Softball Business: How Cheri Naudin Turned Her Family Experiences Into College Sports Advocates
Cheri Naudin, College Sports Advocates, CSA, Erin Sykes
August 22, 2019
College Sports Advocates founder Cheri Naudin (gray shirt) poses with Birmingham Thunderbolt players (l-r) '21 Kaitlyn Smithey, Cheri, '21 Lulu Brock and '22 Harley Peel.
If you are a sports parent and not sure how to promote your daughter, have you ever wished for someone in your corner that could provide you and your athlete with truthful guidance about the recruiting process and all that entails becoming a college student-athlete?
Maybe you’ve realized that attempting to help your child get recruited is costing you tons financially because you just don’t know where your hard-earned money is best spent?
Perhaps you thought your child’s travel ball coach would be more concerned with helping your family figure this recruiting process out, but all he/she seems to say is, “E-mail colleges and go to camps,” thus leaving you to scratch your head wondering who should the player be contacting, how much should they try to communicate and how on earth do you even know what camps to go to or if the athlete can even play at those schools they’re choosing to connect with?
Has anyone ever discussed helping your player find the right collegiate fit or their “path” because no two athletes’ journeys are ever the same?
Does such a platform even exist that can answer all these questions and provide so much more for your family and athlete?
Softball parent and coach Cheri Naudin felt there were many answers lacking to the above questions and took it upon herself to get involved to help players and their families.
In 2015, she began Collegiate Sports Advocates, more commonly referred to as CSA, which is today a successful recruiting company that has expanded nationwide.
Her vision, she says, was to spread truthful recruiting education across the country based on her own experiences which has included two of her children playing sports (softball and soccer) in college at the Division 1 level.
Seeing her two athletes go through the recruiting process, the sports mom feels she was able to see first-hand how incredibly difficult getting the exposure and accurate facts was and began to note the intangible aspects she learned along the way.
She, simply put, began creating a game-plan based on her learnings that she could share with others.
“I began cultivating a process to educate and guide entire families thru the recruiting process that placed emphasis and focus on creating an individualized path for each athlete,” she recalls.
CSA Advocate Penny Roberts (left) with Cheri Naudin and 2022 lefty pitcher Brianna Roberts.
Naudin began to align herself with coaches, former players, and anyone else that added value to her mission. She notes “The entire platform that CSA has been built upon—and all the processes used—come from the suggestions of college coaches of every level.”
The company’s president stresses it all comes down to listening.
“We listen to the positive and negative feedback college coaches are so gracious to provide us and use that, along with other factors, to help players find the right fit.”
Naudin has partnered with other professionals that provide useful tools for student-athletes total on and off-the-field success like SAT/ACT test prep, mental skills and athletic training and proper nutrition to ensure the players are college ready.
Today, CSA employees 22 “Advocates,” or company representatives, who each have an extensive background in the sport they mentor, which has grown to include softball & baseball, volleyball, soccer and golf. The company has mentored football and basketball players as well.
Naudin explains that “each Advocate works in conjunction with the other Advocates across the country as a team to better support each student-athlete who may travel to a different Advocate’s area.”
“Advocates spend their time at the biggest tournaments across the county networking and connecting with college coaches at every level,” she continues. “They get to know the ins-and-outs of each college and program, the kinds of things each college coach is looking for and take that information back to the student athletes they fill could be a great fit for the school.”
Jetta Little, a 2021 grad from New Mexico, and Cheri Naudin enjoy their furry friends.
One emphasis for CSA is to teach the athletes how to market themselves to coaches and exploring multiple opportunities so the athletes find the best fit.
Naudin states the goal of CSA is “to teach them how to self-manage with needed time management tools we provide, to teach and provide them with necessary communication skills that are needed not only for recruiting, but in life, and to have a system of accountability in place to ensure the athletes and Advocates all hold up their end of the process.”
“The result is that we assist in getting them recruited, but the biggest task is that we help ensure that they are prepared to be successful student athletes.”
CSA is selective of the athletes they work with as everyone must be a “fit” for the program and each other. The athlete is expected to do a lot of the work and the amount of work required isn’t a match for everyone, Naudin admits. “And that’s ok!”
As CSA is focused on helping to create a complete athlete, the company has designed a program to run the entire course of the athlete’s playing career, even until college is complete.
The founder says that “CSA is dedicated to providing mentorship and guidance because we understand that successfully facing the next 40 years in life is the ultimate goal of being a collegiate student-athlete.”
And it’s not just for four-year DI programs either: Naudin says that if an athlete’s journey leads him or her down a two-year college path, Advocates are prepared to help find a four-year school later if that’s the desire.
CSA has 22 Advocates in addition to full-time staff like Erin Sykes, the National Director (pictured).
“Creating options at various levels is one goal CSA has for our student-athletes,” the president states. “This ensures that athletes stand a better opportunity to make the best choice for themselves.”
Having just recently celebrated its four-year anniversary, Collegiate Sports Advocates is now immersed in all areas of the country including an especially deep presence in the Midwest. The company has 400 total athletes in the system with 154 either committed or in college.
Looking back on the last half a decade, Naudin’s vision of educating young athletes and their families has been rewarding and made all the hard work worth it, she feels.
“College coaches have taken notice of the difference with CSA and are establishing lasting relationships with Advocates who continue in turn to educate Advocates on more ways to help hopeful college athletes attain their goals.”
“It’s truly a case of ‘Teamwork Makes the Dream Work!’”
To get information on College Sports Advocates, email CSA National Director Erin Sykes at: firstname.lastname@example.org