"If you wait for the coaches to come to you, you'll be waiting forever. Your daughter is the needle in the haystack."
For most girls, college is the ultimate goal. But I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a scout or professional recruiter for your daughter to get picked up to play. It’s unnecessary. You can do everything they can do – for practically nothing.
If you wait for the coaches to come to you, you’ll be waiting forever. Your daughter is the needle in the haystack. College coaches are sifting through thousands and thousands of players across the country. If you think attending college camps will get your daughter noticed – you’re probably wrong. Again, there are tons of girls at these camps and they probably put on multiple camps a year. Even if your daughter is highly skilled there is still a good chance she will get lost in the crowd. It’s not necessarily a reflection of her but the simple fact that these coaches only have one set of eyes and a lot of girls to watch.
I played at a small 2A high school in rural Alabama. Can you guess how many college coaches were watching my games? Zero. How many big exposure tournaments did I play in? Maybe two? And yet here I am. I’ve played four years of elite college softball. I’ve continued my playing career after college in Canada and Europe. And now I get paid to play the game I love. I can’t thank a scout or a recruiter for that. Instead, I can thank my mom.
So, how did all this happen for me? My mom started video-taping my games in high school. She made a recruiting video using Windows Movie Maker with my game footage. Then she gathered my stats and started e-mailing coaches. That’s how I got my college scholarship. I didn’t wait for some coach to seek me out. Instead, I went out and said “Hey. I want to play ball. I think I’m a good player and I think I can be an asset to your program.”
My recruiting video was simple. It wasn’t fancy. The image quality wasn’t high resolution. I think my mom filmed most of the footage on her phone. But the coaches just want to see your daughter play. They want to see her skill. They don’t care how fancy your video editing skills are. I mean, yeah, if you can make it look professional quality – go for it. But if you can’t, don’t stress about it. Ultimately it’s skill that signs a scholarship – not how much money you have or how great you are with a computer. This video was the recruiting video that got me picked up in my post-college career for both Canada and Europe. You can see that it’s not that special. But it showcased who I was as a player and that was enough.
- Start filming her games once she hits varsity level
10th grade is a good time to start. You don't want footage of your daughter when she was 4 inches shorter and 25 pounds lighter. You want to showcase her as she is now.
- Use accurate footage
For example if her swing looks significantly different her senior year compared to other years only use the footage that reflects what she plays like NOW. Make an honest representation of what your daughter looks like and is capable of.
- Use unedited, full at bats
Don't just pop off a bunch of swings and hits back to back. Let them see how your daughter works. Take them through her full length at bats.
- Keep your video to around 10 minutes
You don’t want it to drag on and on. This is a highlight tape. They don’t need to watch an hour of highlights to get the gist of what kind of ball player your daughter is. The point is to get them interested enough to contact her and then potentially come watch her play in person or invite her for a workout.
- Don’t limit your daughter
Don’t just contact big name schools or only a few schools that she’s interested in. Contact many. Contact them all - JUCO, DIII, DII, DI, NAIA. You need a back-up plan. And then you need a back-up plan for your back-up plan. Regardless of skill, they may just not have a spot for her. (Side note: JUCO is the way to go in my opinion. Players get to grow and develop on small squads and have little to no bench time. They get to immediately be a starter and the transition into school is much easier. She will have small class sizes and teachers who are willing to work with her. Additionally, there are a lot of JUCOS out there the beat the crap out of a vast majority of four year schools. DI ain't the only one, yo.)
- Make her stand out
Those dream schools your daughter wants to attend…don’t just send them an e-mail. These coaches get tons of e-mails. You want her to stand out from the crowd. Burn her highlight tape to a DVD, put that DVD (along with her stats, a copy of her transcripts, and a handwritten note from your daughter thanking them for taking the time to review her information) in a neon pink or neon green envelope and send it so that it requires a signature upon delivery from the head coach. I think they’ll get the message that your daughter is really interested and serious about playing at their school. Anything that shows your daughter is willing to go the extra mile is a good thing. Yes, I understand that this isn’t free which is why I would only send it to her absolute top choices.
- Do your research
Alright, so I know I just said contact all the schools, but don't actually do that. Contact the schools that are a fit for your daughter. If you know your daughter is highly competitive and would be miserable on a losing squad, don't contact schools that have won 10 games in two years. If your daughter is a shortstop and they have 5 shortstops listed on their roster, statistically speaking, odds are stacked against her playing time. Contact schools that only make sense for your daughter.
- Start contacting early but not too early
Anytime before her junior year is too early in my opinion. A lot of coaches won't make any type of commitment until she's a senior anyway. The time to go hard is the summer before and the fall of her senior year. That's when coaches are doing most of their recruiting. Come spring, they are occupied with their own seasons.
There is a college out there for just about every ball player. If your daughter is serious about playing and is willing to move to wherever the offer is…there’s a school out there that’s right for her and a coach who is willing to pay for at least some if not all of her college education. You just have to be willing to put in the time and effort to go out there and get it.