Ultimate College Softball
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jofus

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Posts: 64
Reply with quote  #1 

First, some brief background...

My oldest daughter turns 13 in february and is in 7th grade.  She's decent size (5'7" and 110ish lbs), has played ball since t-ball, and softball the last 3+ years.  Softball is the love of her life so far, and I believe (along with others) that she has some potential 

She played on a 14u travel team (mainly local tournaments) this year as a (softball) 11 year old, started in the outfield and backing up SS, and ended up at first base.  She was 2nd on her team in batting average and extra base hits, and ended up batting leadoff because she was the fastest/smartest baserunner on the team.

She's also been taking pitching lessons for almost a year (from Jerry Johnson, who "invented" the triple pitch and put out a dvd on it, if you have heard of it or him... http://www.softball-tips.com/dvd/triplepitch.html  )  Her travel team had a couple good 14 year olds pitching, and her little league (9-12 year olds) wouldn't let her pitch because she was afraid she would "scare the smaller kids too much", so she only pitched in little league all stars a couple games.  Hopefully she will get more pitching in this year.

She's also getting hitting instruction this winter from a local guy that has worked with high school teams for years (most batting instruction to this point has been from her old man), and we've started on some core conditioning and speed training.

OK, maybe that wasn't so short

So, for my questions...one, and most importantly, am I crazy to even be looking at sites like this one and thinking about this stuff already?

Two, I see that by the rules you can start sending info to colleges in 9th grade.  Is this generally a good idea, or does no one do that ?  I know that is a year and a half away, but it seems like just last week that I dropped her off for Kindergarten, so it will be here before I know it

Three, how much importance should I put on trying to get her to a college summer camp or 3 this summer?  What about the winter "clinics" that some schools have on weekends, are they worth the time/effort/money?  Being a Va Tech fan, I definitely want to get her to that one this summer (we saw VT play NCSt. last year for her first college game, it was a great time and a good doubleheader that they split).

Four, we're kinda out of the softball mainstream here in southeastern WV and her current travel team isn't an extremely good team...how soon should we look at possibly travelling farther if necessary to be on an established team.  Is that very important before 16U ball, for example?

Last question, and the dumbest....what does "DD" stand for?  I know what you are talking about, am I'm sure I'm being slow, but I can't figure it out

Thanks in advance for any advice.  I'm hoping she continues to love softball and wants to continue playing, and if so, I'm gonna do my best to give her every opportunity that I can.  Then I have her younger brother and sister to worry about after that


Edit>>Just to clarify, I've been around sports for a while and know that the odds against anyone playing college sports are substantial and will take a ton of hard work and  a decent amount of luck...but, if that is one of her goals, then I am going to do whatever I can to help her strive for it
Dewey

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Reply with quote  #2 
Here's a good read.  Good luck!

http://www.fastpitchrecruiting.com/book.html
allday24

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Reply with quote  #3 

My DD (Darling Daughter) received her 1st recruiting letters from colleges during her 9th grade yr. At that age, the letters congratulated her for her softball success and explained that they can not recruit her until the summer of her junior yr, but they would like her to consider their school for academic reasons. Some of the letters were hand written. If your DD is enjoying success, I recommend that she send letters to colleges when she is in 9th grade as well as attend camps and get to know the coaches. Coaches can end up moving, but they remember who you are. My DD recently signed with a school who had hired a coach who she met when she was 9 yrs old while attending a camp. The coach is not at the same school anymore, but remembered her and followed her career. The key is to get recognized by as many coaches as possible as early as possible.

Andy

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Posts: 1,112
Reply with quote  #4 
From Todays San Diego Union:

It can be perilous to commit too early


http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/preps/20071120-9999-1s20p-preptu.html
LMUfan

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Posts: 7,432
Reply with quote  #5 
Jofus,

Welcome to the board.  This can be an interesting place to get lots of information from those of us who have been through this before.  My first piece of advice: Read everything and put it all together.  We've all had different experiences and the road you and your daughter will travel will be different from the rest of us.  Keep your eyes open and try not to miss a good opportunity.

First of all, take those "recruiting letters" with a grain of salt.  They're basically form letters broadcast to anyone they think might be interested.  For example, I have 3 daughters.  The youngest, who doesn't play softball, got a number of "we're interested in you" softball recruiting letters.  It seems to be a mailing list thing.  Once you get on those you start getting flooded with letters.  Towson seems to be the biggest offender sending dozens of letters.

Next, don't overdo it.  My middle daughter, who plays for LMU, is a fine softball player.   I believe that most girls' interest in softball will peak at some point in their life.  They will eventually get saturated with the sport to the point at which they'll decide to turn away from it.  Hopefully, if handled properly their interest in the sport will peak, or continue rising, at the college level.

When a girl hits puberty it can be very tricky, as a parent, to walk the fence and not push your daughter out of the sport.  There will be times that you need to push a little bit to keep her going, but for the most part let her do the pulling.  Ask her, don't tell her, if she wants to continue.  We gave our daughters an "out clause" every year.  We asked them if they wanted to to continue.  If they didn't then there was no requirement for them to do so.  If they did we supported them and did what it takes to succeed.

I believe that you can overload them with practices, private coaches and lots of travel.  Do this at the precise wrong moment in her pubescent years and you'll lose her to the mall.  But, if you build her skills and love for the game at HER schedule and not yours then you can have a winner on your hands.  Remember, you already know what it's like to love a game and want to play just for the passion of playing.  She needs to learn to love it on her own terms.  It's not unlike a relationship with a boy.  You can try to push her in one direction or another with regards to boys but you might do more harm than good.

Finally, be realistic about her skills.  I have three daughters that played sports.  Only one had the talent to play at the college level.  We could tell the others weren't up to that level and discussed it with them at the appropriate time.  This doesn't mean they can't love the sport and play as much as they want, though, they just need to find the appropriate level at which to play.

Good luck to you as a parent.  And good luck to your daughter.  In some ways I envy you, but in a lot of ways I don't.  (Like getting up at 4:30 in the morning to drive to Mennifee.)  I'm living in the "gravy" years and enjoying it.

JackiesCoach

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Posts: 55
Reply with quote  #6 
Jofus,
LMUfan hit the nail on the head.  Just enjoy the ride.  Sometimes its a rollercoaster and sometimes it is a sailboat, but as you suspect it will be gone by before you know it.
But the strongest point LMUfan made in my opinion is be realistic about her skills.  I have seen too many parents over estimate a players ability. (me included). Some kids are big fish in small ponds.  As she moves to the next level, it will be more apparent that there are alot of players in this game that play the game well.  Hopefully your daughter enjoys the game and if she does will not look at the hours as sacrifice but as a hobby.  Good luck
jofus

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Posts: 64
Reply with quote  #7 
Thanks to all for the posts so far

Dewey, I've seen Ms. Aradi's book mentioned all over the place, I will definitely be getting a copy in the next year or 2.

LMUfan, thanks for the advice.  She turns 13 in a few months, and the last year or so have definitely had a few changes, especially on the subject of boys.  She has always been taller than all of the boys her age, which I think intimidated them a little (thank goodness ), but some of them are starting to catch up to her now. 

I try to do our little daughter/dad batting workouts, etc.,  at her pace and when she asks, other than her pitching lessons which I am strict about, since we have to schedule literally months ahead and are paying for them.  We also encourage her to do other sports (but not as seriously as softball), like playing volleyball for her middle school team, both for a break and to help her development. 

As for her skill level (to Jackiescoach also), I think I am being realistic.  I'm sure that realistically she isn't a future college POY or anything.  We managed to play in probably 10 or so travel tournaments last year (no big ones), and she wasn't the best player that I saw, but she was also a 12 year old playing up against 14 and in some cases 15 year olds, and she held her own very well.

Speaking of college, she makes straight A's and is in the gifted program, and she will be going to college with or without softball, and with or without any financial aid.  I just want to help her all I can IF she continues to love the game and wants to try to take it to that level

Thanks again for the posts, I have been reading these forums for a few weeks now and am really enjoying some of the perspectives that I am seeing
angelcoach

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Posts: 105
Reply with quote  #8 
get aradi's book now, so you will be better prepared with your dd's progression from lower level softball to more competitive levels. it will help you keep everything in perspective.

also you mentioned she is an A student etc etc.  check out the Ivy's, the catholic ivies (georgetown, notre dame, bc, etc) both division 1 and the little ivies, div. 3 such as  williams, amherst, mt holyoke, smith, wellsley etc  All have softball, and softball can help get dd into these highly competitive academic schools.  

don't forget to enjoy the ride, it is over before you know it.  this is my dd's last year of college softball.  seems like just yesterday she started t-ball. 

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LMUfan

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Reply with quote  #9 
jofus,

Only you and your daughter will know if you're on the right track.  We specifically discouraged our daughters from becoming pitchers because of the time involved.  My middle daughter, who plays for LMU, was in softball, dance school and basketball at age 13.  Her first year at travel ball was first year 14U.  We never purchased a lesson for her for batting or any other purpose.  (Although she did have weekly voice lessons throughout high school as she was in a competitive choir.)

I believe that had she not broken her ankle making a layup in her freshman year of high school that she might be playing D1 basketball now instead of softball.  It was natural events, not my doing, that steered her toward softball.  Although she was all conference as a basketball player in her senior year.   Sometimes you must let the events fold out as nature wants them to happen.

As to the grades.  That's one thing I'd keep on top of and push.  It's funny how girls can sometimes "dumb down" once in high school because they figure out that being both athletic and smart can intimidate the boys.  Work as hard as you can to keep that from happening.

The hard part from a parent's point of view can be that you must work hard to support her without pushing her.  Be there for her every minute.  Be prepared to give up your weekends for the next 6 years without complaint.  Never let her think it's work for you even though you may dread another 2 hour drive to the fields at 5am.  Be enthusiastic and never, ever, under any circumstances find yourself saying, "hey, I've sacrificed a lot for you, you'd better not give up now."  Let her know that you're enjoying every minute, but at the same time let her know that it wouldn't break your heart if she suddenly stopped playing, even though it would.  It's hard, very hard, but the rewards are greater than you can imagine.   She will end up becoming successful and your love and respect for each other will grow ever deeper.

One more piece of advice.  We never talked about her playing.  I never mentored her on her mechanics or pointed out any errors.  That's what the coaches are for.   Just like trying to teach your daughter to drive is a bad idea, so is teaching her softball.  You're the parent, just be supportive.  I did talk about the dynamics of the team and the personalities of the coaches and players with her.  But I left the mentoring to the coaches.   This method, of course, is mine and mine alone.  I realize that there are many good coaching parents out there who can help their daughters.  That's a special talent.  I believe that for most parents that try to coach or teach their daughter the mechanics it often ends in arguments and resentment. 

And, one final piece of advice.  Never once while my kids played sports did I ever talk to a coach about playing time or position.  I felt that those were for her to earn, not for me to coax.  The coach knows best what works for his team and where she fits in that role.  Encourage your daughter to play where the coach needs her, not try to fit in where she thinks is best for her.

JoiseyGuy

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Posts: 24,433
Reply with quote  #10 
LMU Fan - Love your post. I always told the parents of the girls that I coached, "Don't ever lose a daughter to create a softball player". I remember especially one Dad (great guy who loved his daughter) who came to me and said that after pitching lessons he would go over the lesson at home with his daughter. He said that he used the same words that I used and the same demonstrations, but when I said it she considered it teaching, and when he did, she considered it criticism. They do want a parent first and a coach second, and when those roles clash, the parental role should take precedent. Allow your baby to both succeed and fail (the failures are tough for parents to deal with because we all don't want our babies to be hurt), and be there for her in both situations with unconditional love and excellent advice, not excuses or claims that "my DD" succeeded (give her the absolute credit). Emphasize her academics because that's what will probably determine the quality of her future life.
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dugoutdust

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Posts: 207
Reply with quote  #11 
All posts are excellent advice.

Angelcoach stated purchase Arardi's recruiting book now.....I agree...purchase it, read it and you will find yourself frequently researching the various chapters.  

Time with your DD from now until she completes college is precious, short and the one thing I mention to all parents regarding their DD's progress through these years.....Never forget to ask her. 

As parents we assume our children want what we see as a clear path to future success, however, more often that not, we simply never ask her opinion.  

When it's her decision to play and commit to putting in the time that is required to be successful in today's softball arena...it's truly a wonderful experience.

My best wishes to your entire family.   Enjoy the ride! 

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UCLADreamin

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Posts: 826
Reply with quote  #12 
Jofus:

The advice here is definitely excellent.

to me, the balance between academics and athletics is the most important thing.


and Frank had a great quote: "Never lose a daughter to create a softball player."

I have a friend who has been coaching both his daughters for years, and he never allows himself to forget that they're his daughters first. In fact, he's coaching his youngest at the high school level as we speak. Great guy, married to a lovely lady, and they've done well with all three of their kids(haven't met their oldest child yet(a son), but from what I know of their daughters, he's got to be a great kid if his little sisters are as wonderful as they are.).

Best of luck to you and your DD as she finishes up the lower levels of travel ball. I too would encourage you to invest in Cathi Aradi's book as soon as possible.



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