It’s high school graduation season. Time to celebrate and enjoy that senior summer; you’ve earned it. No more showcasing. No more rental cars, sketchy hotels in Georgia and Chik-Fil-A. So, what should you do senior summer to get ready for the next level? What is it going to be like?
This summer should be spent getting your reps against good competition, and getting in the best physical shape possible. Your freshman fall is huge in so many ways. You are making a statement for the next four years of your life on the field, in the classroom and socially. Going in physically prepared will put you way ahead of the game on the ball field. Until this point you’ve focused totally on getting there. You’ve committed, you’ve been accepted, now it’s time to prepare to wear the uni.
What can I expect Freshman year? The short answer is you can expect more. More of everything. College coaches also expect more from you than your high school coach did.
Here are some of the ‘more’s’ you can expect.
I guarantee your first college practice you’ll leave exhausted. Not because coach made you run poles or sprints, but because the volume of everything is turned up to a point you aren’t used to. More throws, more swings, more focus on each pitch with an intensity that you haven’t seen yet. Your brain will hurt as much as your hands and feet.
In high school ‘opportunity’ to win a job is limited. You practice less, the season is shorter, etc. In college you are coached all year long. Opportunities don’t come in games in college. Opportunities come a million different ways before the game is ever played. Team meetings, team lifts, individuals, grades, behavior, practice, THEN games. These are all opportunities that you are being evaluated on. Everything you do matters. People who think opportunity only comes in during the season are sadly mistaken.
Because of the intense focus, the volume, the millions of opportunities for playing time players are under greater pressure to perform. The difference is you are more prepared to perform in college. With more focus on your reps, with a higher volume of reps, with more opportunity comes being more prepared to perform. The players who take these seriously and make everything matter are the ones who perform when the bell rings. A lot of jobs have been won on a pinch-hit at bat, or a mop up start. Those guys were ready when called upon. A lot of jobs have also been lost in a pinch-hit at bat, or a mop up start.
I hate saying it’s your job for four years, but it essentially is. Schoolwork comes first no matter where you go to school. If you can’t make the grades then you can’t play. Baseball comes next and when you aren’t in the classroom you are available to your coach. There are NCAA rules and coaches are also conscious of college kids needing to have a life but it is a major commitment no matter the division.
Every summer college coaches travel the country recruiting. That’s how they found you. I’ll let you in on a secret about recruiting… Coaches try to recruit a better class each year than the year before. Do the math, as a senior the coaches are shooting to have that freshman class be 4 times better than your class. It doesn’t always happen that way, but you catch my drift. It’s all about competition. That means you have to win your job every year. You have to beat the guys next to you, in front of you, and the class coming in behind you. It’s a constant cycle of competition. There is no ‘he plays because he’s a senior’. Nope. Doesn’t happen. If he’s playing, he’s earned it.
Colleges are breeding grounds of temptation in so many ways. There is less supervision and more ‘extra curriculars,’ so to speak. Certain guys succumb to temptation and put other things ahead of baseball and grades. More careers go down the drain off the field than on it. My college coach had a great line that he would use timely throughout the year. He would say, “there are three aspects to your four years. There’s the classroom, the ballfield, and the dorm. You can only be really good in 2 of those places. You pick the two.”
Seems like a pretty big commitment, right? On top of all of it, you are going to disagree with your coach, and you are going to call home complaining about him at some point, I guarantee it. He’s going to get on you. He’s going to yell at you and sometimes it will happen in front of all of your teammates. You won’t like it. You can pout, or you can learn from it.
College baseball is not a scary thing that is all pressure and calls home to mom. Being a college athlete is the best way to spend your time at school. It adds so much to the entire experience. You have 30+ friends when you walk in the door. You have structure. You have the chance to be really good at something other than school work. You get to keep playing the game you love. You’ll get to experience things that the ordinary student wouldn’t dream of. Are there times you will be upset? Yes. Are there times you’ll call home complaining? Yes. Do the good times outweigh the tough times? ABSOLUTELY.
Rob DiToma – Assistant Coach & Recruiting Coordinator – Fordham University
It is a great accomplishment to be heading to any college or university and be part of a baseball team in your Freshman Fall. That is something most people will never experience and only get to imagine. In a sense you should arrive on campus very proud. With that being said, I believe the way the summer baseball circuit is nowadays it seems as though we have all created a culture that the accomplishment has been achieved when you make it on the roster and/or receive a scholarship. If you do arrive with a sense of “mission accomplished,” I can almost guarantee that the college baseball experience will be nothing like you dreamed of and envisioned it to be since you were young. My best advice is to arrive as hungry as you were on the first day you played a summer ball or a high school game and realized college coaches were there to watch the game.
A college baseball Fall will be nothing like you ever experienced before. You have been conditioned and trained your whole life to try and be ready for it, but from years of coaching I have come to learn that no one is ever really “ready.” You will be competing, yes competing, at practice every single minute of the day. You will be competing sometimes with people who are your age, but also may be in competition with a 22 year old senior who has been waiting three years to finally get on the field.It does not matter if you are a recruited walk on, or the highest scholarship player in that freshman class. Expect to fight every day to be noticed and to try and stand out.
The last thing I want to leave you with is crucial in my opinion. We, as college coaches have been recruiting you for a long time. Some strong college coach to high school recruit relationships have been built. But understand that the minute you get to campus that relationship is over. You are no longer a college coaches recruit. So the relationship that was very buddy-buddy over the last two-three years will not be the same. You are now a player on the roster. This is the hardest thing I believe incoming freshman has to adapt to. The coach is now trying to develop you as a player, get you to be a contributor on that years team, and develop you as a person.Probably the last thing they are trying to do is be your best friend. Which is opposite of what they were trying to do during the recruiting process. If you come to the campus in the Fall with an understanding of that concept you will be major steps ahead of everyone else.