From Coach Tory: Jose Tunon coaches in the GAP, Georgia Academy Power organization and has helped many of his older players find great opportunities in college programs. He has been instrumental in building GAP into one of Georgia’s best programs.
I am blessed to actively coach two travel softball teams, 18U and 14U which gives me a unique viewpoint with the new recruiting regulations enacted by the NCAA last week.
As the first lines in the Luke Bryan song “Most People are Good” says, “I believe kids ought to stay kids as long as they can.” This new legislation provides a runway for younger student athletes to take a breath and allow time to develop their skills. The recruiting experiences encountered by my older teams were diverse and ranged from Power 5 conferences to NCAA Division II. Some of my players took advantage of early recruiting and after much evaluation, made decisions to attend programs that fit their needs and allowed their parents to execute a financial plan for their children.
I also saw first hand the panic and fear in a couple families who had committed early to programs and the coach was replaced before their signing day. Both players were out of the “recruiting “ lanes for 16 months which create different anxiety and led to many sleepless nights. Thank goodness, both players were able to find programs that will challenge them academically and prepare them for life. Early recruiting forces girls to make adult decisions as a minor.
We also had a situation where a young lady decided to change her major before signing and the school didn’t offer her major. She correctly decommitted, and scrambled to find a home. She was also off the recruiting radar for 12 months and struggled to find a school with her major and with athletic dollars available in her class. The planets aligned for this young lady and she found a home after countless camps and college visits.
The younger ladies now have a longer timeline to grow in the game, enjoy their teammates and develop their skill set to hopefully enjoy the fruits of their labor by having multiple offers on Sept. 1st of their Junior year. To the NCAA, the rule isn’t perfect but this is a giant step in the right direction towards creating an environment where the player can develop mentally and emotionally before having to make one of the most important decisions of their young lives.