According to scholarshipstats.com, only 8.1% of high school softball players play at any level of college. Even more rare are the 1.6% of high school softball players that will play at an NCAA Division I school. The national odds of any high school softball player making an NCAA Division I roster are 64:1. The odds of any softball player in Texas making and NCAA Division I roster are 52:1. Miles High School’s Skyler Brooks will count as part of that 1.6% playing at an NCAA Division I school after she signed her letter of intent to play college softball for the storied program at the University of North Carolina. Brooks wasn’t only offered a scholarship at North Carolina as the University of Tennessee, University of Georgia and Ole Miss also recruited her.
NCAA schools only have 12 softball scholarships to offer per team, which shows the level of commitment the schools have to their players and programs. There are an average of 21 softball players on an NCAA team. The weekly time commitment for NCAA Division I includes 39 hours for academics and 39 hours for athletics, for a total of 78 hours per week.
Since 2001 the North Carolina Tar Heels have made 15 appearances in the NCAA tournament, winning the tournament championship in 2001. The Tar Heels won conference championships in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2008 and 2012. Add to that 5 ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) titles and you have program that is always contending for a national championship.
The current Tar Heels softball coach is Donna J. Papa, a legend in the annals of softball. Papa has been head softball coach at North Carolina since 1986. She has a record of 1,257-704-5 overall. Her record at North Carolina is 1,228-689-5 for an overall winning percentage of .641. Papa is a member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Ten of Papa’s players have received All American honors.
Brooks will be heading into a proud program that is a diamond in the world of NCAA Division 1 softball, which went into her decision to attend UNC, “I chose North Carolina because I love the atmosphere there. They have a great staff and a championship mentality.”
There is nothing that is given in those programs. You must earn your way in and earn you place every day, which is something that shouldn’t be hard for someone with Brooks’ work ethic. According to Miles’ head football coach and athletic director, Charles Boles, Brooks is up to the challenge, “She is tough, physically and mentally. She plays hard and she plays with speed and intensity. She only knows one speed and that is all-out.” The other side of the coin will be the academics, which Boles says she should also do great at, “Skyler is a good, quality student and sometimes that aspect gets lost in the shuffle.” Brooks is a multi-sport athlete at Miles. She’s played volleyball, basketball, tennis, softball and ran track. Boles said that track has helped Brooks, “She has explosiveness. That explosiveness and speed development both come from her running track.”
Miles softball coach Matt Jones said that Brooks primarily played shortstop but she also played other positions when needed. He echoed Boles’ comments, “She is as tough as they come. You can’t replace someone like her.” Jones said that there is another aspect of softball at Miles that Brooks has given a boost to, “Softball is growing here. I’m going to have about 20 players this year. That comes from players like Skyler and Tycee Lange showing others how good softball can be and how well it can be played.”
All of the students in Miles packed into the gymnasium at the high school to watch Brooks sign her letter. She was wearing a North Carolina shirt and was surrounded by her family as she signed. According the Miles High School principal, Jamie Rouse, Brooks is the first athlete from Miles to be signed by a Division I program.