The Evolution of Recruiting: GiOnna DiSalvatore


The evolution of recruiting chronicles the recruiting journeys of USSSA Pride players. Each player narrates their own story and how they ultimately made the decision on where to play college softball. Watch how recruiting has changed through the years from the stories of each player. The evolution of recruiting begins in the 1990s and ends with the recent processes of our Pride rookies.

The next recruiting story is from GiOnna DiSalvatore who headed west for her college years at UCLA. Unlike her Pride teammates who preceded her at UCLA, DiSalvatore committed prior to her senior year and took more unofficial visits than officials. Her senior year of high school, DiSalvatore would fly to Southern California to practice with her travel team! The preparation paid off as DiSalvatore would be a two-time NFCA All American, four-time All Pac-10, and a National Champion in 2010. She left UCLA ranking in the top 10 in seven offensive categories.

After I committed I was on cloud 9. My goal was to make an impact as a freshman so I made sure I continued to challenge myself and get better.”

Athlete: GiOnna DiSalvatoreAlma Mater: UCLA, 201AR-306119984

Year you committed: 2005

How old were you when you committed: 16

How many official visits did you take? 1

How many unofficial visits did you take? 3

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?

GD: I was in 8th grade when I got my first offer and in 9th grade when I narrowed it down to my top 5 schools.

When did you first start getting serious about the recruiting process? Explain the steps you took (videos/emailing coaches/camps/tournaments/showcases/visits).

GD: I started getting serious around 8th grade when I had gotten my first offer. I started receiving questionnaires and packets from different schools but didn’t start thinking about visiting any schools until my freshman year of high school. I was persistent with my emails and sent out my summer schedule to different programs and attended different camps in the fall. I also played in major college exposure tournaments (Boulder, CO) so I was able to be seen by as many schools as possible.

Describe how you committed to your school (include years).

GD: When I was in 10th grade and chose my top 5 schools, UCLA was one of them. Being from the east coast I thought it was a far shot getting looked at by UCLA. My travel coach then got in contact with coach Enquist at the time and came out and watched at the Boulder tournament and an Irvine tournament. Then I went to a small 30 kid camp at UCLA while I was out there. After the camp I talked to the coaches and took a tour of the campus and within a week after I had gotten home coach Enquist offered me a scholarship and I committed just a few days later. It all happened so fast and it such a short time frame.

Why did you commit to this school and why at that time?

GD: I committed to UCLA because it was my dream school. I looked up to Natasha Watley and can remember watching her game in the world series when she had the game tying hit against Cat. I wanted to be a part of the history and winning tradition of UCLA so badly. It all happened so fast because I didn’t have a doubt in my mind that I wanted to go there. That’s where my mind and heart was set on going and after seeing campus and meeting everyone, it just made my decision so much easier.  Being so far from home it was important that it felt like another home for me. UCLA is so big on family and I loved that about them. Assistant coach Gina Vecchione was so welcoming and really made me feel right at home and was a key part of my decision. I fell in love with every aspect of the school and program.

What happened from the time you committed to the time you stepped on campus?

GD: After I committed I was on cloud 9. My goal was to make an impact as a freshman so I made sure I continued to challenge myself and get better. I grew up a shortstop and had always played there but I started learning and playing other positions. I wanted to be as versatile as I possibly could. The biggest commitment I made was playing for the OC Batbusters my senior year in high school. I got to be coached by the best travel ball coaches and play with some of my future teammates. I am so thankful that my parents were able to give me that opportunity because I would fly out every other weekend in the fall and all summer to play and make any practice I could. Back then the best talent was in California and I wanted to compete and play with the best so I could better prepare myself for college.

Looking back on your recruiting story, what stands out the most?

GD: Everything my parents sacrificed for me to fulfill my dream. They used so much of their time and energy getting me to where I needed to be and get better so I had an opportunity to play softball in college. I cant express how thankful I am for the opportunity I had because of them. I would not be where I am today without my dad pushing me and my mom loving me extra on the hard days.

What’s your advice to athletes now on the recruiting process?

GD: Girls are committing so much younger now and my advice would be to not rush into making a decision.  Make sure you go and meet everyone and see the campus and the surrounding area. You are going to be there for the next 4-5 years and you want to love every aspect of the school and city.  Don’t make your decision just based on how good the program is, think about your future and what you want to major in and possible career choices. Softball is only going to be a part of your life for so long and you want to make sure you take advantage of all the resources you will have at the school so you will be set for life after softball as well.