by Catharine Aradi

The recruiting process can make your head spin, and it's easy to forget those things you most need to remember.  When looking at college media guides, you may "ooh and aah" over the beautiful campus and state-of-the-art athletic facilities, but forget to ask the questions that help you determine if you will fit into this idyllic picture.

Here's are just a few questions you might want to ask coaches about their college, their team and their financial aid picture.  When you talk to a coach or visit a school, you'll probably come up with some of your own questions as well.  (For a more detailed list of questions, check out my book,
Preparing to Play Softball at the Collegiate Level.) 

About the School

1) What are the admission requirements---GPA and SAT/ACT scores? Do you need to take the SAT II (Achievement Tests)?
2) Can the coach help a student get admitted?
3) Can the coach help a student get admitted after the application deadline has passed? 
4) Does someone work with athletes so their course load accommodates athletics and vice versa? 
5) Does someone monitor the athlete's academic progress?

About the Team

1) Are all athletes recruited ahead of time, or does the coach allow/encourage walk-on's to try out?  How many walk-ons usually make the team?    
2) What does the coach expect from his/her athletes---e.g., dress, behavior, weigh-ins, study habits, off-season competition?
3) What can athletes expect from the coach? For example, are returning starters guaranteed spots or are new recruits given the chance to take away a starting spot from a returner?
4) What kind of conditioning or training program is followed?
5) How much traveling does the team do, and how much class time is missed during the season?
6) What percentage of team members graduate in four years? (Note: The NCAA requires Div. I and II schools to provide "recruited" athletes, their parents, guidance counselor and coach with information on student-athlete graduation rates.)

About Scholarships/Financial Aid

1) If athletic scholarships are offered, what do they cover---tuition/fees, room/board, books, and other expenses?
(Note: Scholarships are not handled the same way at every school.  Be sure to get the specific details from each school that's offering you a scholarship.)
2) What happens to your scholarship if you're injured or can't compete for some reason?
3) Are athletes who walk on as freshmen and become starters ever offered athletic-based aid for following years--i.e., as sophomores, juniors, seniors?

Remember, this is just a starter list of specific questions you should ask.  There are many other questions that can help you determine if this is the right type of team for you. Talk to current and former players and ask for their input on the coach.  Both positive and negative responses can be helpful, particularly if you want to see the whole picture.  Few teams are perfect, and the most conscientious and caring coach can have a bad year or have players that just don't fit with his or her program.  It is important, however, to make sure you fit with the program before you decide that's where you want to spend your collegiate career.

(For a more detailed list of questions, check out my book,
Preparing to Play Softball at the Collegiate Level, available on