want to be at some of the games.  Take a look at current rosters and coach's record and profile.  Go to a college game and see how the coach and players present themselves.  It is true current players and parents won't speak with total honesty, but try to get whatever positives or negative out of these conversations, if you can.
allday24

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Posts: 395
Reply with quote  #6 

While a college coach can not call you on the phone, you can call them. If they answer, you can chat with them. If they don't answer, don't bother leaving a message as they can't call back. Going to camps helps as they can talk to you on campus.

justadad

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Reply with quote  #7 
Altos,

I think you have to ask yourself and your dd some questions and be realistic.  My dd sent out 35 letters of interest to schools she was either interested in attending or playing softball for, the fall of her sophomore year.  These were divided into three catagories. 1. for sure 2. possible and 3. pie in the sky according to being able to play softball for them.  I don't think it is overkill to send out 35-50 letters.  The list will narrow on its own.  Dreams do come true and my dd is living hers in many aspects.  Don't cut the list, the list will cut itself. 

Questions:
1.  Does the school have a program in what she might want to study?  She may not know this yet, she is very young.

2.  Does she want to go to school close or away from home?

3.  Does the school have a softball program (coaches, players and location) she would like to play for? 

4.  Remember that the coach might not be there when she gets there (as my dd found out).  Will she still want to go to school there?

I hope this is a start and a help.  Good luck!!

Sincerely,
Steve Langenfeld
dumb_parent

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Posts: 550
Reply with quote  #8 
Also consider the weather.  If she doesn't want to be butt deep in snow that eliminates quite a large portion.  If she doesn't want to do high humidity that eliminates another portion.

Another thing to maybe look at is the number of juniors and seniors on a team.  If there aren't any it may (not always) indicate a problem with the coach and/or team and/or school
gtq

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Posts: 91
Reply with quote  #9 
I think it is safe to start with the presumption that a list that is made when a girl is a high school freshman is going to be a bit of a hit or miss. However, it is the undertaking of process that is important. The more experienced you are as a family when the junior and senior year comes, the more likely you will be able to handle and assess the opportunities that are available at that time.

I think starting with a list of 50 schools is manageable if you keep your correspondence brief and to the point. Intro letter identifies who you are, when you graduate, and where you can be seen during the travel season. Also attaching a player profile is a good practice. Coaches don't want to read long emails. From that point forward, monthly updates one or two paragraphs long about what you are accomplishing at school, in the community or on the field will help your cause.

Some suggestions on how to put together the initial list:

1.  I would suggest that a kid always include her dream schools on her list. If you can't dream big when you are age 15 then when is it permissible, right?

2.  I would look for a cross-section of schools from a competitive standpoint. Most 15 year-olds don't know what level in college they can play at so it would be prudent to start a dialogue with some majors, mid-majors, D IIs, and DIIIs.

3.  Seek out assessments from knowledgeable people about where your daughter projects as a collegiate softball player. You don't want to put a premature ceiling on her potential, but kids who can play D1 generally have some identifiable traits by the time they are frosh in high school. Talk to club coaches who have seen her play that have had many kids go on to play college ball. Their feedback may give you the added benefit of identifying areas that need to improve before its too late. This type of feedback may help you slant your list towards more schools where she can realistically play.

4.  If we are talking about a very exceptional student, I would include a good number of schools with high academic profiles. Most softball players I know are good students, but some of them are exceptional students. The type that have been scoring high on national tests since they were 5 years old. Those kids will not be happy at a school that does not challenge them academically no matter how good the softball program is. Therefore, the list should contain some exceptional academic schools.

5.  Geography can be an issue for some kids. Climate is one component; being close to home might be another. My feeling is a lot of kids are more open minded about geography than we would expect. If a school has the right coach, program and academics a lot of kids are flexible enough on the geography issue. Therefore, I would not prematurely rule out schools solely based on geography.

6.  When you are trying to assess coaching staffs, admittedly a tough task, I would consider the following:

- Find players and travel coaches who have had experience with the coaching staff and get their perspective. There are a lot of people out there that can tell you something about a coach or a program, but you want to be careful to talk to as many as possible so you can see if there is a consensus.

- Attend as many winter camps at schools of interest as you can. The winter camps are usually one day affairs so an ambitious camper can make it to 6 to 10 camps in December and January if it is planned right. This should give you some exposure to the school, the staff, and the players.

- Look at won/loss records and trends; coaches who win will generally keep their jobs longer and are probably doing some things right (there are certainly exceptions to the rule).

- Check the roster over a 3 or 4 year period and see how many kids drop out; a large number of transfers and people quitting can be an indication something is not quite right.

- Take in some college games if you can. You can see the coaches in action as well as their players and also get a better sense of what it takes athletically to play at certain level. Recruits who live in an area that is close to a number of college teams have an advantage when it comes to taking in college games.

Hopefully some of this is of help.


altos

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Posts: 28
Reply with quote  #10 
Folks,

The input has been nothing short of outstanding.    As my DD is a freshman, looking out 12-18 months on the "things that need to be done" seems distant as she balances academics, travel softball, HS softball (and HS volleyball and basketball).   As a parent going through this for the first time I am attempting to avoid being unprepared and severely compressed for time (when "the time" comes).  I don't think my daughter is such a phenominal, world class catching stud that college coaches will be aggressively pumping her for an early commit on a moment by moment basis.  A realistic grasp on reality is a "good thing".   However, she's very good and travel teams are always inquiring.   And, it appears that exposure is coming at an ever-earlier age.  

The suggestions offered are excellent;
-  get a no-b.s. reality check from current and past coaches
-  no education major (yet) but... I would like her to focus and the intent of going to college; getting an education.  Softball would be wonderful and she would excel.  But if the "best" education for her future (whatever that may be) is at a D2 or D3 and not a D1, great!  However, that's a parents perspective... 
-  define school size and locale/weather.   Sure, if the prime list is Arizona, Tennessee, NorthWestern and Humbolt State, all well and good.  It's just a geographic mangling.
-  go to every possible exposure tourneys, camps, etc. and be observant, ask questions.   Write coaches about where/when.
-  visit as many schools as practical once "the list" is semi-defined.

I really appreciate the input.   As a rank rookie it means a lot and we have a lot to learn.   Additional insights gladly accepted.

thank you and enjoy in good health,


gomrpi

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Posts: 892
Reply with quote  #11 
an additional perspective reported on Spy from the NFCA coaches meeting:

"The clinic concluded with a discussion of recruiting by Scott Whitlock.  To facilitate your players being recruited, he told the coaches, you must know their academic history, their actual vs professed abilities, and their home/personal situations.  Whitlock explained the standards in the NCAA guide for college-bound athletes with major emphasis on the 16 core courses prospective recruits must complete.  He urged coaches (and parents) to know more about the college academic profile as well as its softball program; to be prepared for a coach to leave.  A player has to market herself, and make target schools aware of her skills, her schedule, phone numbers and email.  Have a good 5-8 minute video but only send when requested; college coaches are overloaded with video.  They especially want to see game footage for pitchers and catchers.  Players, parents and coaches must remember that colleges will make the decision that they think is right for them at that time.  Finally, he cautioned against early verbals, and discussed the pro’s and con’s of unofficial visits."
ikeepscore

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Posts: 410
Reply with quote  #12 

try this (thanks to bucketba for giving this to us years ago)

 

Decision Matrix

(I have this in excel if you want me to email it)

The way you use it is like this:

Pick YOUR top ten most important factors in choosing a school. You can use these factors or create your own.

Prioritize these factors from 10 to 1 (10 being most important). 

Give each school a score for each factor. The priority # is the highest score you can give each school. For instance if you look at the fictional example, "no harsh winter" is priority #5 therefore 5 points is the highest score that San Diego State could get. (10 points is the max for priority # 10 and 9 points for #9 and so on)

Add up the score and you get your answer. Of course you don't have to assign points and do the math. The factors are still useful in sorting things out and putting them on paper.

Do this every 6 mo or so.  Your wants/needs WILL change;

 

Other possible factors…

 

Competition level of college/conference - (ie., PAC 10 vs Ohio Valley) –

Willing to sit the bench and/or red-shirt a year

Rural/urban

Small/medium/large school

 

 

ikeepscore

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Posts: 410
Reply with quote  #13 

RANK

FACTOR

SCHOOL

SCHOOL

SCHOOL

SCHOOL

 

D-1 Program

 

 

 

 

 

Softball Stadium/Facilities

 

 

 

 

 

Like the coach

 

 

 

 

 

Close to home

 

 

 

 

 

No harsh winter

 

 

 

 

 

Opportunity to start right away

 

 

 

 

 

Academic reputation

 

 

 

 

 

Party reputation

 

 

 

 

 

School specializes in your major

 

 

 

 

 

Not a commuter school

 

 

 

 

 

Active alumni - employment network

 

 

 

 

 

Top ranked team

 

 

 

 

 

Amount of scholarship money

 

 

 

 

 

Big campus / football team

 

 

 

 

 

Small campus / enrollment

 

 

 

 

 

Friends attending that school

 

 

 

 

ikeepscore

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Posts: 410
Reply with quote  #14 

RANK

SAMPLE

UC Davis

Point Loma

San Diego St.

Purdue

10

Close to home

7

9

9

1

9

Scholarship as % of total cost

6

2

5

5

8

Like the coach

4

8

5

6

7

D-1 Program

7

0

7

7

6

Academic reputation

5

5

3

4

5

No harsh winter

4

5

5

1

4

School specializes in your major

3

2

2

4

3

Opportunity to start right away

2

3

2

1

2

Softball Stadium/Facilities

1

1

2

2

1

Active alumni - employment network

1

1

0

1

 

 

40

36

40

32

happyfeet

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Posts: 74
Reply with quote  #15 

Another suggestion: get any information about your kid to the schools on her list - current team - schedules - stats - pictures - articles - etc.  Make sure that the schools she favors have an opportunity to get to know her.  Send short emails often.  Start early if she's got some ambitions for top tier programs or a specific school that she's got her heart set on.

vcaldwell

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Posts: 716
Reply with quote  #16 
I would add that you should look at what players a program is graduating the same year as your daughters senior year of high school. Take note of what positions these players play. Many coaches have an established cycle in their recruiting. Especially  the ones who are established at their schools. e.g. I can name dozens of coaches who only recruit catchers every other year. Like clockwork. Of course, if you have 2.4 speed or can hit like there is no tomorrow a coach will find a place for you.

I know it sounds obvious but you'd be surprised how many people don't think about it and just how many coaches are so predictable. You may also want to see how many player are/will be on the team playing the same position.

JMHO,
Vic

UMassFan

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Posts: 5,128
Reply with quote  #17 
I think this workshop is a good idea
http://www.shelbystar.com/sports/athletes_28500___article.html/college_schools.html

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UCLADreamin

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Posts: 826
Reply with quote  #18 
Could you email me the Matrix my friend?

Thanks!
(I'm not sure if my email's listed: PM me for my addy if it's not.)

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UCLADreamin

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Posts: 826
Reply with quote  #19 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vcaldwell
I would add that you should look at what players a program is graduating the same year as your daughters senior year of high school. Take note of what positions these players play. Many coaches have an established cycle in their recruiting. Especially  the ones who are established at their schools. e.g. I can name dozens of coaches who only recruit catchers every other year. Like clockwork. Of course, if you have 2.4 speed or can hit like there is no tomorrow a coach will find a place for you.

I know it sounds obvious but you'd be surprised how many people don't think about it and just how many coaches are so predictable. You may also want to see how many player are/will be on the team playing the same position.

JMHO,
Vic

 

quite frankly if you've got 2.4 speed that means you run the 40 like Carl Lewis! Run Track! (Just kidding, well, kind of... )

 

But Vic is right, you should definitely consistently check your daughter's possible place on the depth chart at the schools on her list. In fact, I too will concur that it's a must.

Anyone else need advice? I'll admit that I'm a youngster, but I've been around the game my whole life!


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2011: Epic again!!
penndad

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Reply with quote  #20 
What does your DD say/want?

My DD's junior year, we were clueless as to how this worked.  Her travel team was a well oiled machine in this area (now defunct Gordon's Panthers). We had several schools approach her, she took visits.  I told her, when she steps onto the campus, she'll know.

But of course obsessive, softball crazy dad had visions of ESPN etc. but reality - is softball the end state or is softball a vehicle to another end state.  My daughter came to conclusion the latter. 

She had no clue what her academic bent was going to be until she, without any warning, wrote Ivy coaches and got offers for visits - took a visit - her host happened to be a business major, took DD to a couple of classes.  DD came back as certain as I have ever seen - Dad, I want to go to XXXX I want to go to b-school.

Huh?!?!??  She could have gone Pac-10 but knew, softball wise, she'd carry a clipboard.  She wanted to play, but more important realized significance of the opportunity an Ivy degree would provide post softball. 

She loves the team, loves playing, but loves the academic rigor more.

So - how to choose school?  You can guide her, give her pro's and con's, but ultimately, let her choose. An Ivy school was never even considered in the selection set..... but DD pushed out of her and my comfort zone - I never even dreamed it - but depending on where DD's head is at - give her the option to explore - shocked the heck out of me - I cannot tell you how proud (and destitute lol) I am.  She did this on her own.

penndad

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #21 
BTW - that decision matrix - wow! spot on!  Did same thing with DD's input. 

Thought I had the exclusive but sick minds think alike.

I did it in Excel and provided a weight and ranking for DD to fill in - BUT told her this is not the magic 8 ball decision maker, only and indication what head and heart is quantifying.








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