Ever since I can remember, I wanted to play college soccer. It was my dream to play Division I Soccer at a top university with a big name. I grew up in the era when women’s soccer exploded; when Mia Hamm took the world my storm and showed us that women can play this game too.
I knew that I was going to get there one day because I knew I was good enough. I had the grades, the skills, the work ethic, the support, and the commitment. So what was missing?
Education on how exactly this process worked. Education that it might not play out exactly like I thought it would. Education that I could not do this all by myself.
I sat down with my parents the other day asked them what it was like when we were going through the recruiting process, and my mom’s exact response was, “You were the most frustrating person in the world. You did not listen to anyone. You threw away letters without opening them, and ignored phone calls from coaches.”
Looking back, I did do some things correctly. I started the recruiting process my freshman year and began contacting coaches right away. I had my own athletic and academic profile which I would send to coaches along with an introduction email and my schedule for an upcoming tournament. However, I only contacted coaches at the schools that I had heard of. I reached out to top programs and most times I heard nothing back.
I was fortunate enough to play club soccer on one of the top soccer teams in the country and as a result played in the country’s top tournaments and showcases, where coaches were able to see me play. I was offered scholarship opportunities at many Division I programs by my junior year, but I ignored these offers and ignored these coaches because they were not the schools with the big name and big reputation. I counted them out before I even looked into the school. I waited for an email and phone call that never came, and that almost cost me my dream, my dream of playing Division I Soccer.
So, if I could go back and meet the stubborn frustrating teenager I was, and teach myself some lessons, what would I say?
1. Learn the process
I did not know anything about the recruiting process. My dad had played football in college but I refused to listen to him because to me, he went through the process 100 years ago, and let’s face it; I was a teenager and thought I was the expert on everything. In reality, everything I did was trial and error. I didn’t know what my first email to a coach should look like, I didn’t know how to talk to coaches, I didn’t know the NCAA rules, and I thought there was only 1 option: Division I.
Learn the ins and outs of this process because it will be a wild ride. Take advantage of the resources you have and become the true expert by absorbing all the information you can. Learning the process can help you create a recruiting game plan and maximize your recruiting potential of being discovered.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
I did not want help with the recruiting process , it didn’t matter if it was my coaches, parents or teammates. The second my parents would bring it up, I ran away. Taking help from a third-party source like NCSA does not mean you are not good enough, it means you are smart enough to let the experts help you along the way.
3. Do your research!
I only thought of one thing: soccer. I did not look into location, majors the school offered, or even the program’s history. I did not know exactly what I wanted because I did not do my research into schools. Do your research into each school so you can find the best fit academically and athletically.
4. Don’t play the name game
I had it stuck in my head that I was going to play soccer at a Big 10 school. I refused to look at other schools, I only wanted to play at a school that everyone had heard of. Because of this, I let letters go unopened, and phone calls go unanswered. There are amazing schools across the country that aren’t on TV but could have offered me a world class education and competitive soccer.
5. Don’t count ANY schools out – Respond to each school
If I wasn’t interested in a school, I ignored them. And because I didn’t do my research and I played the name game, I didn’t respond to over 90% of the schools that contacted me. I counted them out because they weren’t in my list of top schools. By ignoring schools and coaches, you are losing out on opportunities and lessening your chance of receiving a scholarship. The more scholarship offers you have, the more leverage you have later on in the process, plus a school you have never heard of might surprise you and be the right school for you. Be open to every opportunity!
Don’t make the same mistakes. Click here to create a recruiting profile in the NCSA Network and get the opportunity to connect with college coaches across the country , or call 866-579-6272 to speak to an NCAA-certified recruiting expert