Rising Senior Just Beginning with College Soccer Recruiting

My dd is a rising senior. She played club soccer until 5th grade when I pulled her to play for our city’s homeschool team. There are club players on the team, and they play against some really good private schools, so she has also played with and against some club players.

Dd decided she might want to play in college, so we signed up for an ID camp thinking maybe she’d be good enough for a D3 team. She said after the camp, she was just going to leave, but the assistant coach pulled her over and said that they had discussed her and all the coaches like her, and she should make time to talk to each one before leaving, send them emails, and one of them would come see her play.

She talked to all the coaches, and their feedback was that she has a really high soccer IQ, had a lot of good stops, and made one play in particular that they typically don’t see at any level. Criticisms were that she needs to be more vocal and get her fitness level up, which makes sense because her team doesn’t play year round and she’s been training on her own since spring.

The coaches were surprised that she does not play club. One of the coaches asked what schools she is looking at, and she said she made her list based on academics, so most of the schools are DI. He said she could play DI. She is assuming lower level DI. Not destined for the national team or anything, lol.

Anyway, we weren’t sure where to go from here or how seriously to take any of it. Attending this camp is the only thing she has done, no film or anything.

She has another ID camp next month with coaches from different schools where they also take film.

In the meantime, she’s planning to work on fitness. I contacted a local club team who said she could possibly come train with them.

She’s planning on premed so academics are the priority, along with merit money. I wasn’t in favor of hyper focusing on sports, so that’s why she did homeschool team only. But she’s a wonderful kid and wanted to keep playing, so I told her to just go to the camp and see how it goes.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions.

Ok, did your dd email the coaches and what were the results?

Your daughter is a little bit late, in terms of timing. This means she has to get on with contacting coaches asap. A book, The Athletic Scholarship Playbook, sets out how to do recruiting in a clear and succinct way.

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The camp was this weekend. She emailed the coaches on Tuesday.

Thanks for the book recommendation. I just ordered it.

I don’t mean to dissuade her pursuit–it sounds like she is very talented–but I’d just say if DI soccer hasn’t really been a focus until recently, think carefully about getting sucked in to this hamster wheel, especially with a late start. From my limited perspective, unless you are getting significant money and/or playing at top level, DI is a big commitment compared to what is often a much more manageable and “fun” career playing in D3. Some folks have different views on this and prefer not to play at all if they cannot play DI but it doesn’t sound like that’s where your daughter was / is. In our experience ID camps can be sort of hit or miss but at this stage that may be one of the best ways to get coaches’ attention–I think a lot will just depend on whether they are really recruiting for her class still.

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For a student thinking pre-med, D1 time commitment could be exhausting – not impossible, just very much a challenge. A lot of D1 athletes at high academic colleges are used to balancing 20+ hours a week on their sport in high school plus getting good grades so, while the transition to college sports is intense, they are at least already used to that balance. For a student who has not played club soccer to go, basically, from 0 to 60 in college athletics with high academic goals, that could be overwhelming. So, keep an eye on the academic goals and assess how soccer fits in there. My guess is that, for merit and pre-med, there are plenty of good D3 programs which could be of interest. If it’s helpful context, my D3 soccer player spent about 25-30 hours per week on soccer (training, fitness, film, travel, matches, meetings) in season and abut 5-15 hours per week in the off season (fitness, unofficial training). We know D1 Men’s coaches who have said the team is 40+ hours a week in season and about 15-20 off-season.

For pre-med and finances, in-state Honors at public flagship could offer a great combination of affordability and academic opportunity. Those are D1 and likely out of reach for players who have not worked their way through the elite club system(depending on your home state). Club soccer at those schools are competitive tryouts with a travel schedule – often compared to D3 Varsity teams, again, depending on the school. So, if that academic setting makes the most sense, she could look at club tryouts or even intramural, competitive leagues on campus.

The alternative is D3 soccer at a school which offers merit. Many of the “top” academic D3s do not offer merit awards, including Williams, Amherst, Swarthmore, Bowdoin, Middlebury, Haverford, Vassar. To get merit at D3s, you generally have to drop down a bit in ranking so schools like Kenyon, Oberlin, Denison, Dickinson, St. Lawrence, Conn Coll, Trinity Coll in CT, Rhodes, Centre, Lawrence University, St. Olaf, Macalester (I’m drawing a wide geographic range because I don’t know the region you prefer).

If this D3 approach is of interest, then, right away, email those coaches and copy their assistant coach, expressing interest in their program, explaining the recent camp assessment and change in your college search. The team website should show whether there is an ID camp this summer. Ask the coaches whether they are attending any large camps where the player might be seen by a number of coaches at once rather than try to hit each individual school. If you have any film from the ID camp, send a few minutes of film to the coaches.

Recruiting has been thrown off cycle and out of whack for the past two years, so there is a lot more uncertainty this year which could benefit a late-to-the-process recruit. A lot of schools held off announcing whether they are even holding recruiting campus until recently.

Good luck, and welcome to the ride! My kid loved playing D3 soccer and it was a huge part of his college experience.

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The highlighted portion is very important. Will your daughter have the opportunity to play any time soon, or is her season over? Coaches are heading out on the recruiting trail as we speak. My son is flying to Dallas for the playoffs and they anticipate 300+ schools will attend.

As others have noted, reaching out to coaches ASAP should be your daughter’s first step in her recruiting process. Broaden her scope and email more schools than she thinks she’s interested in.

Video for her is key right now. Can you get video of her training with her coach? Is there any video of her games, even from other parents? Coaches have become more reliant on video so that may help her cause.

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It has been a busy 2 weeks since we started thinking of adjusting my dd’s plan to include college soccer. I’d honestly prefer she play club or intramural and focus on academics, but I am trying to be supportive.

She did some last minute tryouts with club teams, and found a reputable team to join. Signing day is Thursday. Hopefully, this will increase her level of training and fitness level, and give her a chance to play in tournaments and showcases. The team also takes film.

We’re reading through The Athletic Scholarship Playbook and getting her information ready to start contacting coaches this weekend. She also has plans to attend another ID camp next month where there will be a number of coaches, and they also take film. I’m going to start filling out her NCAA and NAIA paperwork.

We had a long talk today, and ultimately, we decided to proceed with applying to the list of schools she had chosen for academics and potential merit money. She has a separate list of schools she is looking at for soccer and will also see what kind of interest the showcases and club garner. We agreed that she won’t go crazy with it, but will do her best and see what unfolds. So we’ll see…

I appreciate all of the advice!

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