By Dave Galehouse, with forward by Brett Rudy
April 13, 2011
Over the past 20 years, I’ve become an expert in helping athletes land themselves on men’s adult baseball team rosters. I’ve helped develop the first amateur league tryout for the Boston Men’s Baseball League in 1998, and helped initiate the first online registration database for amateur baseball players a few years later. However, I am no expert on getting into a collegiate baseball program.
When I graduated from Lexington High School in 1990, according to NCAA statistics, I was one of the 93.6% of high school baseball players who did not advance to play college ball. I went straight to amateur league.
Dave Galehouse is an expert on getting onto a collegiate roster. Galehouse is a former college baseball player and 1997 graduate of Fairfield University. Today, he is a director with the Lexington Blue Sox of the Intercity League, a player for the Boston Cutters of the Boston Men's baseball League, and author of The Making of a Student-Athlete: Succeeding in the College Selection and Recruiting Process for High School Athletes, Parents and Coaches. Galehouse is also director of Varsity Edge, a program that assists families with the college athletic recruiting process.
Back in high school, Galehouse struggled with his collegiate recruiting process. Today, a leader in his field, Galehouse has some insight that might be able to help you (or your kid) learn from knowledge that wasn’t broadly publicized 20 years ago.
Tactics To Succeed in the College Baseball Recruiting Process
In speaking with Galehouse, the first thing I wanted to do was understand his approach.
“One of the things I try to do when I write or talk about recruiting is to try to educate families. There are a lot of recruiting related organizations competing for parent’s attention, but families often don’t understand how these resources can aid (or hurt) their recruiting chances, or how college coaches use them to aid their recruiting process.”
Galehouse was able to help craft some key elements that would help students succeed in taking their baseball careers to the next level, all while obtaining an education.
I learned that many high school baseball players hope to be recruited by a college team, and that New England is home to 97 college baseball programs at the D1, D2 and D3 level. Throughout the country there are more than 900 NCAA college baseball programs. While standout recruits are often discovered on their own, most high school athletes need self-promotion to be noticed by college coaches ahead of other hopefuls. Galehouse provided four steps to help get a high school athlete onto a collegiate baseball roster.
1. Do Your Homework
Research colleges that are a good academic, athletic, social, and financial fit. Applying to colleges that are too strong academically or trying to play at a program that plays at a level higher than your abilities will hurt your recruiting process.
Recruits can initiate the recruiting process via online recruiting forms that all college athletic websites provide. This form allows recruits to submit important academic and athletic info as well as contact info for both the recruit and any high school or summer coaches. Submitting this form will signify to the coach that you are interested in their school and program. While the NCAA has strict contact rules for D1 and D2 colleges, recruits can phone coaches at their own expense at any time. At the D3 level, there are no restrictions on phone calls or emails for either coaches or recruits. It is critical to express interest. One tool is the Collegiate Baseball Directory of Massachusetts that contains contact information for coaches and can be found here at bostonbaseball.com.
2. Star In Your Own Film
Establish a relationship with coaches is via a recruiting video. Since college coaches operate on limited budget, they can’t see all the recruits they would like or to travel great distances. A recruiting video can provide a college coach insight into your abilities. Video’s should be 4-7 minutes and highlight hitting, fielding, or pitching drills from different angles. Include live game footage, and edit out action that isn’t relevant.
College coaches will use video to determine if they should invest the time and effort to see a recruit play in person. Videos can be mailed as DVD’s and should always accompany your full contact information, graduation date, SAT/ACT scores, and GPA. More coaches are also using services like YouTube to view videos recruits have posted online, so post your videos and share the links.
3. Go To Camps
College baseball camps offer an opportunity for recruits to display their skills to coaches. Most schools list their camps on their website. Attending a college camp allows the coaching staff to see prospective athletes, but also allows athletes to check out the campus. Dozens of colleges have camps scheduled this summer, including the Salem State University Viking Baseball Camp from June 27 through July 1 and the UMass Amherst Minuteman Summer Baseball Clinic from July 11 through July 14.
Note that College coaches often recruit based on need, so do not be discouraged if a specific school is not recruiting heavily for your position. Attend many camps to improve your chances of being noticed.
4. Attend Showcases
Showcases offer high school players the opportunity to display their skills so that college coaches can determine what athletes to pursue further. A sampling of upcoming showcases in New England this summer include:
Despite these steps, Galehouse adds caution.
“Recruiting isn't an exact science, and there is some luck involved. I don’t want kids to think hitting a few bombs at a showcase or mailing a video is enough to be recruited. These are merely tools that can help you get on a coach’s radar!”
Case and point, Dan Capra earned All-Conference and Athlete of the Year honors as a senior at Lowell High School in 2008. Today, Capra is a junior at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg. He leveraged video and showcases to aid his recruiting process.
Dan Capra playing for Intercity League's the Lexington Blue Sox
“I attended the Top 96 showcase in Lowell which generated offers from several D2 and D3 colleges in New England, but I really had a desire to attend school in Florida. I reached out to the Eckerd coaches and sent video which gave them an idea about my abilities, but I still had to go down there and prove myself on the field.”
While the tools above can help, it’s important to communicate with coaches at colleges you are interested in prior to using them. Determining their recruiting needs, and finding ways to get in front of those coaches via a video, camp or showcase will go a long way to helping you succeed. Most coaches need to see you play in person in meaningful competition before they will recruit you, so that is the ultimate goal!