By Chris Eaton, Head Baseball Coach, Sandia HS, Albuquerque, N.M.
As a high school coach, I believe it is part of my duty and job description to help place my student-athletes in college programs. For those aspiring to play in college, a high school coach should play an active, integral role in the recruiting process of his players. As someone who played and coached collegiately, if a player wants to play after high school, there are plenty of colleges and universities available. With that in mind, I had an experience early in my coaching career that showed why it is important to never give up on helping someone continue playing.
This particular individual appeared to not have the ability or a legitimate chance of making a college roster — a mediocre high school position guy with minimal talent. No one other than himself believed playing college baseball was a possibility, and while most of his teammates chalked it up to being a little delusional and out of touch with reality, he was persistent and determined in his efforts to land somewhere. After relentlessly emailing, calling, and sending video to any coach he could get ahold of, was eventually given the opportunity to walk-on at a Division III school. Although he did not receive many at-bats throughout his career, he ultimately finished as a four-year letterman and a team captain his senior season for a team that enjoyed some success.
In the years since then, I have encountered similar stories that illustrate the fact that if there is a commitment to waking up early for the offseason workouts, earning good grades, and performing what is required of a collegiate student-athlete, there is a great chance of finding success. Playing college baseball is a privilege and for those who have the dream, it is an attainable goal.
One of the benefits from playing and coaching in college is that I am able to draw on those experiences from both perspectives and use them to help my players navigate their way through the recruiting process. Utilizing those experiences at the high school level has allowed me to apply the connections and relationships I formed with colleges coaches to help my players. Having those resources available is a tremendous asset when it comes to the promotion of the student-athletes in my program.
When I was a recruiting coordinator I used to receive emails from junior colleges around the country sending information on their available sophomores. Those were very helpful in targeting which players I needed to have on my radar and decided it was important to do in return for my uncommitted seniors. To further help place my players, I educate them on the realities of recruiting and scholarships. Many college programs are not fully funded so I prepare my players to be willing to initially walk-on and get a foot in the door, then work toward the possibility of being rewarded by the coach with some form of athletic scholarship.
My players are also aware there needs to be responsibility on their part to take an active approach in their own recruiting. Encouraging my players to embrace an initiative-driven role has led to tremendous success in placing them with college programs. As the youngest head baseball coach in Albuquerque, N.M., I am not too far removed from my playing and college coaching years so I am able to successfully relate to and guide my players.
If someone really wants to play after high school then I have a responsibility to help. Knowing there is a program out there waiting for him, it comes down to determination, elbow grease, and persistence to help a young man find the opportunity waiting at a college or university.
We are in a great position to maximize the impact we have on young people; helping them get to the next level is a
huge component of that. Anyone can do it, so why not you?