There are 295 Division One College Softball schools in the nation. When weighing the 295 teams individually, each team can hold up to 22 players on their active roster. A typical coaching staff on each of these teams will consist of a head coach, an assistant coach, a pitching coach, and a few additional graduate assistant or volunteer coaches. Some programs carry two co-head coaches who share the responsibilities, while other dynamics may also look different.
Over the years, the recruiting process for college softball has changed and evolved. Today there are many different ways to get recruited in our sport. But before we explore that topic in a future post, let’s focus this post on where to begin the recruiting process.
Step 1: Do a self-evaluation: Playing college softball at the Division One level isn’t for everyone. However, it is the dream of many. Before you begin your recruiting process, sit down and have a talk with your parents. Make the decision whether or not playing in college is something you actually want to commit to doing. Do some research, talk to some athletes you know who have been there, it’s not a decision you have to make overnight but it’s definitely the start. At the end of this step, start thinking about what you want your college experience to be like. Do you want to go to a big school, or keep it small? Do you want to stay close to home, or go far? Etc.
Step 2: Make a list of five dream schools and three reasonable school choices: Making this list will start you off with eight choices, which is a good start. It’s important to include dream schools to the list because it’s good motivation to set your sights on something high. Ever heard the saying, “shoot for the moon because even if you miss you’ll land among the stars?” It’s also recommended to put three reasonable choices on your list. Reasonable could mean any of the following factors; cost, location- close to home or far from home, the size of the school, majors offered, if there is a football program, additional clubs, and activities, etc. This is where you will start to consider and think about where you could potentially see yourself fitting in. Have you noticed the softball program hasn’t been mentioned much yet?
Step 3: Start researching the schools on your list: A huge piece of advice, don’t just research the softball program at the schools on your list. Softball is only a small part of your college experience. Make sure the schools you are looking at have your major, or an area of study that you wish to pursue. Your college softball career only lasts four years, and after that, only a small percent of athletes move on to the USA and Pro level. You will at some point be forced to have a career outside of softball, so it’s important you study and prepare yourself for that as well.
Now keep that list handy and accessible for a few weeks or even months. It’s extremely normal for that starting list of eight schools to change over time. You may find yourself crossing off or even adding more schools to the list as you go. Once you feel like your list of schools are locked in, rank them one to five or one to ten, whatever your list may be. This is our starting list. Hold onto that list tight because it’s going to be handy for our next set of steps for the recruiting process that will be covered in our next Recruiting Tips post.