My whole life I knew I wanted to go to Notre Dame. I researched other schools but it was only to please my mom; I knew Notre Dame was the place for me. I started my recruiting process by throwing my eggs all into one basket big mistake! One thing I didnt realize that I know now, recruiting is based on having what the team needs. If youre a pitcher and the school already has 3 stud pitchers, start looking at others squads that need pitching in the next few years. In my case, Notre Dame didnt need a catcher so I wasnt a high priority. It didnt work out there.
Pay attention to your gut when youre on visits. I visited Hillsdale College in Southeastern Michigan. It is a small D-2 school with extremely nice facilities. The date was September 11, 2001. I watched the second plane collide into the towers from a computer lab, surrounded by college students, none of whom I knew. Bless their hearts, they tried to make the visit continue, doing their best to sell the school, but there was nothing they could do, I couldnt attend there because it was such a traumatic day.
My next visit was destiny. After my quest for Notre Dame crumbled in the summer before my senior year I sent out letters to any school I had time to research. On all my letters I had copied the schools emblem and put it right in the middle on top, making it look like official business. The coaches loved it! The school I fell in love with was Loyola University Chicago. I was looking for a program that would help me improve but where I could also have an impact in my first year and beyond. I truly loved my future teammates and that is crucial; youll be spending an enormous amount of time with them. The coach was genuine and even though she did tell me she was recruiting another catcher to make me hurry my decision process, I later found out there was no other girl. The school had the program I wanted and the location as well. All in all, there were many ways in which I clicked with this program.
If I had rested my decision only on the head coach, I would have been lost when I found out that the coach took an assistant coaching position at Michigan State University weeks before I was to begin my freshman year. I eventually did transfer to the University of Michigan because too many things started changing at Loyola. I no longer fit there and I needed a place to belong. Its a scary leap, transferring, but it isnt the end of the world. I helped win a National Championship and was an All-American my senior year.
Do your research
Listen to your gut
Have faith that everything will work out in the end
I had known for a long time I wanted to play softball at the next levelI just wasnt sure what type of school I wanted to attend. My recruiting experience and how I ended up making my decision was atypical, but if I could go back and do it all over again, Id be more than happy for things to work out the way they did.
I played up a year for almost as long as I had been playing softball. It was great until all of my teammates went on to college and I was left behind for one more summer. Many of them, and other girls I had become friends with from playing against over the years, went on to play ball at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. I knew they had a strong program and the university was only a couple hours away from my home town of St. Louis. When July 1 prior to my senior year rolled around and they expressed interest in signing me, it seemed like a logical option and quickly became the option in which I invested the most interest. In retrospect, I believe this hindered my desire to seek out other opportunities and develop other options.
While I was mostly hoping things would work out with SIUC, I half-heartedly continued exploring my optionsMissouri State University, Washington University and Loyola University Chicago were the leading candidates. I went on a visit to Missouri State sometime near the beginning of my senior year and didnt get a strong impression one way or the other. Washington University seemed like a good choice because of the high academic standard, but because they are Division III they couldnt offer any amount of athletic scholarship and the tuition was too high.
Things got interesting when it came time to schedule a visit to Loyola. Since high school softball in Missouri is played in the fall and my team was heavily favored to make it back to the state playoffs, I explained to the coach I would only be able to visit the weekend she proposed if my team was knocked out of the playoffs. She said that was okay but there was another recruit coming to visit and the scholarship offer would go to the first person that accepted it.
Fearing that the other recruit would take the position on the team before I could even visit, I had to make one of the most important decisions of my life based on a lot of unknowns. I talked things over with my parentsthings didnt seem to be working out with SIUC and the offer from Loyola was too good to pass up. I called one of my long-time teammates from summer ball who signed with Loyola the previous year, asked her a ton of questions, and trusted the answers she gave me. Shortly thereafter, I signed a letter of intent to play for Loyola University Chicago without seeing the campus (other than online) or meeting the team.
I wouldnt advise making your decision without doing either of those things. Luckily, it worked out for me despite two coaching changes and learning that there never was another recruit that was being considered for the spot. I had the opportunity to play with amazing teammates, enjoyed the community and academic challenge Loyola provided, and fell in love with the city of Chicago.
I would suggest being as proactive as possible in the college search. Read as much as you possible early on in the process to get an idea of what youre looking for in a prospective school and what you hope to get out of your student-athlete experience. Explore several options in case things dont work out with your first choice. Take the initiative to send videos, write letters, make phone calls and return questionnaires yourselfit reflects positively on you as being responsible, mature and prepared to make the transition into college life. Make your decision based on the entire package; not just the athletic program. Dont take this opportunity for granted, having the privilege to play sports in college was one of the best experiences of my life. Most of all, good luck to you on your journey!