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Recruiting Diary: UCLA's Julie Rodriguez

(Photo courtesy of UCLA Athletics)

Softball America has launched a series called Recruiting Diaries, which chronicles the recruiting journeys of current college softball players around the country. In this series, we take a look at the unique recruiting experiences of talented softball student-athletes from various teams and conferences within the NCAA.

We continue the series with junior outfielder Julie Rodriguez's story. Rodriguez, who is originally from New Jersey, found her way to the Pac-12 and UCLA through a great deal of persistence.

Learn her story below.

Travel Team: New Jersey Intensity

Final College Choices: UCLA, Stanford, Florida, Michigan

Her Story: Since I was a little girl, UCLA had always been my dream school. I went to a softball camp there when I was 10 years old. It was right after they won the 2010 national championship. It was one of their summer sleep-away camps and that’s when I figured out that it was my dream to play at UCLA.

The bulk of my travel career was spent with the New Jersey Intensity. I had always played "up" and was on the organization's older teams. With the older teams, we came out to California all the time, so we would go to all the PGF tournaments. I want to say we went to California about four times a year. That’s really the way that I started to get to see the (UCLA) coaches. I would mostly see Lisa (Fernandez) out and about at PGF because she is the head of recruitment at UCLA.

I’m not going to lie, they probably didn’t watch me that much just because New Jersey was not really on their radar. They have the best talent in the country at their disposal 30 minutes away in California, so why go across the country to grab a girl? So, I knew that and was aware of it, and I decided that my best option was to go to one of their more focused camps, which was when I was a freshman in high school. I was 14. It was one of those camps that included the girls they were pretty heavily looking at.

At the camp, I did really, really well. I had one of the best camps of my life. After that camp, we sat down and the coaches told me they didn’t really know about me beforehand since they didn’t typically recruit outside of the West Coast, but that I had caught their eye during camp. Essentially, they were showing a lot of interest in verbally committing me at the end of the camp. It was a long, emotional meeting with them, but they still had to figure out money and things like that. They said they would call me.

A month later, right around Thanksgiving, they called me up when I was back home, and over the phone, they verbally committed me.

Why UCLA?: My whole life I knew I wanted to go to UCLA, so when the coaching staff was discussing verbally committing (me), I was fully on board.

Thoughts On The Recruiting Process: The recruiting process was a lot different when I was in high school because there were (early) verbals. I was a freshman (when I verbally committed). I hadn’t even played a high school softball game yet, so I was young.

I think the best part of my story is that I knew what I wanted and flew out there, did the best that I could and pretty much made them verbal me because of that camp. I think that you have to take the initiative (in the recruiting process). The best decision I ever made was putting myself in front of (UCLA’s coaches). You can’t expect them to just come find you. You have to go find them and let them know you are interested (in playing for their program).

Best Recruiting Advice: I think when you get the opportunity to be in front of the coaches from the school you want to go to, you need to do everything in your power to stand out. You need to make sure that you give your all in that moment and that you don’t wait for that moment to come to you. Go and seek out those coaches and show them that you exist and really put yourself out there.

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