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General advice for softball parents of talented players

Jan 3, 2020
3
3
IDK, when I was in college at a mid-major D1, I had friends who were athletes (soccer/field hockey; we didn't have softball) and they had plenty of time for a decent social life. My school is a very high-academic liberal arts school in the SE (you might be familiar with one of our more well-known alumni who is a Golden State Warrior) and there are no underwater basket-weaving degrees available for athletes (usually they majored in Anthro/Soc or Criminal Justice). Maybe at Oklahoma or Alabama do the athletes have time for nothing but softball, but I do think it's possible to have a nice balance depending upon the school, even in D1.
My $.02 cents for what it is worth. My daughter currently plays for one of the schools you referenced in your post. She is on schedule to graduate in 4 years and plans on going to graduate school after she graduates. Even with practice, games, school and workouts, she has managed to have a nice social life while at school. While her circle of friends are mostly her teammates and athletes who participate in sports other than softball, she still has many friends that she has made from the general student population. She is not one who lives, breathes and sleeps softball 24/7 but has been fortunate to have garnered some post season awards. She will tell anyone who asks about the demands of being a student-athlete that the number one skill that a student-athlete needs to master is time management. She and her teammates engage with their academic counselor constantly about their classes and tests. I don't believe any girl on the team has a major that is one that would be considered soft or easy. She is fortunate in that the school provides her and her teammates with the resources to help them be successful. I have had very limited dealings with the coaching staff but have found them to be very affable on the occasions that I have spoken with them. I would ask Slugger if his daughter is still playing for the head coach who originally recruited his daughter. Maybe that could be a reason for him being somewhat jaded with college softball. I am not naïve to believe that there are not coaches out there (including travel and high school) who are looking out for No. 1 and don't care who they use or who they lie to. In regards to my daughter's decision, I am happy for her that things have worked out.
 
Nov 15, 2019
59
18
I’m with Sluggers on this one.

The parents and players who are starry eyed about what it means to be a college softball player in 2020 are in for a very rude awakening.

My older dd lived and breathed softball. She thought when she got onto campus at a mid-major, she would FINALLY be among other like minded players. Not so much. Most felt they had already reached their goals. Most had already played too much softball, were beat down and were ready for it to be over.

When I look back at how I soaked up all this talk about how coaches recruit only the players with the highest moral fiber, how they only want the true team players and how hard work and performance will be the only thing that matters, I can and do poke fun at my own naivety.

I really think recruiting is a broken process in some regards. I think that college coaches have created unintended consequences by recruiting almost exclusively from a pool of players that have been forced to dance with the devil of non-stop travel, non-stop tournaments and a constant barrage of on-line foolishness and self promotion. By the time these players hit the meat grinder of college softball, it ISN'T that they are "prepared" for the travel, (it's brutal), it ISN'T that they are ready for the long workouts and the even longer practices. It's more like they are exhausted from the journey that got them there. Some don't even make it there because of the injury to the body from playing so much. I think it has not occurred to most that the long road has not ended, it is starting again. I don't think players and parents and coaches don't understand that they are recruiting players whose bodies are already have too much wear and tear on them, due to the process that allows them to be recruited. I think players and parents don't have a realistic view of what their place is on a team of 20 year olds that may or may not be very sympathetic to this poor little superstar being away from home for the first time without her personal assistants (I mean parents, sorry.)

I know this post drips with sarcasm. It is meant to jolt the reader. It isn't based only on my families experiences. I find that our experience is pretty similar to almost every college softball player I know.

College softball is an awesome institution. I love it. I love watching it. I am trying to decide whether I will travel from the MIdwest to the Southwest in a month to watch a full weekend of softball and hang out with my friends that have kids playing. I'm not trying to discourage ANYONE from taking their shot. But I DO hope that the player and parent know what they are getting into.
This was eye opening for me, thanks for sharing all that.
 
Apr 23, 2014
270
18
East Jabib
DD just joined twitter in December and holy moly am I shocked at the kids who are constantly putting up posts of workouts and lesson footage. These kids are at it everyday and letting college coaches know it. The tagging of college coaches in these posts is excessive and at almost every camp the coaches tell the campers they don’t like when that happens but I think it’s become an “I’ll show you that I will outwork you” mentality out there.

Relating this to the original post - I can only picture burnout in the future for some of these young ladies.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Sep 29, 2010
1,084
83
Knoxville, TN
DD just joined twitter in December and holy moly am I shocked at the kids who are constantly putting up posts of workouts and lesson footage. These kids are at it everyday and letting college coaches know it. The tagging of college coaches in these posts is excessive and at almost every camp the coaches tell the campers they don’t like when that happens but I think it’s become an “I’ll show you that I will outwork you” mentality out there.

Relating this to the original post - I can only picture burnout in the future for some of these young ladies.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I can’t even imagine what these P5 coaches notifications look like every morning. I wonder how many have someone else running their Twitter accounts. To me it seems as bad as a form/mass email. When players are tagging half of the SEC coaches, I can only assume they’ve had no prior contact with any of the coaches.
 
Jun 8, 2016
4,618
113
The burnout reminds me of discussions I have had with a colleague here who went to IIT. He said that a lot of his fellow students had worked their entire childhood with the goal of getting into IIT and that once they got there they were either a) totally burned out or b) felt that they had accomplished their life goal. In either case they pretty much didn't do a thing once they got on campus.
 

Strike2

Allergic to BS
Nov 14, 2014
804
43
A great discussion full of some harsh reality. I have no doubt that many kids find the right school and have a great time playing ball while getting their education. However, as DD nears college, I've seen what that experience actually holds for many of her slightly older peers. I've concluded that college athletics is a minefield for most players.

I've seen an outstanding HS player not make it through her first year at a large D1. I've seen other outstanding players disappear on large college rosters. I'm also seeing less talented players with limited financial resources prioritizing playing college ball at significant out-of-pocket cost when they could attend a good non-softball school for much less money. That is the biggest head-scratcher for me.

I think that for some parents, the sunk cost of getting their kids recruited traps them into the belief that if their kid doesn't play college sports somewhere, then all that money to play (or ride the bench) on that high-level travel team was wasted.

A few years back, a family I've known for decades sent their soccer playing DD across the country to a D3 school that I never heard of. She was a good player...played for a top local soccer club...but apparently not a great one. She lasted one year on that D3 team, and two years at the school. In the end, it took her five-plus years to get a degree in elementary education, and her family spent well into six figures to make that happen. Perhaps the dumbest thing I've ever seen, but it's now got some competition with DDs softball-playing peers.
 

Cannonball

Ex "Expert"
Feb 25, 2009
4,024
83
I'll go a different route than some of the previous posts. If your dd truly has talent, there is a place for her to play and at several levels. Find the level that she feels comfortable playing and disregard any of the noise you hear from others about where she should play. After that, become the best supportive parents you can be and expect for your dd to experience hard times and heartache. It comes with the territory. Avoid all toxic parents at games. You will recognize parents that are more like you if you are toxic, calm, ... because all are represented on every college following. Know this, a clock has been started on the ending of your dd's career and the vast majority will end with a loss. That loss will be hard to take for both you and your dd in most cases. Know this, your lives will change when it ends.

Finally, I'll mention once again how my dd's career was and ended. She had a great career. She loved and adored her coach. He was a true coach and cared about player and student. Her four years were some of the best of her life. This coming month, she will be inducted into her college's hall of fame with her team. However, as a parent, that last game will forever haunt us. The starting pitcher was a 4 time All American. She lasted one inning and was hurt. She had to be taken out of the game. The #2 came in and threw one pitch and was hurt. I believe she rolled her ankle but am not sure. #3 came in who had two appearances all year and was hammered in the Supers. My dd started crying in the 5th inning and didn't stop. She loved/loves the game. I've never seen a kid more lost than mine. So often we told her that softball was what she did and was not who she was. Still, softball became who she was. It took a very long time to get over it and, to be honest, I don't think she is over it yet. Most days she still puts a bat in her hand and swings. That day is coming for anyone who's dd plays the game as it should be played and loves the sport. Love your daughters and enjoy every moment!
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
6,059
113
Dallas, Texas
For full disclosure: My DD played Juco for Kathy Rudolph (now HC at New Mexico State) and Cat Heiffner (also at NMSU). Both were all over my DD about her grades and courses. They were great about academics.

My DD's D1 coach--not so much.

It is my fault things got messed up. I didn't let it happen with DD#3.
 

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