How to Get Recruited Guide
Coahoma Softball

Interview with Coahoma CC Softball Coach

Welcome to Interview #69.

I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of NJCAA Softball Coach of Coahoma Community College, Erin Smith. Coahoma Community College is in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Coach Smith is a young driven coach. As both a coach and a player she has great insight into the benefits of community colleges and why athletes should consider playing at a two year institution before moving on to a four year college.

How do you find players for your team? What type of student and athlete do you focus on?

The biggest form of recruiting that I use is actual on the ground scouting. I have two assistants that travel to tournaments with me. We like to “divide and conquer.” Some weekends, depending the tournaments that are being played, I may send a coach to the southern half of the state in order to recruit and cover more ground.

I look for athletes that are very passionate about the game of softball. Athletes that have it in their heart to play this game and have a serious commitment to getting better and buying into the program objectives and goals. I am a firm believer in hard work, as is any other coach. I am willing to take the 3-Star athlete with a work ethic, than a 5-star athlete that has a poor attitude.

Why do you think athletes should consider a NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association)? What are the benefits of an NJCAA school specifically?

I think the NJCAA gives kids an opportunity to experience college and get their feet on the ground before entering a larger institution. I played two years at Jackson State Community College and if it were not for Coach Winders and the professors at JSCC I would have struggled in a bigger environment.

The NJCAA school offers much more than just a backup plan. I truly believe that the schools in the Junior College ranks are a place where athletes can find themselves as people and also prepare themselves for a four year institution. The development that you see at a NJCAA school is better than any junior varsity program at a NAIA school so to speak.

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

My advice to the high school athlete would be to find the schools of interest early and begin attending camps and sending schedules to the coaching staff. Express interest but also understand the rules of recruitment. There are guidelines for each level of play. Being an NJCAA school our rules are a little more relaxed than those of the D1 or D2 level.

Coahoma SoftballI normally talk to high school coaches and select team coaches in order to get a “lead”. I like to see video if the athlete is a certain distance from the school. I then begin following them throughout the summer and watch them from a distance and once I decide to recruit I make contact with them and invite them to visit. Then there is always that gritty kid that just pops up one weekend and you’re instantly impressed or you go watch a short stop and you end up offering a catcher that is twice as good.

What effect does social media have on your recruiting? Can you talk about players who you have either stopped recruiting or become more interested in based on their social media use?

Social media is a huge factor to whether or not I recruit an athlete. I do not think that inappropriate content on social media is an acceptable way to represent your institution and program.  

I happened to be scrolling through Twitter and on a whim I started to search some of the kids that I had been talking to regularly. I found that one had used curse words and had re-tweeted several inappropriate tweets. Without a second thought, I put a line through her name and continued my search.

I make sure that I tell my athletes that it’s very easy to form an opinion of someone, so don’t put anything on social media that will not jeopardize your reputation and the integrity of our program.

Could you share, in whatever detail you are comfortable, what the athletic scholarship break down looks like on your roster?

As a division two NJCAA institution, we are only allowed to give tuition and fees, which totals out to about $1375 a semester. The Pell Grant goes on top of that, which is a need based grant. That dollar amount is based on their parent’s income.

What is the role of the parent in the recruiting process?

The role of the parent is very important in my opinion. In my opinion, I believe that the parents should allow their child to choose the institution that they believe they will be happiest and most comfortable. Let’s be honest, they aren’t the one that has to get up every day and go to class and live on that campus. I also understand that parents will be the ones paying for everything, but in my own experience, student-athletes are most successful when they are happy. I think the support role that parents play is critical. It takes a lot of pressure off of the athlete if a parent is supportive and pushes them to do what they think is going to make them the happiest.

What does the off season, fall season and summer look like for a NJCAA softball player?

Fall workouts are spent getting in shape, working on the fundamentals, team chemistry, and fine tuning our skill sets. 

A lot of my athletes go home for the summer with a list of expectations of them and a workout plan to keep them in shape.

How does your school help players transition to a four year college? When looking at a 2 year school, what are some questions student athletes should ask regarding the help they will receive to get into a four year school and continue playing?

I believe that Junior Colleges do more than just help, they prepare. At Coahoma Community College we take pride in preparing our students inCoahoma Softball the classroom as well as the playing field. CCC has an articulation agreement with all of the institutions in the state of Mississippi that allows our students to transfer with ease.

We also recognize and participate in Phi Theta Kappa, which allows students who have a 3.5 GPA or higher to be considered honor students. CCC, in the transfer report that is done periodically, is consistently in the top 5 of all MACJC school. This means that transfer from CCC are in the top 5 of overall GPA.

As far as on the field, the MACJC conference is the one best Division II conferences. Physically and mentally we have to prepare to play each game one out at a time. I spend a lot of time with my athletes talking about mental toughness and perseverance as well as giving them the best fall workout plan that mimics what is done at a larger program.

What are some myths or misconceptions about junior colleges?

A common misconception about junior college players is that they aren’t good enough to play anywhere else. There are a lot of very talented athletes in the NJCAA.

Can you share a creed, quote or philosophy you try to instill into your athletes?

Don’t follow your heart, follow your passion. Your heart can be misleading; your passion will lead you to where you truly want to be in life.

I tell them that their passion will be fuel to happiness, and if they are passionate enough then they will do whatever it takes to be successful.

What are some of the things you are currently doing to create excellence in your program?

We spent a week before classes started taking about ways to communicate with other and creating a bond with each other and builds team chemistry. We will also be doing a leadership course with ROTC on campus.

Coahoma Softball
Coach Smith with player Jessica Haynes

I think skill training and workouts are great but if you feel as if you are a part of something that is bigger than you and you develop pride in what you do then it takes practice and conditioning to an entirely different level. 

You played at a community college and then went on to a four year school. What was your personal recruiting experience like to the community college and then to move on to a four year school?

The transition was tough going from a very public JUCO to a very private Christian college in small town Kentucky. My experience was great because I had a great coach there to guide me through the process. I stayed on top of my paperwork and the application process. I have a very different story when it comes to transferring because I felt as if it was the only choice but it turned out to be the best choice. I was left in limbo after my sophomore year, but came across a great opportunity because I didn’t give up.

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?

Don’t follow your heart, follow your passion. Your heart can be misleading; your passion will lead you to where you truly want to be in life.


Erin Smith is the softball coach at Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Coach Smith is a young driven coach. As both a coach and a player she has great insight into the benefits of community colleges and why athletes should consider playing at a two year institution before moving on to a four year college.

Next, take a look at Results and Responsibility.


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