Jocelyn Alo may well go down as one of the greatest players in softball history. And while she ended her career at Oklahoma as the leader in career home runs, a two-time national player of the year, and with two consecutive national championships in the Women’s College World Series, it’s easy to believe that Alo’s path to OU was a straight line to greatness. In reality, Alo’s recruiting process was anything but simple. But, along the way, it did provide an example of the four Ps that every recruit should know; preparedness, persistence, pivot, and patience.
Alo’s path to softball immortality wasn’t pre-ordained. It took work. Lots of work. Even though her talent was evident when she attended a summer softball camp at Brigham Young University as a 7th-grader, that didn’t stop her from continuing to prepare and work hard. Though she grew up in Hawaii, Alo and her father would spend summers in southern California working and training with travel ball coaches. That meant spending mornings in the batting cage, afternoons practicing, and playing tournaments on the weekend. While not everyone should, or even needs to, follow a schedule of “wake up, train, nap, then train some more,” that’s the path Jocelyn Alo chose to prepare herself to take the next step.
Jocelyn Alo received her first verbal scholarship offer at age 13. But that didn’t stop her from working to get better or from considering offers from other schools. And, though the NCAA now prohibits scholarship offers to student-athletes, Alo’s persistence in her recruiting is an example anyone can follow.
Getting a scholarship offer is great, but don’t be satisfied with just one. If you think there are other options available to you, be persistent in pursuing them. Further, don’t give up on a school, a program, or even your recruiting process if your emails go unanswered. If multiple emails (that include your recruiting profile and highlight reel) don’t garner interest, reconfigure your target list of schools and programs and keep pursuing coaches and schools until you do find the programs that are the right fit for you. And at every step along the way, be prepared to…
The first verbal offer that Jocelyn Alo received came from the University of Oregon. But when she called the Oregon coach to make a verbal commitment, she was told their recruiting priorities had changed and that the offer was no longer on the table. Fortunately for Alo, she had visited other schools, had other offers, and was quickly able to pivot.
No matter what sport you play or how many offers you receive, it’s likely your recruiting process will require you to pivot as well. That pivot might mean finding other opportunities if your dream school doesn’t pan out or simply being ready to roll with whatever unexpected changes may occur during your recruiting process.
When Oregon’s offer fell through (even though she was only 13), Alo considered opportunities at Arizona before committing to the University of California. However, Alo’s desire to play at Cal faded and she reopened her recruiting. When she ultimately signed her letter of intent with Oklahoma on her 18th birthday, Alo’s recruiting process had run for five years.
As noted above, while Alo received verbal offers at age 13, the NCAA now makes coaches wait until August 1st of a student-athlete’s junior year to make a verbal offer. If August 1st before your junior year rolls around and you don’t have any verbal offers, it’s OK. Recruiting is a process — for you and for coaches — so it’s important to let that process play out, on your end and on the program’s end. Remember that, if you don’t have multiple scholarships offers on day 1, that doesn’t mean you won’t have any offers. Keep working to get your foot in the door with coaches (or to keep it there), continue working to raise your recruiting profile, don’t worry about what you can’t control, keep working to improve, and be patient.
Finally, there are two other Ps to consider during recruiting; passion and pressure. Make sure coaches can see your passion for your sport in your preparedness and persistence. And don’t let pressure from coaches, family, or friends affect your decision. Avoid putting pressure on yourself to make the “right” decision. Be patient and be ready to pivot. Then, when the right school or the right offer comes along, you’ll know it, and you’ll be ready for it!
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