Finding the Fit by Coach Taylor of Davidson College Copy

Last month we explained one of the 5 tools as being “Fit”. This month Coach Rucker Taylor from Davidson contributed a piece that went above and beyond regarding finding the fit. We have dedicated this entire month to Coach Taylor’s words on finding the fit from the view of the player and the coach.

Coach Taylor poses some simple, but insightful questions that you should be asking yourself during your recruiting process.

Big thanks to Coach Taylor for the generous contribution.

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Finding the Fit

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RUCKER TAYLOR

Davidson College Associate Head Coach & Recruiting Coordinator

Finding the right college fit is the biggest decision most individuals have made at that point in their lives. A multitude of factors typically go into the process for the athlete. At the same time, college coaches are often doing extensive research themselves and trying to get the best fits for their program.

Player’s Perspective

It’s not about where you commit, it’s about where you finish! Social media is a great thing. Access to information, sharing of ideas, easy ways to communicate…a lot of positives. Guys, don’t make the biggest decision of your life based on what looks good on Instagram or if you will get a bunch of retweets on Twitter! If you’re committing early, that’s great, congrats someone wants you. Is that the best fit for you? Will the coach or coaching staff be there your freshmen year, much less during your career? D1 roster limits are at 35. It blows my mind how many families are stunned in the fall when their son shows up at a place and there are 45 kids on the fall roster. Ask questions, get online to see the current roster. Get on the internet and see who is committed in each class. If you’re one of 3 OF in a class, the class before you has 2, and there are going to be 6 upper classmen on the roster when you get there, something doesn’t add up. It’s not about committing, it’s about the college experience. Starting at a school, being buried on a depth chart or cut after six months, going to a junior college and then starting the process all over again…that’s incredibly tough. Find a place you are valued, find a place where you are comfortable.
Along the lines of finding a place of comfort…where will you prosper and develop the best academically, athletically and socially. You won’t always be happy in all of those, but your college experience should give you a chance to grow in each area. What school gives you the best educational experience? Do you know what you want your career to be or are you wide open? What internships and alumni connections are available? Are you ok with a huge classroom setting or do want something smaller? If grad school is an interest, how does a school prepare you for that?
Athletic fit can be an expansive topic but a few questions that jump out…what position does the school see you playing? Does your school take advantage of all the practice time the NCAA allows? Do they have a track record of developing players? If you’re a position guy, do you fit their style of play? Do you mesh well with the hitting coach and his philosophies? Pitchers…if you have a current plan, does the pitching coach agree with it. Some guys don’t like long toss, some love weighted balls, etc. If a program has older guys at your position, are you ok with not having a ton of playing time early?
So much can go into the social aspect of college. Have you even visited campus or just seen pretty pictures online? Photographers get paid to make things a certain way, get a real visual. Do you like the climate? If you don’t like snow then staying in certain geographic areas make a lot of sense. Do you want a huge football game in the fall to go to or are you ok with a smaller on campus. Big city person or like the ability to see the stars at night? If baseball was taken away from you because of injury, would you still want to be at the school? If you’ve gotten to meet other recruits or current people on the team, do you feel like you would enjoy spending the majority of your college experience with those people?

Coach’s Perspective

As coaches we spend a ton of time with our team. We want players we enjoy being around. That certainly doesn’t mean everyone is the same, but we want kids we trust. We want great teammates. We want kids that realize they are part of something bigger than themselves. We want guys that make

the team better. We want the guy that picks up a piece of trash around the field. We want the type of guy that embraces a younger player and helps him…even if that player might take some of his playing time as a result. We want the kid that was a little undervalued by some of the bigger schools. We want that guy that was strung along by a bigger school and uses that as motivation when we play those Power 5 guys during the midweek. We want guys with a chip on their shoulder.
Davidson has an incredible admissions process…they look at the high school transcript, peer and teacher recommendations, they place great emphasis on the student’s application. This process limits who we can realistically recruit. We’ve had applicants with exceptional ACT/SAT scores not get in because of weak rigor in their HS classes or a poor GPA. Some think that makes our situation tough, and it may to some extent. However, we are fortunate that this process tends to thin out those that are not self-motivated. It helps us find guys that show up every day looking to improve. Guys that are looking for a challenge. Guys that are not comfortable with being average. We want guys that fit that mold.
We want to get to know the athlete as a person. There are plenty of people that can play D1 baseball. We want the guys that fit at Davidson and want to be at Davidson and leave it a better school and program than it was when they arrived. We want guys to visit as much as possible during the process. We want to get to know the families if possible. We take an incredible amount of interest in what our current players say about a recruit…they are our best judges.
Like most schools, we talk with coaches, teachers, opposing coaches, teammates, really anyone we can to try and get the best picture possible. Social media…an inappropriate tweet, picture, or comment…that will get you off our radar faster than almost anything. As others have done, we’ve taken the steps of using an outside group to help us assess recruits on a number of different personality traits and used that information compared to current and past players to help determine what the best fit is for us.
In closing, I hope everyone reading this has an incredible college experience. It should be one of the highlights of your life and provide you with lifelong lessons and friends. Be yourself and enjoy the process. Play because you love baseball, not because you’re trying to get a scholarship. Respect the game, your teammates and your family and things will fall into place.

Best of luck and I hope baseball treats you as well as it has me.