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"You Can Sleep on the Plane"


Recruiting Tip #1 -- Recruiting Strategy

Lake Land College Softball Recruiting Strategy By: Nic Nelson, Head Softball Coach, Lake Land College At Lake Land College our roster will have up to 20 players on it at the beginning of any given year. Being a NJCAA Division 1 program each year we need to replace half our team. We begin recruiting by identifying what types of players are needed for a particular recruiting class. We have a depth chart by defensive positions, although we also factor in other important attributes we may lose with a graduating class. These consist of such things as speed, offensive power, slapping ability, left-handedness, leadership and versatility. After we identify our needs for a recruiting class we will fill one pitching, catching, shortstop and outfielder position by end of summer following a player's junior year in HS. This will leave 4 to 5 spots remaining to fill. Now having key positions covered we now have the ability to wait to see who is still available after the November NCAA early signing date. Recruiting here at Lake Land is an ongoing process. Having the ability to recruit a player that can help win at any time of the year is big. Some of our best players have come to us as late as July prior to the start of our school year. We enter each recruiting opportunity with a plan. Before attending a tournament, we contact coaches in order to hear their recommendations and also to help build rapport. We believe the best recruiters have a wide network of people they trust to keep them informed of top talent. Using a combination of coach recommendations, personal correspondence with athletes, and my knowledge of the relative competitiveness of certain teams, we will construct a schedule for which games and pre-game warm ups we should be attending at a certain time. Attempting to discover talent without a plan is both a waste of time and of the recruiting budget. Beside tournaments we use our own camps as a huge recruiting opportunity as well. We believe in watching a potential student athlete on at least three separate occasions in order to develop a well-rounded opinion of her abilities and her potential within the program. In our assessments we will watch a player from different perspectives around the field, including one where we can watch her interaction within the dugout. Aside from evaluating her athletic potential, we also take her perceived character into careful consideration. When we become interested in a potential student athlete, we will conduct a character and academic check on her. This also includes speaking with her coaches (and opposing coaches), teachers, counselors, principal, checking out her Facebook page, and extends to her interaction with my staff and our student athletes on her visit. ATHLETIC EVALUATION OF A POTENTIAL LLC STUDENT ATHLETE: In recruiting potential student athletes, we place my emphasis on visual evaluation and the potential for development within the program. Statistics are a factor, but not our main focus, in recruiting. Since statistics serve as a numerical representation of performance, one is lead to believe they are objective. However, many statistics are recorded subjectively. Unless a team has a highly educated scorekeeper, typically a parent is making the judgment between, for example, a hit and an error or a passed ball and a wild pitch. Over time, these judgments can significantly alter a player's batting average, earned run average, fielding percentage, etc. However, there are a few numbers we do find helpful in my initial evaluation of a potential student athlete. We believe the batter's on base percentage is a rather accurate indicator of their offensive success. Also, by using a stopwatch while recruiting, we our able to generate two other numbers we find very useful in my athletic evaluations: a catcher's pop time and a base runner's home-to-first time. A final stat that we look at is do they know how to WIN? Typically we recruit hitters with a strong emphasis up the middle. This means we are most often interested in watching pitchers, catchers, middle infielders, and the center fielder. The pitcher and catcher are more specialist positions, while the middle infielders and center fielder are usually the most versatile and athletic members of a team. With potential student athletes making decisions earlier, and the opportunity for changes within our program over the year, versatility is critical because we are not always certain of the positions we will actually need. The potential student athletes must also want to play on passed their two year at LLC. Although our focus tends to be up the middle, we do have a framework for what we expect from a potential student athlete for each position on the field. The following are guidelines, which we deviate from as necessary; especially is a player possesses desirable academic and character qualities. Pitcher: Our philosophy is simple up, down, change. Pitchers should have solid command of at least one up and down pitch that can move (rise, drop, screw, curve, change up) along with her fastball and change of speed pitches. She must throw hard enough to make her pitches more effectively, and should be consistent and accurate. (Our current pitchers fastballs are 60 to 65 mph). She must be able to field her position, including charging the bunt. As the player who controls the game's momentum, a pitcher must be poised and confident. Catcher: A catcher should have a consistent pop time 1.75 second or less as recorded by one of our staff member. She should have very few passed balls over a season. She should be a student of the game, and either be confident with calling pitches or be willing to learn how within our program. With her unique perspective facing the other direction on the field, she must be vocal and directing her teammates' defensive decisions. (Leadership and guts) First Base: A first baseman should be tall in order to compensate for poor throws. She must have quick enough reactions to charge a bunt down the first base line. Many players can be taught first base, so a first baseman must ensure their defensive position on the field by being one of the strongest hitters on the team. A power hitter at this position is most desirable, and a natural lefty would be ideal. Second Base: A second baseman must have quick instincts, as she must react accordingly to hitting, slapping and bunting situations. She should be fundamentally sound on ground balls with excellent range. Second baseman must also have a superior understanding of the game, as their split-second decisions will make or break a play. Shortstop: A shortstop must be an excellent defensive player with either great arm strength of an exceptionally quick release. She should have a glove-to-glove time to first base of 1.65 seconds or less; enough time to throw out a runner capable of getting down the line in 2.7 seconds or less. Ideally this player is the most athletic and versatile on the team, allowing her to play several positions in college. Our past and current short stops have 65+ mph overhand throws. Third Base: A third baseman must be tough and unafraid to play in tight when called upon. She must be capable of quick bursts forward and laterally, in order to charge bunts or cut off slaps in the hole. Like a shortstop, she should have a glove-to-glove time to first base of 1.65 seconds or less. Outfield: Our outfielders should be the fastest on our team with over hand velocity of 65+ mph. Someone with an incredible strong arm could replace a speedy outfielder in certain circumstances and vice versa, but quick players are needed out there in order to cover a lot of ground. She should field fly balls with confidence, and should rarely make a poor throw to a base. An outfielder should never have an error due to a dropped fly ball. Outfielders are a good opportunity for us to recruit left-handed players and/or slappers. Hitters: A good hitter will strike out less than once in a ten official at bats, and she should have more walks than strike outs. A hitter in the top of the order should have an on base percentage above .400, and a hitter in the middle of the order should have a strong RBI statistic. Hitters should be disciplined, being aggressive or patient according to the situation. Confidence is incredibly important as well. Our team batting average for the last three years is .375. And must be will to take the hit. Base Runners: A base runner should slide every time unless she is told otherwise. She should be aggressive on the base paths and take the extra base when she can. We want fast athletes who can get home to first in 2.7 seconds or less (based on our timing), and expect everyone to make it under 3.0. A good base runner doesn’t need a base coach. CHARACTER EVALUATION OF A POTENTIAL LLC STUDENT ATHLETE: Expectations for our student athletes here at Lake Land College is high. We believe a student athlete should be proud of things on which their name lies; whether it is the back of a uniform or the top of a research paper. We expect nothing less than 100% effort, honesty and respect from my student athletes (and myself) to each other, authority figures and members of the community. Consequently, we seek out potential student athletes who exhibit personal pride and maturity. During our recruiting opportunities, we will evaluate several characteristics in addition to athletic abilities. These evaluations can take place during a game, between games, or on a visit to campus. A potential student athlete should be confident and have a certain swagger to her. She will not be timid on the field or in how she interacts with others. We look for a potential student athlete to look sharp. We believe that how you look correlates to the way you play the game. She should have her uniform tucked in properly and present herself cleanly and with pride. We expect a potential student athlete to hustle (read: sprint) out to their position each and every time she takes the field. She should run out every hit ball without exception. She should slide into bases when appropriate and should dive after balls on defense when called for. During pre game warm ups, we want to see a potential student athlete hard at work-and be as focused-as she is in a game. We watch to see how a potential student athlete interacts with the people around her. She should have respect for, and garner respect from, her teammates, coaches and parents, as well as the umpire and opposing coaches and players. Finally, we expect a potential student athlete to be responsible. While we realize the years spent with these players are life forming ones, those who take responsibility for themselves and their actions early on will be most productive in our program. How Lake Land College softball coaches measure times. Overhand Throw: Throw the ball any where from behind from 40ft into a screen or to a fielder and measure with a radar gun. Do this twice and use the average of the two times. Home to 1st: Start with your left on home plate and your right foot behind home plate. Start three stopwatches when the front foot comes off home plate. Stop the watches when 1st base is contacted and use the middle time. Do this twice and use the average of the two times. Home to 1st off the bat: At contact start three stopwatches. Stop the watches when 1st base is contacted and use the middle time. Do this twice and use the average of the two times. Home to Home: Start with your left on home plate and your right foot behind home plate. Start three stopwatches when the front foot comes off home plate. Stop the watch when home plate is contacted and use the middle time. Do this twice and use the average of the two times. Catcher Pop Time: Have a pitcher throw a ball underhand to the catcher who is in the down position. Start three stopwatches when the ball hits her glove. Stop the watches when ball hits the second baseman glove and use the middle time. Do this twice and use the average of the two times. If the second baseman straddles 2nd base, make sure she does not reach for the ball. (Home to second: 84ft, 10 inches) Third to 1st Throw: Set a screen at fist base then make a 12’ triangle from third base going down the line to home and towards second base. Have the fielder stand behind the line from third base to second. Roll a ball to the fielder the fielder must field and throw the ball to 1st base with out coming out of the triangle. Start three stopwatches when the ball hits her glove. Stop the watch when ball hits the screen use the middle time. If you use a fielder at first have then straddles the bag, making sure they do not reach for the ball. Do this twice and use the average of the two times. Short to 1st Throw: Go 20ft from second towards third, then go back 12ft towards the outfield and make a line. Then go 12ft more and make another line. Have the fielder start behind the second line then roll a ball to the fielder. The fielder must field and throw the ball to 1st base before crossing the first line. Start three stopwatches when the ball hits her glove. Stop the watch when ball hits the screen use the middle time. If you use a fielder at first have then straddles the bag, making sure they do not reach for the ball. Do this twice and use the average of the two times.

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Recruiting Tip #2 -- Choosing the Right College Fit

Choosing the “Right College Fit” (By Nic Nelson - Head Softball Coach - Lake Land College) Most high school softball players have the goal of playing in a NCAA DI softball program. Here are some numbers to think about when considering what college is the right fit for you. If you were to go onto the NCAA web site this past November 1st, 2012 and look up every NCAA DI softball roster in the Midwest, and break them down this is what you would find: Category IL IN MO KY IA WI NCAA D1 softball program 12 10 5 6 4 2 No. of players on rosters 216 197 94 113 78 47 No. of in-state players on rosters 125 67 55 32 34 25 No. of out-of-state players on rosters 91 130 55 81 41 22 No. Freshmen on rosters 65 70 31 24 27 17 No. Sophomores on rosters 53 52 23 24 14 7 No. Juniors on rosters 63 38 17 30 22 10 No. Seniors on rosters 35 37 23 29 15 13 No. Pitchers on rosters 47 43 15 21 16 11 No. Catchers on rosters 30 26 15 14 9 6 No. Utility (all other positions) 139 128 64 78 53 30 Now let’s look at the same states high school softball programs. IL IN MO KY IA WI High School softball programs 689 380 499 260 363 446 Estimated total high school players 11,024 6,080 7,984 4,160 5,808 7,136 Estimated total high school seniors 2,756 1,520 1,996 1,040 1,452 1,784 Going off these numbers, here are the chances of softball player making it on to a NCAA D1 roster in her own state: IL IN MO KY IA WI 1 in 72 1 in 63 1 in 110 1 in 148 1 in 132 1 in 198 These are pretty daunting number but that being said, if you really want to play college softball, there is a place for you. Consider your area of study, and with the help of your parents, high school coach, and summer coaches assess your talent objectively and honestly. Never aim too low, but be careful that you do not overestimate your abilities. Nobody wants to go and sit on the bench and not get the education they want. Thus, the term we use when selecting a college to attend is the “CHOOSING THE RIGHT COLLEGE FIT”. There are around 260 total collegiate softball programs available in these states alone for you to investigate your right college fit. IL IN MO KY IA WI 83 35 45 27 39 30 Beside the NCAA there are other collegiate athletic associations that offer the opportunity to play softball with athletic financial aid while receiving a quality education as well. These would include.. NCAA DI, DII and DIII - NAIA DI, DII and DIII - NJCAA DI, DII and DIII - NCCAA - When investigating your right college fit, there are 4 items to consider, academics, location, financial and softball Academics: First and foremost, the reason to attend college is to get the education in the classroom and what is needed to become employable in whatever field you’d like to pursue. (Or as I like to say, get off Mom and Dad’s payroll) If softball is removed from the equation for any reason, would you be at the college that will help you reach that goal? Academics questions to consider: •Does the college offer my area of study? •How many years will it take to complete that field of study? •What is the employment rate from that school in your field of study? •What is the student population? •What is the teacher student ratio? •What academic support do they have for their collegiate athletes? •With regard to community colleges, what are their transfer rates? Location: Consider that this location will be your home for the next to five years. Make sure it is an area you would live in. You can find some of this information by logging onto the community web site. Location questions to consider: •Is it far enough away from Mom and Dad, or is close enough to Mom and Dad? •What is the size of the community you will be living in? •Is it a safe area in which to live? •What kind of entertainment is available? •For Mom and Dad, what restaurants and hotels are in the area? •What is shopping like? •What the housing, student housing, apartment and off-campus housing options? •What transportation is available? •What is the weather like? Financial: As you will find out, there is a wide range in school costs, from your local community college to upscale private schools. You could spend $2,500 to $46,000+ a year depending on the college. Many of you may get a softball scholarship, which will be great, but what if you decide not to play any more, you get hurt and can’t play any more, or - and it can happen - you lose your scholarship? Can you still afford to continue to go to the school you’ve chosen? Financial questions to consider: •What is the college tuition cost? (In district, in state, out of district, and out of state) •What student fees are there? •What is the cost of room and board? •What is the cost of off-campus housing? •What non-athletic scholarships are available? •What are my travel costs to get to and from college? (Gas and airline cost) •What would on- or off-campus travel costs be? (Living on or off campus) •What does the softball scholarship cover, and how is it set up? •Will have a lot of student loans to pay off? Softball: This is, without a doubt, the last thing you consider when looking into your right college fit. Make sure you have a passion for the game. You will have to sacrifice a lot to be a collegiate athlete. Are you ready to make this commitment? Go back up and look at the number of freshman verses seniors. Some programs demand more than others, for example at Lake Land, where I coach, we run a demanding program, not produce a program, help prepare our players to hopefully move on to NCAA DI programs. Wherever you look, remember the coach was hired to win. If your high school coach loses, he or she is back teaching tomorrow. If your college coach loses, he gets fired. Try to understand college softball is not high school, summer, or travel ball. It is 6 to 7 days a week, 9 months out of the year. Therefore, if you don’t like to lift weights, condition, or practice, then you might want to reconsider playing, because the amount of your time doing those activities is much, much greater than the actual time you spend playing the game on the field. You will need to watch play and practice, as well as talk to past players, to get some of this information. Softball questions to consider: •How will softball affect your field of study? (Example: Can you student teach your senior year, or do have to wait until you finish your four years of softball?) •What are the academic requirements to play at the school? •How much school will you miss due to games and practice? •How much time will it take up? •Can you play at this school? (After all, it is no fun to sit.) •Who is the head softball coach? •Who is the 1st softball asst. coach? •Who is the pitching coach? Do they have a pitching coach? •Who is the hitting coach, and will you need to change your hitting style? •How many players are on their roster? •How many players are there in your graduating class, and what positions do they play? (If you are a shortstop and their starting shortstop will be a sophomore, you might want to have a backup position in mind) •What is the coaching style? (Positive, negative, demanding, etc.) •How much does the school value female athletics. •Has the coach ever taken scholarship away and why? Now pick 10 schools, at least one out of each college division listed above. Go to school websites and find the answers to each of the questions you just read. Yes, it is a lot of work, but this is the biggest decision in your life at this time. At the end of this search, eliminate five of them then look at five new ones. You are now on your way to finding the “CHOOSING THE RIGHT COLLEGE FIT”.

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Recruiting Tip #3 -- How to E-mail College Coaches

How to Email College Coaches By Nic Nelson - Head Softball Coach - Lake Land College When you email a college coach, you need to understand the large volume of emails that college coaches get from players looking for a college softball home. Next to talent, personal responsibility is the number one trait coaches look for in a potential recruit. Timely and well-written emails can give hints about personal responsibility. Keep in mind a well-written original email can enhance your ability of getting recruited, so take the time and do it right. Here are some suggestions on how to email a college coach: Use a good email address So the first challenge is just getting the coach to open your email. For many coaches, the recruiting process starts with a player's email address. If a coach sees an email with a questionable name like Sexypitcher1, partygirl 2, or anything that might indicate a character flaw, your email may get deleted, thus ending the process. Make sure you have a good email address. How to address the coach Always start your email to a college coach with “Coach” and his or her last name (ex. Coach Nelson). This is a sign of respect. Don't use Coach and their first name (ex. Coach Nic) even if you know them. Most players start their emails with just Coach. Coaches see this and think it is an email being sent out to several coaches. You need to make it as personal as possible. Emails must come from the player: I’m a parent I know how hard this is. But realize we are recruiting the daughter not mom and dad. It is college they are eighteen years old and coaches do not like hearing from the parents. Be Original I was at a tournament a couple of weekends ago a few coaches were talking about emails they got and how they all started and sounded the same. You have to set your self apart from other players sending emails. Write your own email in your own words. Learn about the school and coach you are emailing Do your homework. Go online and check out the school as well as the softball program. Coaches don’t recruit Athlete/Students but Student/Athletes. Somewhere in your email be sure to mention something about their school that interested you beside softball, along with something about the school's softball program. Taking the time to go onto their web site and learn more about their school shows you have true interest in them, which coaches like. While on line, if you find that the school really doesn't interest you, don't waste yours or the coach's time with an email. Subject line: The subject line should be simple for example “Regarding Lake Land College Softball”. End with a question Finish your email with a question. This is an old sales technique used to get the person or, in this case, the coach to continue the dialogue. If you definitely want to get a response, just ask them when their next camp is. You need to realize depending on the time of year or the age of the recruit, NCAA Dl coaches may have restrictions on when or if they can contact or return emails to a recruit. So be sure to give them your high school or travel coach's contact information, letting them know that they can contact them to pass on information if need be. Resume and Video Yes attach a softball resume if you have one. As for a skills video I usually tell players not send a video unless it is requested. (My next email will deal with videos.) How to sign off Don’t ever assume that the coaches know who you are. We get emails that end like this all the time “Thank you for your time, Sarah” Do you know how many Sarah’s we might know and work with. Here is the proper way you should sign off Name, HS graduation year, position Mailing address City/State/Zip Home phone, cell phone Email address Be timely with all return emails and requested information One last item - always return emails or any communications from a college coach within 24 hours of their contact with you. Once again, this shows personal responsibility as well as interest in their school. Besides if you wait to long they may forget who you are. Here is the required response time by my players here at Lake Land College when I contact them. Phone call: As soon as they get the message Text: 45 minutes Email: 12 hours

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Learn More About LLC Softball

Learn More about Lake Land College Softball 2013 Lake Land College softball records and stat information Overall record 52 and 7 Conference record 29 and 1 NJCAA Division 1 National Tournament 5th place held in St George, Utah NJCAA Division 1, Region 24 Champions (For the third straight year) Great River Athletic Conference (GRAC) Champions (fourth time in 5 years) NJCAA Division 1 Academic All-American Team (for eight straight years) 2013 Lake Land College softball team Stats just click onto Signed players receiving scholarships to play on Kristi Belshe, Outfielder - Texas Tech University (NCAA D1) Kayla Kirkpatrick, Pitcher - Western Illinois University (NCAA D1) Rebecca Patterson, 3rd base - Western Illinois University (NCAA D1) Rachel Keller, 2nd base - Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (NCAA D1) Melanie Steer, Outfielder - Jacksonville State University, (NCAA D1) Alex Smith, Pitcher - University of Illinois Springfield (NCAA D2) Offers made but not committed yet Skyler woods, Infielder - Eastern Michigan University and Valparaiso University (NCAA D1) Meaghan Touchette, Outfield - Southeast Missouri State University (NCAA D1) The above players had a total of 35 scholarships offers made between them 2013 Individual Honors and Awards to date NJCAA Division One NFCA All-All Americans Kristi Belshe - Outfield, sophomore Kayla Kirkpatrick - Pitcher, sophomore Skyler Woods - Infield, sophomore Rachel Keller - Infield, freshman NJCAA Division One All American- Kristi Belshe - Outfield, sophomore NJCAA Division One National Tournament - All-Tournament Team Kristi Belshe - Outfield, sophomore NJCAA Division One NFCA All-Midwest Region team 1st team Kayla Kirkpatrick - Pitcher, sophomore Kristi Belshe - Outfield, sophomore Skyler Woods - Infield, sophomore Rachel Keller - Infield, freshman 2nd Team Melanie Steer - Sophomores DP, sophomore NJCAA Division One Region 24 Player of the Year - Emily Bishop - catcher, freshman NJCAA Division One Region 24 All-Tournament Team Melanie Steer - Outfield, sophomore Cherise Boyd - Infield, freshman Rebecca Paterson - Infield, freshman Katie Watson - Infield, freshman NJCAA Division One Region 24 Coach of the Year - Nic Nelson NJCAA Division One All Region 24 Team Kayla Kirkpatrick - Pitcher, sophomore Alex Smith - Pitcher, freshman Kristi Belshe - Outfield, sophomore Skyler Woods - Infield, sophomore Great Rivers Athletic Conference MVP - Kristi Belshe - Outfield, sophomore Great Rivers Athletic Conference Freshmen of the Year - Alex Smith - Pitcher, freshman Great Rivers Athletic Conference All Conference Team Kristi Belshe - Outfield, sophomore Alex Smith - Pitcher, freshman Kayla Kirkpatrick - Pitcher, sophomore Melanie Steer - Outfielder, sophomore Great Rivers Athletic Conference Coach of the Year - Coach Nic Nelson Current Recruiting Status: 2013: Because of three of our freshmen being given scholarship opportunity to play at NCAA D1 programs next year we are looking to bring two more softball athletes out of the 2013 class. 2014/15: We are just starting to bring in players in the class 2014 and look at players in the 2015 class, so all positions are open. Players can log on to, then click onto Email #1 on Recruiting Tips C to read our Lake Land College Softball Recruiting Strategy, which will tell them what we look for in a player, and skills needed at each position. If after reading our recruiting strategy and the information below, any player would like to be considered a potential LLC softball recruit, have them email or call me. LLC Softball Athletics web site: Youtube softball videos; to get a good sense of what Lake Land Softball is like; check out our Youtube video “Lake Land Softball 2012” - Our 2013 video is still being work on but you can see what we have so far “Lake Land Softball 2013” Student first: The Lake Land College softball team has been selected an Academic All-American Team for 7 straight years. And we are on pace to be selected and eighth straight year. Opportunity to play on: For the 4 years that I have been here at Lake Land, every player who wants to play has received an offer to play on somewhere. 2012 OVC Player of the Year, Jenna Bradley, from Murray State; Vanessa James a pasted started for Louisville; and Katie Reiff, currently playing for Tennessee Martin, all played for Lake Land. Here is where the LLC class of 2012 signed scholarships to play: Tanna Hinthorne (2 times NJCAA D1 All- American Pitcher) Wichita State University, KS Michelle Glenn (2 times NJCAA D1 All-American Outfielder) Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL Madison Murphy (NJCAA D1 All-American Infielder) Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL Betty Gamm (NJCAA D1 All-American Infielder/catcher) Tiffton University, OH Kimberlin Wallace (NJCAA Defensive player of the national tournament) Valparaiso University, IN Olivia Minton (Mid Infielder) Stoney Brooke University, NY Kelsey Stozkus (Pitcher) McKendree College, Lebanon, IL Hannah Wessels (Utility) University of Missouri St. Louis, St. Louis, MO Great Schedules: One thing that we do here at LLC to get our players ready is create a fall scrimmage schedule that is mostly made up of NCAA D1 schools. Beside the teams we played this fall which you will find on our website, some teams that we have played in the past are the University of Missouri, University of Illinois, Notre Dame, University of Arkansas, Northwestern, Purdue, Indiana University, DePaul University, and Army at West Point. I like playing those schools because not only do they make us better, but it also helps our kids get recruited. Scholarships available - As a Division 1 member school of the NJCAA, we are allowed 24 scholarships. Any given year our roster could have as many as 18 - 22 players, with all of our players receiving athletic aid. Our base softball scholarship is all tuition, all fees, and all books, and goes up from there based on talent and need. Housing - All of our players live in nice, modern apartment’s right next to our softball field.. Apartments Unique Homes – Diversified Roster: Beside the Midwest this year, we have players from Hawaii and one from Canada. Over the last five years our roster had players from California, Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa Ohio, Pennsylvania and as far away as Australia. First Rate Coaching: To learn more about our coaching staff log onto Assistant Coach: Hailee Hanna Assistant Coach/Trainer: Denise Prather AD: Denny Throneburg; you can read more about him on his website. Lake Land College Softball 2012 Season Summary, Honors and Awards Team Honors and Awards Overall: 53 and 7 NJCAA Division One National Tournament, St George, UT NJCAA Division One Region 24 Tournament Champions Great Rivers Athletic Conference Champions (with a perfect record of 32-0) Finished the 2012 regular season with 44 straight wins NJCAA D1 Academic All-American Team (for the seventh straight year) Individual Honors and Awards NJCAA Division One All Americans Tanna Hinthorne, sophomore pitcher Michelle Glenn, sophomore outfield Briana Gamm, sophomore infield NJCAA Academic All-Americans Michelle Glenn Kimberlin Wallace Olivia Mintun NFCA All-Americans - Tanna Hinthorne - sophomore pitcher NFCA All-Region Midwest team Tanna Hinthorne, sophomore pitcher Kayla Kirkpatrick, freshmen pitcher Kimberlin Wallace, sophomore outfield NFCA Academic All-Americans Michelle Glenn Kimberlin Wallace Olivia Mintun Meaghan Touchette NJCAA Division One Region 24 Player of the Year - Chelsea Presley, sophomore catcher NJCAA Division One Region 24 All-Tournament Team Kimberlin Wallace, sophomore outfielder Betty Gamm, sophomore 3rd base Tanna Hinthorne, sophomore pitcher Madison Murphy, sophomore infielder Melanie Steer, freshmen outfielder NJCAA Division One Region 24 Coach of the Year - Nic Nelson NJCAA Division One All Region 24 Team Tanna Hinthorne, sophomore pitcher Michell Glenn, sophomore outfielder Brianna Gamm, sophomore infielder Kayla Kirkpatrick, freshmen pitcher Meaghan Touchette, freshmen outfielder NFCA NJCAA D1 ALL Region Team Midwest Region Tanna Hinthorne, sophomore pitcher Kayla Kirkpatrick, freshmen pitcher Kimberlin Wallace, sophomore outfielder Great Rivers Athletic Conference MVP - Tanna Hinthorne, sophomore pitcher Great Rivers Athletic Conference All Conference Team Tanna Hinthorne, sophomore pitcher Kayla Kirkpatrick, freshmen pitcher Chelsea Presley, sophomore catcher Meaghan Touchette, freshmen outfielder Great Rivers Athletic Conference Coach of the Year - Coach Nic Nelson

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Athletic Privilege

Below are the privileges the coaching staff at Lake Land College expect the LLC softball players to receive. They get the privilege to attend class on time every day, sit in the front row, ask one intelligent question, and participate in class discussion each day. They get the privilege to turn their homework in completed and on time. They get the privilege to know and work on a close basis with a nationally recognized faculty and administration. They get the privilege to work with a knowledgeable caring counseling department. They get the privilege to get help from great tutors when needed. They get the privilege to respect everybody they come in contact with. They get the privilege of attending softball study table 3 hours per night Monday through Thursday. They get the privilege of 1 to 2 hours of bus and 2 hours of hotel study tables for away and overnight softball games. They get the privilege to show grade school kids the value of education by participating in reading programs at local grade schools. They get the privilege of gaining a greater social awareness by helping raise money by ringing bells for the United Way in cool wet weather conditions and participating in the Coles County Heart Walk. They get the privilege of inspiring young female athletes to reach for their dreams by working with local youth softball camps. They get the privilege to support their fellow Lake Land College student by attending all student activities when their class and softball schedules allows. They get the privilege to attend 2 to 3 hours of softball practice 6 days a week. They get the privilege of a one-hour individual workout 6 days a week in the Lake Land College Student Fitness center. They get the privilege to use the best college athletic trainer, nurse and emergency personnel anywhere. They get the privilege is to be held at a higher academic, social and moral standard than the rest of the Lake Land College student body. And if they take advantage of all these privileges, then they get the privilege to be a member of the nationally ranked Lake Land Lakers softball team winners of the 2011, 12 and 13 NJCAA Region 24Divison One Tournament, which for eight straight years has been selected a NJCAA Academic All-American Team. But the greatest privilege for all of these student athletes at Lake Land College is for them to receive is the privilege of setting themselves up for further education and ultimately successful career in her chosen field.

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"You Don't Need a Bull to Sell One"

You Don't Need a Bull to Sell One By Nic Nelson - Head Softball Coach - Lake Land College Because of the success I have had in coaching, people are surprised to find out that I did not play sports in college. In fact, I was an Animal Science major and went to college on a livestock judging scholarship. After graduating from Illinois State University, I taught high school agriculture and coached girls softball and volleyball teams. I then went to Lake Land College where I taught Animal Science and coached the livestock judging team. But what I really wanted to do was to manage a purebred Angus cattle farm. So in 1980, I quit teaching to become the manager of a small Angus farm in northern Illinois. If you look at any successful business or, for that matter, any sports team, I have found you will find one core element which leads to their success. In the purebred livestock industry that core element is sales. If you cannot sell your product, it does not matter how good it is. If you do not have the ability to sell your bull and cows for a profit, you will not be in the cattle business very long. Selling is one thing I became very good at while working at Engelbrecht Angus Farms. Now here is a little lesson in animal science: the gestation of a cow is 9 months. In the Midwest most farmers like to start calving in March when the weather is good. So you do the math, if you would like to have your cows calve in March, then May 15th is the start to your breeding season. Every year, the first day it rains is around May 15th, and it is too wet for farmers to work in the field. We would start getting calls from farmers looking for a bull to turn out to pasture with their cows. One morning around 6 A.M., I was at the farm getting ready to start the day when I received a phone call from a farmer looking for a bull. I told him I had two. One cost $1,500 and the other was $2,500. He asked if he could come over and take a look. I said sure, but I had a meeting and would not be available until after lunch. I asked if he could make it around 1:00. He said no problem and would see me after dinner (for those of you from the city that means lunch). After hanging up I went out and hooked up our truck to the cattle trailer. Sid, the young man that was working for me at the time, asked what I was doing, to which I replied, "I need to go find a bull". See - in reality we did not have any bulls left to sell, but I knew this: the farmer was going to buy a bull that day, and I was going to make sure it was from us, because the one thing I had learned in my years in the cattle business was the concept of repeat customers. If the customer is happy with the bull he bought from you, you would be the first person he would call the next time he needed a bull. So off I went to find a bull to buy. Now, there were several places I could have gone, but what I did was drive about an hour away to one of our customers who bought breeding stock from us. Now you need to realize that selling a breeding bull in central Illinois is not the easiest thing to do. So when I showed up at Dave's place and asked if he had any bulls to sell, needless to say, he was excited. See, he was just getting started in the purebred business and had not yet developed a reputation for high quality bulls for high dollars. I told him I was out of bulls and needed to buy one to have around to sell. He had 12 bulls ranging in price from $850 to $1,500, most of which came from breeding stock we had sold him, so they were our genetics, which was very good. After visiting for a little bit (something you do as part of the sales game when dealing with ranchers and farmers), we got down to conducting business, and I bought a bull for $850, loaded him up and headed back to the farm. After lunch the farmer who had called earlier that morning looking for a bull showed up. As he got out of his truck I walked over and told him that he was going to be mad. I know I had told you I had two bulls for sale but another farmer had come and just left with the $1,500 bull, so all I had left was the $2,500 bull. I continued the sale saying, "So this is what I’m willing to do. If you like the $2,500 bull I will take $500 off and you can have him for $2,000." Which is what he did and everybody was happy. I made a sale, the farmer got the bull he wanted, and Dave, my customer who bought breeding stock from us, made some money. But more importantly that farmer came two more times over the years to buy from us again. By now you are asking yourself what, if anything, does this have to do with softball? It is all about obstacles. I could have easily let the obstacle of not having any bulls to sell get in the way of making money but instead I figured out how to overcome my obstacle of not having a bull to sell and make money for the farm which made my boss happy. My college coaching career started at Heartland Community College in Normal, IL. In 2007, when then Coach Shae Wesley asked me to be her assistant and help her start the new softball program there. We had no field, equipment or one single player. Our first obstacle was to convince 17 players that Heartland was the place they needed to be. I remember on recruiting visits walking to the end of one of our buildings and pointing to a cornfield and saying, "See there, see that cornfield? That is where we are going to build the nicest softball stadium that you will never play on. But if you come here, you can bet that we will make sure you will get everything you need to win." Coach Wesley and I look to my Elite Softball program I ran to find players. These were players I knew, girls of great character, work ethic, with a quest for knowledge and discovery and looking for a home to play. I believed in my cattle genetics and I believed in my Elite Softball program. Just like Dave, my customer I bought the bull from, all came with their own obstacles. They all wanted to play NCAA D1 softball and for whatever reason and none of them were getting recruited very hard. Coach Wesley was a great coach, and I either made or owned most of the equipment we needed. Oh, I forgot to tell you we did not have a gym either, so we got them all memberships to a local gym where they could work out. Every day I would find different fields for us to practice and play on. These players were hard nose tough girls that got hurt diving, running into fences, or each other, to catch balls. So there was someone hurt all the time. At one point we only had nine kids healthy enough to play; another obstacle, so we picked up one of our Heartland soccer players and added her to the team. Talk about obstacles, we had them all, but even through all those obstacles, Heartland College, in its very first year to ever have a softball program, came in 3rd at the 2008 NJCAA D2 National tournament. The very next year, that same team with four new players we recruited, went on to become the National Champions. That was even after the obstacle of our All-American pitcher and starting catcher leaving after one year to move on and play at NCAA Division 1 schools. We have the option to choose to let obstacles stand in our way or choose passion, hard work and a challenge. Yes, each of those players wanted to play NCAA Division 1 ball somewhere but nobody was calling. Coach Wesley and I would have liked to have been the coaches at Arizona, but those jobs were not open and others did not hire us. So Heartland was the answer for all of us. This is where we were going to make it or not. So we all chose passion, hard work and a challenge and it paid off in a big way for each one of us. In the end, most of those players from those two teams went on to sign NCAA Division 1 contracts to play on. Coach Wesley is now the Head Softball Coach at Appalachian State University, an NCAA Division 1 program in North Carolina. When you really look at obstacles is what makes life rewarding and fun, the bigger the obstacles to overcome, the greater the reward. And boy what great stories do we have to tell about our Heartland experience. Now I'm the Head Coach at Lake Land College and that is all I do, deal with obstacles. The first obstacle is dealing with the title of Junior College. Now where do you see junior in any college name. All two year institutions have the name of either Community College, or just College. There is no college anywhere with junior in its name, and you need to realize we do not think we are junior to anybody. (Yes, I'm a little touchy about that one.) As I talk about obstacles I want you to remember my customer Dave who I bought the bull from. He had an obstacle of being new to the business and not yet having developed a reputation to be able to sell high quality bulls for high dollar. Over the years he keeps improving his heard and getting better, and today he is one of the top Angus breeders in the Midwest. It is the same for players who attend two year colleges who all are dealing with their own obstacles whatever it might be, too small, too heavy, too slow, not strong enough, overcome an injury, improve their academics (Just so you know LLC has been selected an Academic All-American team for 7 years in a row.), afraid to go to a big school, does not know what they want major in, did not get the 4 year offer they wanted, need to improve softball skills or the biggest reason, they just got over-looked. There are a ton of reasons why players go play for a two year college. What these players are not willing to do is settle for anything less than the goal of playing at a four year college. They refuse to listen to others that say they are not good enough, or what I like to say, "Not smart enough to realize it can't be done," which I think is a good thing. What they are doing is tackling their own individual obstacle(s) head on, in hopes of reaching their final goal of playing at an NCAA Division one program. Last year a four year college was passing through Mattoon on their way to Florida for their spring trip. They called to see if they could stop and use our field to practice on. I was excited to be able to accommodate them. I told the coach we would be finished with our practice at 3:30, and they could have it at that time. Well, always the salesman, I made sure that we ran late with our practice. Why? Because I wanted that coach to see our team practice in hopes that they might like one of my players and recruit them. When they finished their practice it was easy to see they were not very good, and if they would have been interested in any of our players I do not think, in fact I know, none of our players would have been interested in that school. They had a player on their team who played on the same summer team as one of our players. As they were talking to each other, their player was telling her how impressed she was with our team and our practice and said she wished she was on a team as good as ours. Our player said to her that she should have come here to play. In which she responded that there was no way she would go to a Jr. College (There's that word again). I do not understand that thinking. I knew this player and knew if she would have went the two year route she would have made it to a winning four year program. What was her obstacle? Pride, because she thought it was beneath her to attend a "Junior College". Instead she was willing to play at a losing program just to say she played at a four year school. Does that make her a bad person? No, not at all, she was just willing to settle for less and was happy with it. My player, on the other hand, wanted more and was not going to let any obstacle get in the way of her goal to play at the NCAA D1 level. She worked hard to overcome her obstacle, which was not academic in fact she was a pre-med major with a 4.0 GPA. Her obstacle was BFS, getting her body bigger, faster and stronger. She worked hard on becoming a better hitter. By going the two year route she was able to play all the time and work on her weaknesses. Many times players, like her, at four schools do not get that opportunity and end up not playing much or quitting. That player is now starting at an NCAA D1 winning program in New York. Obstacles are as big or little as we make them. As I had mentioned I used to teach high school agriculture and not just at any high school, but at the smallest high school in Illinois. It was Bellflower High School where we only had 52 students in the entire school. One of my students was a young man named Steve Giertz. Steve was a member of my livestock judging team that finished third at the National FFA Livestock Judging Contest in Kansas City. He was smart, but a mischievous kid; you know the type always getting into trouble but in interesting, fun and unique ways. Steve is just turned 50 (although I still think of him as the 16 year mischievous kid), and a very successful famer and livestock breeder near the Quad Cities up northwest Illinois. Last week, another one of my former Bellflower students stopped by my office at Lake Land to inform me that Steve had a terrible farm accident in June and lost a leg. Talk about obstacles. It had been years since I had seen or even talked to Steve, so I decided to give him a call to see how he was doing and let him know that I was thinking of him. Honestly, I was a little scared about the call. I did not know what to expect. Was he going to be down, bitter or just mad at the world? What happened was one of the most upbeat, enjoyable and uplifting conversations I have ever had with anybody. It had been three months since the accident and the day before I called he was able to stand up for the first time with the aid of a prosthetic. He said that the only obstacle he was facing was trying to decide on whether to go with the $500 peg leg or the $50,000 computerized prosthetic. He thought a peg leg would be cool (In reality I think he just wanted to become a pirate and talk in a funny accent.). As we talked our conversation switched to sports, he talked with pride of his son who is playing college baseball. He also mentioned that he followed our team and had heard of our success and asked how my LLC Softball team was going to be this year. He then told me he was on the school board of a Catholic High School across the river in Iowa and that they had a really good softball team that had a player I should be recruiting. After 20 or 30 minutes I realized I had called him to pump him up, but instead we spent most the time laughing about old high school stories, a $500 peg leg and him trying to help a softball player get a college scholarship. Steve had every right to be bitter and mad at the world, but instead chose the passion for life, hard work and challenge instead of giving in to the obstacles of losing a leg. By the way, we are recruiting that player now. Over the years I have had the opportunity to do and be a part of, many amazing things in my life. When I look back at all those opportunities they all came with great obstacles and that is what made them so amazing. At practice the other day I was talking to my players about obstacles and I told them this, "The one wish I have for each of you is that you would never become so smart to realize it cannot be done. So the next time you do not think you have the right equipment, a good enough field, the nice looking uniform, not being recruited by a big school, or feeling like you don't have a leg to stand on, remember, “You don't need a bull to sell one.”

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Head Coach: Nic Nelson
Phone: 217.234.5332

Athletic Director: Bill Jackson
Phone: 217.234.5296

Athletic Trainer: Brian Morris
Phone: 217.234.5374

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