Softball Performance
ncna

NCAA and NAIA Scholarships – Know t...

If you’re an aspiring college athlete looking for a scholarship, it is not only important to know how to get recruited and the best ways to stand out,...

washington

Breaking Down Softball Scholarships...

Thousands of young women every year take their skills on the softball diamond and turn it into a college scholarship. The whole recruiting process ...

sofslide

Colorado softball tournaments are b...

Patty Gasso was on a mission. Less than a month after coaching Oklahoma's 57-4 softball team to a national championship, Gasso arrived at the A...

5

DEVELOPING A CALENDAR FOR YOUR COLL...

Every fall I get frantic phone calls from parents who have suddenly realized that their daughter is a senior, and she wants to play softball in co...

NCAA and NAIA Scholarships – Know the Difference!

If you’re an aspiring college athlete looking for a scholarship, it is not only important to know how to get recruited and the best ways to stand out, but also which athletic association is best for you. By learning the difference between the NCAA and the NAIA, you will gain insight into how many scholarships are available, where scholarships come from and the restrictions regarding scholarships in each association. This information is valuable to the potential scholarship athlete.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), are two separate governing bodies of college athletics. The NCAA is the governing body for around 1200 schools. It consists of three divisions (Division I, II, and III) and oversees 23 sports. Divisions I and II both offer athletic scholarships, with over 126,000 student-athletes receiving partial or full athletic scholarships. However, Division III student-athletes can only receive academic or non-athletic scholarships – no athletic scholarships are allowed. Each year, the NCAA hands out about $1 billion in athletic scholarships, with the rest coming from the individual school.

Conversely, the NAIA consists of 300 schools and 13 sports. The NAIA is a smaller association than the NCAA, with just over 60,000 students. It includes two divisions (Division I and II) and Division I in the NAIA is comparable to Division II in the NCAA. Over 90% of schools in the NAIA offer scholarships, and NAIA athletes receive an average of $7,000 of financial aid. However, it is impossible to say how many athletes receive scholarships because the NAIA does not have a central database like the NCAA.

The amount and type of scholarship you receive will depend on, among other things, which association your school is affiliated with and which division within that association your school plays in. Generally speaking, eligibility requirements and scholarship rules for the NCAA are stricter than those of the NAIA. For athletes pursuing a college scholarship, being familiar with these requirements is very important.

When looking for an athletic scholarship, remember that there are options in both the NCAA and NAIA. Being educated and knowledgeable on these two associations will help you in your search to find the best college for you.

Breaking Down Softball Scholarships

washingtonThousands of young women every year take their skills on the softball diamond and turn it into a college scholarship.

The whole recruiting process isn’t as simple as waiting at home for the coaches to call. Being proactive is key–filling out questionnaires, putting together a highlight video and getting in touch with coaches all go a long way in getting a scholarship.

It also pays to be on top of the recruiting game, and being informed is the quickest way to figuring it all out. Here is a breakdown of college softball scholarships to give you a better understanding of what’s out there:

NCAA DIVISION I

How Many Schools: Division I softball consists of 335 programs across the nation. Programs like Arizona and UCLA are consistent powers.

Scholarship Count: Softball programs at the Division I level have 12 scholarships to work with.

Scholarship Breakdown: Both full and partial scholarships are common at the Division I level.

 

NCAA DIVISION II

How Many Schools: There are 269 Division II schools that sponsor softball.

Scholarship Count: Division II softball programs can offer aid equal to 7.2 scholarships.

Scholarship Breakdown: Due to roster sizes noticeably larger than scholarship allotments, partial scholarships are the most common form of grants awarded.

 

NCAA DIVISION III

How Many Schools: There are 408 Division III schools that sponsor softball.

Scholarship Count: Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships.

Scholarship Breakdown: Though athletic scholarships aren’t possible, it is possible to play softball and receive an academic scholarship to help with costs.

 

Colorado softball tournaments are biggest in U.S., with big college recruiting

sofslidePatty Gasso was on a mission.

Less than a month after coaching Oklahoma’s 57-4 softball team to a national championship, Gasso arrived at the Aurora Sports Park dressed in an OU shirt and armed with a thick binder full of names, ready to scout future Sooners.

Although Colorado isn’t known as a hotbed of softball talent, it became the center of the sport’s recruiting universe this week as three area tournaments — known as Fireworks, Sparkler and Sparkler Juniors — have brought in more than 700 softball teams from 30 states for the nation’s largest fast-pitch event.

“There’s a lot of things going on,” Gasso said. “You have to have a game plan or you will be completely confused.”

More than 3,000 games will be played July 1-7 at tournament sites in Aurora, Westminster, Greeley and Loveland. Event officials estimate that more than 400 college coaches will have attended, with many top Division I programs represented.

Although the size of the tournaments can be overwhelming, the opportunity to see so many teams from across the nation in one spot is a major benefit for college coaches.

“It’s always been a premier tournament that college coaches attend,” said University of California head coach Diane Ninemire. “It’s a great atmosphere for us to be able to see a lot of teams from a lot of different areas.”

The tournaments allow coaches to take care of numerous offseason obligations, including checking up on players who already have committed to their programs and watching younger players they have been in contact with.

Recruiters also catch up with coaches they have had good relationships with and often find players for their watch lists.

“You’re looking at this field, then you’re turning around and looking at this other field,” said Florida assistant coach Kenny Gajewski. “You just never know when somebody’s going to catch your eye. You just hope you saw her first.”

Gajewski and Gasso said they had players on their roster who they first saw play at the Fireworks tournament.

Unlike some events where teams only participate in pool play, this event allows recruiters to see teams compete for a tournament title.

“In a tournament setting like this, it’s more similar to the national tournament, where you get an opportunity to see who is standing last,” Ninemire said. “That’s really important for us college coaches to see, because we want to see how they really deal with adversity and how they handle victory.”

The event includes players in age groups from 12 and younger to 18 and younger. This year’s tournaments have drawn some of the top programs in the country, and the event received extra exposure with four games televised Wednesday and Thursday on the CBS Sports Network.

Although warm-weather states such as California and Texas dominate the recruiting landscape, coaches say they’re seeing other regions catch up as the sport gains nationwide popularity.

“As long as you have indoor facilities that can accommodate your weather conditions, you can become a great softball player no matter where you live,” Ninemire said. “TV has done a great job for our sport, and it’s expanding by leaps and bounds.”

The tournaments give teams from the Denver area an opportunity to measure up against elite competition. Dick Hormann, coach of the Aurora-based Colorado Pony Express, said area teams benefit from seeing how elite teams carry themselves.

“The intensity level of the California teams and Arizona teams are significantly higher,” Hormann said. “That’s what we have to learn in Colorado.”

Of course, they also benefit from the exposure to college coaches seeking fresh talent.

“There’s so many coaches out here,” Gasso said. “Sometimes we’re all at the same field, and we know why we’re there. May the best coach win in the recruiting war.”

DEVELOPING A CALENDAR FOR YOUR COLLEGE SEARCH

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Every fall I get frantic phone calls from parents who have suddenly realized that their daughter is a senior, and she wants to play softball in college…and she’s not getting calls from coaches every week. Often they don’t have any idea what to do now and worry that it’s too late for her. The best way to avoid this panic attack is to plan ahead. Parents should develop a college search calendar when their athlete enters high school. While much of the active work of finding a college won’t start until the junior year, you need to lay the foundation early to ensure she’s ready both athletically and academically when recruiting time comes.

FRESHMAN/SOPHOMORE YEARS

It’s always a good idea to get a copy of the NCAA’s Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete as a freshman and again as a junior. If you get a copy as a freshman, you can be sure right from the start that you’re taking the “core” classes you need to be academically eligible to compete in college. Many juniors and seniors have to squeeze in a class they’re missing or have to repeat a subject that they didn’t do well in as a freshman. If you even think you want to play softball in college, every grade counts! You need to take the right classes and establish good study habits from the day you enter high school. Remember, college coaches look at your grades before they look at anything else!

Athletically, I recommend freshmen and sophomores try to stay in softball shape by working on improving their softball skills year round, by running and doing light conditioning, and by playing the toughest competitive softball they can–both in high school and travel ball.

JUNIOR YEAR

September: Juniors should check with their counselor to ensure they’re still taking the right core classes and getting the required grades. At this time, you should also schedule the PSAT or PACT Plus as practice for the SAT or ACT.

October/November
: Take the PSAT or PACT Plus.

November-February
: Consult college guides, my book, Preparing to Play Softball at the Collegiate Level, the Internet, and other resources that will help you identify the wide variety of colleges and college softball programs available. Then make a list of the schools you plan to write in the spring.

December/January
: Find out when the SAT and ACT will be offered in the spring, and schedule your first round of tests. I always recommend athletes take each test at least once. There are several reasons for this. Some colleges prefer one test to the other for admissions purposes. But more importantly, I have found that a certain percentage of students will do better on one test than the other (usually the ACT). Because you won’t know if you’re in this group until you take each test, it’s worth the extra effort. Athletes who struggle to qualify on the SAT may squeeze by on the ACT thereby making them academically eligible for college athletics. And strong students who may be looking at tough academic schools or who hope to receive academic-based aid may also benefit by taking both.

Try to take your first SAT and/or ACT in late winter/early spring. This will allow you to get your score(s) in time to include them on your resume. It will also give you time to assess where you’re at and to decide when to take the tests again, whether you need a special SAT/ACT course, tutoring, etc.

February-May: Take your SAT and ACT. This is also the time to begin work on your “introductory” packet for college coaches. You need to develop your resume and a letter of introduction (see my book for models); and, you can begin work on your skills videotape. Ideally, you can make your tape when you’re in shape from high school season, but before you start summer travel ball.

Some coaches may want to see your tape before they start on their summer scouting trips. So, if you make the tape at this time, you can send copies to those coaches who ask for it. Also, by making the tape between March and June of your junior year, it will serve you throughout your entire college search–e.g., you shouldn’t have to make another one!

May-August: During this period, you should be sending out letters, resumes and possibly videotapes to coaches at lots of different types of college programs. Be sure to send back the questionnaires or anything else the coaches ask for when they reply to your letters. If a coach asks for a tape, a schedule, a transcript, get it in the mail as soon as you can! It’s also a good idea at this time to start the NCAA Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse certification process. That way you can have all your Clearinghouse paperwork on file when you start your senior year.

SENIOR YEAR

September: If you need to take (or re-take) the SAT or ACT, try to do so at the first opportunity. Check again with your counselor to make sure you’re still meeting all core course requirements. If you sent your NCAA Clearinghouse paperwork in and haven’t heard back, check with the Clearinghouse to make sure your information is on file. Follow up with college coaches who have responded to your letters or who have written you. (Phone follow-ups are the best way to show a coach how interested you really are.) If possible, begin to schedule college visits.

October-December: Because the college search process is different for every athlete, not everyone will be doing the same things during this period. Some players will be taking visits and choosing their colleges. Others will be continuing to send out videos and resumes and identifying those schools that may be seriously interested in recruiting them. If you got a really late start and are only now beginning to think about playing in college, it is still a possible dream. But you will have to do a lot in a very short time–e.g., everything listed in this calendar up to this point will have to be done within a couple of months!

Also during this period, you should begin applying to colleges, at the very least choosing “back-up” schools–e.g., schools that might not be your first choice, but where you know you can get admitted and probably make the softball team. Some of you will also be applying to colleges with early decision options at this time.

January: Get the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and have your parents begin the financial aid application process. Even if you don’t know where you’re going to college, you should still do this now so that all the paperwork is in place. Much aid is administered on a first come, first served basis, so don’t delay on this.

January-June: Continue to follow up with college coaches. Hopefully, during this period you will choose your college, apply and be accepted. Some of you will accept scholarship offers; others may get great financial aid packages. Ideally, you can enjoy the end of your senior year and begin to look forward to playing softball in college next fall.

June: Oops! There’s just one more thing to do. Be sure when you graduate that your high school sends a final transcript and proof of graduation to the NCAA Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse so that you’re all set and ready to step onto that college field in the fall. Good luck!

by Catharine Aradi

How to Get Recruited to Play College Softball

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So you want to play college softball? Here’s a guide to give you some insight into softball at the next level and a couple of ideas on what you should think about as you prepare for your education at the next level. This article will give you some of the answers you may be looking for in a way that’s a little different than other things you may have read.

What Do You Really Want as A Softball Player?
What do you really want as a softball player? When considering softball at the next level, you should first decide that you want to go to college and be a college student seeking a higher degree. If you just want to play softball, you’re not going to make it in college and if this is your attitude then what is the point in going to college. There is no NFL , NBA or MLB for softball players. So, you can’t bamboozle your way through college just to get to the next level. For 99.9% of all softball players, college is the final level. But softball can lead to other careers in sports and it can be very rewarding playing at the college level. So remember, your goal should be a college degree and using softball as a tool to help you achieve that goal. If you want to play softball, while pursuing a college degree, your chances of success and enjoyment are much better.

So with that in mind, here are a few things to consider when you’re thinking about trying to get that athletic softball scholarship.

Ability:

How good are you, really? Rather than listening to your parents, let’s do a quick self examination. This is a guide to help you decide for yourself just how good you are. This is not a perfect test and it does not account for everything, but it’s a way you can decide for yourself if you are good enough to play at the Division 1 (D-1) level.

If you can honestly answer”Yes” to these questions, then you are probably capable of playing at the D-1 level, but if you answer “No” to two or more of these questions, you might consider other alternatives.

A true D-1 player will probably answer yes to all of these questions or at least most of these questions:

  • Are you the best player on your high school team? 
  • Did your high school team make the playoffs? (Note: even the weakest high school team with at least one real D-1 player will somehow find their way into the playoffs)
  • Are you the best player on your travel team?
  • Is your travel team the best travel team in your area?
    (If the answer here is no, then you may be good and possibly D-1, but it really depends.)
  • Is your travel team the best travel team in your state?
    If you’re the best player on your team and your team is one of the two or three best teams in your state, chances are you are pretty good and possibly D-1 material.
  • Is your travel team the best travel team in your region (several surrounding states)?
    (If you’re the best player on your team and there’s no question that your team is the best around, then it’s likely that you and at least a couple of your teammates are D-1 caliber.)

    If you had to answer No before you go to the end, you may be D-1 material, but there are lots of other factors involved.

Here Are Other Ways to Determine if You Are Capable of Playing Division 1.

Other Ways to Determine to look at it is: How many D-1 schools are in your state? If you multiply the number of D-1 schools by 2 then that’s about how many scholarships are available in any given graduating year at the D-1 level. If you aren’t among those who would be a sure candidate for one of those scholarships, then maybe you should consider other alternatives to obtaining an softball athletic scholarship. At least be realistic about your chances at the D-1 level. But there are other opportunities, at D-2 and D-3 level schools.

Money: Normally, money is one of the primary factors in choosing a college. And the closer you get to college, the more this becomes part of the conversation. Let’s get rid of a few myths. Many young players and parents think that their little child is the best softball player and will definitely get a full ride somewhere. Let’s assume you’re a good player, but even then, it doesn’t mean a full scholarship. It could mean a partial scholarship in some way. But, more than likely, you are going to have to pay for some portion if not all of your academic education.

Grades:
You academic success and your grades are important, regardless of how good you may be at playing softball. A D-1 coach once said this: “If I have to choose between two players who have equal ability and one makes good grades and the other struggles, I’m taking the player with the good grades, because it’s one less headache I have to worry about.” The only time a college coach is going to overlook weak grades is if you’re so good he/she can’t do without you…..and even then, the coach will probably have to answer to the admissions office. The answer here is: Get the best grades you can and assume you have to get into school on your own without any help from a coaching staff.

College Entrance Exams:
Another eliminator. SAT and ACT tests aren’t the end-all-be-all to getting college scholarship, but they do give an indication of how much you know and how you might do at the next level academically. Your grades need to be at least average and if they’re weak, this is something that could knock you out of contention for a roster spot especially , if you’re being compared to equal talent with better scores and grades.

Attitude:
Do you really want to play college softball? Do you want to work hard at the game in addition to going to college and continuing your education? Or do you just want to go somewhere and play ball. This is important. The way you approach the game is very important to those watching. In addition to looking for talented players, college coaches are also looking at the other factors: Is she a good teammate? Do her teammates like her? Does she make others around her better? Does she hustle all the time or just when she wants to? Does she listen to her coaches and is she “coachable” ? Does she look like she’s having fun or is she doing this to make mom or dad happy? Or better yet, who’s having more fun here, the player or mom and dad?

Summary: (Make Your Own Decision)
If you love the softball and really want to pursue it at the next level, be prepared for hard work. But also be prepared to enjoy the game and take advantage of the opportunities it presents. Just remember that only the tiniest percentage of softball players make a living at it. The rest of the players go on to other careers and other interests. That’s what college should be about. So, your choice of college should be based more on your career after softball, rather than just softball.

If you go to a college that you have never heard of just because they offered you a partial scholarship, at least make sure that school has an academic program that interests you. If you go just for the softball, then that’s all you will get out of college and when all is said and done, you’ll leave without a degree and just a few softball memories.

The best way to be successful is to let softball be a tool to help you achieve your academic goals.

College Softball Recruiting – Making it to the College Level

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Are you looking to play college softball? Do you want to make sure you continue playing softball after your high school days are over? If so, you need to understand college softball recruiting process and how you can get ahead of your competition.

There are hundreds of college and universities out there who need skilled and talented softball players. How do these schools find the players they need? They find players in the following ways:

1- They find players at camps.

2- They find players at showcase events.

3- They attend AAU or USSSA tournaments and scout for players.

4- They get recommendations from high school coaches

5- They find out about some athletes because they market and promotes themselves to the coaches.

The elite Division I schools, like those who play for the national championship each year, have the college softball recruiting budget to scout the entire nation and have an unlimited budget for find great players. Obviously, schools like Arizona State, UCLA, USC and Stanford don’t have to worry about finding great players. However, there are many smaller schools and universities that have limited recruiting budgets and don’t have hundreds of athletes to choose from, and may be very interested in putting a player like you on their roster…if they only know about you and they were able to find you.

You can help them find you by using step #5 from the list above. You can market and promote yourself to college coaches and let them know about your skills, your talents, and your achievements at the high school level. If you don’t let them know about you, who will?

By

Gary V. Hawkins

College Camps

soft1The following is a direct quote from a student athlete I was recently speaking with: “I am going to the U. of Illinois Camp and then the U. of Iowa Camp. I received brochures from both coaches in the mail, and this will give me the opportunity to showcase my talents for them.”

FACT: College camps are revenue generators for the coach and program that sponsor them. As a result, college coaches want to fill their camps with as many student athletes as possible. The greater number of student athletes in attendance, the higher the profits.

FACT: If you are not personally invited by a college coach to attend their camp, chances are your invitation was sent out simply to increase the attendance numbers of the camp. In other words, just because you received a camp brochure in the mail does not mean that they are sincerely interested in you. In fact, chances are the coach sent you this camp invitation without even knowing who you are at all. In many cases, college coaches got your name and contact information from a list of players who attended past showcases, camps, or exposure tournaments.

FACT: Division I and Division II schools make up the majority of schools who offer college camps. Receiving camp information from these schools does not mean you are a serious Division I or Division II prospect.

FACT: Similar to showcases, college coaches use their camps to evaluate players they already know. The chances for student athletes to be discovered at a college camp are slim. If the college coach does not know who you are prior to the camp, chances are slim that they will not be seriously evaluating you for their program during the duration of the camp.

FACT: College camps can be a valuable recruiting tool for student athletes if they have had prior contact with the college coach. Attending college camps gives student athletes a great opportunity to showcase their talents in front of a college coaching staff. If a highly personalized letter accompanies your camp brochure, or you receive a phone call from a particular coach inviting you to their camp, then attending the camp is certainly worth considering. If you are interested in a particular school, and you believe that the coach is indeed actively recruiting you, it is in your best interest to find out if they are either hosting a camp of their own or if they will be in attendance at another college camp.

Recruiting Tips To Get Signed

signingIf you find yourself among the college softball recruits from around the country you could be on the path to playing in college. You should take great pride in the fact that your talent, skills, and hard work have gotten you to this step in the process. The question you need to ask yourself now is: How Do I Go From Being Among College Softball Recruits From All Around The Country To Actually Getting A Scholarship Offer?

Here are some steps that I recommend you take to give yourself the best chance of actually getting a scholarship or an offer to play at the college level.

1 – Documentation

You need to become really good at documenting all your success and accomplishments. Keep any articles or other documentation that show your accomplishments on the field.

2 – Game Film

Try to get as much game film as you possibly can showing you in action. The more film you have, the more selective you can be about what game film you will send to a coach or post online for him or her to watch. Coaches want to see you in action in order to compare you to other college softball recruits they have on their radar.

3 – Don’t Burn Any Bridges

Just because you don’t think you really want to sign with a particular school or at a particular division level, don’t burn any bridges. You just don’t know how the recruiting process will work out in the end and you don’t want to burn any bridges so that your options remain open.

4 – Visit The Schools

Coaches take their interest in you a step higher when you get out and visit them. Going to visit a school and meeting the coaching staff can really raise your chances of getting an offer and put you ahead of the other college softball recruits.

5 – Stay In Contact

The most important advice I can give you is to keep the lines of communication open with coaches. Send them periodic updates on the progress of your team and your accomplishments. Don’t make the coach wonder if you are still interested in playing for him or her. Staying in contact can keep you from falling off the radar of college coaches unnecessarily.

Summary

If you are fortunate enough to be among college softball recruits from around the country, you just might fulfill your dream of playing college softball. However, you need to take the five steps I recommended above to give yourself the best chance of signing a scholarship offer or earning a roster sport with a non-scholarship school (Division III). If you are not currently being recruited to play and you think you have the talent to play college softball, you need to start marketing and promoting yourself to college coaches.

Recruiting

softAre you looking to play college softball? Do you want to make sure you continue playing softball after your high school days are over? If so, you need to understand college softball recruiting process and how you can get ahead of your competition.

There are hundreds of college and universities out there who need skilled and talented softball players. How do these schools find the players they need? They find players in the following ways:

1- They find players at camps.

2- They find players at showcase events.

3- They attend AAU or USSSA tournaments and scout for players.

4- They get recommendations from high school coaches

5- They find out about some athletes because they market and promotes themselves to the coaches.

The elite Division I schools, like those who play for the national championship each year, have the college softball recruiting budget to scout the entire nation and have an unlimited budget for find great players. Obviously, schools like Arizona State, UCLA, USC and Stanford don’t have to worry about finding great players. However, there are many smaller schools and universities that have limited recruiting budgets and don’t have hundreds of athletes to choose from, and may be very interested in putting a player like you on their roster…if they only know about you and they were able to find you.

You can help them find you by using step #5 from the list above. You can market and promote yourself to college coaches and let them know about your skills, your talents, and your achievements at the high school level. If you don’t let them know about you, who will?

Gary Hawkins is a well known recruiting and athletic scholarship expert and the author of a popular 17-page free report titled: