Thanks to Nolan Pender for taking the time to answer questions about his recruiting process. Nolan has recently committed to Bellarmine University, they are getting a great player and a great young man. Current prospects can learn from Nolan's interview about his journey toward a "great fit" commitment.
Trent: How did you establish initial contact with the school to which you committed?
Nolan: I filled out Recruiting Questionnaire on their website and followed that up with an email within a few days. They responded back within a day or so and said if I had a real interest in them, I should come to their camp the next weekend.
Trent: What other ways did you establish initial contact (with other schools)? What worked for you, and what did not work?
Nolan: Much of the time coaches reached out to me. They said they had seen me in showcases or Summer tournaments. Some were calls. Some were texts.
Trent: Was it difficult making contact at first? Did it get easier?
Nolan: I didn't start talking to coaches much until after my Junior year. It was definitely difficult at first. It's like most things - it gets easier the more coaches you talk to.
You usually talk to the team's Recruiting Coordinator and they are almost always great at making you feel at ease.
Trent: Did you have a recruiting video that you shared? Who made it? Did it help, and how could it have been better?
Nolan: I did have a recruiting video and updated it multiple times during my recruitment. The video was made up of clips my dad had taken at games and different showcases. We also had footage from bullpens. During Summer tournaments with the Vipers, a couple of the parents had GoPros they would attach to the screen behind home plate. I had some of the best hitting footage from those. It definitely helped. I had my video posted multiple places online and sent a link to coaches when I was emailing them. You want a complete video posted online, so it's easy for coaches to access. I had one video made by a recruiting service, but most of them were done by my Dad. One thing that would have made my videos better would be more pitching and more fielding. When we started getting clips together, we realized we had a whole lot of hitting and not much else. It wasn't until much later that my video had a balanced amount of hitting, pitching and fielding.
Trent: What helped you more in getting recruiting interest - competitive tournaments, individual showcase events, college camps or some other type of event? Why?
Nolan: For me, it was all those things. I talked to coaches who said they had seen me in tournaments and others that said they had seen me in showcase events. Twitter helped some too. The Vipers posted video several times from Summer tournaments that I know coaches saw. With Bellarmine, it was their camp. They hadn't seen me play very much so the camp was a chance for them to get a better look at me.
Trent: Did you have any moments while being watched on the field where you did not perform well? How did you react? How did the performance and the reaction impact the recruitment?
Nolan: I definitely had moments where I didn't do well. If you have a bad game and let it get to you it's never good. Coaches don't want to see that. I had a coach come to watch a game where I was the starting pitcher and it didn't go well. I just didn't have my best stuff that day. He said even though I had an off day, he still would be recruiting me. He said he saw what he needed to see. You never know exactly what a coach is looking for when they watch you play. It's more than just balls and strikes.
Everybody has bad days in baseball. It's part of it. You just cannot let it get to you and you just have to keep working.
Trent: Did you have any "lessons learned" from your social media habits (good or bad)?
Nolan: I don't post a lot on social media. Twitter helped some. I was mentioned during showcases and tournaments and that was a good thing.
Trent: How did your Vipers team help you during the process?
Nolan: The Vipers were a huge help. I know college coaches who were recruiting me talked to my Viper coaches to find out more about me. My profile page on the Vipers Recruiting website had all my info and video. Several coaches contacted me because of what they saw on my profile page. Like I said before, Twitter was great. The Vipers do a great job promoting their players.