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Belmont's Laura Matthews Answers COVID-Era Recruiting Questions

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(Photo by Belmont Athletics)

In the softball world, recruiting is always a stressful and busy time for every aspiring college softball student-athlete. This year has been even more difficult due to the ongoing pandemic, which has left softball student-athletes with myriad questions and concerns.

Softball America got the opportunity to ask Belmont University head softball coach Laura Matthews some recruiting questions on the minds of most youth softball student-athletes these days. 

See SA’s full interview with Coach Matthews below.

Softball America: What were your first reactions and feelings when you found out about the COVID-19 recruiting restrictions this year?

Coach Laura Matthews: My first reaction was that it was going to be very difficult for schools and even more difficult for recruits. I was immediately worried that decisions are going to be made on both sides with insufficient information.

SA: How is this year different than other years with recruiting?

LM: 100% of the evaluation that we can do at the Division 1 level is through video. All of the meetings with travel coaches, recruits and families are through Zoom or phone calls. We definitely miss the human interaction.

SA: How have you been able to successfully recruit during this pandemic?

LM: I hope I have been (successful). I think being patient and really trying to get to know our recruits through texts, Zoom and phone calls has been really important. I’m not as confident in our evaluations as I have been in the past, so there is definitely some anxiety around that as well.

SA: Do you think this pandemic will change the way that recruiting happens in the future?

LM: I think it has taught us all about technology that we can utilize. Live streams of games, Zoom for conversations with recruits and better video construction will all be good things to come out of this and will definitely add to our ability to connect in the future when we get back to non–dead period times.

SA: In what ways have athletes who are interested in your program been able to get your attention?

LM: Really thoughtful emails, taking the time to visit campus on their own, great video editing showing full at-bats. A lot of our ability to recruit from teams comes down to the quality of video and video production their team/parents provide. Some teams have done a tremendous job and have put a lot of resources into it. Others have struggled more, and it has been more difficult to evaluate their players. I’m in awe of the money and sacrifices that travel coaches and parents have put into this.

SA: What tips and advice do you have for softball athletes who are trying to get recruited during COVID?

LM: My COVID-specific recommendations are to get a really great camera and broadcaster for livestream games. Secondly, communicate often and include links to videos that you have of you. Make sure coaches know where on the field you are playing, what number you are and where you are hitting in the lineup. If it’s a recorded video of your game, note the time on the video for each of your ABs and defensive plays. Also, make sure the school you are going to is in solid financial shape and is still investing in athletics even in difficult financial times.

The most important things are not that different to what I would recommend in non-COVID times. Find the school that is the right fit that you would be happy to go to without softball. Be patient. It is not about making the fast decision. It is about making the right decision. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to college coaches. You deserve to know all the answers before making a very important decision.

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