Softball serves as recruiting tool
July 26, 2006
It is a rare day that college softball coaches Frank Greene and Barry Mosley are not competing with each other.
During the school year, they compete in the same conference the Great Plains Athletic Conference, with Greene at Concordia University and Mosley at Doane College. In the summer they find themselves at many of the same tournaments eying prospective players. Even as invited guest coaches at the Triple Crown All-Stars game, they were going head-to-head. It’s always a battle with them.
But there is one thing they can agree upon the Triple Crown tournaments are an excellent place to find some of the best softball talent in the West.
"You have a lot of kids right where you want them," Greene said.
With the 18-and-under teams in town, it really is a college coach’s dream. Many of the girls are heading into their all-important senior year, and the level of maturity, physical ability and desire are evident.
Greene says that the great thing about tournaments such as Triple Crown, is that there are players and college programs suitable for all of the top players. Concordia is a small college near Lincoln, Neb., as is Doane. The kind of players they are targeting may not be the star pitcher in the final game, but someone else on the team may be ideal. He says that in championship games, there is likely a spot on a college roster somewhere for every single player.
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The two coaches benefit by both schools being a part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), which means they avoid many of the restrictions of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) institutions. Although they can’t offer the big scholarship dollars that NCAA Division I schools can, they have no restrictions on where or when they can talk to prospective players.
"I could take a prospect to dinner," Mosley said.
"I can talk to any of them. I like that," Greene adds.
According to Triple Crown Girls Fastpitch World Series head Bill Pilcher, they welcome the arrival of college coaches, because it is a great opportunity for both players and recruiters to show off what they have to offer. Green adds that Triple Crown’s tournaments are tops on his list.
"Triple Crown treats us as well as anybody," Greene said. "They are very supportive of helping coaches."
Greene says that Triple Crown does more than just invite them. They are very helpful in directing coaches to games and making access to players and coaches easy.
"This is one tournament I always make sure I come to," Greene said. "To me it’s the most value-added program."
Mosley says that often they will have already pinpointed players before they arrive at the tournament. Throughout the year, players will send their profiles grades, statistics and personal information so the coaches have an idea of the talent pool. They also pay attention to things like tournament performance, high school prep records and individual awards throughout the year.
For the skill positions, the Triple Crown skills tournament held early in the week is key. Green and Doane both attended the event to watch pitching and catching technique, as well as arm strength speed and overall athleticism. They also keep their lineup needs in mind, and focus on players that might fill a need they have on the team.
The All-Star game is also important, because many of their prospects have the opportunity to directly work with them and see how they adapt to their style.
"That is a tremendous venue for us to coach the kids," Mosley said. "They meet us and see what it’s like to be coached by us."
After the game, Mosley said he was able to talk to prospects more about Doane and hand out literature about the school and athletic department.
Greene and Mosley travel to tournaments in Texas, California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado as well as Utah, because the West Coast athletes are the most likely candidates to consider Nebraska schools. The California, Nevada and Arizona players are what Greene refers to as "warm-weather players," which means they play year-round, so sometimes the sell is a little harder with Nebraska’s limited playing season. They also find kids that don’t want to travel more than 200 miles away from home to go to college, but for the most part, the young athletes just want to keep playing and consider most schools that recruit them.
Both coaches agree that the most important trait in a prospect is athleticism. Except for skill positions like pitcher, catcher and shortstop, any strong player can usually play any position.
"I’m looking for speed, judgment, how they handle the ball, decision making," Greene said. "That’s one of the big things I look for decision making.
Another important component is attitude. Greene says that a bad attitude is never welcome on his squad.
"If you are playing this game for you, you’re not going to be a good player here," Greene said.
He says that in his mind, "team first" equals a great player. Greene figures that if a player comes from a high school club program with excellent team chemistry, then she should be able to fit in with his college team as well. Another factor is parents. Ones that will be supportive of the athlete and the team are very desirable and he also likes to assure that parents are comfortable with the school and the program.
Both schools are small, private liberal arts colleges that look to attract student-athletes, with an emphasis on the student. Academic expectations are high at both schools. Good academics can also be another way for students at their respective colleges to get a little more money for college. As NAIA schools, they can only offer up to $3,000 toward tuition for playing softball, but academic scholarships can be as much as $12,000, which goes a long way toward the large private school price tag.
Mosley actually admits that pure talent is third or fourth on his list of attributes. If overall athleticism, strong academics and a good attitude are not there, then the athlete will probably not do well at Doane.
Mosley will even go so far as to help explain the recruitment process and help any girl interested in any college. He says that he applauds Triple Crown for the opportunities they afford young women and is more than happy to help explain or direct any player through the maze of college recruitment.
"I just want to help them out," Mosley said.
And really that is the bottom line for both coaches. They have been successful in softball at every level, and at one time even coached together, and both say they just want to see the girls thrive and succeed in softball and life.