Welcome to Interview #45.
I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of NAIA Baseball Coach of Bethel College (Indiana), Seth Zartman.
Seth Zartman heads into his 13th season as the head coach of the Bethel Pilots baseball team and his 17th year coaching overall.
Why do you think athletes should consider an NAIA college? What are the benefits of an NAIA school specifically?
I believe the biggest reason that comes into play for athletes is the opportunity to be able to participate right away in a freshman season.
Most athletes that are recruited to our institutions are done so with the belief from the coaches that they could contribute right away. To this point though, the athlete has to earn the opportunity to be on the field, but generally is going to have equal consideration given to him as a veteran player would.
I think another benefit relates to the opportunity that coaches have to spend a lot of time off the field outside of baseball with players to experience other things than just field preparation for competition.
What can or should high school athletes do from their end to get on your radar screen? If a baseball player personally contacts you by phone or email, what will you do next?
They should be willing to market themselves in a couple of ways. They could approach their high school coach and ask him to send a letter to us on the athlete’s behalf. Most of the time, the high school coach will give his own summary of the player and his abilities.
Another way to get on our radar is to make a three to six-minute video showcasing what they do, whether pitching, hitting, position play, or all the above. Then, they can send it with an email introducing themselves.
A potential player can also send us a summer schedule and we have the opportunity to watch them if they are within reasonable driving distance.
If I am contacted directly by a potential athlete, I will start the process of getting information on him. I will get grade and test score information, contact his coach if I have not heard from them, and gauge the sincere interest in our college and baseball program.
Could you share, in whatever detail you are comfortable, what the athletic scholarship break down looks like on your roster?
We work under a scholarship system that primarily relies on academic and need base aids. Roughly 98% of our roster falls under one or both of these categories. Roughly 30% of our roster receives an extra Athletic Appeal Scholarship on top of the academic and or need base monies.
Should prospective athletes bring up scholarships with coaches or wait on the coach to initiate that discussion?
I have no problem with athletes bringing up the scholarship discussion. In fact, this is one of the first things that is discussed in any recruiting situation with us.
This allows me to totally explain our situation that we work with and sometimes, unfortunately, is a deal breaker whether a potential athlete will continue to seek out our institution as a legit possibility for them.
What are some things that would keep you from recruiting a player?
–Poor attitude or work ethic evidenced on field or in the classroom.
–Poor academic performance through high school.
–I feel that parent wants to be involved too much in thinking they have the right to dictate playing time.
–Skill level is not where we think it should be for college play.
–Just don’t have a roster spot for that particular skilled position in that particular recruiting class.
What is the role of the parent in the recruiting process?
To help their son realize the benefit of the whole institution, not just the baseball program. Looking at academic picture (size of classes, professor’s, major offerings, etc.), campus life, and overall community. Helping them to understand that if their athletic career is cut short for whatever reason, can they still say they are at the place they should be and want to be. Also, to determine if our institution lines up for what they can do financially.
How should baseball players use video of themselves during the recruiting process? What type of video helps college baseball coaches the most?
Any player that has aspirations to play college baseball should make a short video (3 to 6 minutes) showcasing the skill sets they do well. Sending game video is not a help to coaches, unless it is edited and cut into a short video showcasing that player’s skill sets.
I personally prefer either a well put together youtube video, or one done by a recruiting agency, such as NCSA, PBR, or BeRecruited. These types of videos show us exactly what we want to see.
Bethel College is a Christian school. Will all Christian schools be similar? What are differences that recruits should think about when choosing a religious school?
I think there are a lot of Christian schools that are similar in the types of atmosphere a student athlete will experience in their time on campus. In Bethel’s case, a student is going to experience all things from a Christian world view based on God’s word, the Bible. I think this is one of the differences a student can expect from a secular situation.
Another difference would be rules or stances on living situations, regulated dorm policies on opposite sex visitations, policies regarding curfew, and policies regarding tobacco, alcohol, and drug use. Also, expectations on how individuals are conducting themselves in society when they are away from campus.
What should players expect from a Christian college athletic experience?
A well-rounded experience on and off the playing field. The opportunity to be involved in team building activities off the field of play together. These things can be classified as community outreach or service opportunities, retreats a way from campus, team meals at Coach’s house, and a variety of other things. They also have the opportunity to be involved in campus life and activities outside of baseball, and have the time and schedule to do it.
Let’s not forget though, the opportunity to play baseball at a high level each and every day in a very competitive Crossroads League.
You have been with Bethel for over a decade. You have had a lot of great athletes come through. How do you see collegiate baseball impacting an athlete’s life?
I believe the biggest impact is being able to enhance a relationship with your teammates on a daily basis. Developing those relationships into genuine friendships that form a brotherhood for a lifetime. The sharing of good times or facing the bad times when adversity hits hard.
The impact of having core values in attitude, effort, focus, and most importantly loving and serving those around you. I have seen these values carried in many ways by our athletes out in to the working world. I have seen the impact of giving and serving demonstrated by many over and over as they have become quality citizens in their communities.
The qualities of commitment and sacrifice played out as they become husbands and fathers.
Bonus Question: Is there anything important that you would like to share directly with high school athletes or baseball players in particular as they navigate the recruiting process?
I would like to emphasize these two things:
–Make sure to give high priority to your academic performance navigating through the years of high school.
–Make sure that as you are visiting your college interests, to not make your college choice decision based solely on the opportunity to play baseball at that particular institution.
Coach Zartman has seen many professions represented from his players. They have gone on to medical school, apprenticeships, the business world, professional baseball, and the list goes on. To see former players being productive, well-rounded citizens makes Coach Zartman proud to have the opportunity to be a coach.
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