February 23, 2019
As a student-athlete in the 2022 recruiting class, this upcoming summer is the right time to get ahead in your recruiting process. As you continue to develop on the field and in the classroom, you should begin establishing relationships with college coaches that you can build upon as you move further along in your recruiting journey. Below, we highlight some key steps for rising sophomores to take this year to position themselves for future success in the recruiting process.
Before diving into these steps, here are a few takeaways for all rising sophomores to keep in mind:
With the recruiting calendar changes that were enacted in the spring of 2018, there’s a common misconception among younger student-athletes that they now must wait until September 1st of their junior year to have any conversations at all with college coaches, or that before that date, there’s no value to beginning their recruiting process. This deadline refers specifically and exclusively to “recruiting-specific conversations” with DI coaches – e.g. an offer of a scholarship or roster spot. It is crucial that you’ve gained quality exposure to your list of schools before this deadline, so that you are on coaches’ radars prior to when they begin their recruiting outreach.
One of the keys to success in the recruiting process is to be proactive – and this includes to be positioned correctly with your target schools well before this September 1st deadline. On September 1st, coaches will begin calling those prospective student-athletes that are already on their recruiting boards – being on those boards beforehand helps you get ahead of the process.
With the new recruiting rules in place, it’s important to understand that coaches can’t email or call you back until September 1st of your junior year, but they are able to have non-recruiting conversations with you at our camps. If you don’t hear back from them after your initial outreach, they’re not ignoring you – they just can’t contact you directly yet. It’s still a good idea for you to reach out early in your recruiting process to express interest and get your name in their system.
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. Similarly, 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. There are many (many, many) different aspects to finding a college experience that is the right holistic fit – and depending on your personal “why” in the process, you’ll be able to weight these different categories appropriately to find your overall balance and fit.
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 – or even heard of – yet, and having an open mind and remembering your priorities will help you find the right holistic fit.
With over 65 schools already confirmed to attend Headfirst in 2019, one of the most frequently asked questions we get from rising sophomores is along the lines of: Is it too early in the process for rising sophomores to reach out to coaches and engage with them at showcases?
NO, this is the perfect opportunity for rising sophomores to get ahead in the recruiting process and make a strong first impression!
While high-academic coaches will be primarily focused on 2020 and 2021 graduates this summer, they’ll also begin building relationships with members of the class of 2022 – and starting to put 2022’s names on their recruiting lists. While DI coaches are unable to have recruiting-specific conversations or offer you a scholarship, it is still important for you to be proactive and make a strong impression this summer. Having the opportunity for direct engagement with these coaches can help put your name on their recruiting board and onto their call list right after September 1st of your junior year.
The recruiting process is all about building relationships, so we encourage you to reach out to coaches from your target schools. Include some athletic and academic information so that you can demonstrate growth later in high school when you send these coaches updated information. If you have a highlight video, make sure to include that in your initial outreach so they can watch you play and put a face to a name. If you haven’t made one yet, set aside some time to put together a short video (you can click here to read more about what to include in this film) that can be updated as you improve your game.
If a school is ranked near the top of your list, consider going the extra mile to demonstrate your interest. A lot of student-athletes send emails, but not everyone puts in the extra effort and writes a hand-written note. With the volume of messages these coaches receive, personalized touch points can go a long way in helping you stand out.
You should also concentrate on getting your first exposure to these coaches this summer and gaining a benchmark for your objective measurements. Coaches will understand that you’ll continue to physically develop from this baseline throughout high school and getting experience in a showcase setting will set you up for success down the road. You’ll see where you stack up against other student-athletes your age in several objective measurements – 20-yard dash, overhand velocity, exit velocity – and in live games, while also seeing how you compare to players in the class of 2020 and 2021. Playing alongside these student-athletes will help you set some goals in your development and give you a better understanding of what it takes to play at the next level.
As you learn more about the best fit for you through your own research and your exposure to coaches, plan a few visits to schools on your list and some that you know you’re not interested in. By visiting a few colleges that you’ve crossed off your list and forcing yourself to identify a few qualities that you like about the school, you can then use these criteria to vet the schools you’re still considering. The goal of your recruiting process should be to find the right holistic fit – with or without softball in the picture – and using this strategy can help you narrow down your list throughout high school.
Headfirst Pro Tips for Rising Sophomores:
Whether you’re looking to continue your career at the DI or DIII level, this summer is a great chance for the class of 2022 to get ahead in the 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!