Softball player talks recruitment pressure

Every college athlete can recall their journey through recruitment. Some would say it’s fun and exciting, but it seems like most athletes find it more stressful and overwhelming than anything — and I agree with that majority.

One moment I was 8 years old playing Wiffle ball in my backyard, and the next thing I know I am a freshman in high school, playing in front of large crowds that are full of Div. I softball coaches from all across the nation. By the time I was a sophomore in high school, one of my first teammates committed to play college softball by accepting a full ride from University of Louisville.

Throughout the next year, my entire travel team would sign their college careers over to big Div. I schools: University of Kentucky, University of Mississippi, University of Iowa, Pennsylvania State University, University of Missouri, Wichita State University, Northern Kentucky University. At the time, I couldn’t even decide which sport I wanted to play in college, but I was under pressure to make a decision. All I wanted to do was hide or run away. I was on the brink of quitting sports forever.

I’m not the only one who has felt so overwhelmed at this time in their athletic careers because I hear stories similar to my own all the time. So much pressure is put on young athletes to make a decision about where they want to continue their sporting career in college — oftentimes, before the athlete even knows how to drive a car or make dinner.

Within the last week, Alexia Carrasquillo became the youngest person to commit in any sport at 11 years old when she accepted a full-ride offer to play for one of the best softball programs in the nation at the University of Florida. She hasn’t taken the ACT, but she knows where she will continue her education after she graduates from high school — which she hasn’t even begun yet. So much more goes into choosing a college than the strength and reputation of their athletic programs — academic opportunities, job placement, postgraduate outlook, school size, geographic location. On top of that, athletes have to worry about a sports program even wanting to sign them.

Luckily for me, my recruiting journey ended better than I ever imagined. Truman State University was never on my radar as a prospective school to attend. Toward the end of my recruiting journey I was running out of hope for my future. After three years of frustration, I received an email from Bulldogs’ softball head coach, Erin Brown. At first, I was very reluctant and skeptical of Truman, but after my unofficial visit, I decided this was where I wanted to spend my collegiate softball and academic career. When I put on my cap and gown in May, I will be able to say that I loved the last four years at my dream school, received an undeniably incredible education, took advantage of opportunities of a lifetime, and gained the sweetest of friendships.

I’m a true believer that God does everything for our good, and it’s no doubt that Truman was my blessing in disguise. If there’s one thing I could tell young athletes with a dream of pursuing a college sport, I would say have faith. You don’t have to have everything figured out by the time you’re 11 years old. Take the recruiting process in stride, don’t worry and trust more.

Despite the hours of overthinking, stressing and maybe even crying, everything will work out better than you think if you just keep an open mind. It might not turn out the way you plan — it might turn out even better.