Believe Me, It Means Nothing
When I first heard the news of a 2024 committing, I giggled. Yes, I giggled. There is no other way to describe it. And we are happy that she and her family had this moment. Now, this is the same moment every player experiences when they verbal, whether she be in 6th grade or 11th grade. It’s a cool moment and they should enjoy it. But believe me, it doesn’t really mean anything.
A 6th grader will play her first official college game in 2025. That’s a long time from now and I am concerned about the impact early verbals have on many other young players out there who see or hear this and then over react. How does this make an 11th grader feel? Or a 9th grader? Or even other 6th graders? The recruiting world is full of pressure and how does this add to it? Word on the street is with the looming NCAA legislation regarding early verbals, college coaches are scrambling to verbal kids before April. Parents are feeling pressure to make a decision for their child before the legislation hits and the money runs out. All of this is nonsense because there is no money to run out...it is just a verbal and it means nothing.
Here’s a fact for you. Every single year for the last 10 years at the Colorado Jamboree in June, multiple Power 5 schools coming looking for players for the very next Fall. Yes, you read that right. For the last 10 years, high level teams are going to Colorado with full scholarships for the upcoming season. The fact is that things happen. College players get hurt. College players don’t make grades. College players quit or transfer. Add to that, committed players don’t get any better. Or they get slower. Or they don’t make grades. Or they quit. Add to that, college coaches get fired. College coaches retire. College coaches change jobs. Add all that up, and these early verbals simply don’t matter. College coaches are ALWAYS looking for the best talent they can find because their jobs are on the line each and every year.
If the NCAA legislation passes in April, here is a scenario that will play out over and over across the country. September 1st will roll around and Susie, who committed as an 8th grader and is now a junior, will be eagerly awaiting the call from the college coaches she committed to. BUT THE PHONE WILL NEVER RING. But on September 2nd, THE PHONE STILL WILL NOT RING. Susie and her parents will wait it out, but on September 12th THE PHONE STILL ISN’T RINGING. Finally, Susie and her parents will call the school, and the coaches will tell them that they went in another direction with their recruiting. And Susie will be back on the recruiting market with her confidence crushed and nowhere to turn. This is happening now and will continue to happen because early verbals simply don’t matter.
So my advice to all the softball parents and young players out there who dream of playing college softball is to stay the course. Don’t get caught up in something that statistically has no meaning. Don’t get caught up in your friends or teammates recruiting. Keep working on your game. Keep having fun playing this wonderful sport. Keep believing in yourself. Stay strong. Stay independent. Stay resilient. And know that when your time comes, you will be ready to play for a coach you know...with a team you have met...at a school that can fulfill the promises for your future.