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The huddle

March 30, 2018

Recruiting Horror Story: Committing To Play a College Sport Early Was a Big Mistake!

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Maggie Balint, a pitcher from Pennsylvania, chased her goal of playing at a top-tier Division I softball program and she was fortunate to make it. However, her journey was nothing short of a roller coaster ride.

As a sophomore in high school, Balint describes herself as being a low profile player, having only had one year of high school athletics under her belt. At the time she was deciding between two smaller schools but the Division I schools were heavily recruiting Balint. “I wasn’t the kid to have a dream school or somebody that had an idol,” Balint said in regards to her decision process. Early on in high school, Balint committed to a smaller DI school that was close to home because she thought at that time, that it was the place for her. Shortly after her verbal commitment, she worked hard and obtained a higher level of performance with her game and was awarded statewide accolades. Balint decided it was time to expand her horizons and look at other colleges. “Towards the end of my sophomore year I had thoughts about not attending the school, but I had no idea how to tell my coaches and my parents that I didn’t want to go to that college.” On top of de-committing, Balint had zero plans to fall back on. However, after much thought and a lot of guts, she sat down with her future collegiate coaching staff to tell them that after not even being committed for a year, she was withdrawing her decision and heading in another direction.

Balint was once again on the market for recruitment. This time, the second go-around was much different than the first. “My junior summer was the most intense, fun, crazy and stressful time of my life.” Her travel ball tournaments mostly hosted in Colorado, posed opportunities for her to get seen by a surplus of schools. After performing well in Colorado, Balint admits she had over 20 offers in six days. She was shocked by how much a difference a year made regarding the demand for Maggie Balint, 5’8 right-handed pitcher, on the college recruiter market.

“The three things I was looking for in a school were distance, weather, and the best team I could be on to win a national championship.” Those goals narrowed down her search, big time. Her senior year, Balint went on four official visits, she went to Texas A&M, California, Minnesota, and Oregon. After visiting Oregon, Balint knew she had made up her mind. Not only was she fond of the head pitching coach, Mike White, but she also wanted to become a member of the number one recruiting class in the country that belonged to the Ducks. So, a month before signing day, she committed for the second time to the University of Oregon.

Balint is currently a sophomore at Oregon and has never regretted crossing the country for her beloved sport. Her freshman year, the Ducks tied UCLA for the longest winning streak (35-0) in Women’s Softball. To add to the list, Oregon placed third in the Women’s College World Series.

“It was a special season for the Ducks.”

Balint chalks her freshman year up to being remarkable, both on and off the field. However, moving up a grade level now poses another struggle for the pitcher. “School is a lot harder. Since Oregon athletics is so big and the demand for my sport is so high, academics are harder to handle.”

Behind every glamorous student-athlete roster photo is a young adult who is still trying to find their path and purpose in life, along with being the very best at their sport. Balance and time management is a skill that student-athletes must perfect to succeed. “It’s a lot different from the outside than from the inside. Sophomore year is a lot different. There are more expectations and pressure.”  

The reality of playing a collegiate sport is there will always be highs and lows, trials and triumphs. What makes being a student-athlete so exceptional is the ability to build character alongside having the opportunity to play a sport. “One thing I would tell teenagers to know about going through the recruitment process is coaches are different when everything is on the line. It is a business, and as a player, you need to know how to do business and be successful.”

YOUR JOURNEY STARTS HERE