College Recruiting Tips, Scholarships, Timeline
aside, if you want to play soccer in college you must do everything in
your control to make it as easy as possible for college coaches to find
and scout you. There are a few things you must address early
on. Be the best soccer player you can be. Be the best
student you can be. Find a way to be a part of the best travel
soccer team you can make and which plays at the national college
showcase tournaments with a high number of colleges coaches in
attendance (see GotSoccer.com for listings). Get a feel for who is
committing to different colleges by looking at an independent web site
high school verbal commitments. There is also
ESPN Rise Recruits and
TopDrawerSoccer.com Commitments. The data is provided by
club coaches, players and/or parents. These lists do not have a athletic
scholarship requirement in order to make it, it is strictly about verbal
commitments, which usually occurs in the sophomore and/or junior year.
It is considered a solid source for initial commitments but does not
verify National Letter of Intent signings, which are official.
How much money can a soccer player receive? There is no official
publication that can give you that information. You could frequent
some blogs or forums and read what others are posting but the best
source is to talk with your clubs director who can guide you. As a
general rule, Division I & II can give athletic money as long as the
school does not prohibit athletic scholarships. Some do, some
don't. Division III schools cannot give athletic scholarships but
they have a need-based financial application where you qualify for
financial aid and which you do not have to pay back. Are
full scholarships really possible? If you have financial need and
great soccer skills and good grades the answer if yes. The "full
rides" you hear about are almost always a combination of financial-need,
athletic award and possibly some merit scholarship money.
If you have the ability to score well on standardized tests, then you
want to prepare in advance for your PSAT, SAT and ACT's. Students
take a school administered preliminary PSAT in the Fall of their
freshman and sophomore year and then the official PSAT (aka National
Merit Scholarship Qualifyng Test) in the Fall of their Junior year.
Students should study in advance for the freshman preliminary
PSAT, even though it is unofficial, because they can show it to a
college coach as an "indicator of future scores".
This increases your chance of making a college coach's short list if you
want to be recruited at one of the "academic" soccer schools. It
is important to put yourself in a position to be considered for the
short list, by doing everything in your control.
The earlier the better in the
recruiting process because entire coaching staffs do not attend showcase
tournaments in tow. A typical coaching staff consists of
no more than three positions including head coach, assistant coach and
recruiting coordinator. Usually just one coach will travel to a
tournament unless it is geographically close and then 2-3 may attend.
You need to be ready at the earliest possible date. You may not
second chance with many schools.
It is well known
that coaches develop recruiting lists starting with high school
freshman. That list certainly changes over time but many of the
players remain on the list and are seen by coaches for three years or
more. If you have solid grades, test scores and are a high quality
player, you increase your chances of getting on that initial short list
of prospects for many of these schools and with that the chance to be
actively reviewed some top schools. It does not mean you will make
the final cut at these schools but at least you will be in the running.
Many of the top twenty
(20) college soccer teams don't really care whether you are in the top
10% of your class academically. They are first looking for the
best soccer players and if you are in the top 25% of your class
that is a bonus, but the other 98% of colleges are going to want a
combination of good
students and really good soccer players. Make it easy for
them by giving your best in everything....early and often.
Remember the key phrase "early and often". You must be consistent
in everything you do.
Most colleges want to see good GPA's with really good SAT and ACT scores. Do
that early and also have a really good soccer game and you increase your
chances playing college soccer. The academic schools found
in the Ivy and Patriot League pre-screen you by GPA (unweighted) not HPA
(weighted, aka Honors), class rank and
standardized test scores. If you think you have the ability to be
a National Merit Scholar go for it as it will open the
door with another 10 - 20 schools. If you wait until your third try on the
SAT to reach their minimum, you have backed yourself into a corner
because these college coaches will have already been scouting other
players much earlier then you because they scored high, early and often.
Once the short list fills up it makes it that much harder for you to
Start your process in
your freshman or sophomore year by selecting a handful of colleges that
fit your requirement of academics, campus life and soccer opportunity.
Go to the particular college athletic web site and find the online
recruiting questionaire profile. Fill this out in the very
beginning of the process because even emailing any coaches. They must
have your information in their database.
Keep a detailed log
book of just about everything you do in the recruiting process.
You do not want to be sending duplicate emails or forms to these college
What about attending
college soccer camps? The
overwhelming majority of college soccer camps are all about making money and that is it.
Plain and simple.
Yes, some players are legitimately scouted, analyzed and recruited at
a college "ID" camps, but that number is certainly less than 1%, except
for the academic colleges. The academic colleges want to see you
at their camps in the spring or summer of your sophomore year and then
in the spring of your Junior year.
For example, the
academic institutions found in the
Ivy League and Patriot League require you to attend their camps. They do
not have the big budgets for traveling across the country in search of
soccer showcases. Yes their endowments are huge but they are
not used for attending youth travel showcases. The public colleges
have seemingly unlimited resources because the public is paying for it
so they will be at every and any tournament they can logistically fit in
If you think you
have the combo of great grades and class rank, very high standardized
test scores and strong soccer skills and want to try for it then attend
whatever camps you can afford or have the luxury of time. Just
remember they all may turn out to be a bust for you so you better be
enjoying the experience because it is alot of time and money.
There are some camps
that are by invitation and communicated to you individually with the
understanding that the schools is interested in you and you will be
reviewed by the coaching staff. These are usually 1-2 days camps
billed as "elite camps". You can tell if they are serious or
not based on their price of $150 - $200, just enough to cover their
expenses and they are usually limited to 30 players or less who have
been seen by the coaching staff over an extended period of time and or
were referred by their club coach. The coaching staff
will almost always find you at travel soccer tournaments for these camps.
The coach might tell you to spend the night on campus with another
soccer player, attend classes or something similar. These are clear
signs that you are on a short list. They might have a short
list of 6-10 players for one position though. But that is how it works
everywhere. Count yourself fortunate if you find yourself in this
Players on U14+
National teams and National Region ODP teams usually don't have to concern
themselves with many of these issues. They may all end up being
recruited by the Top 20 teams and will not have to experience the ups
and downs of the recruiting process. But they represent less than
a fraction of one percent of the soccer players in the youth system. Everyone else has
to grind it out.
Playing college soccer
on scholarship is a privilege. If you have to sacrifice your
childhood to achieve a scholarship, I would label this grossly
unacceptable as a parent. There are plenty of colleges in every
state where just about any travel soccer player can participate on.
You won't receive an athletic scholarship but you will have a chance to
If you want to attend a top notch academic college and
play soccer, you want to target a minimum SAT of 1300. Without an
athletic "support position", entry into an Ivy requires a minimum of 700 in
each subject test. It is
easier to achieve a high SAT over a high class rank. You want to be in
the top 10 % of your class with an GPA (unweighted) of at least 3.5.
If you really want to
play soccer in college you have to be flexible with your choices.
You may have dreamed of having your child play at UNC because you have a
vacation home nearby and you have fallen in love with the prospect of
being a Tarheel parent. UNC Coach Anson Dorrance takes the nine best
players in the country each season and that is it. Nine
being defined by how long they have been on the US National Team at
various age groups. So unless you are one of them, do yourself a
favor and move on.
There can be a hundred different colleges at various soccer tournaments.
If the tournament web site is hosted by GotSoccer.com or
SoccerInCollege.com there will be a
list of all the coaches who have pre-registered to attend on the
schedule page. They do
this to let you know they will be in attendance. There are no
email addresses so you need to go to the college website and get their
email contact information and then send an email from your daughter (not parent) asking them
to attend. First go to the college soccer website your freshman year and
register as a prospective soccer recruit with each college you are
interested in. Then send them an email providing the
tournament dates and location, your game date, time, field location and
opponent name. Send your first email out months in
advance and then a follow-up about 2 weeks before the tournament.
Sometimes you will get confirmation and other times nothing.
Coaches are busy. After the tournament ends send an email
asking if they attended any games and ask for feedback. Coaches are
busy, so it make take a few days or longer to get a response.
If they really liked the player then will respond within 3-4 days at the
latest. But don't give up it the delay is longer.
Also ask your club coach and team manager to put together a team
with player names, grad year, GPA, position, email and photo. Then find a
"generous" or impartial parent from your team to be the one at
tournaments to hand these flyers out to the college coaches at the
field. Tell each college coach, you are there to assist them with any questions.
This person can be a parent, just keep in mind that college coaches cannot speak
with you at the field directly about your child. They can speak with you
about the other players on the team, but not your child. Which is why the term "generous"
was used. So if you find them asking questions about your child
try and handle it like any member of the team.
When should I
communicate SAT scores to college coaches? Well, that depends on
your results. Eventually the coach will have 100% of your test scores
but it is better not to have yourself crossed off the short list early
because you first score did not meet your minimum objective. Let's say a college has a minimum SAT
requirement of 1200 for non-athletes and you scored 1150, that
probably meets the minimum for athletes with most schools.
If you scored a 1250, rush it out quickly. On the other hand
if you scored 1050 you might hold off, study and retake the exam.
When you feel you are maxed out go ahead and send the score.
Remember, soccer coaches are looking for soccer players first
by grades which would meet the minimum requirement of their admissions
It really does not matter much to a coach if the soccer recruit is high
above the minimum as long as they are at it. Each player is admitted
individually, all the college coach really is interested in is if each player being
recruited can stand on their own with admissions. If a coach likes
you and encourages you to come see the school, then do you homework and
decide if you should go. If you do go, email the coach when you
will be on campus and then follow it up with an email letting them know
what you thought of the school. This will communicate to the
coaching staff just how interested you are.
How do I begin the
process of finding appropriate colleges and then narrowing the list when
my child is only an incoming freshman? At this point, just
begin by getting acquainted with the top soccer teams as ranked by
NCAA.com for Division
I-III and NAIA.com.
Keep in mind that many D-I colleges require players to practice six (6)
days a week beginning in the Fall and working right through the Spring
season. Top 20 colleges have their players training 30-35
hours of practice each week for up to nine (9) months.
Ivies, Patriot and other academic conferences usually cap the commitment
to 15-20 hours each week during the Fall season and less during the Spring
season. Division I is by far the most competitive college
league, followed by Division II; however, there are some Division III
teams which could compete with both. Next, you should begin the
process of getting acquainted with the academic ranking and profiles of
colleges. Turn to Bloomberg BusinessWeek and US News to look at
the "glamour" academic rankings. Nobody really knows what the
criteria is to make the various lists but at least they are a starting
point for quickly culling together information. After this, Google
might just be your best resource.
Last point. Coaches recruit players, not parents.
The student should be emailing the prospective college coach from their
personal email not from the family or parents email. The student should
select a professional email such as "TaylorSwift@" not "SurferGirlTS@".
The student email should be on the team recruiting brochure.
Coaches will let the parent know when the right time to speak with them
is. Don't hard sell your child or you will find a coach will
drop your child quickly. They just don't have the time to deal with
meddlesome parents. The difference between 90% of
players is often how a coach perceives attitudes. Don't find
yourself on the wrong side of the fence.
scholarships per team should I be anticipating?
sets limits for scholarships in any given season for Division I-III
schools. They are as follows:
forget NAIA schools which allocate 12 scholarships as well. For the most
part, NAIA colleges are on par with NCAA D-II soccer. NCAA D
I-III and NAIA make up the top four college soccer leagues in the USA.
So what does this mean?. NCAA socccer is an equivalency
sport where scholarships can and will be divided as many times
as the coach deems appropriate. Each player on scholarship will get a
percentage of their school expenses paid for but rarely does even a top
college soccer program use one full scholarship for any single player.
These are the maximum number of scholarships allowed but college
athletic departments ("AD's") cannot afford to give out 14 full rides at
$35,000 - $50,000 annually per player when the college soccer teams
operates at a loss each year.
Most large D-I college AD's will
advise their soccer coach they will only have 8 +/- scholarships to
apply to there entire team. That means 2 scholarships per incoming
class divided by the number of recruits, in theory. The reality is
a group of 8 incoming freshman might find themselves with 2 players each
receiving a 1/2 scholarships, leaving 1 scholarship to be divided
between the 6 other players. Smaller D-I colleges might limit the
number to 6 full scholarships for the entire team.
That's the part that parents just have
a hard time understanding. If the NCAA allows 14 why limit it to
8? The reason is money. The AD is run like a business. They might
have 30-50 different sports to manage and they have to minimize their
losses each year. And Title IX does not mandate women's teams get
to receive the maximum number of scholarships, even when a school has a
champion football team like the Gators.
a case, right here in Florida. For the 2010-2011 soccer season,
the Gators begin the season with 38 players on their roster.
In all likelihood, there are no Gator players on a full-ride. Why?
Because UF does not have to offer 100% to get these players to come to
the No. 1 rated sports college program in the country. Of
the 38 players, 18 or so will receive absolutely zero athletic money and
in fact will probably have to come out of pocket to cover expenses on
the team. And 15-20 of those players will never travel on the road
to away games because that extra cost would cripple the team budget.
College Recruitment Timeline
In a fully funded NCAA Division I women’s soccer program, there are only
14 full scholarships available at any point in time. Therefore, in
programs with 20-30 players, most of them are only receiving partial
scholarships, if they are on scholarship at all. It is only in the most
special cases (US National team/regional teams caliber players) where a
sizeable scholarship might be given. NCAA Division II and NAIA
programs also offer scholarships, but at even lower levels in most
cases. NCAA Division III programs do not offer athletic scholarships,
but will often work very hard at providing academic assistance to
interested players with the necessary grades.
Unless you are participating on the National Team or in the upper levels of the Olympic
Development Program (ODP), it is unlikely that any major college coaches
will come to you directly. You need to take your game to them and initiate contact
college coaches at the schools you might be interested in attending. Pick
20-30 schools and really work them. You should begin the process as
early as your freshman year.
Beginning with that perspective, it is
important to follow these three simple rules in selecting a college or
1. Be sure that the school you are interested in attending offers the
major that you are most interested in pursuing, and that it is
academically challenging enough for your needs.
2. Be sure that the size, location, distance from home, and social
environment of the school you are interested in is comfortable for
you for the next four to five years. If soccer were to be taken away
from you for any reason, would you be happy staying there and
completing your education?
3. Does the school you are interested in offer a soccer program that
you believe you can participate in at a level of your choosing. You may
want to be an impact player immediately, an impact player later in
your career, a role player, or just a part of the team. This however,
must be the final part of the equation, NOT the first.
You will have your education and your degree for a lifetime, but soccer
will not last forever.
Chasing the Dream
The following is an adaptation of a guide offered by the University of
Kentucky soccer program.
This is a great time to make initial contact by letter and/or e-mail
with the schools you are interested in attending. Initial contact
should be made through conventional mail, with updates through e-mail
and/or letters. It is never too early to start! Players should begin
to formulate a list of 10-12 schools, varying in division and level of
competitiveness (dream big – but be realistic also). Division I and II
schools can only respond to the introductory letter with a general
questionnaire and/or summer camp brochure. By making contact, it lets
the prospective school know of your genuine interest. It is also
recommended that your follow up on this initial contact with schedules
(high school and club), tournament updates, recent awards, academic
awards/scores, etc. Update as often as you would like!
Your introductory letter should stress your interest in and awareness of
the specific program. Personalize each letter, and remember – it’s okay
to be creative! This is done by reviewing that team’s past successes
(i.e. season record, tournament bids, player awards, etc), which
demonstrates you are well researched. It should also highlight your own
personal and/or team successes, both high school and club. Also include
in the letter a complete resume’ and any pertinent high school/club
schedules. A request for further information about the soccer program
and the college or university as well as summer camps should be made at
the closing of the letter.
It is also recommended that you take as many unofficial visits as
possible to many different types of schools. You have an unlimited
number of unofficial visits. Most coaches are more than willing to meet
and talk. Campus tours can usually be arranged through the admissions
office and/or visitor’s center.
Sometime during the sophomore year, it is also recommended you enter the
NCAA Clearinghouse. See the NCAA Guide for the College-Bound Athlete,
in your high school athletic department and/or guidance department, for
further details. It is also wise to evaluate your core courses and
grade point average at this time.
As of September 1st of your junior year, prospective
student-athletes may begin to receive letters, media guides and other
soccer/university information from college coaches, faculty members and
students (not boosters). Your “Top 10” list will vary from week to week
or even day to day. Therefore, it is a good idea to continue your
research and recruiting. You must also begin to research the academic
side of schools in great detail. Your recruiting should continue along
the same lines as your sophomore year but with some more focus and
deliberateness. Even though the high school season coincides with
college soccer season, you should watch as many women’s college games as
possible. I can’t stress this enough! Continue to request further
information as well as take unofficial visits.
I strongly encourage you to take your ACT/SAT tests during the
fall and as many times as you can. Don’t wait until the fall of your
senior year. Most academic packages from colleges are put together in
the fall of your senior year based upon earlier scores and early
As of July 1st of your senior year, you may receive phone
calls from coaches of both Division I and II schools. Coaches are
limited to one phone call per week. Messages don’t count as a phone
call. If your parents speak with the coach about the university and/or
soccer program, that phone call will count for that week even if they
did not speak with you directly. Letters, emails, faxes, etc. are
unlimited. Also, beginning your first day of class, you can begin
official visits. You have five official visits total. Official visits
are by invitational only, however. Official visits are expense paid
HIGHLIGHT TAPES and CD-ROMs:
Highlight tapes aren’t a necessity but can be a useful tool if done
properly and professionally. However, they tend to be very expensive in
production, very time consuming, and costly in distribution. They can
be used to generate interest in those schools you are most interested
in, like your top five. It is a personal choice.
The majority of services or resources offered by recruiting services are
things you can do yourself with some time and hard work. It’s a
Somewhat expensive, but very productive and useful, summer camps provide
you with an opportunity to get “an insider’s view” of the prospective
coaches, facilities, and campus.
ON-LINE RESEARCH AIDS:
www.ncaa.org (rules and explanations)
GOOD QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT YOUR COLLEGE
When you meet the coach (or even potential teammates), they’ll at some
point ask you if you have any questions. Make sure you ask some. In
addition to those you come up with , here are some good ones you might
not have thought of.
YOU NEED TO ASK THE COLLEGE
COACH AND TEAMMATES..
1. How many hours a day does the soccer team train? What seasons?
2. May I choose my major and attend classes required in my major even
if practice conflicts?
3. What percentage of scholarship athletes graduate in four years?
4. Is free tutoring available? How do I arrange for this service?
5. Do I like and admire this coach? What do the players say about
him/her? Is he/she returning?
6. Does this college environment (size of town, living arrangements,
students) appeal to me?
7. Can I afford the personal costs of attending here (travel back and
forth, etc., fees, tuition, room and board)?
If they offer a partial or
full scholarship, how can it be terminated?
9. What is the varsity team composition – year in school, transfers,
10. What is the attitude on campus toward athletes? Professors’
11. Will I live in a regular or an athletic dorm? How many in a room?
12. How many classes will I miss due to athletic commitments, travel,
etc.? Can I make up tests before or after an absence?
13. What accident/health insurance does the school offer athletes?
What is the procedure for injuries?
14. What is the academic expectation to keep the scholarship or
15. Are my scores and high school academic record adequate to project
success at this college?
16. How many hours a day do most students study at this college?