What It's Like To Commit To A Brand-New Program
Class of 2023 softball recruit Desirae Devine recently announced her commitment to Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C. Wofford will debut its Division I softball program in the spring of 2024.
Devine, a Florida native who plays travel ball for Florida Thunderbolts - Gatewood, spoke with Softball America about her decision to commit to a brand-new program, what her recruiting process was like and her softball journey to date.
See below for SA's conversation with the 2023 speedster.
Softball America: Why did you decide to commit to Wofford?
Desirae Devine: When I walked on campus, it just felt right. Getting me to leave Florida and my family was hard, but it felt like home. Coach Chelsea (Butler) has been good to me. She cares about her athletes as people. She sold it for me because I know she loves my game and my character. She will make sure that I succeed on and off the field.
SA: What are you looking forward to academically and athletically at Wofford?
DD: Academically, the school is rigorous and prestigious, which is important. If you have a degree from Wofford, you're pretty much set up for your future anywhere. Athletically, I can’t wait to be a part of Team 1. Even though we will be a brand-new, young program, I expect the best. Since it’s a new program, everything is from the dirt up, and I can’t wait to be a part of the foundation for softball history.
SA: What was your recruiting process like?
DD: My recruiting experience was eye-opening. Soon after September, when the 2023 class was allowed to be offered and in contact with coaches, I saw a lot of commitments on social media.
It was upsetting to me because some of the schools I emailed weren’t emailing me back. I started to get anxious about finding a home, but I stayed patient and trusted the process because I knew it was going to fall into place. I waited a whole year to commit, but it was worth it because now I’m truly at my dream school with the best coach.
SA: How old were you when you started playing softball and why did you stick with it?
DD: I started playing softball when I was seven years old. I signed up for fall ball in my hometown and I loved it instantly. A couple weeks after starting fall ball, my very first travel coach told my mom that I had potential and he was building an 8U travel ball team. I wanted to play travel ball immediately, but my parents weren’t really sure since they weren’t sure what they were getting into. Shortly after, they loved the game like I do. I loved being on a team at a young age and making friends. I had the most potential and fun with softball.
SA: Who are the most important people in your softball journey?
DD: My parents have paid so much money and spent so much time to take me to my tournaments. They sacrifice a lot and make it work even though I have four siblings who are athletes. They always encouraged me and knew I was going to play college softball. My grandparents love to watch softball and never want to miss a tournament. They help out when it comes to travel and are some of my biggest supporters.
SA: How did travel ball and high school ball prepare you to get recruited?
DD: My travel team always played in showcases and there have been so many opportunities for coaches to watch our games. Consistently playing in travel ball really helps get reps in and I love it because one game you could be doing horribly, but then the very next you could be playing great and catch someone’s eye.
High school ball is very beneficial in the springtime. Since there is no travel ball during high school season, I use high school ball as a way to relearn my mechanics and focus on the details.
SA: What is your advice to softball players currently getting recruited?
DD: My advice to players being recruited now is to find a home where your coach isn’t just your coach. Make sure they like you as a person and student. Trust the process and be patient. What one coach may not like, another coach might. Lastly, I would say, make sure that the school is not only good for softball, but academics as well. Make sure they offer your major because academics will be forever, whereas softball may not be.