Unlike Alexis Carrasquilllo most 11 and 12 year old players are just beginning their college softball fantasies. However, very much like Alexis most young players start out with very big dreams. The current generation of children is more media driven than ever, and they are exposed to massive amounts of college softball through this media exposure. The problem is they generally only consume Division 1 top 25 softball, and that’s what cultivates all their softball hopes and dreams.
NCAA Research published a document titled “Estimated Probability of Competing in College Athletics”. Nearly 400,000 athletes compete in High School Softball nationwide. Of that number only 5.1% will go on to play at the collegiate level and only 1.6 % will play at the Division 1 level. Let’s face facts those are very depressing numbers. Not to mention data that an 11 or 12 year old player could care less about let alone comprehend. This creates quite a dilemma for the parent, now doesn’t it? Isn’t the parent the cheerleader of dreams? There is not supposed to be a road too long or a mountain to high for your offspring, yet here you are smack dab in the role of “Dream Killer”. Jump on in the water is great. Not!
If you think the answer is to get out ahead of it and drop the bomb on Darling Daughter’s very first trip onto the travel/club softball diamond, it will most likely be her last. So for starters let’s take a giant step back and let her go out and have some fun, which was the original point of the exercise in the first place. Killing or modifying the dream is a process. Believe it or not a process requiring less parental interference than one would think.
Most players begin to realize and accept their limitations around 7th or 8th grade. Granted there are always exceptions and some fantasize longer than others. For my daughter it happened in 8th grade during a trip to Oklahoma for the College World Series. It doesn’t happen all at once and it is very reminiscent of the internal struggle to give up on Santa Clause. However, this is the age where they can truly begin to understand the intricacies of talent, work ethic, and dedication. Even though it was heartbreaking to see it in her eyes and in her sole that she was never going to be an Oregon Duck, it was a proud and heartwarming moment to see the new dream live on, believing she could have what it takes to excel at a smaller Division 1 program. Hence the process. Perhaps in a year or two we will be talking about a Community College program, but at least her dreams were not bludgeoned along the way.
Kill the dream softly and slowly and most importantly stay focused on why you introduced your daughter to this great sport to begin with. It will all be over before you know it. Don’t miss it because you didn’t slow down long enough to watch.