The #1 Recruiting Rule: Embrace the Unexpected  | 2aDays

The #1 Recruiting Rule: Embrace the Unexpected 

The #1 Recruiting Rule: Embrace the Unexpected  The #1 Recruiting Rule: Embrace the Unexpected 

Many athletes have detailed plans when it comes to their recruiting process, but what happens when you get to the next level and things don’t go how you expected? My advice: most things probably won’t go perfectly your way in life, so you might as well embrace it. 

I’m a former East Carolina University athlete where I was a proud member of the Pirate’s softball team in the American Athletic Conference. Looking back at my journey to becoming a Pirate, I can honestly shake my head in disbelief at all the opportunities and trials that I’ve had thrown my way over my four years at the university. With that in mind, I had to learn to embrace the unexpected and I learned a lot in the process. Here are four potential twists you may encounter as a college athlete.

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Time Commitment

Many athletes are blindsided prior to entering a sport at the DI level. For me, softball has always been my sport that I was most passionate towards but I also was very involved in other activities that filled my life with joy. The biggest transition between high school and college for me was that in high school, softball took about 70% percent of my schedule and maybe even less. The jump from HS to college was over a 10 percent margin because now softball takes up at least 80% of my time, if not more. No longer is ball just a hobby–it’s a job. Lucky for us this job isn’t in an office from 9:00-5:00. 

Related: Being a College Athlete is Stressful–Check out These 5 Tips for a Healthy Work/Life Balance

A Change of Scenery

I was born and raised in Bethany Beach, Delaware, which is a wonderful vacation town in the summer but isn’t home to much prosperity when it comes to a softball hotspot. I had to travel often to play games that would put me in the position to get seen by college coaches. Every single weekend was booked with either a tournament or college visit, most of which were not in the state boundaries of Delaware. When I met the (now former) head Coach of ECU Softball, I was playing ball in Tennessee and we just happened to cross paths at the right time. Luckily, she was fond of this kid from Delaware. 

I began to grow a player (recruit) and coach relationship with the former head coach of ECU Softball and found myself down south on a visit to the campus. The athletic facilities were something that completely blew me away. To this day I still stand firm in my belief that ECU has the best softball complex in the state. Having a northern background I loved the fact that I would be able to practice outside in January if I attended this school. After various meetings and offerings I decided that I would join Pirate Nation. 

Coach Changes

As I mentioned above, freshman year is always the hardest. You’re unaware of what is to come and it’s basically a figure everything out but at a faster pace of life. A huge challenge for me my freshman year was after a few weeks into the season my head coach decided that she was going to withdraw indefinitely from the program due to family issues. My head coach, who was basically still a stranger to me having only been coached by her for a few months, had just abandoned the ship and I felt like I was left to sink. 

Related: 3 Tips to Help You Cope With a Coaching Change

Now, I do not fault the coach in any way because there are priorities in life that come before softball. But, being a wide-eyed freshman, this change shook me up at the time. The staff of ECU softball now was made of an assistant coach that took over to become interim head coach, and later on in the season ECU added a pitching coach to the team. 

Promotions and New Positions

That year I worked my way in the off-season to find a starting role on the field. I basically relied on my senior players to teach me how to play the game of softball at the collegiate level. I’d also taken up a new position on the field that I had never played before, so I was very reliant on the instruction of other teammates to guide me through the season. It was a tough period of growth. I was away from home, without a head coach and struggling to find my purpose at the university. Not only did I struggle personally, but so did the record of my team. It was a year of aches and pains but you know what they say…what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  

All of this is to say that my advice for those who are entering the process is to embrace the unexpected. Whatever is around the corner, whether it be hardships or wonderful triumphs, is meant to make you into a better version of yourself further down the road. Trusting the process can sometimes be difficult, but know that your commitment will yield powerful rewards. 

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