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.
Posted on March 11, 2019 in Coach Advice
When doing research in the recruiting process for my daughter I came across the LRT Sports website. I was immediately intrigued as this was another dimension of the recruiting process that many people don't even consider. My daughter and I could "short list" schools based on the education she was looking for, as well as the opportunity to play her sport. LRT Sports not only gave us pertinent information into the recruiting process with different interviews of coaches and players, it also gave us insight into current and/or former players' opinions on the coach of that school in her sport. We could use this information to re-prioritize my daughters list of schools based on this feedback. I have many friends that are, or will be, going through this process shortly and I highly recommend using LRT Sports as part of anyone's recruiting process.
The college process presents a myriad of challenges. Factor in athletics and it becomes even more daunting. Now, add the fact that you have zero experience with sports. What is a the mother of a college bound student-athlete to do? LRT Sports has truly lived up to its promise. It has kept "the college recruiting process honest and easy by providing first hand information about coaches, schools and the recruiting process." Their interviews with current students, coaches, and professional athletes have provided realistic guidance. I am much more informed because of LRT Sports! The coach ratings are the most helpful. LRT Sports interviews allow us to hear from students as to how the adults are impacting not only their athletic experience but also how they are helping to shape their adult self.
The C.A.L.C. was thrilled to have Keirsten Sires come and speak to us on multiple topics relevant to high school athletics today, including recruiting. Keirsten reached all of our students and left them with great strategies that will not only help on the fields, courts, and mats, but also in the game of recruiting. She was a true professional and delivered a wonderful message.
Now that the recruiting process and the related stress is over, I wanted to thank you for your guidance. You did so much more than we had expected. Once you started the process by matching the best academic schools first, not the best sport programs, I knew you were the one. The way you laid out a timeline of contacting coaches, visits, and camps completely took any guesswork out of the plan for us. All of the student athletes that you put us in touch with gave us a look from the inside, and made us more comfortable knowing what was coming. Finally, using your website as a resource for knowing what to expect from different coaches based on former recruit reviews gave my son confidence before our meetings. There is no way we could have figured this out on our own, you really put us in a great position when decision time came.
I think hearing from other athletes is very beneficial. To be able to learn from people’s mistakes, and to be able to have access to those voices is really helpful; especially voices that have been there and done that. It’s very important for people to have access to information that could benefit them, and in this case there are many voices that can help the next wave of athletes.
If you have something that’s going to spell [the recruiting process] out for you… it’s so valuable. I think what everyone at LRT Sports is doing to spread the word and help advocate and educate athletes on the recruitment process is incredible.
Without question would have used LRT Sports. It would have probably been one of the most valuable tools that I could have had. If you want to know what these coaches are really like then I think this is the best tool out there. I’m really glad you are allowing recruits to have a resource like this moving forward.