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Butch Zike is the head softball coach at Franklin College.
A 1972 Franklin College graduate, he joined the Grizzlies’ staff in 2012.
Zike was hired after retiring from his athletics director position at Whiteland Community High School.
Q: Without the benefit of athletics scholarships, what are the biggest challenges in attracting athletes?
A: The biggest challenge is the idea that the athlete (thinks) he or she is better than Division III. We have great athletes at Division III, and not everyone is able to play at the college level. All the athletes think they are are Division I or Division II athletes.
There are more Division III colleges offering athletics than Division I or Division II. If we can have them visit the campus, then we have a chance of them coming to school. The cost is the biggest stumbling block, plus our inside facilities. Our outside softball facilities are outstanding.
Q: What specifically do you tell athletes to sell them on Franklin?
A: The biggest benefit is the outstanding education they receive at a caring campus. The student-athletes are not numbers. They are in classes where professors care about them as individuals. They make tremendous contacts while at Franklin College in their desired professions.
They have a coach that is not looking to be the next coach at IU or Purdue. They will play on an outstanding outside softball facility in a caring environment.
One advantage is that we have a safe campus. Many campuses can’t say that, and that is highly important to fathers for their daughters. Another factor that plays in our favor is that we promise nothing on playing time. Playing time must be earned.
Q: When do you typically start recruiting?
A: Recruiting never stops.
Q: Do you enjoy the recruiting process? If so, what do you enjoy about it?
A: I enjoy meeting players and their families, along with their travel and high school coaches. Usually they are high-character families that want a good education for their daughter and a quality softball program.
The not-so-much fun of recruiting is when athletes are not honest with you. Also, college coaches will make promises that can’t be honored or just aren’t possible.
The most difficult process is trying to recruit against boyfriends that are going to other schools.