We love it when an NSR prospect is highlighted locally for great work in and out of athletics. We love it even more when the athlete talks about the impact that NSR and her OTG (on-the-ground scout) has had on her recruiting process. This is an interview posted on the Section V Talkback.com out of New York on Leah Saavedra, a 2012 grad who will attend SUNY Cortland in the fall. Her NSR scout is Tom Sydeski who is responsible for scouting and enrolling prospects in and around Rochester. Enjoy!
Name: Leah Saavedra
High School: Wayne Central HS
Sport & Position: Softball, Centerfield, SS, Second Base
Favorite Athlete: Jessica Mendoza
Favorite Professional Team: NY Yankees
College you selected: SUNY Cortland
Major in College: Exercise Science
How long have you been playing? I have been playing softball since I was about 5 years old.
Who or what influenced you to start playing? My sisters and my parents influenced me to play. At a very young age, I watched my sisters’ games and chased a lot of foul balls.
When did you first realize, “Hey I’m pretty good at softball, maybe I’ll try to pursue it after High School”? Did a coach, parent, or friend speak with you? Ever since I was little I knew I wanted to play a sport in college. I played several other sports (soccer, basketball, snowboarding). Once I reached 9th grade I knew softball was the sport I wanted to play in college. My coaches (past and present) always had encouraging words for me. I needed to decide which sport I wanted to focus on and I just knew that was softball.
What kind of work do you put in during your off season? During the off season and when I am not working at my job or studying, I am always making sure I go for long runs or bike rides outside. I also have a YMCA membership, and while I am there, I enjoy doing upper body workouts and running on the treadmills. I also take batting lessons during the off-season with my batting coach, Mike Scialo.
How did you first pursue playing “at the next level”? Did you contact coaches? Attend Clinics? Or simply wait for coaches to call you? The summer before 10th grade I heard that the Battery Lightning Gold was having tryouts for their summer team. One of the coaches contacted me and I tried out. This brought me to a higher level of play which included visibility to college coaches at tournaments. We went to several out of state College Showcase tournaments and I attended many of the clinics that were offered before those tournaments. My Battery Lightning coaches were constantly encouraging us to contact college coaches, which I did for 2 years. I also worked with Tom Sydeski and NSR to produce a skills video and website. Tom and NSR helped open up for me additional recruiting options.
Can you share with us why you selected Cortland State? I chose Cortland because their softball program really stood out to me. They had a strong program with great coaching. They previously attended several NCAA tournaments and were ranked 4th in the nation for Division III in 2011. Their record said a lot. The size of the school, the facilities, and the level of play were really important to me. Cortland was the medium size school I was looking for, the facilities were state of the art, and they had the degree program I was looking for. When I did an overnight at the school, I immediately knew this was the school for me. I wanted to be away from home but not too far away. Cortland is 2 hours away from home. It will be nice that my parents might be able to see some of my games.
How has the National Scouting Report and Tom Sydeski helped you in the process of playing at the next level? Tom Sydeski and NSR has given me nationwide visibility. Many more coaches than I ever expected contacted me. It gave me so many more options and choices then if I did it on my own. Tom was very helpful throughout the process, always encouraging, offered great advice along the way, and seemed really focused on getting me to meet the coaches that I wanted to meet. We did it! I’m right where I want to be. Thank you!
SVTB – Nothing gets this young lady down. With all that her and her family had to deal with throughout the recruiting process Leah just kept on smiling. Her can do spirit and hard work paid off when everything finally came together so she could attend SUNY Cortland, study exercise science, and play softball for Coach Lenhart. Best of luck to you Leah as a Cortland Red Dragon!
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