Aces 18U player Alyssa D’Alessio has committed to Plymouth State.
As a recruiting specialist, Patti Adorna understands the subtle intricacies of the recruiting game. She knows the value and importance of quality communication between prospective players and college coaches.
She also knows that college coaches value initiative in their prospective players.
“My philosophy is to teach kids how to do it themselves,” says Adorna, founder of Turn 2 Sports Consulting, Inc., which two weeks ago became the official recruiting coordinator of the Finch’s Aces softball program out of Diamond Nation.
Adorna couldn’t have had a much better first student than Finch’s Aces player Alyssa D’Alessio, a versatile athlete who had her heart set on a specific college. D’Alessio had done the leg work in trying to nail down what seemed like a perfect match between herself and Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. She exhibited strong athletic and academic ability, visited the school, met the coaches and current players. She believed she and Plymouth State were a perfect fit.
Alyssa just needed to clear that final hurdle, getting the nod from her prospective future coach.
“College coaches want their recruits to tell them why they want to come to their school,” said Adorna, who herself was a Division 1 player and head coach. “Part of the recruitment process is selling yourself. Young players have to get out of their comfort zone.”
Adorna met D’Alessio at her very first meeting at Diamond Nation and, after chatting with Alyssa and her dad, Alyssa discussed an email she was crafting to Plymouth State coach Bruce Addison.
“Athletes are basically asked to shut up and work,” says Adorna. “They are more concerned with playing hard and being a good teammate. They don’t realize they have to tell college coaches why they should consider them for their team.”
Alyssa did just that, telling coach Addison that Plymouth State was her top choice. “I emailed him and asked if he was still considering me for the team,” said D’Alessio. “He texted back an offer.” Adorna helped Alyssa fine tune her email to Addison.
D’Alessio had set herself up for success — finding a college match that fit her athletic and academic abilities — and made the close herself on the college of her dreams. She had been unclear on how to pull the trigger on that final step. Most college recruits, and even some good salesmen, sometimes forget to ask for the sale.
“I got good advice to be direct with the coach,” said D’Alessio. “Now I don’t have to worry about it in the fall.”
D’Alessio knew pretty quickly Plymouth State could fill her softball needs and that “fit” became more obvious with the knowledge the school had a major-minor combination she shouldn’t couldn’t find in too many other schools. “Plymouth State is one of the few colleges I looked at that had a business major and a criminal justice minor,” D’Alessio said. “That’s exactly what I was looking for.
As the boxes continually gained check marks, D’Alessio passion for the school escalated.
“The campus is really nice,” she said. “It’s surrounded by the White Mountains.”
D’Alessio started in right field as a high school sophomore at Delaware Valley and was in line to assume the job as the team’ shortstop her junior season last spring before the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 season. The pandemic sent a lightning bolt of shock to the recruiting process throughout the nation and left many athletes confused and anxious about what to expect in the coming summer.
“That was bad,” said D’Alessio about the recruiting disruption. “I was supposed to play in a tournament, New England’s Finest Summer Showcase, but it was actually moved to New Jersey. It was the only tournament the Plymouth State coach would have had a chance to see me play in this summer.” Instead, Alyssa proactively sent Addison a video of herself.
D’Alessio, in fact, was set to make another trip to Plymouth State in the spring but those plans were sidetracked by the pandemic.
“Patti (Adorna) listened to the D’Alessio family, talked about their goals and came up with a game plan,” said Finch’s Aces softball coordinator Christian Campbell. “Alyssa got an immediate response and we were so happy for her. Plymouth State was her No. 1 choice. We knew she loved it up there. She had a great tournament up there last summer and got a lot of attention.”
Leslie O’Connor, D’Alessio’s coach on the Finch’s Aces 18U squad, saw D’Alessio’s dream come to fruition quickly after the player’s conversation with Adorna.
“Little details made the difference in the end,” said O’Connor. “Though she just turned 17 in August, Alyssa is on the right path and will enter college at the right time.”
Though Adorna came in very late in the process with D’Alessio’s recruitment, she was able to make that subtle suggestion that helped immeasurably. Typically, the recruiting process is much more detailed from Adorna’s perspective.
“I’m so happy for Alyssa,” said Adorna. “And she’s so happy. Alyssa was proactive and found the school she wanted most. There’s 2,000 colleges that play softball. You will find interest. But when you let schools recruit you, you set yourself up for disappointment. Athletes have to be proactive. College coaches always prefer to hear from the athletes.”
Plymouth State is getting a very dedicated student athlete in Alyssa D’Alessio.
“I’ve only had Alyssa a short time but can see how intensely focused she is,” says O’Connor. “She puts her head into the game. Alyssa cares a lot about her sport. She is looking forward to playing four more years.”
Lauren Aspiazu has coached D’Alessio for three years at Diamond Nation, starting with her 16U season. “Alyssa has always been a clutch player for us,” says Aspiazu. “She is so hard to strike out because she is such a battler at the plate. She’s a fighter, which makes her a great role model to her teammates on and off the field.”
Where D’Alessio fits into Plymouth State’s plans isn’t perfectly clear yet, but her ability to play multiple positions is a bonus to the school and the player. Comfortable in the middle infield, D’Alessio is also proficient in the outfield and has played first base for the Aces. “Coach Addison says they view me as a utility player coming in,” says D’Alessio.
Adorna seems to be a perfect match, too, in this case with Diamond Nation and the Finch’s Aces’ recruiting efforts.
She’d been a fixture in college athletics for nearly 30 years before opening Turn 2 Consulting. Her resume reflects the type of diversity in skills that truly makes her the ultimate utility player in the recruiting game. She can do it all and it will be to the Finch’s Aces benefit.
Adorna commands a thorough understanding of NCAA academic and eligibility requirements, having played and coached in college, and counseled student-athletes at the high school and college levels for those 30 years. She was also a high school coach for six years and spent 11 years as one of the most respected high school basketball officials in the region. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism at Rutgers and holds a Masters of Arts Degree in Teaching from Monmouth University.
“That schooling in teaching and experience as a high school coach will certainly benefit Adorna in her interactions with the Finch’s Aces athletes. “That’s my program, giving the kids life skills,” says Adorna. “I try to help them find their path. I say, ‘Let’s talk about it.’”
The recruiting process requires a lot of research, says Adorna. “I start with 50-70 schools and, typically, you get about 10 percent in interest back. The goal is to find great schools and fits like Plymouth State and Alyssa.”
And it helps when you offer a well-rounded player and person, such as Alyssa D’Alessio.
“Alyssa is a hard worker, smart and determined,” says Aspiazu, “and I know she has great things ahead in her future. Being recruited by her top schools is so amazing. Her hard work has paid off.”