January 29, 2019
As a student-athlete in the 2020 class, this upcoming summer represents the home stretch in your recruiting process. As you push through the academic rigors of junior year and continue your on-field development, you will have a clearer idea of which schools are potential fits – including the level of competition that aligns with your skills and interests.
Below, we highlight some reminders and tips to aid in the Division I and Division III recruiting process for the class of 2020. While the recruiting timeline is different for DI and DIII schools, both divisions present key opportunities for rising seniors this summer – and in both cases, this summer is crucial to your recruiting process. The tips below are not meant to be an exhaustive list, but we hope they provide some guidance as you continue to pursue softball at a high-academic school.
Before diving into the differences in recruiting at the DI and DIII levels, there are a few key takeaways for all rising seniors to remember:
Because the schools at Honor Roll Camps represent the top tier of academic colleges, their recruiting and commitment timeline is different than the vast majority of softball programs. High-academic schools – whether they’re Division I or Division III – oftentimes need to see a more robust transcript, a solid baseline for standardized test scores and another year of extracurriculars before they truly and finally “commit” to you as a student-athlete. Although many coaches will be in deep recruiting conversations with student-athletes during their junior year, the commitment process often accelerates and reaches its final form during this crucial summer window for high-academic schools of all levels.
Each recruiting process is different in its motivations and goals – and in fact, as someone pursuing a high-academic recruiting process, you’re in a small minority among your teammates and classmates already. And, not everyone has the same motivation for pursing softball at a high-academic school. As you narrow down your list of schools, keep in mind WHY this is important to you and WHY you think a school is the right or wrong fit. This will not only help keep you motivated throughout this journey, but also help you identify what you’re looking for in a school and what’s most important to you in this process.
As you use your “why” to figure out the ideal school, you might be surprised by some of the programs that match your criteria. We encourage you to continue chasing the schools on your list, but don’t be afraid to add some new options. The perfect fit might be a school you haven’t considered yet, and having an open mind and remembering your priorities will help you find the right holistic fit.
With 18 DI schools already confirmed to attend Headfirst this year, one of the most frequently asked questions we get from rising seniors is along the lines of: Will DI programs still be recruiting rising seniors (the class of 2020) this summer?
Yes, but you must take advantage of your opportunities this summer!
Coach Perspective – DI programs operate at a more accelerated pace than at the DIII level, even among high-academic schools. While most DI programs will have well-defined lists of student-athletes that are well down their funnel and conversations, these programs are still very actively recruiting student-athletes after their junior year. In fact, early in the summer, the class of 2020 is likely to take up the bulk of these coaches’ recruiting efforts and time, as they work to finalize and commit their next incoming class. For many high-academic Division I coaches, this 2020 focus will remain in place through much of the summer – though they shift towards the 2021 class as they finalize their recruiting lists.
One way to think about it – unsurprisingly – involves a softball analogy: this summer in high-academic recruiting, the 2020 class is up to bat, and the 2021 class is on-deck. From June through early August, Division I coaches across the Ivy League, Patriot League and others are hustling to get their 2020 class finalized for admissions in the fall.
Student-Athlete Perspective – Since this is your last summer before college applications are due, it is imperative that you strategically maximize your remaining opportunities. To ensure you are using your resources in the most efficient way, ask specific and detailed questions to DI coaches to generate honest feedback on your chances of playing for their program. Remember to be respectful of your time. If a school is only looking for one more LHP in their 2020 recruiting class, and you’re primarily a middle infielder, it may be best to move your attention to other programs on your list.
We’ve previously written about finding a school that is the right holistic fit – this is where being a recruited walk-on could be the right path for you. We encourage you to define the “win” in the college recruiting process as finding the best fit that will set you up for success beyond your four years of college – with or without athletics in the picture. If you feel strongly that a school is the ideal fit for you, don’t be afraid to apply without any guarantees and prove what you can do as a recruited walk-on.
Being “up to bat” as a 2020 in the recruiting process is a great place to be – for you, the time is now to gain the targeted, quality exposure that you need to move your recruiting forward at your list of high-academic schools.
Headfirst Pro Tips for Rising Seniors Pursuing DI Schools
While recruiting at the Division III level moves at a less accelerated pace than at the DI level, this summer is still the best opportunity for rising seniors to make immediate strides in their recruiting process.
Coach Perspective – While coaches will have a few recruits confirmed for their 2020 recruiting class, DIII programs enter the summer looking to fill most of their spots. This June through August, high-academic Division III coaches will be focused heavily on their 2020 recruiting class. With your full three years of transcript, some updated test scores and more in-depth academic metrics for you, they can make a meaningful assessment of where you may fall on their recruiting boards from an academic as well as an athletic perspective.
At high-academic DIII schools, coaches are going to look for players that can immediately impact their program in several ways. Student-athletes with a strong academic resume will stand out since they’ll be able to carry themselves through the admissions process. Coaches will also look for versatility – if you can play multiple positions, it’s easy for them to imagine multiple ways for you to contribute to their team.
As they move into the early fall, DIII schools will find themselves in a similar position to DI schools – looking for a few specific positions and waiting on admissions decisions. Since DIII schools can’t offer athletic scholarships, the first early decision deadline in November is the first time an official commitment is made to these schools.
Student-Athlete Perspective – Similar to the DI recruiting process, student-athletes pursuing high-academic DIII schools should plan out their summer schedule to ensure they are getting the right exposure in front of their target schools. This summer is the perfect time for rising seniors to take advantage of a showcase setting to connect with coaches on a personal level and demonstrate versatility. The guaranteed exposure offered by the individual showcase setting in front of a highly-targeted list of the types of academic schools that you’re targeting is what can make the largest impact to your recruiting process at this time of year.
Just as a school needs to be a holistic fit for you, coaches need to know that you’re a holistic fit for their program. Directly engaging with them at a showcase gives you the opportunity to show that you’re an all-around match for the school – athletically, academically and socially. Not only do your grades line up on paper, and your play stands out on the field, but they can get to know you as a student-athlete and assess your character fit for their program.
Headfirst Pro Tips for Rising Seniors Pursuing DIII Schools
Whether you’re looking to continue your career at the DI or DIII level, this summer is the right time for the class of 2020 to highlight all their efforts and hard work – both on and off the field – and make strides in their recruiting process. With 75+ schools expected to join us this summer, Headfirst Honor Roll Camps represents your best opportunity to find the right fit at the next level.
Enroll today to join us at any of our 2019 sessions, and make immediate strides in your recruiting process!