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Sue Enquist Reveals the 9 Most Important Words in the Recruiting Process

players huddle to celebrate the best colleges for softball

This post is by Coach Sue Enquist, who holds more national championships than anyone in the history of softball. She is UCLA Softball’s first All-American, National Champion, and Hall of Famer. Sue completed her career as head coach of the UCLA Bruins as the winningest softball coach among all active coaches and has been called a “coaching legend” by ESPN.

I want to share with you the nine most important words in the recruiting process. Here they are:

This school is the right fit for my child.

They’re only nine words. But they’re probably the most important words in the recruiting process.

Don’t compare your recruiting process with other families.

I found myself amazed at a conversation I had the other day with a dad who has a daughter in the recruiting process, and she’s in high school. I found myself feeling so badly for him because he realized he got caught up in what everybody else was doing, and he told me this great story. He takes pride in everything he does, his work, that he’s focused on the details…

But when it came to this big decision in recruiting, he really didn’t take it seriously. And he talked about this bubble: When you’re in this bubble of travel ball, the word of mouth is the standard. He and his wife even got caught in it.

Not only is the word of mouth incorrect. More importantly? It’s not even what we should be doing when we’re making decisions that are as big as that college decision.

And more importantly, the idea that we’re not even asking those hard questions:

  • Where did you get that information?
  • Who told you?
  • How did they know?

makes it a terrible game of telephone.

He went home that day and completely re-calibrated the idea of how they were going to make that decision with their daughter.

He also found it comical that so many parents are taking a hands-off approach, which is somewhat scary when you have 13-year-olds making decisions about college.

I couldn’t agree more. Read more about how parents and student-athletes should complement each other in the recruiting process.

How do you commit to finding the right school for your child?

This father was committed to those nine most important words in the recruiting process.

So he started to scour the Internet and was fanatical about researching all of it. As time-consuming as it was, and knowing his daughter wouldn’t be able to take all the time to research, he decided to just do the foundational work. His daughter was a part of it, but he felt so much better that he wasn’t just looking left and right.

How many times in the stands do we hear that? We base our recruiting decisions on what we’ve heard other families have done. We look at the schools and criteria based on what travel ball coaches tell us.

And in the reality, picking a school is one of the most personal things we can do in a family. Using a digital profile and free tools to organize your recruiting is one of the best things you can do for your daughter.

Are you just checking the boxes of travel ball?

Are you checking the box you’re on the good team?

And now you’ll be in the tournament?

And now you’ll get that great exposure?

And you’ll have that travel coach do it all for you?

Hashtag — that’s not fair.

One of the biggest problems is measuring your child’s skill level within the radius of your travel ball.

So I admire this father and his ability to eliminate all of the white noise. All of the chatter around in the bleachers. That voice that says, “Well you better hurry up; our catcher has already been recruited.”

He went back to his wife, and his daughter, and together they made a plan, based on the nine most important words in recruiting: This school is the right fit for my daughter.

You find yourself asking the book of hard questions as a father or mother. You think: I spent so much more time investigating where to invest in a home than in where your child will spend the most important four or five years in their lives? It’s a decision we know will affect the next forty years of their lives as a student-athlete, and then a person.

This father said, “I found it very freeing to strip myself of my ego, and not base it on a popular conversation, and unrealistic goals.”

Set college recruiting goals with your child.

Instead, he started to have real conversations with his daughter: What does that perfect place look like? What doesn’t it look like?

And then you set a path based on the hard questions you ask. You create checklists on what you need to do. You look at schools that are rooted in a high graduation rate, a high team GPA, a coaching staff that really cares about its student-athletes.

Winning will always be important. But have those questions ready for those student-athletes that don’t play. I’ve always felt they have the most honest answer about what it’s like to play on a team since they live in the dugout.

It’s awfully noisy out there.

It doesn’t have to be. Stop looking left and right. Let’s just focus on the nine most important words. Is this school the right fit for my child?


Want to learn more recruiting tips from experts like Sue Enquist? The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.

About the author
Andy McKernan

Andy McKernan is the content strategist at NCSA Athletic Recruiting. A content marketer with a background in creative writing, Andy brings several years of experience to NCSA.