What follows is the first entry of the “Journey Journal” as written by 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?
First and foremost, we thank Sophia for her willingness to share her story. It’s our wager that thousands of teenagers are navigating similar waters, just as how innumerable parents can remember their own highs and lows in these important years. We’ll look forward to the updates and relevant pieces of history (all relayed as Sophia sees fit) as clarity begins to shine on the road ahead.
Hi, my name is Sophia Taliaferro. I am a class of 2024 softball player looking to play Division I softball in college and have been given an opportunity to document my experiences as I go through the recruiting process. In all honesty, I was incredibly hesitant about accepting this role for a few reasons. Mainly, I am a very private person and do not enjoy sharing my personal life. However, the purpose I have been called to fulfill as a guide to the young girls who want to pursue a career in college softball won priority over my individual discomforts. I hope that as you follow my story throughout this series, you will come out with a realistic idea of what to expect when competing for a spot in a college program.
October marked the second month of my recruiting process. So far, I have been told by my travel ball coach, India Chiles, college coaches like me and want to come to watch me play this fall -- however, I have not had any direct contact. I am sure I can speak for many players when I say that I feel anxious about recruiting. Scrolling through my social media pages, I see so many girls posting about their visits and commitments to play at their dream schools. Post after post, I can’t help but question myself.
“What if I never get any offers?
“Am I even good enough to play D1?”
Thoughts like these are things that circulate in my mind daily. It can be tempting to give into these concerns and believe them. To help keep myself grounded I focus on a couple of things. My coach has repeatedly told me that she isn’t worried about me achieving my goals and that coaches are slower to recruit 2024s this year. Knowing this, I can just relax and trust the process. It also helps me to focus my energy on things that are non-softball related. When too much weight is put on how you perform as a player, it can start to feel like your worth as a person is defined by a statistic. This kind of mindset can end athletic careers and wreck mental health.
Right now, I am playing high-school field hockey and taking several AP/honors classes. I love field hockey because it allows me to experience the freedom that comes from playing a sport that I don’t have to be good at. I can have fun doing something I don’t take as seriously. My challenging academic schedule acts as a sort of opposite pressure. I have pressure put on me to be great at softball, and on the other side, I have pressure to achieve good grades. While sometimes it can get overwhelming, for the most part I enjoy putting hard work into something other than softball. Making time for other interests makes sure that softball is a part of me; I am not softball.
Though I keep myself distracted with lots of extracurricular activities, the recruiting process is always at the top of my-things-to-worry-about list. I have no idea how things will work out, but I have no choice but to let them unfold at their own pace.