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The huddle

November 10, 2015

Half Time Talk: Bob Hartness Softball Coach

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Locker Room Talk had the pleasure of interviewing standout softball coach, Bob Hartness. Coach Hartness gives a lot of great insight into how softball recruits can make themselves standout and exactly what college softball coaches are looking for.

Can you give us some background on how you got into coaching softball?

I had coached numerous other sports, and when my daughter was seven, she wanted to play softball. Three days later, she was on a travel ball team in Wichita Falls, Texas. Within a month, I became the head coach of that travel program and we spent the next 14 years together playing a game we both enjoy.

What makes the recruiting experience different for softball compared to other sports?

You must start extremely early. Softball coaches, especially at the D1 level program, are looking four to five years in advance. There are some colleges that have committed players right out of middle school. In addition, over the years, the colleges have lost recruiting days because of budget constraints. I remember when they had 25 to 30 days a year and they could travel the continent in search of their next superstar. However, with only limited days now, athletes who are interested in playing with certain programs need to go to their camps and get noticed, and make sure your travel ball program is going to the right tournaments (Boulder, Colorado in July, Demarini in Chicago during the summer, Ronald McDonald in Texas…just to name a few).

What do you look for in a good player?

Athleticism is a must…just pure natural ability to play the game. Attitude is equally important…having a positive outlook in all things will help guide you to a better person and ballplayer. And last, the athlete must be coachable. Every coach has their own game plan and their own skill sets that make their program uniquely great. The player must buy-in and make personal changes as necessary to meet the processes and standards of that coach and program.

How early do you need to start thinking about scholarships?

As early as possible. As stated before, colleges are looking early. Annual budgets are no longer the standard – they have been added to the 5 or 6 year budget plan, especially in sports, and more specifically, softball.

What do you find are the 3 most important things when going through the recruiting process for a softball player?

  1. Know where you want to go, having several options available; go to camps, and make sure the coaches have your travel ball schedule.
  2. Hit the books hard!!! Colleges want to invest in athletes they, without a doubt, know can play softball at the collegiate level and maintain high grades with the rigor of college.
  3. Have a winning attitude at all times. I repeat…ALL TIMES!

Do you think Locker Room Talk is a valuable resource for high school student-athletes and parents?

Absolutely! The more streamlined the process, the better. The recruiting process is not easy and the information is vast.

How do you think student-athletes and families can best use Locker Room Talk?

Having a centralized location to find data, procedures, and processes.

What advice would you give an upcoming softball player that is looking to play in college?

Hits to book hard, and treat each time you are on the field as your opportunity to get better. A great coach always looks for ways to improve each player, and a great player always looks for ways to improve.

What advice would you give their parents?

Support your athlete as much as possible. Playing a sport is not cheap and is very time consuming with growing pressures. Playing “a” sport as many years as possible is the first step, and then comes the travel, camp expenses, college visits, etc. Support them as much as possible.

How can a player get recognized by college coaches?

Be “the” player. You must stand out as one of the best with a constant winning attitude. Colleges are all about winning! They are not in the business to hand out trophies, let everyone play, share field time, etc. They will recruit players who are the best at what they do and that will help them win a championship.

What do you think the most important aspects of being on a college team are?

Professional opportunities! Being a member of a sports team teaches you aspects of life that a classroom cannot. Teamwork, commitment, socialization, better fitness, etc. Once you finish a few years with a college sports program, you begin to stand out among others who do not.

We always do one fun question — If you were stranded in a locker room for 5 years and could only bring 3 people, who would they be and why?

    1. God: I could sit around for 5 years and just talk with God. I have so many questions that needs answers that only He can answer. Some of them about sports and, He would take care of all my needs.
    1. My wife, Yvonne: She is my soul mate and what makes my heart beat. I could not go a day without her let alone 5 years.
  1. My daughter, Steph: She is my inspiration. She does so much without saying a word. Her actions speak volumes of what hard work will do for you. She has been a softball player for many years, and playing at the North Georgia Nighthawks, and Coach Mike Davenport, has been an experience she will carry with her for the rest of her life. And, we can sit around for five years and talk softball…sounds great to me!

YOUR JOURNEY STARTS HERE