I cannot believe her freshman year is over.  She'll be finished with exams on Tuesday ending a successful academic freshman year.  She's made tons of friends outside of the softball team, loves her teammates, the university, her major and the rest of the college experience.  She's kept her head on straight as to the typical temptations and peer pressures a college freshman faces.  She has matured and seems absolutely content and happy. 

She refuses to discuss anything concerning herself and the team with me or anybody else.

The team has another chance to win another regular season MAC Conference Championship with their last four games this weekend.  After that they'll participate in the MAC Championship Tournament, which go from Wednesday May 7th through Saturday May 10th.  The champion gets an automatic bid in the Regionals of the NCAA Tournament, which will likely begin on Friday May 16th.  Last year CMU won the tourney and played at the Regional host University of Michigan. 

After her exams are completed she and her fellow freshman teammates must move out of the dorms and into their upper classman teammate's apartments and or rental houses.  They will live with them until their season ends.  She seems excited about the team's chances to win regular season and tournament championships. 

The freshman watched the rest of the team receive their regular season championship rings at halftime of a football game last fall.  I'm sure they'd like to have one of those for themselves.  They're like Superbowl rings! 

Sammi Cowger (a sophomore) and Hayley (right) played against each other throughout high school in the Flint Metro League for years.  Our families got to know each other pretty well.  Her father and I coached a high school fall ball team together with the girls before they graduated.  It's funny how the two of them ended up 4 hours away as teammates.  During the winter Sammi took care of Hayley once when she got sick with flu-like symptoms, while we felt helpless so far away.  As a parent it's comforting to know your daughter will be cared for when you cannot be there for her.

Almost daily somebody asks, "How's Hayley doing at Ball State?"

People Just Don't Understand

I will write this to make a point later, while attempting not to sound arrogant or conceited:  Hayley is well-liked by just about everybody.  I've been told several times by as many people, "Your daughter is great softball player, but she's a far better young lady." She does not like to talk about herself and puts the team first in everything every time.  She's just very humble with a crazy sense of humor.

Some of her softball credentials: Swartz Creek Records, Michigan High School Records, 2-time Area Player of the Year and 1st Team All-State shortstop (not bad for a lefty).

Almost daily somebody asks, "How's Hayley doing at Ball State?"  I say, "She's not getting any playing time, but loves everything about it."  They do not understand.  Many people are in disbelief.  They really can't believe she's not at least getting more opportunities to hit.  So far she has briefly appeared in 8 games with a few innings on defense and 8 pinch-hit opportunities.  Sammi had a very similar experience her freshman year as well.

A New Coach - A New Philosophy?

The coach that recruited Hayley, Craig Nicholson, got the Arizona State job in late June...a HUGE step up in the softball world of coaching.  The new coach, Tyra Perry never saw Hayley play until the first week of school last fall.  Craig was going to play Hayley in the outfield this year.  Coach Perry basically gave her a first baseman's glove and told her to get ready for next year.  I'm making a complete assumption about that, because as I said, Hayley does not discuss anything concerning herself and the team with me or anybody else. 

As a coach I see parents who are likely thinking along the same lines concerning my decisions about their daughters.

Understand that I mean no disrespect toward Coach Perry.  I'm simply telling you this because I've found MANY parents have had very similar experiences.  During the seemingly never ending recruiting process a key part of that decision is based on what the coach told you what they had planned for you.  For example, some coaches come right out and tell you they don't play freshman.  Our expectations were quite different and that has been disappointing. 

One thing we are greatly appreciate is that Coach Perry continued to the practice of informing the parents which hotels the team would be staying in during their travels and allows time for players & parents to visit.  Staying in the same hotel as the team, being able to take your daughter to dinner, a movie, sightseeing or just hanging out is NOT something every college coach does.  I know several disgruntled parents who have no idea where the team will be staying and cannot spend any time on the road with their daughters.  They get 15 minutes to see and talk to them before they get on the bus to go home.

If you are currently going through the recruiting process you should consider those points as well as these:

  • Many of the coaches who recruited Hayley are no longer at those colleges.  It's almost like musical chairs, especially with assistants.
  • Scholarships are year by year.  No matter what they promised you they can adjust scholarships each year, which can be a good thing or a bad thing.
  • Pick the school, not the coach. Would you go that college if you were not playing softball?
  • Talk with members of the team.  Ask them if they're happy and having fun.
  • The best scholarship is an academic scholarship.

Hayley plays behind 2 senior first basemen.  Taylor Rager will surely be 1st Team All-MAC again and Lauren Schroeder have been very kind and mentoring Hayley this year.  Hayley has nothing but good things to say about them.  That much I've been told.  There's no other first baseman on the roster or in the 2014 incoming class, so I hope she'll get the opportunity to prove herself next year.

She's accepted the role.  It's not for show.  It's genuine.

My Parent Goggles

I've said before all parents have special goggles of varying thickness when it comes to watching their kids play ball.  I've got them too.  I'm biased.  Emotions may cloud my judgment when it comes to my daughter.  As a parent I feel she could help her team right now given the opportunity.  As a coach I see parents who are likely thinking along the same lines concerning my decisions about their daughters.  In fact some have even told me so.

Hayley doesn't show any frustrations and has been very supportive of her team, smiling throughout the games, cheering and congratulating players for their good play and wins.  I'm not surprised at all, because that's how she's always been.  She's accepted the role.  It's not for show.  It's genuine.  She'll work hard this summer preparing for next year the same as always.  When she wants my help I'll be there.  She loves and is doing great academically in school and is looking forward to her sophomore year.  Next year she'll be lving in an apartment.

My trip to Ball State was to watch them take on Miami Ohio on Saturday and Sunday.  They played well winning both games.  I knew she would likely not play.  She was on deck ready to pinch hit in Sunday's game, but the inning ended before she got up and then the game ended.  Maybe next week?  Regardless we got to spend a lot of time together.  After Saturday's game we took a long walk around the beautiful campus enjoying the 70 degree weather, packed my car with some of her things to take home, went to dinner and watched a little TV in the hotel room.  After Sunday's game we went to dinner with several players and parents from the team, then I dropped her off at the dorm and made the trip home.

You just cannot believe how fast the year goes by.  And it goes by even faster for your daughter. 

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about your journey.  I'm happy to help.  And I greatly appreciate all of you who share articles from this blog with others.