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About Division II Junior Colleges

Coach Kenneth Nedoma
Cuyahoga Community College

Question: Cuyahoga CC is an NJCAA affiliated school, many of the folks that visit the High School Baseball Web assume that the caliber of baseball played at an NJCAA school is not as good as that played at an NCAA Division 2 or 3 program. How do respond to that?

Answer A good JUCO team will be able to beat most DIII schools and will compete very well with most DII and even many DI schools. The biggest difference will be in fundamentals and strength. JUCO players are only freshman and sophomores which means physical and mental maturity are not yet on par with juniors and seniors. Athletically, JUCO is probably better than 95% of DIII and 75% of DII programs. What a JUCO should be is a second chance for many players.

First, if you can play but don't have the grades to be a qualifier, we allow you to play and to prove yourself in the classroom. JUCO is a clean slate academically where eligibility is based only on what you have done while in college. Secondly, JUCO is a chance for a good student, whose abilities may have been overlooked, prove to the 4 year coaches he can play at the college level.

For example, an invited walk-on at a DI would probably do better for himself if he went to a JUCO, played for 2 years, then went back to the DI school. He would have physical and mental maturity as well as 2 years of playing under his belt.

Question: Do NJCAA baseball programs have the ability to offer athletic scholarship money?

Answer DI JUCO can offer up to 24 full including room and board, DII (our division) can give 24 tuition and books, DIII no scholarship. How well programs are funded is an entirely different issue and varies greatly depending on the school you are considering.

Question: Do NJCAA schools "blend" athletic and academic scholarship monies together to create a package for the good academic athlete?

Answer Yes we can and do. For example, we had about 1/3 of our roster last year receiving both athletic and academic monies.

Question: How important is it for a high school player to attend a college team's summer camp?

Answer We have only held winter camps so far, but they have been a help in identifying some recruits. It is definitely not a must, but does not hurt.

Question: When should a player write a letter of introduction to a college coach? (i.e. after his 11th grade year, etc.)

Answer Before the spring of 11th grade year.

Question: Is it better to have the player's high school coach send the first letter? Or does it make any difference?

Answer It does not matter to us. We will follow up regardless of who makes the initial contact.

Question: Do sending copies of a player's high school / summer team statistics help? Are they of value to you - when received with an introductory letter?

Answer They are helpful if the athlete is local and we know the competition level they play. Otherwise, we look at a select few items such as power and speed numbers for hitters and k/bb and hits/inning for pitchers.

Question: Should a player or high school coach send copies of clippings from local newspapers that relate accomplishments of the player?

Answer The only newspaper articles we like to get are the all-conference, all-area, all-state etc. They have value for us by letting us know how other coaches feel about a player as well as possibly turning us on to others on the list we may not have been aware of.

Questions: Are the "online" internet recruiting services taken seriously by college coaches? Would you recommend them to a high school player and his family?

Answer I think any player, with help from his coaches, can do everything these services can do. All they do for you is send unsolicited information to colleges. You can do the same thing for the price of postage.

Question: Should a player send a videotape of himself in baseball situations and games? Do junior college coaches review unsolicited tapes?

Answer If a player is somewhat local, within an hour drive, we would much rather go see them play. We will review and return any tape we receive within two weeks. We do not keep them because it can get costly for players to keep buying and sending tapes.

Question: If a tape is beneficial to you and your staff what suggestions would you make to the player? Such as all game situations? Some individual fielding and batting situations? Pitchers in games only, or is throwing to a catcher good also?

Answer I personally feel there is value in both game and practice settings, but try to keep them short and only have the player in the tape. We don't need to see a whole game if the player is an outfielder- just show us his at bats and some fielding/throwing. A pregame would be very beneficial for showing defensive skills. Also, try to make the tape as clear as possible.

Question: With the increasing number of high school talent showcases in recent years how important is it for a player to attend this type of event? Do you and/or the coaching staff at Cuyhoga attend any showcases?

Answer I don't feel they are a must for anybody. The biggest benefit for us is the 60 yard times. We could get out and see a player in game situations when they are in season in the spring or summer. We try to attend most of the in-state showcases.

Question: How important is a player's physical appearance? I do not mean is he 6'-1" tall and weighs 205 lbs. What I am referring to is tattoos, body piercings, odd hairstyles, manner of dress etc. Are any or all of these items a "negative" when a college coach sees a prospective player?

Answer We are influenced by how a player looks, because we feel it is a direct reflection on how much a player respects the game, his coaches, his teammates etc. We have rules regarding professionalism which includes hair, earrings, dress, and respectfulness to teachers, coaches, players, waiters, hotel clerks, bus drivers and anyone else who comes in contact with our program.

Question: If a player has a bad day when a college coach is in the stands watching him for the first time. Does that mean that it is "over" as far as that school is concerned?

Answer It is not over if he handles himself well mentally and if he shows some good ability such as bat speed, arm action, foot speed. If the player is a true leader, it will not be just when things are going well. How well does he handle failure tells a great deal about a players makeup.

Question: How important is a player's "attitude appearance" when in a game or at practice?

Answer For many players, attitude appearance in a game is easy, but how hard they work at practice is a very different story. We play a failure sport which requires the right attitude in practice if you want any chance of succeeding in games.

Question: As the head coach of a smaller college what are the major differences in recruiting when compared to the "major" schools?

Answer The biggest differences are in scholarship amounts and paid visits. We are not a fully funded scholarship school, so we have to spread out the money we do have. Also, we do not have the ability to pay for visits.

We do promise the players we recruit two things, first they will not play the quantity of baseball we play at any other level. We can start our fall on August 10 and play/practice until November 15. Then we start again in January when classes start and go into May. We are not restricted by a number of weeks in the year and we can play up to 76 games with 56 maximum in the spring.

The second promise we make is if they work hard for us we will work hard for them. Meaning if they do the job in the classroom and on the field, then we will get them in a four year school usually with significant scholarship.

Question: As the coach of a smaller school do you recruit on a more regional scope than other larger schools?

Answer We are fortunate to have a very large recruiting base within a one hour radius of our campus. Cleveland is a large city with some very good baseball, but we also get players from Youngstown, Akron, Canton, Columbus and this year have two canadians on our team.

Question: How do you "go about" finding players for your program. Are the scouting and recruiting processes similar to the 4 year schools?

Answer Many of the players we recruit, we see in the summer before their senior year. We have also built some good relationships with HS and summer coaches as well as pro scouts in the area. We have one of the finest playing fields in this part of the state which is used for HS playoffs, various summer leagues, and at least one pro tryout camp every summer.

Question: So many high school players have the attitude that if they do not play college baseball at one of the D1 top 40 programs they have failed. What advice can you offer a high school player regarding the "big school" stigma?

Answer The goal of college athletes should be to get an education paid for. We can help them do that because our guys have something that no HS recruit does- college playing experience. Our players get scholarship to 4 year schools to walk in a start, not to redshirt for a year, sit for another 1-2 then finally get to play. The other thing to consider, if you do have pro ball as a goal is that you can be drafted both years at a JUCO then both years at a 4 year. We are seen by every pro club during the year and have had many draft picks play in our program including Jeff Shaw, the Dodgers closer.

Question: What other advice would you give to a high school player that hopes to play baseball in college?

Answer Work on being a well rounded player. Make your weaknesses your strengths. Get stronger. Learn the game. Don't be satisfied with being good if you have the ability to be great. Above all else, use baseball to get an education rather than using college to play baseball.

You can contact Coach Ken Nedoma at:
Cuyogha Community College
11000 Pleasant Valley Road
Parma, OH 44130


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Revised February 09, 2003 .