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Saturday, January 08, 2011

Seminars stress academics, being proactive

Jeff Dahn        

FORT MYERS, Fla. – On the nights before the start of the four Perfect Game showcase events held here in late December and this weekend (Jan.8-9), Perfect Game teamed with Skillshow and to conduct recruiting seminars for the young players and their parents.

The seminars, titled “Myths & Realities of College Recruiting” and presented by Tom Koerick from Skillshow and, are basic in their intent and adament in their approach.

On Friday, Jan. 7, the eve of Perfect Game’s World Showcase, World Open Showcase and National Underclass Showcase-Session 3 at Terry Park, Koerick outlined an “Action Plan for a Pro-Active High School Recruit” for a sizeable group of potential recruits and their attentive parents.

Before the seminar began, Koerick explained the message he hopes to get across to the youngsters.

 “Basically, that they’re in charge of the recruiting process and they can’t rely on anybody else,” Koerick said. “They have to have their grades up to snuff and they have to be proactive. They literally have to give the (college) coach a call and say, ‘Coach, I’m interested in your program.’”

At one point during the seminar, Koerick reminded the players that as eighth- and ninth-graders, and sophomores, it is perfectly within the rules for a player to instigate contact with a college coach. A coach can make initial contact once the player is a junior.

He encouraged the players and their parents to visit as many schools as possible, ask to speak to the baseball coach or to one of his assistants and ask them as many questions as they can think of about the program and the school.

“They should be choosing a school based on academics, first. Second on social – where will they fit in. And lastly, on athletics,” Koerick said before the seminar.

He said the young student-athletes should heed what he has to say because Skillshow and have 10 years experience in the business of college recruiting, and also because he has had two sons go through the process and a third currently involved with it.

The recruiting process begins in ernest for high school players at Perfect Game events like the National Underclass-Main Event held here Dec. 28-30, and the World, World Open and National Underclass-Session 3 being held here Jan. 8-9.

“Perfect Game is going to evaluate you as to what you’re doing over the next couple of days. Much like a college coach, they’re going to look at your mechanics and ascertain your projectibility – where will you be in a couple of years,” Koerick told the Jan. 7 gathering. And the importance of achieving and maintaining a high academic standing cannot be overstated.

“Right now, whatever your grades are, they’re not good enough,” Koerick said. “The world has changed dramatically. It used to be – in the old days – that if you were a good enough athlete and a college coach wanted you … he would go down to the admissisions office and (he’d get you in).”

Koerick is emphatic in his assistance that it is not necessary to play on the Division I level in college in order to move on to the professional ranks. You will get noticed by professional scouts once you’re in college, he said, and the college experience is valuable at any level.

“You’re not looking for the next four years after high school. You’re looking for the next 40 years (of your life),” he told the young players. “When you go through this whole process you’re going to try to evaluate ‘What’s the best school I can get into with my ability? How can I take the leverage of being a baseball player and (use that to get) into the best school I possibly can?’”

Paula Greve and her son, Nathan, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, attended the seminar Koerick conducted before the PG National Underclass-Main Event. She said the message was worth hearing.

“Even their high school coaches can tell them good grades are important, but when they hear that here, there’s a credibility that Perfect Game has with the kids that supercedes what we as parents and even some of their coaches can tell them,” Paula said.

Koerick recognizes that just about every young player longs to be a Major Leaguer someday, but the immediate task at hand is finding a college that is the right fit; most importantly, the right fit academically.

“The toughest part that you have to go through right now is getting from high school to college,” Koerick said. “Once you’re in college, the pros are going to find you. And If you’re in the top 1 percent in high school, the pros will find you there, too. That’s very, very rare. Realistically what we’re looking for is the next level and the next level for us is college, and the best college we can get into is vitally important.”

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