In today’s world of college recruiting there are many unknowns. Tryouts have either already begun or are quickly approaching and as a parent, you are doing your best to help your daughter get every opportunity possible to allow her to follow her dreams. With that in mind it is more important than ever to find a team that has quality college coach connections. Connections that are good enough to pick up the phone and ask specific questions so there is no misunderstanding!
Athletes Go Live has become the new “normal” in our games and it is unclear when the next time D1 college coaches will be allowed to attend our games in person. It has proven to be the most popular and most efficient way to be seen by college coaches. It is absolutely critical that you are on a team that uses a software like this!
Player development has to be a priority. Not just what is happening now, but what has the travel ball organization done in the past? College coaches need to be able to trust the coach or organization you are a part of to prepare you mentally and physically for the next level. Freshman year of college is hard enough being away from family, friends and the academic workload, you want your daughter to be as prepared as possible to adapt to the softball aspect.
Be realistic. This point is my personal favorite. Being realistic with your daughter about her talent level is very important, just as important as her work ethic. I am all for challenging yourself. There are more life lessons in softball than just softball skill lessons. Not being the best player on the team is very important for just human growth! Not to mention the chances of you going on to college and being the best player on the team your freshman year is closer to 0%. The best advice I can give you is “The grass is not always greener on the other side!” The development of the player and person far out weights the view from behind the fence for a only few innings. Now with that being said, if you can’t be realistic as a parent to watch that happen, then be self aware of that. If your daughter is not going to be okay with that, then be self aware of that. In all the time I have played or been a part of coaching in this sport, that is what ruins the experience. I have watched that turn a good player with a great future into someone who hates the game. Quits. Or even worse, be so negative you can never see the positive in anything! You can’t even enjoy the success, never mind the process. Now it could just be me but that is not what I want my kid to experience in any part of their life!
Lastly, of course there is the financial component. Travel ball organizations range widely in tuition and it is a huge talking point on many softball forums, which is completely understood. I’m not here to tell you what is or is not a good price. I’m simply helping to create some talking points as a family to see if it is worth it financially. So let’s break it down into a few points to help you…
1: What is the organization’s track record for sending players to college? What level? What level do you realistically think your daughter can play at? NOTE: asking the question of how many players get scholarships or the ratio of how many players go on to play in college at any level is a very appropriate/important question to ask the travel ball coach. Don’t just believe what you have heard, most information that circulates in the softball world is NOT true (I’m sure you are thinking right now how very true that is!)
2: With question number one in mind, is this a financial investment for my daughter’s college fund? Is this no different than the college fund I started for her a few years back? Is my daughter’s work ethic high enough to be paying that amount of money?
3: What high quality tournaments does this team typically go to every year? Are they going to invite only or qualifying only tournaments that are built of the quality of the team itself year in and year out? Travel teams are not like buying an item in the store. They should not be judged as quality based off the higher price! Judge them by the quality of the tournament they are consistently playing in and the history of success by their previous players at the next level.
I’m writing this post not to start a dialogue on Facebook. I’m not trying to tell you what organization I think you should play for. I’m not even going to tell you what organization I think you shouldn’t play for. I’m simply giving my perspective of having gone through this as a high school player, as a D1 college player, as a travel coach and a college coach. At the end of the day everyone wants all players to enjoy the game! Put your kid in the best mental state to do so. It starts with you!
Travel Ball: Rhode Island Thunder Lotti
College career: Fordham University Softball 14’
College coaching: Florida Atlantic University & Hofstra University