Interview With William Peace University Softball Coach

Interview With William Peace University Softball Coach

Sep 10, 2015 / By : / Category : Interview, NCAA

William Peace Softball

Welcome to Interview #22.

I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of NCAA Division 3 Softball Coach of William Peace University, Charlie Dobbins.

This is by far the best information you can find about NCAA Division 3 schools. Regardless of sport, you need to read this before you make up your mind for or against Division 3 schools.

Coach Dobbins begins his 17th season at William Peace University.

As the original architect of the William Peace University softball program, Charlie Dobbins built the program at WPU from the ground up, establishing the Pacers as a consistent contender in the USA South Athletic Conference.

In 16 seasons under Dobbins, WPU has won an average of more than 20 games per year while producing 47 USA South All Conference and 11 NFCA All Region selections, as well as 127 Academic All-Conference and 54 Academic All American members. Coach Dobbins achieved a coaching milestone in 2014 with his 300th career win.

Coach Dobbin’s full bio is at the end of the interview.

Read on. This interview is full of priceless information!

Where do Division 3 softball coaches most often find players for their teams?

Our recruiting process is the same as Division I and Division II. We have our own set of rules that dictate contact and communication. I myself work various Institution and non-institution camps during the summer, hold various winter camps at an indoor facility and attend recruit and show case events nationally.

What can or should high school athletes do from their end to get on your radar?

Communicate…

If you really want to play softball in college, make sure you and your parents don’t waste one minute sitting around talking about how great a player you are; don’t compare yourself to other athletes and assume just because they got a scholarship, you’re bound to be offered one. Finding a job might be the most important thing in your life once you graduate college, so make your college and team search a practice run. Develop a plan of action; investigate all opportunities and listen to all suggestions; be assertive and willing to work hard; and, most importantly, never give up.

Assuming that you are academically and athletically on track to compete in college, I guarantee you will find a team to play for if you meet these three criteria:

1). You, the athlete, want to play softball in college because you love the game and want more than anything else to continue competing. You must want to play for yourself, not for mom or dad, your coaches, or because your friends are doing it.

2). You and your family are willing to do whatever it takes to find a team, including putting lots of work into your college search if necessary.

3). You and your family are willing to look at lots of different options, i.e., you should consider all types of softball teams and find the one that offers you the chance to make a contribution while at the same time, allowing you to provide the path to get the education you need.

What are the important steps for an athlete to get noticed by you?

Show you have the mental and physical attributes to be a part of my program.

“Why do you want to play?”   “What drives you to play?”

Most players really have fun playing this game. Some can’t think of playing anything else. All want to continue playing in college. You all have different reasons for playing, but if you are going to spend all this time at practices and games, you might as well develop an attitude to get better. This is where your coach cannot help you. This is where your parents cannot help you. This is where your teammates cannot help you.

Your dedication comes from within. You cannot become the best you can be if you find excuses not to improve. You cannot improve if you find excuses not to practice at home. You cannot improve if you do not or cannot honestly evaluate your mistakes, take responsibility for your own deficiencies and work to improve them.

I coached at the Division III level for seven years, one of the biggest  concerns from parents was financial. Parents believe because Division  III does not offer athletic scholarships they can’t afford it. What would you say to these parents?

The emphasis on getting the coveted “college scholarship” should not over shadow the main reason for attending college; which should be to create a path of success through the education for the rest of your life while giving you a chance to continue your athletic career for another 4 years. Being a star athlete Is a dream that everyone who has ever played a competitive sport strives for. The cold hard reality is that there are a lot of “star athletes”, all with the same dreams.

The NCAA regulates the number of scholarships that Division I and Division II are allowed to award. The distribution of these monies changes yearly as kids graduate and new players cycle into a program. The number for Division I is around 12, and Division II is around 7. Most teams carry 24-28 players. This is also assuming that the programs are fully funded, which means their University supports them with full scholarship dollars. Athletic conferences can also limit the amount of scholarship dollars per sport in an effort to maintain competitive balance. Division III does not award any monies based on athletic potential. All of their monies merit and need based.

Schools are not limited in the amount of financial aid they can grant to individuals. The monies are academic performance based, and do not discriminate between athletes and non-athletes. 98% of the students (athletes and non-athletes) receive financial aid while attending college. Other monies can be awarded after the parents have completed the FAFSA and the family EFC (estimated family contribution) is generated. This is where any need-based monies are awarded (i.e. Pell, Stafford, etc.), based on a family’s income.

Athletic scholarships are limited on availability and renewable every year. Merit based awards are for 4 years and are renewed every year as long as the student meets the minimum grade point average determined by the school. If you eliminate all schools without athletic scholarships, you eliminate nearly half of your options for college softball. Parents and players should ask themselves…. which is more important… my ego or my wallet? An education is one of the greatest gifts you can give or receive. If someone offers you any way to pay for part of your education, take the money and run! Start the process early when looking at schools…ask hard questions to the coaches involved. Understand the requirements of attendance and those of eligibility.

One last point, Division I is only an athletic level, not a measure of the quality of academic programs. Secondly…Are you really good enough to play Division I sports, or will you be stuck on a bench or practice squad when you could be playing at another school at the Div. II or Div. III level? Take time to honestly assess your talent against the level of play on the field.

Last but not least, take care of the academics in high school. A 3.0 GPA in high school usually means a 2.0 the first semester of college, which means you are barely eligible to play at any level. Take the time and look at a list of Div. III schools; (M.I.T., Emory, NYU, Williams, Tufts, etc.) They all have 2 things in common, high academics and high athletics. Also, forget about Division I if you want to major in any medical field, education or other time sensitive major. They want liberal arts psychology majors.

The other concern I heard was that because there are no athletic scholarships at Division 3, the level of play will be too low for their child. Is the level of play low?

Honestly, when I hear this, it usually means that that dad or mom doesn’t have a clue about the level of play and they as a family have not done the hard work to look at all options. If I had a dollar for every rising senior that visits me and then tells me they are “waiting on an offer” from a Division I school, I would be very comfortable somewhere on a beach. In today’s world, Division 1 schools are recruiting 3-4 classes out, which means if you finish your sophomore year of high school, and don’t have an offer on the table, then there will not be a division I offer coming. The level of play is based on a lot of factors, and most kids do not understand how to truly play the game.

Why do you think athletes should consider Division 3? What are the benefits?

Division III athletics provides a well-rounded collegiate experience that involves a balance of rigorous academics, competitive athletics, and the opportunity to pursue the multitude of other co-curricular and extra-curricular opportunities offered on Division III campuses.

Division III playing season and eligibility standards minimize conflicts between athletics and academics, allowing student-athletes to focus on their academic programs and the achievement of a degree.

Division III offers an intense and competitive athletics environment for student-athletes who play for the love of the game, without the obligation of an athletics scholarship.

Division III athletics departments place special importance on the impact of athletics on the participants rather than on the spectators. The student-athlete’s experience is of paramount concern.

Division III athletics departments are dedicated to offering broad-based programs with a high number and wide range of athletics participation opportunities for both men and women.

Division III places primary emphasis on regional in-season and conference competition, while also offering 36 national championships annually.

Division III affords student-athletes the opportunity to discover valuable lessons in teamwork, discipline, perseverance, and leadership, which in turn make student-athletes better students and responsible citizens.

Division III features student-athletes who are subject to the same admission standards, academic standards, housing, and support services as the general student body. The integration of athletics with the larger institution enables student-athletes to experience all aspects of campus life.

Division III encourages student-athletes to take advantage of the many opportunities available to them, both within and beyond athletics, so that they may develop their full potential as students, athletes, and citizens.

Similar question, why should student athletes  consider  Division  3?  How does the Division  3  experience  differ  from  the  Division  1  and  2 experiences?

Athletics competition at more than 1,000 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada is governed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which maintains three divisions to offer “level playing fields” for the smallest liberal arts colleges and the most committed and funded major-university athletics programs.

The largest division in terms of number of schools and number of participants is Division III, comprising more than 180,000 student-athletes representing more than 445 colleges and universities.

Most people think of Division III as the colleges and universities that don’t give scholarships. More than 80 percent of Division III student-athletes receive financial aid or have earned a merit scholarship for academic talent and accomplishment. But Division III student-athletes receive no such aid for playing their sport.

The students on the intercollegiate teams of Division III member schools come to college for an education and they play for the love of the game. Our student-athletes compete not because they expect a financial reward or even in the hopes of being featured in the media, but because they are driven to excel. Without million-dollar coaches and multi-million dollar revenues, the challenge and commitment to do their best is personal.

At the same time, student-athletes at Division III institutions share many characteristics with the much more visible scholarship athletes at Division I and II schools: they work just as hard in practice and compete just as intensely; they strive to win, and through competition, they learn lessons about discipline, leadership and teamwork. They are passionate about their sport.

How important is 3rd party recruiting companies such as CaptainU & BeRecruited for you in finding an athlete?  Are they a benefit to the high school athletes?

Personally, to me they are a waste of money. I receive 5-10 shotgun emails daily with the same information and only a different name. Those get deleted without reading them. My school had a name change 4 years ago. I still get emails with the old name, those get deleted too.   As I said before, treat it like your first job search. Do the leg work and find out what is “BEST FOR YOU, THE STUDENT ATHLETE”. Be selfish in this approach. Coaches hear NO all the time, they will be ok.

Overall, I would personally avoid a recruiting service. From everyone that I have seen, they really have done very little to help the athlete. If the athlete and their family take a proactive approach and markets themselves to college coaches, you can do it much cheaper. And at the same time, you are building an even stronger bond between your families.

What should recruits and their parents keep their eyes open for when they are on a campus visit?

Make sure it is a good fit for you…Come watch them play, understand and imagine yourself playing within the culture of the team. Use social media responsibly and talk with your potential new teammates. Get to know the assistant coaches. Most likely they will have direct responsibility, to you or your position. If you do all this, you will know when you have found your college home.

Do Division 3  teams  have  athletic  trainers?  What  is  their  role  with  the team?

All College teams are monitored by trained professional athletic trainers. They monitor physical and mental health, as well as work hard to keep athletes “in the game “. They are also responsible for many areas of NCAA required compliance and training. These include concussion protocols, mental health, and other critical components specific to a college athlete’s well-being.

What does the off-season, spring season and summer look like for a Division 3 Softball player?

As mentioned before, a Div. III program and coaching staff has 19 weeks in which they can work with their respective teams. Personally I break mine down as follows: Non-traditional fall season run 5 weeks during the fall semester. Focus will be on team building as the new and returning players start to interact with each. We focus on skill development and physical health. We will practice 14 times, play in one fall tournament and host our annual alumni game. Once this is over, all academic requirements remain, but we as coaches no longer have contact specific to sport or skill development.

We will start Spring practice immediately upon returning from Christmas break. Our first non-conference and early season tournament games start mid-February and we will have 14-16 games in by March 1st. Conference play will start in March and the conference championships are hosted the 3rd weekend of April. Conference Tournament champions advance to the Division III National championship the 2nd weekend of May as regional play starts. Advancing teams move on to super-regionals and finally to the National Championships. Division III uses the same format as Division I.

Summer play is encouraged but not required. We as a sport need to do a better job of creating summer play opportunities for our student athletes.

Talk about any NCAA restrictions as they apply. Talk about time commitments.

Division III allows the coaching staffs to work with their athletic teams 19 weeks during the school year. Division I and II have different rules. We practice 6 days a week, as per NCAA rules, all divisions, an athlete must be given 1 day off every 7 days. We do weights at 600 am, and work team practices in the afternoon. All athletes are required to complete study hall and tutoring hours.

Your players are consistently getting high GPA’s. How are they able to balance athletics and academics? What are some keys to their success?

The role of athletics in higher education should be to provide a support system that will promote academic success, a positive athletic experience, and overall personal growth for the student athlete. I believe participation in athletics should be a positive experience in which the physical welfare of the student-athlete is paramount. The primary emphasis of the athletic program should be placed on enhancing the personal development of the student-athlete. I also recognize that winning is a legitimate objective, when achieved in an ethical manner.

Coaches should be considered educators and coaching is a specialized form of teaching. Their curriculum should stress the values of training, strategy, teamwork, vigorous competition, and winning and losing, which are all part of a sound educational experience. In addition, establish policies for sportsmanship and ethical conduct consistent with the educational goals of the institution. The goals of the intercollegiate athletic program should be sufficient to the challenge the abilities of the coaching staff, to merit the interest and support of the student body and school staff, and to command the respect of the communities in which we are located.

Athletics should be one part of the total educational experience at the College. Athletes are students and students are athletes. The athletic program exists only because the academic program exists, supporting it and not detracting from it. Participation on an athletic team is a privilege, which should be earned daily by the student athlete.

Athletics has a very important place in the educational process. We as coaches cannot make the mistake with our athletes by emphasizing that participating on an athletic team is the only place where success can be achieved. We need to create a balanced approach which rewards success in the classroom as while maintaining excellence on the playing field. The push to focus entirely on their particular sport at the expense of all other activities, gives our athletes an unhealthy emphasis on where to place commitment and hard work, when in reality we want our athletes to learn that such effort is required and the proper approach to everything in life. These are teaching points that we as coaches need to emphasize daily as they translate to success in all aspects of our athlete’s lives.

Bonus Question: Is there anything important that you would like to share directly with high school athletes or softball players in  particular  as  they navigate the recruiting process?

A check list of what to do, what not to do and “can they do that?”

The Good (The truths)

  1. You are allowed to make the first contact with programs you are interested in.
  2. Attending camps and showcase events enhance your opportunity of being seen.
  3. Assistant coaches are a great resource and in many instances have responsibility for recruiting.
  4. Coaches do check on your social media habits.
  5. College athletic experience creates leadership, pride and loyalty.
  6. Programs need depth, not superstars.
  7. Average D1 softball scholarship in 2014 was $14,713.00, DII 2014 was $7018.00
  8. Participating in college athletics creates lifelong friendships and contacts.

The Bad (The myths)

  1. I can walk on at the school of my choice and eventually get playing time
  2. College coaches can help me get in if I am not academically strong.
  3. If you receive a letter from a coach, you are getting recruited.
  4. My High School / Travel ball coach handles all my recruiting stuff.
  5. Recruiting starts senior year.
  6. If I’m a good player, the offers will come.
  7. It’s Division I or it is not worth my time.
  8. Not all student-athletes eligible for graduation from their high school are eligible by NCAA

Standards

The Ugly (The secrets)

  1. Forget about playing Division I and being a Pre-Med, Education or any other time-intensive major.
  2. Your Scholarship could disappear, based on your performance. They are 1 year awards.
  3. Your competition is nationwide and international.
  4. You’re going to work like a dog; 20 hour practice limit, plus “voluntary” conditioning and weights

and then there is class and study hall.

  1. Softball is an equivalency sport, which means it can award partial scholarships.

Profile:

Charlie DobbinsCharlie Dobbins begins his 17th season at William Peace University.

As the original orchestrator of the William Peace University softball program, Charlie Dobbins built the program at WPU from the ground up, establishing the Pacers as a consistent contender in the USA South Athletic Conference.

In 16 seasons under Dobbins, WPU has won an average of more than 20 games per year while producing 47 USA South All Conference and 11 NFCA All Region selections, as well as 127 Academic All-Conference and 54 Academic All American members. Coach Dobbins achieved a coaching milestone in 2014 with his 300th career win.

In addition to coaching at WPU, Dobbins has served on several committees including the NFCA/USA Today Division III Top 25 Committee, the NFCA Division III All-America and Coaching Staff of the Year Committee.

Coach Dobbins currently serves as the Atlantic Region Representative to the NCAA Division III National Softball Committee. His term runs through 2017.

Dobbins also helped organize William Peace University’s hosting of the 2005 and 2006 NCAA Division III National Championships, the only N.C.-based University to host a national championship at any level. He has been an integral part of orchestrating the annual Grand Slam Triangle Softball Classic as well, in which WPU has hosted numerous colleges and universities over the past ten years.

An accomplished softball player in his own right, Dobbins toured with the World famous King and His Court and King of Diamonds fast-pitch teams and helped retire the “Court” in 2011, ending a 65-year run of touring that covered over 4 million miles, 14,000 games, and over 100 countries. As their “catcher” the last 10 years, he caught the last pitch in the last game ever played.

Dobbins’ playing experience gives him a unique perspective and helps him communicate effectively with his players. He uses a hands-on approach with his team, focusing on goal-setting and player development.

Dobbins is a 1981 graduate of Roger Williams University (Division III) in Bristol Rhode Island where he played varsity baseball and football.

He resides in Raleigh with his wife, Lisa, where they own and operate the Grand Slam USA facility on Western Blvd in Raleigh, focusing on Softball, Baseball and Basketball training and instruction.

They have 2 grown children, Niki (Peace /’BS/06, NCSU – MS/11) and Corey (NCSU – BS/11).

Next, take a look at What are the Odds of Getting an Athletic Scholarship?

LIKE WHAT YOU READ?

You can get 90% of the information for free on this site. However, if you want all of the information in one place and logically laid out, The Recruiting Code book is for you.

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