I’m a PSA, What Do I Do Now?

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It has been a busy week for NCAA DI spring sports as the DI Council has voted to reinstate a year of eligibility for those effected student-athletes. You can find our coverage at the links below:

Not only will this decision impact collegiate programs across the country, there will also be trickle down effects on prospective student-athletes (PSAs) – most noticeably within the 2021 and possibly 2022 classes; especially with the future of summer softball this season up in the air.

Unfortunately from talking to a number of coaches, they just don’t have any answers yet. There are so many things that need to happen before programs can move forward in addressing their upcoming signing classes.

The reality of the situation is there could be a lot of movement and changes in commitments happening over the next two years but right now, PSA’s and their families are going to have to stay in a holding pattern until institutions and conferences can solidify what they are doing. From our article earlier today (read it here) we touched on some scenarios that could play out in the PSA/recruiting landscape:

  • Something to keep in mind, just because the NCAA allows 12 DI softball scholarships per program, that does not mean an institution has to fund them. One course of action a program could choose to take to “make up” any money spent on returning seniors would be to deduct those dollars from future signing classes. I don’t see why anyone would actually want to do this but it may not be avoidable long term.
  • Programs may need to change agreements made to verbal commitments and in some cases may need to revoke offers completely. Changes to a verbal commitment could be scholarship dollars (both amount and annual structure), projected playing time opportunities, the need to red-shirt, a redefining of a PSA’s role within a program, etc.

1) Be patient, try to keep breathing
It is completely understandable to feel a range of emotions from stress to anxiety or even fear – that is completely normal. The first step is to try and slow down, just keep breathing. From there, it can be hard but PSAs need to be patient during this time. Coaching staffs and programs are working through their unique situations, meeting with seniors, and figuring out next steps within their departments. Unfortunately for PSAs, the answers may not be ready for awhile. While that can be difficult, you have to try and stay patient. Information will come out when there is information to share, coaches probably just don’t have answers yet.

2) Keep your grades up
Many of you may be experiencing “distancing learning” in the wake of Covid-19. It’s obviously different from the normal in-class setting you are used to and the transition may be difficult for some students but, especially if you are hoping to play at the next level, you’ve got to find a way to stay on top of your school work and keep your grades up. I’ve worked remotely for a couple years and here are a few things I have learned:

i) If possible, find a space you can designate as your “work space” only. Now, I live in a smaller apartment so that isn’t always an option but do your best and try to find a spot.

ii) Stick to a morning routine as much as possible. Go through your morning as if you were heading to school as normal – eat breakfast, change clothes, brush your teeth, pack up your backpack. If you need, go for a quick walk around the block before you get your day started. There is a signaling within your brain with routines that helps your mind and body know, “okay, it’s time for school”.

iii) Put your phone away! I cannot stress this enough, I have lost hours of time aimlessly messing with my phone. Leave it in another room, you will be okay with out!

iiii) For social media, don’t be afraid for ashamed to have either a family member or friend change your passwords for you if you are having a tough time staying off these websites or apps until your work is done! I’ve done this numerous times both during college and still within my professional life. Offer to help teammates or friends do the same – support one another in what you need to be successful!

iv) Get up and move! Many of you are doing this by throwing with a family member or taking cuts in your garage which is great! Don’t rule out taking a quick walk especially if you’re hitting a wall working indoors.

vi) ASK FOR HELP! Distancing learning could be a real challenge for some, if you are struggling, ask your teachers for help! If you have a learning disability get in touch with your school. Find someone who can help you be successful. Another note on this, asking for help can be tough especially when you don’t exactly know what you need help with, how to express what you’re struggling with, etc. A fantastic idea that illustrates this point is – “you may know how to do steps “c” and “d” but you don’t know what “a” and “b” are and therefore it’s impossible for you to start”. Find someone who can help you understand, get to the heart of the issue, and help you move forward with a solution.

If for a few days you just want to roll out of bed and handle your school work in pajamas, by all means, go for it! But if you’re finding it hard to focus or get the point where it begins to be difficult, try these suggestions out!

3) Focus on your self-development
A fitting quote I’ve seen lately around social media says, “the only thing I can control right now is myself”. I think this is so important! Softball will return, it may not feel like it but it will! How can you utilize this time to get better?

First and foremost, you need to spend some time considering what “better” looks like for you in this situation. Is it keeping your arm loose and ready by throwing? Is it cuts off the tee or front toss to work on mechanics? Is it mental development through reading and reflection? Is it taking a step back and giving yourself a little bit of space away from softball? Any of these are great avenues if you approach them with purpose, goals, and an understanding of “why you’re doing this”.

And by the way, yes, I did say “stepping away” can be appropriate. So many youth athletes never take a break, lose their “why” or their “because”, never let their bodies or minds rest, etc. If this is you, if you are feeling the burn out or have lost sight of/questioning your “why” – take some time away to rest and recharge. Maybe do some self-reflection to get back in touch and more in tune with yourself. Rest is a good thing!

4) Discuss options and potential new programs of interest
This could be a very tough discussions for some student-athletes and their families but they are important to have if you are up for it. Be open to the idea of looking at other programs or institutions during this time – do some research, look up schools you may have never thought to! You could be surprised by what you find!

It could be wise to do this even if you are verballed as so much could change on the heels of this ruling. Again, I know this may be hard, but you owe it to yourself to not be blindsided and to be prepared should something need to change. Lean in to any potential new opportunities that await you!

5) Get your coaches emails and skills videos going
The recruiting dead period was just extended into May, which means no off or on campus recruiting can take place. This is a great time to get your skills video and emails sent out to coaches, they have the time to watch them right now!

6) Get ready to keep an active eye online to the programs you are interested in
Especially if summer club ball is cut short, camps are going to become an even more crucial part of the recruiting process, be ready to keep a close eye on programs of interest. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook and look to see if there is a specific “camp” account as well.

If the program has an online recruiting questionnaire on their website, fill it out and send it in so you can be contacted about any camps. Also to be safe, you can locate the camp email address and message them asking to be put on a camp email list.

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