Q&A with UF Softball Coach, Tim Walton

Getting college recruitment advice from Coach Walton seemed liked a no-brainer. He has led his team to win two NCAA championships for the Gators, and five SEC regular season championships. He has increased All-American players at UF from only one to 18 players. They have earned 34 NCAA honors, and have attended regionals eleven times. His coaching career is impressive to say the least, but what we didn't realize was that he has also played in the player's shoes. "I believe my success not only as a coach but as an athlete got me the job. I was the winning pitcher at the University of Oklahoma when we won the College World Series in 1994."

Photo by Tim Casey[/caption]

His coaching career is impressive, to say the least, but what we didn't realize was that he's also been in the player's shoes. "I believe my success not only as a coach but as an athlete got me the job. I was the winning pitcher at the University of Oklahoma when we won the College World Series in 1994."


As a coach, you don't receive any bonus for your players graduating. Why does it still matter to you?

"When you're an alumni of an institution, that's a lifelong accomplishment, it never goes away. It shows that you've made a commitment to a school to not only succeed as an athlete but as a student and that commitment carries on with you as a professional in whatever field you choose to work in."

during the Gators' 1-0 win against the Kentucky Wildcats in an NCAA Super Regional on Sunday, May 24, 2015 at Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium in Gainesville, FL / UAA Communications photo by Tim Casey Photo by Tim Casey[/caption]

How many softball scholarships does your program offer per year?

"Every year is different, but we are a fully-funded program so we get 12 scholarships to break up however we decide to. Most years we give out anywhere from three to five scholarships. I have a smaller roster, so I usually offer more scholarship money to less athletes than most softball programs do. We don't usually take walk-ons, but in the 11 years I've coached at UF we've taken on 2 walk-ons that had already been admitted to the university. We also offer try-outs every year for anyone interested in participating."
Photo by Tim Casey[/caption]

What does the recruitment process look like from beginning to end?

Along the way, I'm picking up and looking at prospects off-campus, on-campus, at games, at practices, at tournaments, at clinics, reading the newspaper and even going to look at players from across the country that somebody has recommended me to. I'm using every outlet I can to find prospects.

Typically from there, I pay attention to a lot of things. I look out for how the player interacts with their coaches, the players on their team, and even how they relate to their parents. Chemistry is very important to me especially since I get to choose who I want to bring into my softball family.

Once it clicks with the player, we try to get some dialogue going with the athlete. At this point, it's up to the student. If they want to play at UF they have to make the effort to stay in contact with me so that I can answer any questions they have and build a relationship from there.

We also check their social media accounts. I'll use social media to look for any highlight videos they may have but it's amazing what you'll find on the internet. In the past, I've decided to scratch players off my list simply because they've posted or retweeted something I didn't feel was appropriate to our organization. A big part of the recruitment process is following my gut. I've been doing this for quite some time so I like to rely heavily on my intuition.

What's the most overlooked step parents and student athletes make when going through the recruitment process?

In the sport of softball, the most common misunderstanding that I see among players and parents is playing for the scholarship. I will be able to see right through that and what that tells me is you're not playing softball because of your love of the game or because you want to get better.

A lot of parents also don't understand how scholarships work. They don't ask the right questions and then they get overwhelmed or disappointed when they realize it's not what they expected. Asking the right questions and projecting yourself for the next four years will prepare you for this process.

What other factors influence a player making the team other than grades, and athletic ability?

Due to N.C.A.A. rules, I am at times not able to reach out to the prospects but if they show initiative in building a relationship with me and the school, that shows me that they really want to play and they are confident enough to come to me with any questions or concerns they may have.

What is your favorite motivational quote you like to tell your team before a big game?

This is going to sound clichí©, but I have a running joke with my team that I usually just like to remind them to "not suck". I know Joe Madden coined the quote "try not to suck" but it's really that simple. My players and even my own kids tend to overthink sometimes and I like to remind them that it's as simple as "not sucking" and you'll do well.

I also have a quote above our locker room, so that my players can see it on their way out. It's by Vince Lombardi, and I love this quote because it not only applies to softball but to life:


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