Are you ready for big time soccer? Here is what Diane Drake, head women’s soccer coach at George Mason University, has to suggest to the player investigating the college soccer ranks.
- Know the rules for contacting coaches and when they can contact you. You can contact college coaches with your interest or questions at any time. They must wait until September 1st of your junior year to email you. They can call you after July 1st of the summer between your junior and senior year. Currently they are not allowed to text you, though they may be looking at your facebook page. Be sure it shows what you want them to see about you.
- Coaches want to hear from the athlete not the parent. Except in rare circumstances you and not your parent should be initiating communication with coaches.
- Coaches may miss you at a showcase tournament. If you are on a really top notch team, you may be missed. If you’re on a not so top notch team, you may not even get to showcase tournaments. If so, it’s okay to send video to coaches at schools where you’re interested. But if you really want to make an impact, sign up for their elite/prospect camp in the Spring. If they like what they see, they’ll likely invite you to a more intensive summer camp where coaches and current players can get a sense of how you’d fit with the team.
- You can’t fake a desire to play college ball and shouldn’t try. If you really have doubts, coaches can tell. Be sure about your desire to commit to the rigors of a college sports program. Coaches can’t afford to waste precious scholarship money on a player who isn’t going to stick with it. If you’re not sure, don’t take the opportunity from someone who would make the most of it.
- Keep an open mind about the level of play that is right for you. Most colleges and universities offer varsity teams (with scholarship and walk-on athletes), club teams and intramural play. Failing to consider all your options may lead to poor decision-making, especially with all the changes that come with college. The demands, cost, time and competition level are important to consider. Find the right fit to balance your whole college experience.
Colleges are picky about who they select for their competitive teams. Only 5% of high school players reach the college varsity ranks. A mere one percent make it at a Division I school. If you have dreamed of playing in college, then do what it takes to be seen and evaluated. Even if you don’t go all the way, trust that all you have learned and worked toward in your youth soccer career has built a stronger, more resilient, perhaps even smarter you. And that will play well in any career path you choose.