By: Kim Gwydir – Former D1 Softball Coach and Founder FPOS
I am often asked a couple questions about the importance of playing high school softball. The first question is generally, “How important is high school softball when it comes to recruiting?” The answer is – not very much. College coaches, unless they are from local area, do not go to high school softball games because they are normally in their own season. Also, college coaches now that high school statistics are considered unreliable and can be inflated at times by coaches wanting their players to get end of season awards.
I will say, as a college coach it would raise a flag if I did not see a player, that I am recruiting receive an end of year award(s) such as Offensive Player-of-the-Year, Pitcher of the Year, All-County or even All-State. I want to believe I was recruiting one on the best players in the area, so in a small way it does matter. The next question is, “If it is not that big a deal should my daughter even play high school softball?” To me the answer is, yes, they should. Every girl should play softball for their high school. It raised even a bigger red flag when a player did not play high school softball because I would begin to question if this player could have a lack of leadership or socially has trouble getting along with other players. In my mind, high school softball is meant for the players who will not play in college, as it is the highest level they will reach and probably their last softball experience. However, players who plan on playing softball in college need to use the high school season as an opportunity to become a better leader and make the other players around them better. You have a chance to be a role model for younger players aspiring to play in college and demonstrate to them what being a leader and team mate is about. As well, there is the factor of pride and playing and representing your high school in the best possible way. Yes, playing in college can be the end goal, but, remember that even at that level you are playing for the university or college you attend and the pride of doing so should be very important.
I am also asked, “Do you think there are reasons not to play in high school?” Yes, I do. I have heard some horror stories of the treatment of players where I can totally understand why they wouldn’t want to play in high school. It is one thing to be a tough coach but there is a line between trying to get more out of your players and being abusive. Each family has to make their own decision in this case. The important thing, when asked, is that a player has to be able to articulate why they are not playing.
Another reason I like high school softball is because it is one of the few opportunities players have today to compete for something. What I mean, is that even though travel or select teams playing in the summer are playing to qualify for their national tournament, there is a “showcase mentality” that can set in – this is where players are guaranteed a certain amount of games in a weekend and it is more about your own statistics than whether the team wins. In high school you play every game to win. There is district, conference, state championships and there are elimination games. Reaching these goals as team are important as players grow and understand the team concept. These accomplishments and the chance to win a state championship are experiences players will not forget no matter what they do in the future.
Ultimately, it’s your decision to play or not to play, but consider all the positives that can be learned from the experience.