I sat in a car dealership this weekend working with a salesman named Spencer while checking out some new vehicles. Poor guy didn't know what hit him. I was just looking to do some research, a couple of test drives, and really had zero intention of actually buying a vehicle any time soon. In other words: his well-trained insertions of safety features, knowledge on the cars' gadgets, and haphazard insight on the cars' engines was not helping him at all.
I could tell Spencer was new to the gig. How? Research shows that women typically buy cars from a particular dealership because (1) they like the people they are dealing with and (2) price, in that order. So while he spent all of his time selling me the car (which in this day and age, we can research online), he really should have been selling me on him.
What does this have to do with softball?
During my visit with Spencer, it became abundantly clear that it was September 3. How so? September 1 was the initial day that D1 softball coaches could initiate contact with the 2020 graduating class as well as communicate openly with travel coaches about those same kids after being shut down in April of this year. So while ol' Spencer was hustling around locating keys, two groups of people were texting me in mad fashion: (1) college coaches trying to get fall schedules so they could follow the 2020s and (2) 2020s who, in not receiving as many recruitment messages on September 1 as they thought they would, were now in a panic that they had missed their recruiting boat.
The college coaches and NCAA voted to slow the recruiting train down so the athletes could mature, both physically and emotionally. Combined with the fact that I am still getting texts daily from coaches trying to locate athlete for this year leads me to believe that we're in an unnecessary panic about committing to schools by X time.
Are you the best car?
Let's pretend you, prospective student-athlete, are the car Spencer was trying to sell me. What are your features? Biggest, fastest engine? Reliable? Cost effective? What if there are a BUNCH of cars out there similar to you - what differentiates you from the rest?
Furthermore, what if you have some known issues? It's a little like the error codes that your car's computer will spit out. Take these examples that I heard over the years from travel coaches:
"Tons of potential": talented kid that doesn't work hard
"will never give you a problem": won't ever be a solution for that coach either
"just needs a little motivation": constant babysitting/cheerleading required
Where does this leave the travel coach?
I will tell you a secret: I try to be the good car salesman and I encourage others in my shoes to follow my path. "Good" here does not mean I always sell the most or best athletes on the planet. It means I do my communicating with all parties involved with the recruiting process in an honest, fair manner as to maintain my integrity. Because when folks get one of my athletes in their program, I hope they always come as advertised and improve from there. Beyond that, I then hope to maintain the opinion in a college coach's mind that (1) we dealt them a fair hand when it came to past recruits and (2) they can trust future athletes we send their way.
MY advice for PSA's: be the best car, at the best price, with the best features (aka humanity)
Take stock NOW. What kinds of effort are you putting into being the best possible athlete you can be? Are you persistent? Are you devoting enough time in terms of your softball skills to make yourself INCAPABLE OF BEING IGNORED?
Every. Single. Day. That's what these college coaches want. That's what they deserve when you GET TO put on their uniform. Show them that you will be the very best version of yourself at all times and continue to push the envelope for their program. To help them maintain their career.
At that point, my friend, you will sell yourself a car.