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How To Get An Athletic Scholarship

Every year hundreds of university and college coaches go searching for a new group of talented softball players to recruit. And every year, these schools award millions in sports scholarships . Many players will sit by their phones, waiting for college coaches to call. And for most talented players who sit and wait, the call will never come. They learn quickly that, although they are solid ball players, recruitment is not automatic.

The smarter athletes do not wait. To increase their chance of being recruited, they will be proactive, making contact with college coaches, and promoting themselves by their Junior year, if not sooner.

Report Card

GRADES ARE IMPORTANT! Your DD may be a great player, but the fact remains; there are very few fully funded softball scholarships. So, many schools will put together an academic and athletic package. These packages obviously go to only the smartest students with the most athletic talent. Bottom line? If she can’t cut it in the classroom, she won’t be playing college ball, no matter how great she is on the field.

The goal of this page is to help you find information and advice that can guide you through the college recruiting process to find the opportunity that is right for you. I have done extensive research, and have found many of the best resources available. I am confident that, as you peruse through this page, you will find an abundance of information, that will give you a better understanding of the recruting process, and hopefully help land your DD a great scholarship package.

The Sports Scholarship Handbook

 

How can you increase your chances of being recruited? What is a good offer? How should you choose between competing offers? The Sports Scholarship Handbook is your guide to optimizing recruiting success. This handbook is a great read and a great place to start.

Helpful Organisations

NCAA

There is a specific time line for a high school senior’s recruting year. Always consult the most recent NCAA Guide For The College Bound Student Athlete for up to date details about the recruiting calendar, as the details of the calendar can change slightly from year to year. Basically, information about a college’s program can be sent during the athlete’s junior year but the type of information that can be sent is limited by NCAA rules. For most Division I sports, coaches can make one call in March of the junior year. In general the real action in terms of calls from coaches will start July 1 following the athlete’s junior year when up to one call per week can be made. In Division II, coaches may start weekly calling June 15th following the junior year. For more complete details of the frequently changing recruiting calendar see the NCAA recruiting calendar page.

NAIA

A majority of college sports scholarships are granted by schools that belong to the NCAA. However, a relatively small number of NAIA schools and schools belonging to other athletic organizations also offer sports scholarships. It will be useful to read the NAIA Guide For The College Bound Student Athlete to learn about NAIA sports, eligibility and recruiting.

Financial Aid

College Answer

College Answer is a website of information and links provided by Sallie Mae, one of the major vendors for college loans. The site has some interesting college search and financial aid tools. There are sections on college entrance exams, test preparation, deciding on a particular college, the college application process, scholarships and grants, and much more.

The College Board

In addition to a variety of SAT-related services, The College Board site also has more general information and tools for college-bound students looking for college information. This site can get swamped at times by students looking for test-specific information.

Federal Student Aid (FAFSA on the web)

This is an absolute necessity for anyone looking for financial aid. The FAFSA is a cost-free application from the U.S. Department of Education. The FAFSA application is required in order to qualify a student for various kinds of Federally subsidized aid. Most student loans and many other grants require the FAFSA. Many schools also use it to determine the level of financial need even for aid that is not Federally subsidized.

US Department of Education Student Information Site

This site has a lot of good information about various kinds of student aid. It also lists all the Federally subsidized aid that a student has received and gives information about their dates, interest rates and payoff amounts. To access that information requires registration and an access PIN.

Finaid

This is a large website with a wide variety of information and links to a large number of other financial aid sites.

FastWeb

This site is associated with Monster.com and FinAid. It takes information from you and then acts as a matchmaker finding scholarships and colleges that may meet your needs and interests. It is a commercial site that makes its money from the colleges and services that get marketed to you based on your information.

ACT test registration and information and SAT test registration and information

Most college bound high school students end up taking either the ACT or the SAT exam. This is a requirement for many athletes who must take either the SAT or the ACT test as part of qualifying for initial eligibility for NCAA Divisions I & II. The tests must be taken on “national” testing dates. The two testing organizations have a total of 13 different national testing dates per year. It is still advisable to take the test early.

Recruiting Services

As in any industry, the “Athletic Recruiting Services” industry has its good and bad apples. Every year, there are many student athletes and parents who will pay hundreds of dollars to Athletic Recruiting Services. In some cases, athletes will benefit from these services, but in many instances they do not end up accepting a scholarship from a college identified by the recruiting service. The bottom line? You may be better off saving the money, and using it to market yourself in other ways.

The following checklist was put together for student-athletes by Cathi Aradi, a softball recruiting consultant, and the owner of Collegiate Softball Connection. She is considered one of the very best resources in the country on collegiate (softball) recruiting by players and their families, youth and college coaches alike. In a StudentSportsSoftball.com poll of over 250 of the top youth coaches in the country, she was voted one of the “Ten Most Influential People in Softball,” which included Olympians Jenny Finch and Lisa Fernandez, former UCLA coach Sue Enquist and USA Olympic coach Mike Candrea. Coaches have called Cathi’s book, Preparing to Play Softball at the Collegiate Level, the “Bible of Fastpitch Recruiting.”

JUNIOR YEAR CHECKLIST

  • Involve your parents in your decision-making process.
  • Decide how close you want to be to your home.
  • Decide on what level (Division I, II, III) you can compete in college. Ask your high school and summer league coaches for an evaluation of your ability. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF!!
  • Write softball coaches. Personalize each letter. College coaches are turned off by form letters.
  • Return softball questionnaires sent by college coaches as soon as possible. Delay indicates lack of interest.
  • Make a softball videotape. Many college coaches will request a videotape of your softball skills.
  • Send high school and summer league softball schedules to college coaches.
  • Be conscious of your high school grades, the level of courses you take, the correct number of courses and your rank in your class.
  • Schedule yourself to take the SAT’s.
  • Decide on which colleges have your areas of study or interest. Be aware of “college nights” in your area.
  • Start your initial-eligibility clearinghouse.

SENIOR YEAR CHECKLIST

  • Follow up on your clearinghouse eligibility.
  • Take or retake your SAT’s.
  • Start collecting college applications. Be aware of deadlines.
  • Complete and mail applications early. Let coaches know you have applied.
  • Follow up your contact with college coaches with a phone call or note.
  • Narrow your choice of colleges to five or six.
  • Decide on what colleges to visit (remember – you may only make five official (paid) visits. Do not make a decision unless you have visited the campus and met the coach.

TIPS ON RECRUITING

Develop a resume just as you would if you were looking for a job. Although it’s never too late, the ideal time to start putting this together is the summer before your junior year.

Begin with the basics – name,address, telephone number, social security number and school. Then list your athletic and scholastic accomplishments, plus any honors you’ve received. Add any extracurricular activities in which you’ve participated at this point.

Do some research. Check the libraries for college reference books, then look to see which schools offer a softball program that suits your needs.

Write interest letters to coaches. To find the coaches names, call the schools’ athletic departments. If you can’t get a particular name, address the coach by title:

  • Head Softball Coach
  • Athletic Department
  • University Name
  • City Name, State Zip

Note in each letter that you’re interested in the schools athletic and academic program and fill the coach in on your background. Enclose your resume and, if possible, a letter of recommendation from a high school or summer team coach. You’ll most likely get a letter back with a questionnaire to fill out.

Make a skills tape

Have a parent or coach videotape you in action. It does not have to be fancy, or done by a professional.

WHAT TO ASK DURING RECRUITMENT

ATHLETICS

What positions will I play on your team??
It’s not always obvious.
Most coaches want to be flexible so that you are not disappointed.
Describe the other players competing at the same position.
If there is a former high-school all-American at that position,you may want to take that into consideration.
This will give you clues as to what year you might be a starter.
Can I “redshirt” my first year??
Find out how common it is to redshirt and how that will affect graduation.
Does the school redshirt you if you are injured?
What are the physical requirements each year??
Philosophies of strength and conditioning vary by institution.
You may be required to maintain a certain weight.
How would you best describe your coaching style??
Every coach has a particular style that involves different motivational techniques and discipline.
You need to know if a coach’s teaching style does not match your learning style.
What is the game plan?
For team sports, find out what kind of offense and defense is employed.
When does the head coach’s contract end??
Don’t make any assumptions about how long a coach will be at a school.
If the coach is losing and the contract ends in two years, you may have a new coach.
Describe the preferred, invited and uninvited walk-on situation. How many make it, compete and earn a scholarship??
Different teams treat walk-ons differently.

ACADEMICS:
How good is the department in my major??
Smaller colleges can have very highly rated departments.
A team’s reputation is only one variable to consider.
What percentage of players on scholarship graduate in 4 years??
This will tell you about the quality of their commitment to academics.
The team’s grade-point average also is a good indicator of the coach’s commitment to academics.
Describe the typical class sizes.
At larger schools, classes are likely to be larger and taught by teaching assistants.
Average class size is important to the amount of attention you receive.
Describe in detail your academic support program. For example: Studyhall requirements, tutor availability, staff, class load, faulty cooperation.
This is imperative for marginal students.
Find a college that will take the 3.000 students and help them get a 3.500 GPA.
Describe the typical day for a student-athlete.
This will give you a good indication of how much time is spend in class, practice, studying and traveling.
It also will give you a good indication of what coaches expect.
What are the residence halls like??
Make sure you would feel comfortable in study areas, community bathrooms and laundry facilities.
Number of students in a room and coed dorms are other variable to consider.
Will I be required to live on campus for all five years??
If the answer is yes, ask whether there are exceptions.
Apartment living may be better than dorm living.

FINANCIAL AID:
How much financial aid is available for summer school??
There is no guarantee. Get a firm commitment.
You may need to lighten your normal load and go to summer school in order to graduate in four years. You can take graduate courses and maintain your eligibility.
What are the details of financial aid at your institution??
What does my scholarship cover??
What can I receive in addition to the Scholarship and how do I get more aid??
How long does my scholarship last??
Most people think a “full ride” is good for four years.
Financial aid is available on a one-year renewable basis.
If I’m injured, what happens to my financial aid??
A grant-in-aid is not guaranteed past a one-year period even for injuries.
It is important to know if a school has a commitment to assist student-athletes for more than a year after they have been injured.
What are my opportunities for employment while I’m a student??
Find out if you can be employed in-season, out-of-season or during vacation periods:
NCAA rules prohibit you from earning more than the value of a full scholarship during the academic year.

INITIAL-ELIGIBILITY CLEARINGHOUSE
Why do I need to register and be certified??
If you intend to participate in Division I or II athletics as a freshman in college, you must be registered with and be certified as eligible by the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse. Please note that initial-eligibility certification pertains only to whether you meet the NCAA requirements for participation in Division I athletics and has no bearing on your admission to a particular Division I or II institution.
When should I register??
You should register with the clearinghouse whenever you decide you would like to participate in athletics as a college freshman. It’s generally best to register anytime before participation. If you register late you may face delays that will prevent you from practicing and competing.
How do I register??
You will need to obtain registration materials from your high-school guidance counselor. These materials include a student-release form and a red brochure titled, “Making Sure You Are Eligible to Participate in College Sports”. Fill out the student-release form completely and mail the top (white) copy of the form to the clearinghouse along with $18 fee. Give the pink and yellow copies of the student-release form to your high school to forward your transcript to the clearinghouse. The high school will keep the pink cop of the form for its files.
What if I have attended more than one high school??
If you have attended multiple high schools since ninth grade, each school will need to send your official transcripts to the clearinghouse. You should give the pink and yellow copies of the student-release form to the counselor at the high school from which you will be graduating. You also will need to make copies of this form and send them to the counselors at the other schools that you have attended.
Are standardized test scores required??
Qualifying test scores are required for participation at both Division I & II colleges. If you intend to participate at either a Division I or II school, the test scores may be taken from you official high-school transcript.
Update: NCAA Eligibility Center (formerly the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse)
All high school athletes wishing to compete in college at a Division I or Division II institution must register with the NCAA Eligibility Center. Information about the eligibility center can be found in the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete. The NCAA national office does not handle initial eligibility certifications. Please do not contact the NCAA national office with inquiries regarding an individual’s initial eligibility status, including whether transcripts, student release forms, etc., were received or about when you will be cleared. The NCAA Eligibility Center maintains and processes all of the initial-eligibility certifications.
See the NCAA Eligibility Center Web Site

VIDEOTAPING YOUR SOFTBALL SKILLS

Pitcher

We want to see everything you are capable of doing. If you play several positions, show us footage of different skills. Please keep in mind, though that we receive hundreds of videotapes each season and simply don’t have time to view excess and unneeded footage. We have given some guidelines as to what we want to see and how many repetitions we’d like to see. In what order you perform the skills makes no difference.

We recommend using the zoom feature rather than moving in a position you may disturb the fielder or hitter.

The entire tape should only be approximately 10 to 12 minutes.

HITTING

View from beyond opposite batters box, facing the batter as they are in their stance, close view. Full swings in this segment, if you have full swings from both right and left side, please show both.

BUNTING

Sac Bunts: View from pitching circle, left and right sides, if applicable.
Bunt for Hit: View from pitching circle, left and right sides, if applicable.
Drag Bunt: View from pitching circle, left and right sides, if applicable. Slap Bunt: View from beyond opposite batters box, left and right side, if applicable.

THROWING AND CATCHING: (All Positions)

Fielding ground balls, some directly at you, some to your right and left. Balls to your right and left should be approximately 15 to 20 feet each way. Show the throw to a base. (Note) Always have an angle to show the throw. DO NOT follow the ball with the camera.

CATCHERS: (Full Equipment)

Block ball in dirt, some right at you, some to show lateral movement.
Field bunts and throw to all bases.
Pickoff, show throws to 1st and 3rd base.
Steals, show throw to 2nd and 3rd base, with the fielder on the move to cover the base.

CORNERS:

Field bunts, throw to 1st, 2nd and 3rd bases.
At 1st base, taking throws in the dirt.
At 3rd base, taking throws from the outfield, making a tag.

MIDDLE INFIELDERS

Double play, pivot and footwork.
Double play, feeds.
Shortstop, covering second on a steal.
Second, covering first on a bunt.
Fly balls overhead, Texas Leaguer.

OUTFIELDERS

Fielding fly balls, some directly at you, some to your right, left and forward. Show the throw to 2B, 3B and home.

PITCHERS:

Two Angles:
From behind pitcher.
From side of the catcher.
Show 5 to 6 of each pitch you have from each angle.
Fielding grounders and bunts, throwing to all bases.

BASE RUNNING:

Home to first, after you swing.
Home to home, after you swing.

SLIDING:

Stealing 2nd or 3rd:
Show different slides you are capable of doing.
Figure four, slide by and head first.

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