The next recruiting story is from one of the greatest defensive catchers in the game, Megan Willis. The Chandler, AZ native spent her college years in the Lone Star State capitol at the University of Texas. During her college career, Willis played in two Women’s College World Series, caught one of the games best pitchers in Cat Osterman, and was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year twice. The city of Austin was one of the major appeals for Willis, a city she still resides in years after her final out in a Longhorn uniform.
“I knew that I wanted to stay in warm weather, that was a deal breaker. I knew I wanted to go to a school that had great potential of making it to the World Series, great academics and a fun, outdoorsy city life!”
Athlete: Megan Willis
Alma Mater: University of Texas, 2007
Year you committed: 2002
How old were you when you committed: 17
How many official visits did you take? 2
How many unofficial visits did you take? 0
Did you make a recruiting video? No
How old were you when you first learned/thought about playing getting a scholarship to play in college?
MW: I would have to say it was when I was 10ish… My best friends sisters played softball as well and they were getting scholarships to play. However, it wasn’t until I was in 8th grade or so that I realized that I had a great chance of getting a scholarship!
When did you first start getting serious about the recruiting process? Explain the steps you took (videos/emailing coaches/camps/tournaments/showcases/visits).
MW: I think my freshman year in high school…I was playing 16u as a 14 yr old (I think ) and I was hearing that I needed to start making a list of my top schools I’d like to go. So my parents and I began looking into colleges that had softball. Then I began emailing my top 10 – 20 schools. I played in top tournaments, So Cal fall tourneys and qualifiers, as well as Colorado and ASA nationals (those were really the only one at the time). I never made a video, I was told I didn’t need to. We didn’t have showcases and I never went to a college camp… quite frankly there weren’t really any other sort of camps to attend at the time either… that I know of.
Describe how you committed to your school (include years).
MW: By the time my Official visits were upon me I had narrowed it down between Texas and ASU. I knew that I wanted to stay in warm weather, that was a deal breaker. I knew I wanted to go to a school that had great potential of making it to the World Series, great academics and a fun, outdoorsy city life! After taking both visits I sat down and made a ‘Pros and Cons’ list for both schools. It was by far one of the hardest decisions I had ever made at that point in my life! Leaving home was going to be tough but my parents were very supportive in allowing me to dream about moving to Austin, TX. Don’t get me wrong, they would have loved for me to stay in their backyard as well. But after stepping foot in Austin, I think all 3 of us knew this was where I needed to be!
From University of Texas head coach Connie Clark:
“Back in the day, we had time to do in-home visits. Thinking back on Willis, I was driving out to her home from my parent’s home who were living out in Arizona at the time. It was about a 45 minute drive. I get somewhere close to the Willis residence and a major dust storm blows through. I just remember being in route to her visit and having to wait for it to pass and all I could think was ‘I hope this visit is worth it.’ Which it was and in hindsight that trip reminds me of Willis a little bit.”
Why did you commit to this school and why at that time?
MW: I committed because I knew I was going to be able to catch for the best pitcher in College Softball at the time. Because I loved the University of Texas and everything it represented and all the traditions. I knew that I would become a local celebrity in the UT fans eyes. I knew people would follow the softball team. When I spoke about Austin I spoke about it like it was a secret town that only a lucky few got to experience (Not so much today) and I wanted to be a part of that. I loved burnt orange! I knew I would get to play as soon as I stepped on campus. I connected well with head coach Connie Clark and we were able to communicate really well. Long story short, I just knew this was the place for me… I just needed to say YES!
“Spend about five minutes with Megan Willis and you know she isn’t going to sugar coat anything. Even on the phone with her as a prospective athlete, she was very black and white. You need that from a catcher. Not only was she phyiscally gifted but we knew she would be able to handle a pitcher of such a high caliber because she wouldn’t sugar coat anything.” Connie Clark
What happened from the time you committed to the time you stepped on campus?
MW: I graduated high school. Continued playing softball, won a State Championship, broke up with my boyfriend (I only say this as this was a reason I almost stayed at ASU). Ha! Nothing really changed… I may have started running a bit more over the summer. =)
“I remember watching Megan in Colorado after she had signed. I was sitting with one of our other assistants and watched her pick off three runners in one inning. You just don’t see that.” Connie Clark
Looking back on your recruiting story, what stands out the most?
MW: I am just so grateful I was able to experience being recruited at the time I did. When I was able to wait until my senior year to commit. The feeling of being sought after by colleges and them coming to your house for an ‘In home visit’ made me feel incredible. And that I didn’t have to worry about colleges while I was still figuring out high school. I was more worried about boys passing me notes and learning to drive… gosh, if I had to choose my college at 14… It probably would have been my parents’ choice. Scary! Lastly, Official visits. Taking them as a senior allowed you to really get a good vibe on the actual team you will be playing with the following year.
What’s your advice to athletes now on the recruiting process?
MW: Honestly, I have no idea! Its so different and done so young… I guess I would just say to listen to your heart! Trust you know what you want and where you want to be. OH! Don’t be afraid of leaving home! Your home will always be home and you can always go back and visit. Leaving home allows you to grow up a little bit quicker and figure this game of life out in a whole new way! Building independence is an awesome feeling!
Next recruiting journey: Amanda Kamekona