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March 11, 2019

Missouri Southern State University Head Softball Coach Blackney Offers Advice

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Many may believe that massive differences are surrounding the different divisions in NCAA Athletics, when in truth, while some rules may change, the sport stays the same. Hallie Blackney is currently the head softball coach at Missouri Southern State University and has a vast amount of  experience coaching in institutions.

This is Blackney’s first season as head coach for the Lions following a two-year position at the George Washington University. Blackney has also coached at the University of South Dakota, Purdue Fort Wayne, Southeast Missouri State University and Bemidji State University.

There are many uncertainties and questions concerning how to begin the recruiting process, and where to go once you begin. The valuable information that Blackney has amassed from her tenure across multiple NCAA Divisions throughout her almost ten years of coaching experience is exceptionally insightful.

LRT Sports: How can a high school athlete get on your radar?

Coach Blackney: One of the best ways a potential student-athlete can get my attention is by emailing me a video debuting their skills or coming to a camp. It is crucial to include the graduation year in any information you send a coach’s way!

LRT Sports: What is the craziest way that an athlete marketed them self to you?

Coach Blackney: I distinctly remember one potential student-athlete sending a video of her singing a solo for her high school’s choir. It was neat to see how well-rounded she was!

LRT Sports: What traits do you look for in athletes you may potentially recruit?

Coach Blackney: I want quality people who know how to work hard, earn what they have, and show respect everyone. Athletically, utility kids who can play multiple positions usually catch my eye, and they also often play multiple sports, too!

LRT Sports: How did recruiting athlete’s from junior colleges differ from athletes in high school?

Coach Blackney: Since a junior college athlete has already experienced collegiate softball, she has a predetermined view on how a program/culture should be. The high school athlete does not have this view, so she is usually more moldable.

LRT Sports: What role does social media play in the recruiting process?

Coach Blackney: In my opinion, social media tends to usually only hurt the athlete, not help. If I search for a recruit on social media and find that they are posting ridiculous things, I will cross her off my list.

LRT Sports: What are some major “do’s” and “don’ts” in relation to the recruiting process?

Coach Blackney: I always recommend the potential student-athlete should be the one communicating with a coach, not the parent. While their family life is important to me, I also think to learn how the athlete processes information and handles the recruiting process matters. After all, we will be spending four years together without the parents around.

LRT Sports: When would you recommend athletes begin to narrow down the colleges they reach out to?

Coach Blackney: I would recommend a student-athlete begin narrowing down the schools they want to visit during their junior year.

LRT Sports: How much emphasis is placed on camps hosted by colleges?

Coach Blackney: Attending a school’s camp is a good indicator that the potential student-athlete is serious about considering that school. The camp setting is also beneficial for all involved because the coaching and learning styles can be tested. A camp can help determine if a school/coach is a good fit for the student-athlete

LRT Sports: How do you feel about the recent rule changes placing further restrictions on contact between coaches and athletes? How has this impacted the way in which you recruit?

Coach Blackney: I love the new rules, and I hope that all coaches follow them. Deciding where to attend school is a life-changing decision, so I believe recruiting conversations need to be had with mature student-athletes who have a better sense of who they are and what they are looking for in a school.

LRT Sports: What is the most significant change you have noticed in the recruiting process since your time as an athlete to a coach?

Coach Blackney: The biggest change that I have noticed is how early student-athletes commit now and the parents’ high level of involvement. Also, most likely due to the use of smartphones and social media, I have noticed that some athletes have a harder time conversing in person.

LRT Sports: How have your responsibilities changed as you have transitioned from Division I to Division II?

Coach Blackney: Thankfully, softball is still softball, and coaching is still coaching. Going from a three-person staff to a two-person staff is a challenge since everyone has to step up and do more. As a head coach, there is more responsibility, as well as a bit more pressure, placed on me.

LRT Sports: What is the funniest thing that happened to you or one of your players on the field?

Coach Blackney: There have been a lot of funny things that have happened on the field! The first thing that popped in my head is when a pigeon dive bombed a pitcher in the middle of the game, and she was already TERRIFIED of birds!

LRT Sports: What is the craziest thing a parent did at one of your games?

Coach Blackney: One thing that stands out to me was when I was watching a potential student-athlete, and I thought she could be a good fit. There was an obnoxious (apparently intoxicated) male in the stands who kept yelling at the umpire, and it turned out to be her father. Because of that and the fear of having that father in my program, I had to cross her off my list.

Resources:  https://mssulions.com/staff.aspx?staff=128