Sandercock On Recruiting, As NCSA Partners With USA Softball
NCAA and USA Softball star pitcher Kathryn Sandercock found a perfect fit for her college experience, now helping lead a highly successful Florida State squad. It is that fit she hopes young players seek when they join the softball recruiting path.
As USA Softball announces Next College Student Athlete (NCSA) as its official recruiting partner, Sandercock says she worked with NCSA during her days as a high school athlete in Virginia.
"I knew from a young age that I wanted to play college softball, that was my dream," she says. "I didn't know a lot about getting recruited. (NCSA) provided answers for so much, what to send in an email, what schools were realistic, even answering the question of not knowing what to wear on an official visit. They had answers for all of the questions."
As part of the new partnership, NCSA will provide recruiting education to young athletes and their families attending USA Softball events and host exclusive online webinars for USA Softball members. Athletes ages 13 and over will have options to create a free NCSA profile when registering for USA Softball events, while gaining access to NCSA's online tools and network of over 2,500 college softball coaches across the country.
USA Softball can also select up to 25 athletes to receive NCSA's most comprehensive recruiting membership at no cost, helping to create equal opportunities for players.
"The NCSA partnership is a great opportunity for the youth teams that play USA Softball," says Heather Tarr, Women's National Team and University of Washington head coach. "The NCSA platform is a prominent way for athletes to gain the knowledge and tools needed to elevate their chances of playing softball at the most elite level. I can't wait to see the success that this opportunity will bring to our USA Softball athletes, coaches and parents."
USA Softball will integrate NCSA recruiting software into events. Coaches attending USA Softball events can access a special reservoir of data from NCSA and all USA Softball national-level teams will receive NCSA's team recruiting platform.
Sandercock says that the recruiting trail has changed since she was a high school athlete. With the rule that limits contact and commitments until later in high school, she says seeing how things have shifted is fun to watch.
"I feel like my recruiting process started when I was a freshman in high school, which is crazy young," she says. "It is definitely different now."
When Sandercock was being recruited, she was busy making videos and emailing them to coaches, whereas now she sees recruiting taking place actively on Twitter. Young athletes will share stats of their weekend or create videos and tag coaches on the app. "It is just an easy way to get videos and exposure," she says. The growth of the sport has led to more coverage, and, in turn, more athletes want to be part of softball. That creates a more competitive recruiting circuit.
As someone who loves the game of softball and has always said she wants to continue playing as long as she's having fun, Sandercock sure is having a good time. From earning an All-ACC Freshman Team award and a spot on the USA U-19 National Team in 2019 to being named to the Women's College World Series All-Tournament Team in 2021 and earning a spot on the USA Women's National Team for the Canada Cup in 2022, Sandercock has experienced great success during her time in the game.
"I just want to keep playing as long as it is fun, and I am loving what I am doing," she says. "I would really love to play professionally, and playing with USA Softball is always a dream. If that opportunity presents itself, I will take it. I just want to keep having fun with it because I do love it."
As high school athletes look for their next step, Sandercock says the biggest challenge is finding the right fit.
"I feel like the most important piece of advice is to go somewhere you are going to be happy," she says. "Figure out what is really important to you and find a program that really aligns with that. A lot of people want to go to a top-five school in the country, but in reality, we all want to play. Go to a place where you are going to play, have fun and where the coaches will foster your growth as a player and person so you enter the real world of post-college ready to take it on."
Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Softball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.