"I'm trying to keep the travel costs down for our teams and I'm wondering if you'd give some advice on how you'd approach it.
*** UPDATE – Education is an investment, not a cost. But it becomes a burden to some chasing the holy grail if everyone is not on the same page. So below I offer some thoughts/updates. Just one person’s opinion, anyone can take it or leave it.
Lastly, I think it is a shame when players “get their deals” and then don’t want to help the next generation take the same route/travel/costs/ etc to attain their dreams. This is addressed below as well, there is a way to handle it as a program.
Make the assumption that our talent is lower DI to DIII. Vast majority of the kids want to play in the Midwest, possibly East, and probably aren't at the level that would be recruited in the Sunbelt or West.
What tournaments would you play in? With the changes in recruiting and camps, which would you go to? Would you attend camps as a team, which could reduce travel cost by combining player in rooms? etc. Mr. Betcher, which tournaments have the best College Coach turnout in your opinion?
I guess the question is what's the biggest bang for your buck locally. Just looking for any advice you see fit in giving."
I will answer your last question first, I don't care how many colleges are at a tourney, you only need the ones that you are working with, that fit the needs of your players, and that your players perform on the field and off the field in attitude. Don't try to get lucky and be seen by everyone, work to assure you are seen by those schools that fit your future for 4 years, and most importantly the 40 years after college.
***UPDATE – I think programs can do themselves a great service by having College Days in the fall, where they prep their entire program ahead for a combine like format, then invite colleges that are likely recruiting players of their skill level and awareness. I have seen the Indiana Magic Gold and Dirt Devils programs both succeed using this process, one with major D1 programs and 1 with D2-3 NAIA level schools. And the girls benefitted.
I find one of the largest issues with many organizations is they do not have complete teams who understand and agree with your assessment. That is when fees go through the roof, families are unhappy, coaches can't keep teams together, etc.
***UPDATE – A more clearer message here would be to mitigate costs, and get the best value, programs should look to really understand the needs and skill set of their players and families and work as a unit, instead of individual teams. What I mean is, it’s ok to build teams best set to play in tourneys and nationals during the summer season, but then mix and match players for showcases based on their desire for what level of ball they want to play. There is no reason not to build 1 team of players with aspirations and the skill set to perform on a national level to the West Coast, and focus other groups of players on teams playing in local showcases. Also, for big programs, why not poll the organization by player the school interests, and attend either college camps/round robins on campus or regionally based on the schools locations.
Bill is correct below, he and I do run events that we feel are great value for the buck, but we are not the only game in town. If your team is a top 10 team nationally, then DeMarini is the only place to be, but that is not your question nor vision.
First off, do you and your families understand how to contact colleges and make sure when you are participating that the schools you are working with are coming to your games, and when they do are you understanding who they want to see where? Do you have a coach or parent who is identifying when coaches are present, and are you talking with those coaches and understanding what they want to see from whom? Don't assume.
Choices: not in specific order, but all solid value (and there are more I am sure, I apologize to any I miss)
1 - I like the Let's Play for U camps if a player has multiple schools working the camp on their wish list or are being actively recruited by those coaches.
2 - East Coast - I like 2 events in particular - Pennsbury for academics in mid June and Rhode Island New England's Finest first week of August.
3 - St Louis 1 - but you have to get in touch with the coaches and communicate and work with them - 16 games going and lot's of choices.
4 - Let's Play for U October event - but with multiple facilities, COMMUNICATION is the key. Not everyone will play the high profile teams, but everyone has access to the colleges in your wheelhouse if you do your homework.
***UPDATE With the later 6 week window now over the next few years, I have adjusted my schedule to support both the 85% of players who will not be playing D1, along with regional locations to reduce travel and costs. https://www.davebetcherevents.com/tournaments
5 -The PGF National Qualifiers are loaded with colleges, helped by the Bandit round robins, and played in Crown Point. I think you will see more and more coaches attending Peoria the 3rd week of June as well. Colleges love the variety and quality of those National Qualifiers.
***UPDATE – I have added morning College Coaches camps in Crown Point before the pool games start.
6 - Greg Dickel in Iowa has done a nice job of getting a good selection of the coaches you would like to see to his PGF Showcase. He has one in August that will draw quite a few D2 thru NAIA with great programs and academics.
7 - Don't forget Sean Hall and his Midwest Speed camps and tourney, in Minnesota. Follow S & C on Facebook and see the type of schools you are looking for in Minnesota.
8 - For a wide range of Michigan and Midwest school - Brad Koch's Blue Chip Showcase right before nationals in July is an event to check out.
9 - I think the Stars and Stripes I run in July during DeMarini draws the type of schools you wish to see.
10 - Dan Runge's Top 100 over July 4th is a better value than Colorado for many teams in your position. If you want softball to also be a vacation, it is a lot cheaper to pick 1 fun destination either as your national or during the year like some of the Triple Crown events, pricey for entry, but in some fun cities.
Except for the fall showcases, most of the ones I noted include competitive elimination brackets, I hate that the only event I run that does not have brackets is the Fall Lets Play for U - but with only Saturday Sunday and over 116 teams, it is impossible to have brackets.
***UPDATE – reducing to 80 teams in 2019 – keeping teams mixed between 2 locations to assure better college coverage.
I know I gave you a lot of options, but I do think even though we bring so many events to Chicagoland, it is good for a multitude of reasons to also travel in the region and bond on a couple road trips and see some fresh regional colleges.
The best way to maximize every weekend opportunity is
1 - Work with each family to understand their top choices for schools and communicate with those coaches
2 - Don't listen to anonymous pompous people down grading every event under the sun but the one they are going to
3 - Put the fun back in the game and don't live for EXPOSURE ONLY. If you are training, communicating, challenging your team, the exposure and recruiting will come. But first and foremost, understand your mission and make sure you select a team that has all families on the same course.
***UPDATE – there is a place and home for everyone. A lot of what causes issues and team turmoil is both the parents and the coaches/program not being honest up front about the goals and level of the team and the player. Don’t panic at tryouts and take the first offer unless it’s your first choice – just like agreeing to commit to the first college that approaches you. The time to commit is when you find the best and #1 choice and both sides want each other. That takes family discussion, self- reflection on who you are and why you want to play for that team/program/attend that college, and then doing the work to position yourself in the best light to make your goals come true.
Sorry for being so wordy, but I love to share my thoughts on the subject of events and recruiting and how I feel it should be done from many years of experience.
***UPDATE – I am no expert, but I really don’t see the average player (95% of the population that will play in college) seeing much difference with the new September Junior year commitment and scholarship discussion. I think those top 5% have some challenges, but I assure you the colleges will figure out a way and the coaches who have the majority of those players, will still have the players in position to commit to the top programs. I think it actually allows for those not there at 13-14-15 years old, an advantage, to develop and show that development over a longer period of time. Again, for those special talents, it will always be they will have wonderful opportunities, but those just below that level, have actually more opportunities to develop and open new avenues. Just my opinion.