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What Elena Gonzalez's Complex Recruiting Process Was Like

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(Photo by Jennifer Gonzalez)

Elena Gonzalez is currently an infielder and catcher at the University of Rhode Island in the Atlantic 10 Conference with two years of NCAA eligibility remaining. Gonzalez, who transferred to URI from Rider University during the offseason, will pursue her master's degree there after playing in 100 games over her three years at Rider.

The Ashburn, Va. native had a bit of a complicated recruiting process to get to this point in her college softball career. She was originally committed to Virginia Tech before a coaching change occurred, after which she reopened her recruiting process and committed to Rider.

Read below to learn more about Gonzalez's recruiting process, as well as her complete softball journey to date.

Softball America: What was your recruiting process like?

Elena Gonzalez: My recruiting process was complicated. I committed my sophomore year of high school to a large D1 school (Virginia Tech), but due to a coaching change, I was not sure whether I would be kept or not, so I had to reopen the recruiting process. During one stressful summer before my senior year of high school, I went on many visits and talked to many coaches, thankfully, with the help of my travel coach. I ended up meeting a coaching staff at one coach’s summer showcase camp, and by the end of the summer, I had found a new home. This type of story is not unheard of, unfortunately, as I knew many others who went through the same thing of having to quickly find a new school after they believed they were secure.

SA: When did you start playing softball and what made you want to continue playing?

EG: I started playing softball when I was seven years old. I was very active as a kid and was always trying out new sports. My dad played slowpitch and signed me up to play. It was the one sport I enjoyed going back to. With softball, you were always learning new skills, and as you got better and older, you could throw the ball harder and hit it farther. Your progress could be never-ending. I was also quite competitive when I was young and always wanted to be better than the boys, and softball was something I felt allowed me to do that, even if I wasn’t necessarily playing with any boys.

SA: Who were the most important people in your softball journey?

EG: My parents were the most important people in my journey. Without their support, I never would have been able to get to where I am today. No matter how good or bad I was at softball, I knew they would still support me. I also wouldn’t have made it without amazing coaches. They really molded me into the player I am today.

SA: How did your travel ball experience impact your recruiting process?

EG: Without travel ball, I honestly probably wouldn’t have been recruited. Once I decided to play only 18U, the teams I played for primarily played in showcase tournaments. These tournaments are specifically made so college coaches can watch players and evaluate their skills. Although you have to catch a coach’s eye, having a travel coach that will vouch for you and has connections can really help either widen or speed up your recruiting process. They can introduce you to schools you may not have considered simply because they may know the coach or past players from those programs. Being able to play in front of college coaches really helped in the recruiting process.

SA: What are some tips you have to help youth players who are getting recruited now?

EG: Be proactive in your communication with college coaches. They receive so many emails every day that it can be difficult to stand out. Handwritten letters are even better. Don’t be afraid to branch out of your comfort zone when looking at schools, even if it's bigger than you would prefer or maybe in the city or in the country. It never hurts to look.

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