March 26, 2017
When you think about the future, what do you picture? Flying cars, hoverboards, robot butlers… okay, maybe we’ve gone too far down the line! Let’s consider something a little closer to home: your future in softball.
Whether you see yourself playing at a Division I university or joining a recreational softball club on the weekends, there are plenty of opportunities to continue playing the game after high school. The sport is gaining national attention and momentum, and the increased visibility means there are tons of ways to get involved.
Check out some of your many choices:
Division I: Serious about softball? Division I schools have the most intense programs out there. If you play for a DI school, your team will be a huge part of your life, and your classes may take a back seat to the game. You’ll travel extensively and play schools around the country. DI universities generally have large student populations, and most have a sports-centric, spirited culture. We hope you love your school’s colors; you’ll be wearing them constantly!
Division II: Division II colleges can be a little smaller than their DI cousins, and while they’re still very competitive, they offer slightly more balance in terms of the student-athlete lifestyle. If you think the pressure of a Division I school might be overwhelming, consider Division II.
Division III: Division III universities are the NCAA’s lowest ranking, but that doesn’t mean you should count them out! DIII colleges have more time restraints, more limited practices, and less travel, so you’ll have more opportunities to focus on your studies. While DIII athletes are still competitive, the pressure isn’t nearly as high. If you love the sport but don’t necessarily want to go pro, DIII schools might be perfect for you.
National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes (NAIA) Schools: If you choose a smaller 4-year school not affiliated with the NCAA, never fear! The NAIA, an association that organizes athletic programs on a smaller scale, might serve your school. The NAIA has more lax eligibility requirements, so if you’re concerned that your GPA or test scores might exclude you from NCAA colleges, it may be the right fit for you. While scholarships might be less readily available to these universities, tuition costs are often lower. Schools affiliated with the NAIA typically put less emphasis on sports; budgets are lower, and crowds of spectators will be smaller. Research your chosen colleges’ softball programs; they vary widely!
Junior Colleges: If a sprawling campus and a bustling, vast student body sound overwhelming, a junior college could be just the place for you. These 2-year colleges are smaller, and because the NCAA does not govern them, their age and eligibility requirements tend to be more flexible. You can also use a 2-year school as a stepping-stone; if you’re not quite ready for a 4-year university, spend some time building your resume at a junior college first.
Recreational Leagues: If you enjoy playing softball but want to focus primarily on school and other activities, take the pressure off by joining a recreational league at your college or in your community. No league? Create one yourself!
There are so many ways to take your love of softball to the next level. Don’t limit yourself! While the thought of playing for a DI school might make you starry-eyed, there are only a certain number of slots on teams. Don’t be discouraged; there are plenty of opportunities! Every devoted player can find her niche with a little research and hard work.
Go ahead, picture your future: are you soaking up the sun on a softball field in California? Zipping up a hoodie on the way to practice in New England? Or smacking a homerun inside a pressurized bubble stadium on Mars?
Oops, we went too far again!
Let us know in the comments where you see yourself after high school!