The transition from high school to collegiate softball is difficult without the support of a parent. Kathy Kehres takes us on the journey to her daughter's success at Wheaton College.
How did Kendall get into softball and how old was she?
Kendall got into softball when she was about eight years old. She started playing at a local recreational level because her older sister was playing.
Where does Kendall play now? And what year is she?
Kendall currently plays at Wheaton College in her junior year and she's loving it!
How early did you start the process of applying to schools and scouting programs?
Kendall started later than most players do. In her junior year of high school, she started e-mailing coaches and visiting schools. She went to different softball clinics hosted at colleges she was interested in so that she could get noticed.
She chose Wheaton College because of their academics and religion. She also decided on Wheaton College because she felt comfortable with the team's comradery.
When she first started playing travel, was getting noticed by colleges a top priority?
No, she joined travel to be more competitive. She started playing travel when she was 11 years old and at that point we didn't know much about the process but we wanted her to be able to play at a higher level. She was also not playing softball with college in mind at 11 years old but if you are thinking of going down that path later on, competitive travel ball is where to start them early.
What was the hardest part of the application process?
Understanding the N.C.A.A. rules. There are so many and they are all complicated, even at Division III. There's a point where you don't even want to do anything because you're scared of being disqualified as an athlete.
What advice would you give other parents who are starting to consider having their daughters play in college?
It all depends at what level your daughter is trying to compete in, but make sure you pick the school over the softball team because if you get injured or lose interest in softball at least you'll have your education to fall back on.
I would also recommend shooting your own highlight videos, using apps and working with their travel and high school coaches. Again, it depends on the level you want to compete at, but I would not recommend hiring a professional manager because they are extremely expensive and you can get the same results with just a little more work.
What would you or Kendall have done differently in the application process if you could go back?
I would have encouraged her to join a more competitive travel team earlier on- to have elevated her skill set.
What are some pressures you felt during the process and how did you deal with them?
Going to different clinics you really feel the pressures to perform well and get noticed by coaches. Kendall was realistic in her expectations- she wasn't expecting to get a Division I scholarship or a full ride so we didn't really stress the application process. We knew exactly what kind of school she wanted to go to and which ones she would most likely get into.
Did you play softball or any other sports growing up? What would you say is different from when you played?
I played slow -pitch growing up. It's a lot different now because in any sport it's much more competitive. If you want to excel at a sport today, you have to start early and focus in on that sport all year round. It's also a lot more expensive then when I played; now you have a trainer, a manager that helps make connections for you, a pitching coach, travel ball expenses, hotels, gas and much more. It really is a full-time commitment if you plan on succeeding at the collegiate level.