Journey Journal (Chapter 3) -- How recruiting looks from the student-athlete's view
This is the third entry from the “Journey Journal” of Sophia Taliaferro, a high school junior in Virginia who first hit the Triple Crown Sports radar in June 2022 while taking part in multiple pre-event camps before the Colorado 4th of July softball tournament. The idea was sparked to hear straight from a student-athlete’s perspective about not just college recruiting, but how past experiences and current events influence the timeless question – what’s the future going to look like?
Going into the fall, I saw myself being committed by the end of the club travel season with Fury Platinum. I suited up for events like the Diamond Direct Invite (SC), Ray Seymour Invite (FL), Connect Sports Scenic City Showcase (TN), Atlanta Veterans Showcase (GA) and the Thunderbolts 5-Star Showcase (AL).
As it turns out, I have successfully made it to December as a free agent.
On paper, my season looks fantastic. I led the team in most offensive stats; in 56 at-bats I ended with a .464 batting average and a .508 on-base percentage as the leadoff hitter. I played innings at shortstop, second, outfield and behind the plate. I showcased my athleticism, my versatility and my bat.
To have had a season where my performance was everything it needed to be, but not have the college commitment to show for it, is disheartening. I’m sure my experience isn’t special. I know that there are so many other girls going through the exact scenario as myself. Still, I stare at all the commitments happening on my Twitter feed and tell myself the reason I haven't made it yet is that I’m just not good enough.
I need to work harder.
I need to be stronger. Faster. Smarter.
The truth is, a million people could tell me that I have so much time, and I will still submit myself to doubt. I struggled with feelings like these for most of the season. I would step onto the field believing I had to prove that I was worthy of a coach's attention. Each error and bad at-bat told me that I didn’t deserve a spot playing college softball.
In one game, Georgia Tech came to watch me. I was at shortstop. In that game, I went 2-for-2 at the plate but made two errors in the infield. I felt like crawling into a hole. When the game was over, I went to speak with my coach. I rhetorically asked her if I blew my shot. I think she was a little taken aback. She didn’t say much to me right then but gave me some advice after the tournament was over. She told me that she noticed I was too focused on the opportunities I could lose over a bad performance.
One thing she said that really resonated with me was, “Just give the coaches your best.” My coach wasn’t telling me to strive for perfection. She was saying that all I needed to do was play at my best level of intensity, energy and aggression. When I played worried about what I could do wrong, I played scared. My mindset made a 180. For the last couple of tournaments, I allowed myself to play big. I was suddenly unbothered by minor mistakes. I embraced practicing mindfulness, which was a huge theme for my team this fall, and my confidence grew roots.
Now, as I continue to navigate the recruiting process, I am still working to maintain a positive outlook. Some things that help ground me when I start to feel anxious about my future are these:
I have no doubt that I will play college softball.
Where I land, and when it happens, will work itself out.
God has a plan for me.
During this off-season, my goal is to improve where I can and let go of the things that are out of my control. I know it is a cliche to tell you all to trust the process, but there really isn’t a better phrase for recruiting. As Coach India says, “If you try to make sense of recruiting, you will only succeed in making yourself insane. There isn’t any rhyme or reason behind it.”
Best of luck to all the 24’s out there. Happy Holidays!