College sports has so many special moments for the athlete, especially when it comes to college recruitment… I can still remember National signing day for me and my friends. It’s a special time to see all of your peers from different sports, boys and girls, all committing to their future schools. The time of the year with all the College Sports Buzz is February & March because you have National Signing Day. This is usually the first Wednesday of February. Nowadays there are at least 3 different signing days thought the year. Then you have March Madness basketball and several big youth soccer tournaments.
National signing day or bust?
Signing days are filled with joy & the feeling of accomplishment and relief.
On the contrary, there are the students who didn’t sign for different reasons.
Some players enter the recruitment stage and are offered spots, but then get injured and lose the opportunity. Good news is there are hundreds of schools. You just have to keep seeking them.
Players, you have to be mentally tough and believe in yourselves through these tough times. The recruitment process is not easy, but if you are persistent, your chances are way higher.
You have to know things will work out as long as you prepare.
Working hard on and off the field and being persistent is key.
New opportunity will come, but you have to get your name out there and promote yourself.
The players and families have to work together to get their name out in front of university coaches.
You can do it!
2 ways to get your name out for college recruitment
- E-mail is a great way to first get your name out there! Let the coach know you are interested in their school and why. Tell them know you watched the team on TV, like their playing style or whatever you want. Make sure you spend the time learning, because often times this can help you seperate the schools. Most of the Schools Don’t know you and You don’t know them, so make sure you are doing what you can to self promote.
- Attend a Camp during the Summer, but be realistic about it. Everyone wants to go to the top 5 schools in America, but if you are already 16 and you are not on the national team or playing in the highest level in America than don’t go to that camp. Go to a local camp or a camp that you think you could make an impact with one day.
D1 doesn’t mean better
Maybe it’s Division 2 or NAIA.
D1 is not for everyone and every D1 school is not better than every D2 school. More than anything it means the enrollment size is larger.
I personally went to a D2 school [West Texas A&M]… We played a few D1 schools every year. In 4 years we only lost 1 game to a D1 school. Our school was in the Elite 8 my last two years and had 2 players drafted to Major League Soccer, myself included.
Attending a camp shows that you are interested in going to that school one day, so treat it like a tryout.
Most kids treat it like an experience, but I’m telling you the school is treating it as a tryout and business.
Recruited vs Tryouts for college soccer
There are the players who are getting recruited and offered scholarship money.
Then there are the players who are having to tryout.
Some get offered scholarship without ever having to tryout.
Others are getting recruited and the coach wants to first see the player in action with their team.
Players who the coach wants but has no intent on giving money the first year.
This really is a fair deal because if you prove you can play and contribute then you can get scholarship your 2nd year (Sophomore).
Even if the coach really wants you, he or she will still want you to come take a visit and meet the team.
If you’re not recruited to college soccer schools
Then you have the players who were never recruited & who don’t know where to start or what to do next.
These are the players that need to contact as many schools as possible. Be willing to travel and tryout with several schools.
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This takes time and self belief.
Take a look at the chart below to learn more about the opportunity.
College soccer regions in America
Certain regions in America have stronger players pool talent so girls who are not playing ECNL but are playing at the 2nd Tier League will still have great opportunity for D1 schools.
I have seen a 3rd Tier player get a D1 offer but then end up sitting the bench and finding that school and maybe level was not for her.
So think about things like this… You want to continue playing in college so get on a team where you have a chance to play by your Sophomore year.
Unless you’re that person who would rather tell your friends you play D1 just because it’s D1.
Remember we play to play, not sit the bench.
To play college soccer you have to have desire & athletic ability
Desire, Dedication & Discipline are all needed to achieve goals and stay happy in soccer.
Then there is athleticism, skills and opportunity.
If someone has a decent amount of these combos it makes for a good player and helps your recruitment chances.
From my experience in working with youth players through private lesson and clinics for a living, I can sometimes tell as early as 9-11 years old who is going to play college soccer.
There are certain players that have that mental desire to improve and that is the key. In other words, it’s easy to tell which ones really love soccer more than others.
The ones who really get their outside club skills in are the ones who will be prepared all the way through HS and then on to college.
Depending on if its D1 or D2 usually depends on a mix of athleticism and skills.
A player who is a slow runner will have a hard time playing D1, even if they have great skills.
Running can improve but for the most part this is a God-given gift.
For those who are more athletic at any age, you need to focus on skills to have that unique mix.
Girls have a higher chance for college soccer recruitment
Girls have a higher chance compared to boys in receiving college offers, especially for Division 1.
There are over 100 more D1 Schools for Women.
Most players do not promote themselves enough to get more schools interested.
The highest level players who are actively pursuing are going to get offers by their Junior year.
Back in 2018 before rules changed, soccer players were getting scholarship offers as young as Freshman in HS.
Here’s the thing, they get about 5 – 10 schools really interested, but what if they had 30 or 40 schools interested?
You shouldn’t wait for coaches/schools to come to you. Work hard during this recruitment stage.
I have seen good players miss out on scholarship because they were not being persistent in communicating and contacting enough coaches.
College soccer scholarship opportunities [recruitment]
Note: These numbers change a little each year. Some schools move up or down a division.
|Division||# of Men’s||Women’s||# of Schools|
|USCAA & other 4 year||69||36||71|
|CCCAA & other 2 year||99||114||123|
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