As a former college soccer recruit, a college player at both the Division I and Division III levels, and a former College Assistant Coach, I have seen my fair share of do’s and don’ts for potential collegiate student athletes. My goal with this blog is to help our players understand what they should be doing if they want to play soccer in college and enjoy the student-athlete experience that many of us have before you. This process can happen at any point during your high school soccer career, but the earlier that you can get moving on things, the easier the process will become.
Here Is My Top 10 Checklist For Potential Collegiate Soccer Players:
1. Decide You Want To Play! First thing all players thinking about playing in college should do is DECIDE TO PLAY IN COLLEGE! Take it from an idea to a goal of yours, so that your motivation about it changes for the better. If all it ever is is “I think I want to play college soccer”, the probability of it happening will get slimmer and slimmer. Make the decision that you want to play and make it one of your goals!
2. Research What Level You Want To Compete At (Division I, II, or III, Junior College, or NAIA)
a. Can I honestly play / compete at this level?
b. Do I understand the time commitment of each level?
c. Do I understand the demands of each level?
3. Make Your Initial College List (See Questions To Ask Yourself!):
a. Would I go there even if soccer ends (a Mistake I made)?
b. Would I go here even if there is a coaching change made during my career?
c. Geographically, where can I handle going to school? How far away from home can I handle?
d. How is the school’s average academic scholarship and financial aid package?
e. Does the school have the major I am interested in or have enough programs of interest for me if I am undecided?
f. Does this school have extracurriculars outside of soccer that I am interested in? Football games, study abroad, good internship program, etc.
g. What size school do I want?
h. What kind of college soccer experience do I want? You need to figure out what is important to you from the soccer part!
A. Does the program vie for championships every year?
B. Do you want to play in NCAA tournament games?
C. Do you want to have a chance to play freshman year?
D. Are you going to a better soccer program but possibly not seeing the field until junior or senior year?
E. Do you think that playing Division I might be a reach and understand the competitiveness of this collegiate division?
4. Send Introduction email to all the Coaches on your list
a. Come up with a email where you introduce who you are, where you’re from (high school program), what club you play for, your current coaches, your current GPA and Standardized testing scores (if you have them), and what you’re interested in studying. In addition, I always recommend mentioning something personal about each program and why you’re interested in playing for that program/coach.
b. Attach your player profile information sheet (you can generate this for free via our website) and a link to your highlight video (if you have one)
c. Make sure to tag the head coach and all other soccer staff for that particular program on that email.
d. This and ALL emails should come from the player’s email address. One thing that college coaches are immediately turned off by are emails sent from a parent’s email account.
5. Fill Out Recruiting Questionnaires For All Programs You’re Interested In – Every single program has an online recruiting questionnaire on their soccer page or somewhere on the athletics website. Make sure to fill this out for each program. This gets your name automatically in their recruiting database, and also allows for the program to start sending emails directly to you.
6. Start to Embrace the STUDENT part of Student – Athlete. Make sure that you are focusing on your academics in High School and finishing strong. One of the first questions college coaches will ask club coaches when recruiting a player is “What are their grades like?” The college coach wants to know because he does not want to waste time and energy recruiting a player who will not be accepted for admission to the school. It is also important, for your success in college, that you begin to get used to balancing your time between soccer, school, and having a social life.
7. Always Send Pre and Post Tournament (“thank you for coming”) emails to the coaches that are listed as attending the tournament your team is attending. Pre-tournament email example:
Hi Coach, my name is Brian Thomsen. I wanted to send you a quick email as I see you’re attending the EDP Fall Showcase next weekend and want to make sure you had my schedule and would love for you to come watch me and my teammates play. My schedule is:
(Put all schedule info here: game time, field number, and opponent)
My uniform number is 8 and I usually play center midfield for my club team, [Fill-in name of club team]. Hope to see you there and congrats on the big conference championship victory last weekend, I was able to tune and in and the boys played awesome.
I have attached a copy of my Player Profile, which has more information about me.
8. Make sure you register for the NCAA Eligibility Center. You need to be in good academic standing with the NCAA Eligibility Center before being allowed to play for a NCAA program. Please do some internal research on what’s needed to create an account and etc. This is required for all D1 and D2 programs.
9. Get on campus for the 5 – 10 schools you really want to pursue. There are a number of ways that you can visit campus, but the key things are the following:
a. Visit campus without any of the coaches knowing. I call this the drop by. Go visit campus with your parents without the coaching staff being aware that you’ll be there. After your tour or plan for the day stop in to the soccer office and see if they know who you are. You will be able to tell their interest level right then and there.
b. Go watch the program play in the Spring and Fall. You’ll be able to see them play, and if you say to yourself “I can step on that field and make a difference,” then it’s a good thing.
c. Go for an Official Overnight Visit when you’ve determined your 3-5 schools you’re most interested in. You’ll be able to spend time with the players in the program and see what type of culture the program has on and off the field.
d. College ID camps – be wary of the big ones that are just money makers, but the ones strictly for the colleges can be good as they are usually fundraisers for the programs, gives you great facetime with the coaching staff, and usually pins you against other possible recruits. Always email and ask how many players they are going to have at the ID Camp. 30 or less players could be worth the cash, anything over that I get concerned they don’t care about meeting recruits and just want numbers.
10. DO NOT CLOSE ANY DOORS. One piece of advice that I can give is that a player should always maximize all of their options until they’re definitely SURE that the program they have chosen is the right one. You never want to commit somewhere too early as a number of things can happen before the player arrives on campus: coach gets fired/resigns, another school might give you a better financial package, the program might have some bad years, etc. And if you ever decide to transfer, it’s good to have kept positive relationships with the other coaches/programs.
The college recruitment process is what you make of it. If you’re proactive, following up and communicating with coaches in a timely manner, and wanting to get recruited, then I guarantee you’ll find a program that best fits your needs, wants, and goals for your collegiate student-athlete experience.