Seeking advice

My son is a senior RHP who has been recruited to play JUCO baseball. He had one offer to play at a D3 school. He is very thankful for the opportunity to play college baseball. In a perfect world and like most kids, he had his sights set on playing D1 or D2 school, where he could go off to college have a true college experience. He is the only player on his high school team to have offers to play in college. 

All of his friends are making decisions on where they are going to school next year and picking roommates, etc. It is really taking a toll on him, because he can't do the same if he wants to play college baseball. I think he would love to be doing the same, but is torn between playing baseball with a nationally ranked JUCO team or having a more traditional college experience. 

Anybody else experience this with their kid? I am afraid he will regret not playing baseball down the road. Ultimately it is his decision. Any insight from you guys would be helpful........

Original Post

My son is also a  Sr and just graduated early - it was his plan , he was being recruited by D1s etc , he wanted to play juco before Jucos started reaching out to him . Summer of his JR year he decided he wanted to play juco , a top 10  National  Juco program recruited him and he will play for them starting in the fall . Just let me say 100 % scholarship is a nice thing to have for the 1st 2 years .

. playing time is not  guaranteed at any level , but we saw at least 10 kids we knew from the area that went to D1s who didn’t play their 1st year or were redshirted and now have transferd to a Juco . Not saying this if for everyone , but you have to have your eyes wide open .

Thanks C2019. I think he feels like he is missing out on the true college experience that his friends are going through. He is fine with the JUCO offer. I think its just hard when all of his friends are making roommate plans, etc and he might go down a different path if he wants to play baseball next year. 

Can you have him reach out to someone he knows who is currently playing college baseball to get realistic feedback and experiences?   Can he discuss with his travel coach to get his input about playing in college? 

It sounds to me like your son is unsure what he wants to do or possibly he knows what he wants to do and it doesn't include college baseball.   There is always the option to walk-on or play club baseball.   If I was in your shoes I would sit down and talk to him about what he wants to do in 4-5 years after graduation or if baseball can provide an opportunity to help him in 4-5 years.   Then work back in a reverse timeline.  See what he says, and encourage him to get as much information as possible about college baseball.  College baseball is a HUGE commitment, and it is a lot of work.  I would describe it as one of tjhose things;  you either have to be all in or not at all.

As always, JMO.

A current HS senior from a very small local school had a nice offer at a very, very good mid-major here in Ohio....and had even been hearing some rumbles of possibly being drafted.  He decided last November, about a week before signing day that he was done with baseball.  He is now attending a school closer to home where he can "be with his friends".   His family owns a really nice business and I'm sure he'll end up back there when he finishes school.  Really surprised a lot of people, but if your heart isn't in it from the start, it's probably best to just skip it altogether I guess

Thanks Fenway! Great post. I don't think he knows what he wants to do exactly post college. He does have a plan B to attend a 4 year school and not play baseball. This 4 year school has a nationally ranked club baseball team with a strong history of doing well. He could always play for them.

I agree he needs to be all in or not at all. He will need to own his decision regardless of what he decides to do.

I know it is a lot of pressure on him to make a decision.

I'm assuming the JUCO is local and he wouldn't be living there? 

There really is no advice to give. He has to make a decision as to what he wants. Have him reach out to some of the guys on the juco he is considering and see how they're doing socially. I'm sure there are still parties and apartments/houses around campuses that the guys hang out at. 

The one thing that did stand out to me was that he was being recruited by a ranked JUCO and a D3. Nationally ranked JUCOs typically have D1-D2/draft talent. If he is a D3 type recruit, make sure he is walking into the right situation at the juco because I'm sure there are going to be some very good players headed there. 

The JUCO offer is local and he would probably not live at home, thus giving him somewhat of a "college experience". The JUCO that offered him has a respected program and many of the players do go on to play D1 or D2 ball after a year or two. The JUCO offer will give my son another year or two to develop or not into a D1 or D2 baseball player, which is what he needs.

I know others on this message board have probably been in my shoes and I thought would get some advice or opinions. 

Toolman my 2019 also is going the JUCO route (btw..we had a nice ceremony Wednesday on NSD).    I think its also tough on him since he has grown up with a big SEC school down the street from where we live.  One of his main criteria was choosing a school not too far away from home.   He had plenty of D2 and D3 reaching out to him, and a mid major D1,  but he did not want to go off to another state to a school in the middle of nowhere.  The JUCO is about an hour away with dorms/apartments that he will live in.  He is also fortunate that a great friend of his is also going their to play baseball and will be his roommate.    Of his core group of high school friends, all are leaving town to play either college football or baseball.   So that has helped.  Another huge selling point is the JUCO coach.  A former MLB pitcher who seems to really care about his players/recruits.   When my son goes up to visit with him or to watch practice the coach will call to check on if he got home o.k.   Another factor my son wanted was ZERO college debt.  With 100% tuition and books for the first two years it looks like that will happen.  I am also partial to JUCO since I am a professor at one (not the one he is going to).    Finally, with further development (got to get that fastball faster because from what I have seen that is all that matters), he will hopefully get picked up by a four year school.  So Toolman congrats to your son and I hope he has a great two years!!

Great advice by others.  If those doubts are weighing heavily, his level of motivation and commitment will quite likely not be enough to get him through the grind of college baseball.  That said, I think many do weigh that concern along the process. 

One of my sons in a similar situation stumbled upon a great "compromise".  He went to a JC in San Diego but found housing very near SD State and managed to partake in many of the big D1 experiences while there.  Win, win.  Without that type of arrangement, your son is correct... the typical JC experience is not the same as the typical big D1 experience.  How important is the opportunity to compete in college baseball to him?  Significant sacrifices will be made.

I would caution expectations though.  It is uncommon for a player to enter JC pegged as a D3 talent to emerge as a D1 target.  The majority of these types of players end up D2, NAIA or done.  And, as others have mentioned, most players underestimate the level of competition going in at decent JC programs.  

What you described with your son is similar to what I am dealing with. The JUCO is in the same city that we live in and the university he would attend if he doesn't play baseball is in the city we live in. So, my thought is he could still get that "college experience", live in apartments with the baseball team, and attend the football games, tailgate, "party", etc. I've had the financial talk with him and tried to get him to understand that component of his decision.

I appreciate all the replies.

 

I have not read any responses so if this is a repeat, I apologize. 

That’s really a tough one. I get both sides of the argument but I have repeatedly told my son to TRY not make life changing decisions based on his high school friends. Now, I know how difficult that is for 17 year old but he has to pursue his dreams and sometimes that’s a lonely journey for a season.

Social media may change this but most people are not friends with kids they went to high school with. Most of the folks that I know developed lifelong friendships with people who they went to college with or afterwards. 

The flipside of that is if he will be miserable without the true college experience, is it worth it?

Lastly, I hope this isn’t the case of its “D1 or bust” because if he loves the game, he’ll definitely regret not playing. 

I sometimes wonder how many kids who dream of playing college ball have any idea what is the schedule in a day in the life of a college baseball player. That the schedule is so tight there isn’t time for eight hours of sleep. There are mid week road games with bus trips that arrive back on campus late. There are weekend series where the team bus arrives back on campus at 3am and the player needs to get a signature from the professor of his 8am class to prove he showed up. If he doesn’t keep his grades up none of this will matter. On the bus a bored teammate majoring in basket weaving will be pinging his ears from behind as he tries to study.

If a kid is on the fence he needs to understand what he’s getting into. Otherwise he will quickly fall off the fence to the no play side as soon as something doesn’t go his way. 

The other consideration is transferring credits from the Juco. There has been many threads about this, Many ball players have gone the JUCO route and found out that they do not have enough credits transfer, to qualify, or they did not take the right classes at the JUCO. I do not know anything about the JUCO your son is considering, so I am not pointing fingers. However a large part of that responsibility, falls to the athlete and not the coaching staff. 

But to play College ball is a huge commitment. If he is waffling about it, I would caution against it. There are two kinds of Regrets here. I wish I would have played ball, and I wish I would had time to enjoy the rest of the college experience. He has to balance what is important to him. Not anyone else. 

I went through this myself, for myself.  I grew up in south Texas and when I was graduating my friends were all making plans to go to Texas or aTm. I had the opportunity to play JUCO ball out in west Texas and I took it.  The school was in the middle of nowhere and was the complete opposite of the big/ D1 college experience.  While there I thought it was awful.

However, as my 50+ year old self looks back, I would not trade it for anything.  I have lifelong friends from those days.  And, yes, I often wonder how it would be if I made the other decision.

I guess my point is that he will have wonder/ regret with either decision.  He will also remember fondly about the decision he did make.  I think in the long run he wins either way.

>>> I wish I would have had time to enjoy the rest of the college experience. <<<

I felt this way when I finished playing college ball. I asked both kids if they felt it when they were done. They did. But like me with a chance to do it over they would choose to play again.

Both kids spent their summer after college graduation at the shore having a good time. They worked summer type beach jobs and played. They had spent every summer since age eleven with baseball/softball being the primary summer activity. We went on vacations in August. But baseball/softball always came first.

To quote my son, “I’m going to have a few beers this summer. In my more lucid moments I’ll create a game plan to find a job in the fall.” In August he informed me he already had a job lined up to start in September. It was from his previous summer internship.

In most cases the "college experience" that baseball players have is vastly different from the "college experience" that regular students have.  After 4 years of college, my son ended up with very few friends within his major, let alone the general student population.  His circle of friends was basically his teammates and their girlfriends.  As a friend of mine puts it, when you're playing college baseball, baseball is your frat.  I tend to be anti-frat, but I get his point. 

After 4 years, son was one engineering project class from getting his degree.  He had to go back for one extra semester, which the school paid for.  He called it his Victory Lap.  He also told me that until that semester he never realized exactly how much of the typical "college experience" he missed.  

I've known a number of kids who played a year of DII ball and decided that playing a little baseball at their 2d, 10th, or 47th choice was simply not worth forgoing the "college experience."  I get that.  But, I also understand the kids that make the opposite decision.  Bottom line, college baseball isn't for everyone.  Either way, I don't see it as something they, or their parents should lose any sleep other.  Make a decision and move on.  Or, as Satchel Paige said, "Never look back, something might be gaining on you."

 

TheToolMan posted:

Thanks C2019. I think he feels like he is missing out on the true college experience that his friends are going through. He is fine with the JUCO offer. I think its just hard when all of his friends are making roommate plans, etc and he might go down a different path if he wants to play baseball next year. 

His friends are missing out on the baseball experience 😉

My 2018 faced a similar situation.  He decided to go to the D1 school (out of state) he wanted for career and experience reasons.  Went through fall tryouts (team was already full) and club ball (should have stuck, but team prioritized less skilled upperclassmen).  When local JUCO rosters came out, I asked if he regretted his decision (local JUCO coach indicated he'd start right away if he came)...he replied 'absolutely not.'  He indicated based on the JUCO roster, he knew he was good enough to play college Baseball.  Net-net, Baseball is likely over.  However, he's thoroughly enjoying his college experience.  To each his own.  My 2018 realized he was likely not going to play pro ball, and did not want to attend lesser schools (JUCO + likely D2/lowD1) and essentially extend his High School experience.  He wanted to get going on the career end and realize the full college experience.  Tough on Dad---I miss the Baseball, but glad that in his mind he made the right choice.

My son is a 2019 HS grad from Calif.  He started his freshman year saying he'd played "anywhere" as long as it was a D1.  By the time he was a Junior, he really narrowed down his focus to West Coast, and southwest "ish", found some D2 schools, too.  As we did college visits and spoke to current and past players, coaches, and minor league guys , he realized there's a trade-off to being a college athlete. 

The trade off is college experience vs. athlete.  College experience is frat/sorority parties, pre and post football game parties, weekend trips, etc.  Athlete experience...well let's just say they own you from 5am to 11pm.  You're either sleeping, studying, lifting(or conditioning), hitting, throwing, watching film, practicing playing, traveling and getting in 4500 calories a day.

He knows this, and accepts it.  His love and passion for baseball far exceeds the other experiences.  This was something "he" decided.  Your comment, "I am afraid he will regret not playing baseball down the road.", is admirable.  But, the other side of the coin is if you push him into playing college baseball and he regrets the school and regiment, then what?

Lastly, the JUCO road has many advantages, too.  My son will be on scholarship at a Big West Conference college next year.  The baseball team has several JUCO transfers, and during our college visits, many coaches like the transfers, and at times, seek them out, too.

Bottom-line, there's no simple answer.  You know your son the best.  Just help guide him so he understands his options and decisions.  When the dust settles, sounds like either way, he'll have a good education which is what we all want, anyway.

@Dad H Thanks for your reply. I appreciate you sharing your experience with me. Please understand, I am not trying to push him either way. I will support him regardless. I just feel like he will regret not playing.  But, if he decides not to play I will be okay with it. 

@AD2018 My son's dream is to play D1 baseball and JUCO is a very viable route to go where we live. I just would love for him to "try" the JUCO route and if it doesn't work out then leave it. If he leaves it, the 4 year school he would go to has a nationally ranked club team that he could play on, if he wanted to.

He'll be fine either way, Was curious how others might have handled it.

Toolman a comment above about “lesser” schools got my BP up a little.  I come on this site and see all the HA, Ivy, etc.... discussion, the 33 ACT scores, the 4.0 high school GPA etc..... they should be proud and grateful that their sons have excelled in the classroom.  There are a few of us (sometimes I feel like the only one on here) who has an average kid, no stellar ACT, no academic high school accolades, etc.... I will say this about my “average” kid: he is extremely well rounded, well liked by his teachers and coaches, loved by his Alzheimer’s grandmother who he visits weekly, and has a plethora of close friends, and so far (knock on wood) has not caused us any trouble whatsoever. I’m a fan of Dave Ramsey.    He and I both agree that going into extreme debt to go to a “prestigious” college is a big mistake. My son had a private D1 in neighboring state looking at him....$50,000 plus a year. 25% of that just won’t cut it for two educator parents.  As I said above I am JUCO biased since I teach at one.  In my experience, the first two years are the same classes no matter where you are.  My state guarantees that JUCO courses will transfer to a four year school in our state. The BIGGEST difference is that the instructor at the JUCO has ONE job and that is to teach!  Class sizes are small, no GTA who you cannot understand a word they are saying, etc... Rant over, for those of us with “average” sons JUCO is a very attractive route!

As a father whose son went the JuCo route, I'll just add it's not a bad route to go.   Not everyone gets the opportunity to attend and play for Ivy's or P5 D1's (or D1's in general).  Our son was a slightly above average student (2.9 GPA), but a very good baseball player.   Ended up at a JuCo 250 miles from home.  Qualified for a State Grant that covered 95% of his tuition.   Outside of that his expenses were just for books, room (Apartment), food and gas.   This helped alot as our funds were limited.  No way we could afford a 4 year university tuition.

While a JuCo is not the ultimate college experience, it IS a college.  And yes the first two years are basically the same courses one would take at a 4 year university or college.   The experience is what you make of it.  At first son concentrated on studies and baseball, but by the end of the first semester he was attending basketball games and finding other things to do on campus when time permitted.

Baseball wise he made the most of it.  Managed to eventually earn a spot on the travel team in the fall - out of 35 on the roster only 25 go on away games.  Also earned a spot as the DH for most games and played some games at his position (1B).   His sophomore year he was a team leader batting over .300, was the starting 1B and hit 27 doubles (2nd highest in the nation among DII JuCo's).  That stat got him noticed by a DII university who eventually offered a nice scholarship where he did well - batted over .300, hit 6 HR's, hit 12 doubles, all conference (1st team) and also the team won their conference championship.  JuCo can be very competitive ball.  Sadly after one year at the DII university he gave up baseball (did not extend the scholarship as his grades slipped), but he is now in his last semester at another university and should have his Bachelor's by the end of this summer.

Sports aside, my second daughter graduated from a local JuCo and went on to a big 4 year in state university.   All her courses transferred to a state program that guarantees acceptance and course transfer for JuCo students who maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA while at Junior College.  She went on to earn a BA and now works for a DoD contractor doing work for the Navy.   Makes almost as much as I do after only 4 years.

So yes, JuCo can be a good route.

@FoxDad @stayfocused: If it was up to me and if I were my son, I would go to the JUCO and play baseball, see what happens, hopefully move onto a D1 or D2 school after a year or two. JUCO would also keep his college expenses down and help him and me in the long run. I went to a JUCO and transferred after 2 years, and didn't have student loans. Again, we'll see what happens. Time will tell. He starts his senior season in 2 weeks. I pray he gets off to a fast start, does well, and helps his team win.

We have a lot of kids from my son's class who went JUCO. The schools here now have related apartments, so everyone, whether an athlete or not, picked a roommate and had that "college" experience.

On the flip side — the thing that scared me about the JUCO was one coach was showing us around his school and bragging that he wasn't required to recruit to fill a dorm, so beware of that. We also saw some very high quality baseball, so JUCO may have a lot of numbers of whom few are the stars destined for time and attention and D1 offers later.

Finally, my son is in his first year AT a college, but he's listed as a sophomore due to the high number of AP and dual credit classes he took while in HS. We eventually decided that academically, the JUCO was barely good for a year for him.

TheToolMan posted:

... I just would love for him to "try" the JUCO route and if it doesn't work out then leave it. If he leaves it, the 4 year school he would go to has a nationally ranked club team that he could play on, if he wanted to.

He'll be fine either way, Was curious how others might have handled it.

Toolman, just be aware that "trying it" may very well cost him an additional year of schooling.  I, too, am a proponent of JC in the right circumstances as all three of mine used JC to knock off some of their general course work.  However, in each case, some classes/units were lost due to those being "not transferable" despite assurances from guidance counselors going in.  Each had to spend an additional year or more catching up at the back end.  Guaranteed transfers are typically only to one or very few associated 4-yr schools.  The rest is a crapshoot.  If your son is going JC primarily with the hope of going D1 for baseball, the chances of the right D1 (with regard to academic unit transfer) matching up with program need and interest in him as a player are extremely slim.  As part of the process, do the math on losing an academic year.  Be sure to include the lost wages as a degreed worker.

 

TheToolMan, for what it's worth, your son could start college as a general student for the traditional college experience and could still possibly change his mind later on.  

I recently consulted with the parent of a player who went to a major Division I university for his first three years of college but was missing baseball competition.  He had still been playing on summer teams and decided last summer that he wanted to play in his final two years of college.

WIth the help of his summer coach, he reached out to D2 and NAIA coaches, was seen by a D2 assistant and will now be playing for that program for his remaining two years of eligibility.    

TheToolMan posted:

@cabbagedad : You make a great point. In NC, our JUCO's have strong ties to the universities. The universities easily accept coursework from the JUCO's. I don't think we've got that to worry about, but thank you for bringing it up. 

Also make sure you take advantage of any dual enrollment options or AP classes in your high school. My 2018 is a sophomore academically in college due to the credits that he brought in with him — all completely free of charge.

@Rick at Informed Athlete As of yesterday, my son committed to play at a JUCO. Your story is very interesting to me. I haven't heard too many players do what you described in your post. Good for him on changing his path and playing college baseball.

@Iowamom23 My son has also taken advantage of duel enrollment his senior year. So, he will bring some college credits with him next year. Definitely the way to go! 

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