Archive for January, 2016



We at SportsForce would like to congratulate Austin Ruiz on his commitment to Azusa Pacific University. Here is Austin and his family’s recruiting story and interview after his committment. Good luck as a Cougar!

Austin Ruiz 2016 APU #2

1. Share your recruiting story and status

Austin: The process was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be especially for my parents. They wanted to make sure I would find the college that was right for me. I just played the game I love and knew that I would end up with the right college. I feel that my selection to play at Azusa Pacific University is definitely the right place for me and I signed the National Letter of Intent on November 11, 2015.

Parents: As a parent, all you want is what’s best for your child. The college process today is much more complicated and a lot more nerve racking then when we went to college. We also feel it’s a lot more stressful for the parents. Not only do you want the right fit academically and athletically for your child you also want to hopefully get the best deal financially so it’s affordable. In baseball, it’s rare to get more than 35 to 50 percent and even then that’s a lot. So as parents you really need to make sure you approach the search with your child with realistic expectations. It may be a great school but if they only offer you 35% and you have to shell out the rest, can you afford it? Your child has to also understand your limitations as well and sometimes that’s more difficult than actually finding a school.

 

2. What school are you going to, and why did you choose them?

Austin: Azusa Pacific University is the school that I chose. I wanted a small private/Christian school with a good baseball program and one with great coaches who will take the time to help me get to the next level. I also wanted a school with a football team, and a sports science-oriented major program. With APU, I’m getting all of this, every time I talked with coaches they talked to me like I’m already there and everything they told me about how they run their baseball program seems to fit with the way I play the game. APU has the major that I’m interested in called “Applied Exercise Sciences”, which I’m excited about.

Parents: This question is one that should be asked up front at the beginning as well as half way through the process. Parents and children have different wants and those wants also change as the process evolves. For example when we first started Austin wanted to go to a school that was nationally ranked and always in the limelight. This school just happened to be on the other side of the US. No big deal right? Maybe/Maybe not! What about going to the games? Do we have a travel fund? How often can we go? Does he really want to be that far away? Etc. etc. That one idea sparked many questions. Answer them now and be honest. We wanted him to go to a prominent west coast school known for its academics as well as for baseball. All of the schools that both he and we picked were big with big campuses, tons of students etc. When we started to go visit these schools it became quite apparent that Austin didn’t like the feel of a big school. He loved the coaches and the baseball program but we could tell something was out of place. He just didn’t react the way we expected? Why? We never asked him right away. After visiting approx. 8-10 of these schools we finally asked him which one? He said he didn’t feel comfortable at any of them? As a parent, you can just imagine how we felt. What? How could you not feel comfortable at….. What we finally realized after many questions later, what our son really wanted was a smaller more academic-minded school with a great baseball program. Well, that definitely changed the next few months for us. We switched gears and started researching. That is where SportsForce really assisted us.

3. How did SportsForce help in the process?

Austin: SportForce helped with getting emails out to the coaches, bringing them to my site online where SportsForce outlined my sports web page which gave coaches instant knowledge on who I am and how I play the game. Their staff worked with me getting to know me and understanding what I wanted and then pointed me in the right direction. I worked one on one with Andrew and he took the time to get to know me as a person, a student, and an athlete. He really helped me to understand the process and how to talk with coaches about what I wanted in order to make the best choice for me. Andrew called me and we practiced and he helped ease my nerves.

Parents: As you can imagine as parents even though you have a great relationship with your child and think that you communicate perfectly you find out that sometimes you really don’t. Not because there is something wrong but more from the standpoint that your kid thinks you want one thing and doesn’t want to burst your bubble and vice versa. You see all this time we thought Austin wanted a big national school and he thought that’s what we wanted? When all along all we wanted was for him to find the best school for him and he wanted a smaller school that fit his personality and a good program where he could still improve, evolve and hopefully get to the next level. SportForce helped bring this out of both of us by having one on one conversations with Austin as well as with us. Andrew took the time to truly understand us, what we all wanted and helped articulate that with each of us. Once we all understood what was important from an academic, athletic and financial perspective it was a lot easier to develop a good list of schools. This made the process a whole lot easier and a lot of our concerns and worries just went away. We then started visiting these campuses and when Austin stepped onto APU and after he talked with the coaches he came home and said that’s the school and those are the coaches I want to play for. Everything just seemed to fit. As a family, we couldn’t be more proud and happy with our son and with the choices & decisions that he made. I want to emphasize this, “the choices that he made”! In the end, it has to be your child’s choice. It’s time to let go and allow them to grow and learn without the safety net. In the end, they are going there not you!

 

4. What advice would you give to other players and parents with the recruiting process?

Austin: To the parents don’t put pressure on your children to get a scholarship as soon as they can and let them decide what school they want to go too. God has a plan for when and what school will come across that they like and when it does take advantage of it. To the players, definitely get started on videoing yourself as soon as you can, especially if you want to go to an out of state college and start putting yourself in front of college coaches as soon as possible. Also, don’t get nervous when a coach comes out to see you, just relax and play the game you love the way you know how. The way you have been playing your whole life. It’s a game! SportForce and my parents helped me with the above and they can help you too.

Parents: The process of finding a college for your kid can be a fun and exciting one as well as a frustrating and disappointing one. My biggest advice is remembering that to the college it’s a business decision and to you and your family, it’s very personal. Prepare yourself for disappointment and don’t let yourself get so caught up in the school that you lose sight of the real goal and that’s you and your child finding the right college that will give your child a great education for you at the least amount of money out of your pocket. After all you have spent thousands getting them to this point. They are your investment and you have done a great job getting them here. Contact SportsForce or a company like them early on. The money you spend with them will save you thousands in the long run. We found them after we had already spent countless hours and money looking at the big schools which were just a turn off to our son and the earlier you figure out what you really want will save you a lot of frustration later on. SportsForce is designed to flush out what’s important for your child as well as your family before you start, so take advantage of their years of experience and expertise. Having someone that your child can talk to other than you is invaluable. Andrew is a former collegiate baseball player and could relate to what our son was feeling and going through and he was able to get Austin to focus on what he wanted and what was important to him rather than what he thought we all wanted. I can’t thank Andrew enough!

5. How excited are you for your future in college?

Austin: I am super excited about my future in college. I believe that God has some great things waiting for me in the near future through my college experience at APU.

Parents: My son couldn’t have said it any better above. If you let go and let God good things happen. He wants you to be prepared and educated and that’s where SportsForce came in but in the end there is a school and a place for everyone. You have to trust and believe in that and let the process happen. We have friends that forced it to happen only to find out that it was the worst decision they had made. Their children have either left those schools or are miserable and unhappy. Don’t let that happen to you and your family. College is supposed to be a fun positive experience that helps set you up for the rest of your life. Trying to force your kid or trying to force a coach or college to take your kid is a recipe for disaster and no one will be happy. Our experience ended up being a very good and happy one and for that, we are extremely grateful.

6. How much money do you anticipate your family saving in college expenses?

Austin: My parents will be saving a minimum of $25,000 a year from being recruited plus any other grants or additional money I am eligible to receive.

Parents: Well it’s up to Austin but based on what he has been awarded and looking out over the next fours years it’s going to be over $100,000.00. We are excited for the next chapter in our son’s life and look forward to watching him excel and play in college.

7. Would you recommend SportsForce to any other student-athletes? Why?

 Austin: I would definitely recommend SportsForce to other student-athletes because they helped me with getting coaches to pay attention to my skillsets and ability. I believe APU came out and took a look at me as a result of my work with SportsForce. SportsForce helps with getting the schools you want to come out and see you and knowing how to talk to them when they do.

Parents: I highly recommend getting involved with Andrew and his talented team as early on in the process as you can. It will save you a lot of frustration and money in the long run. His team is very knowledgeable and they can help in many ways. It was money well spent and we thank you guys for everything you have done for our son as well as our family. Jenna is next!

 

Over the last five years, SportsForce has helped over 1,000 student-athletes and families successfully navigate the college recruiting and athletic scholarship process while saving families on average $50,000 in college expenses.

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SportsForce’s college baseball advisor, Chris Emanuel, gives high school baseball players tips for their off-season:

With 2015 in the rear view mirror and temperatures dropping, I thought this was the perfect time to take a look recruiting events for college baseball and where they fit in our calendars.

In the last decade or so, a number of camps/showcases/tournaments/club teams has grown exponentially. Year round baseball has become the norm, even in colder weather states. This goes for high school and club teams. The number of players getting injured or burning out at a young age are increasing along with this trend. The volume and accessibility of events/teams/programs aimed to aid with development and exposure to college coaches have become a blessing and a curse.

More players are getting opportunities to be recruited by schools they would never have, even 10 years ago. Players are able to be recruited on a national level much easier than in the past, which gives them a chance to find their best-fit college program. Players are getting more informed about and exposed to different levels and divisions of college baseball. In general, it is easier to find a good athletic/academic/financial match than in previous years.

The biggest issue and challenge that we all face as players and coaches have to do with timing/schedule. The LEAST convenient and LEAST realistic time for colleges to see you play is during your high school season. Coaches occasionally make it to a local game or to a game while on a road trip. But they are consumed with their own seasons and competing, which puts a live evaluation on the back burner. So naturally, coaches are most actively recruiting and evaluating from late May-January. And naturally, the bulk of quality recruiting showcases and tournaments are scheduled during that period as well.

The most elite baseball players/athletes in the world compete from April-Sept/Oct. They rest from Oct-Dec, and typically begin SLOWLY building themselves back up physically and preparing for the grind of the next season around Dec-Jan. And then they have a full month or more to work back into game shape/condition during spring training or pre-season.

SO WHY ON EARTH DO SO MANY HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS THINK IT’S OK TO HAVE A LONGER SEASON & LESS REST THAN PROFESSIONALS???!!!
They are not done growing/developing. They have likely not prepared themselves physically to handle the strain they are putting on arms/bodies. They haven’t given their arms/bodies any sufficient, extended period of time to heal/rest/recover/grow.

The biggest mistake for families is to just say “Yes” to nearly everything and not make time for rest/recovery. It may be private lessons, camps, showcases, tournaments, club teams, training programs or other specialty events. Families are dedicating (and wasting) more and more dollars & time every year hoping to find that golden ticket that gives their kid a baseball scholarship. It is not uncommon to see HS players who never take a break from playing games or high-intensity camps/showcases for longer than a few weeks.

Coaches, scouts, and instructors are all guilty of helping facilitate this as well. We want to see players when it is convenient, and we want to keep our calendar full with more recruiting/scouting opportunities. And let’s face it, coaching/scouting doesn’t pay much. So these events often supplement the incomes of their families. It’s hard to fault or blame them for that. But things would be much better with more planning, education, and communication.

What is the solution??? The events/teams are not going away anytime soon, and likely they will only continue to increase in number & frequency. So the burden of this really lies on players and their families to make smart, responsible decisions. Each player’s calendar will likely be unique to his situation. Here are some tips to help set you up for success and health…

– Plan your calendar in advance for the entire year. Start with the active playing season(s) (high school/club), and carefully select additional events and training as they fit in your schedule.
– Do not enter an event where you are expected to perform at max speed/intensity without preparing physically. Proper preparation takes consistent weeks/months of throwing/arm care.
– Plan multiple periods of multiple weeks/months rest at a time throughout the year. http://m.mlb.com/pitchsmart/ is a great resource and guide, especially for pitchers.
– Rest your arm sufficiently. That doesn’t only mean stop pitching! True rest is when you LITERALLY do not pickup and throw a ball whatsoever.
– Use your down time for strength/conditioning training, arm care, and light baseball activity. Get back to fundamentals and lower intensity drills aimed to maintain and develop skills/mechanics.
– JUST SAY NO!!! It is flattering to be invited or chosen to play or participate in many events. However, it is not necessary. Plan in advance and avoid spur of the moment decisions on events you are not ready for physically/financially.
– PLAY MULTIPLE SPORTS! It creates a natural off-season. Even if it is recreational or your kid will never play in college, it gives their mind/body a break. In most cases, the skills and coordination learned in other sports translates to you being a better athlete and ball player.

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