Welcome to Interview #55.
I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of NJCAA Soccer Coach of Dakota County Technical College, Cam Stoltz.
Cam Pagani Stoltz has led the Dakota County Technical College Men’s Soccer team for 12 seasons and has been the team’s only head coach. The team has had nine consecutive winning seasons and has been nationally ranked in each of the last four seasons.
By the end of the 2015 season, Cam held an all-time college head coaching record of 382 wins, 256 losses and 59 ties (251-186-22 at DCTC). In his career, Stoltz has been on the sidelines of 760 college games as a head coach or assistant coach in both the NJCAA and the NCAA.
Coach Stoltz’s full bio is at the end of the interview.
Read on. This interview is full of priceless information!
How do you find players for your team? What type of student and athlete do you focus on?
We look at high level players as we play a very good level. We need players from premier clubs, Midwest Regional League and Development Academy. High school prospects must also play a high level of club. We scope Minnesota for players, but in balance reach out nationally.
We also have a history of recruiting international players. For the most part we want to serve our area in the Twin Cities Metro and Minnesota area. We also want some special players to come in and contribute to the diversity of our program.
Why do you think athletes should consider a NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association)? What are the benefits of an NJCAA school specifically?
JUCO (Two year) is a great way to play immediately and open up other playing and educational opportunities. Good, mature players can play more important minutes as freshmen and sophomores.
If the athletes take their academics seriously, they will open up more doors academically and athletically than they had otherwise coming out as a senior in high school. If economics is an issue with the family, low tuition and or combination with an athletic grant (Scholarship) is a no-brainer.
What can or should high school athletes do from their end to get on your radar screen?
Take the game seriously and obtain a spot on the highest level team/opportunities you can. Don’t wait to be “found”, present yourself as interested to us. I also suggest you present yourself to other (realistic) programs so you can judge what best for you. Don’t be sold on a program, educate yourself to make the best choice for you and your family. Also, do some research on us, our level and what we can do for you as a student and athlete.
If a soccer player personally contacts you by phone or email, what will you do next?
If they address me in a custom personalized way, I respectfully reply right away. If it’s a spam of group email “Dear Coach” less inclined to follow up – us coach’s get dozens of those a day. Players need to personalize communications if they want to be considered seriously.
Could you share, in whatever detail you are comfortable, what the athletic scholarship break down looks like on your roster?
Technically, the term is “grant in athletic aid”. We grant $1000 for our recruits on a $5500 annual cost. Once a student has applied we steer them to the many other ways they can reduce and eliminate bills or have the need to take on debt. At the end of the day, the vast majority of our students leave debt free. Most programs, including us do not have full rides.
What is the role of the parent in the recruiting process?
The same as in life. If the parent is involved in bringing up their child, they are involved in the process. We have lots of stories with lots of kids and families. We support all quality and qualified student athletes. Family strengthens their chances. We want the parent(s) on campus in the visit.
What does the offseason, fall season and summer look like for a NJCAA soccer player?
Most of our players are active year round. We have 20 training sessions and 2-5 games each spring. It’s not always best for some to be going year round, so there is a variety of summer plans. We do expect the kids to be training for elite fitness in the summer.
In 13 years at DCTC you have coached 300 players. Many have gone on to universities in all three NCAA divisions and the NAIA.
We love when the players move on to higher levels. Not all do, however, we love it more when they move on with life, a career or bachelor’s degree. Soccer is the tool we use to prepare students for life.
How does your school help players transition to a four year college? When looking at a 2-year school, what are some questions student athletes should ask about the help they will receive to get into a four-year school and to continue playing?
We have a complete student support services program available. Planning is the key with our advising team. Tutoring is available as a well as a Federally Granted TRIO program which focuses on first generation college students moving into bachelor programs and universities. I suggest all recruits investigate these types of programs at a two-year college and more importantly ask the coaching staff how their players utilize such programs.
How do academics and athletics fit together?
Come to college to play soccer. But you have to go to college to play. Set separate or even higher goals with your education. There is nothing wrong with choosing your college because of soccer, but you have to leave with more than memories. You need transcripts and degrees.
What are some myths or misconceptions about junior colleges?
That the academics are less rigorous. Academics are academics and two year colleges generally have more experienced educators than entry level universities.
Also critical to know – Myth: A challenged student will somehow figure it out. They won’t – they need to swallow pride and ask for help.
In your career, you have been on the sidelines of 760 college games as a head coach or assistant coach in both the NJCAA and the NCAA. You are close to eclipsing the 400-win mark.
Time fly’s and appreciate and enjoy every moment. Never stop learning.
Looking back at your career so far, is it the wins you remember or something else?
The people. My players, opponents and yes the refs! Mostly the environment, travel and simple things such as training on the fields. Games almost become a blur. But yes, you remember wins and the losses as well.
What is the nature of your relationships with your current players?
Professional. I also hope they see me as one of their main mentors at this time in their life. Most of all, I hope they trust my opinions of them and see this experience as a stepping stone and myself as a resource.
How does the relationship change over their lives as they move onto careers and families of their own?
I love keeping in touch with players and seeing them grow into family and professional people. I have many former players I now see as friends.
Bonus Question: Is there anything important that you would like to share directly with high school athletes or soccer players in particular as they navigate the recruiting process?
Don’t discount what a two-year college and NJCAA experience can give you. Certainly affordable. We have alums that are coaches, teachers, pilots, engineers, and of course moms and dads.
Two year colleges are not for everyone but truly give great experiences and a chance to pivot to a higher level on the field and in the classroom.
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Cam Pagani Stoltz has led the DCTC Men’s Soccer team for 12 seasons and has been the team’s only head coach. The team has had nine consecutive winning seasons and has been nationally ranked in each of the last four seasons. By the end of the 2015 season, Cam held an all-time college head coaching record of 382 wins, 256 losses and 59 ties (251-186-22 at DCTC). In his career, Stoltz has been on the sidelines of 760 college games as a head coach or assistant coach in both the NJCAA and the NCAA.
Cam was hired by DCTC in 2002 to launch the Blue Knights soccer program. The next year, Stoltz kicked off the women’s team, following up with the men’s team in 2004. Stoltz won a regional championship 2003 (women’s), and brought home regional runner up trophies in 2009 (women’s), 2010 (women’s) and 2013 (men’s). Under his leadership, both soccer teams have been ranked in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) national rankings.
Stoltz began his college coaching career in the early 1990’s as a men’s assistant coach at South Mountain College in Arizona. He also coached one of the strongest college men’s clubs in the nation, leading the Minnesota State University, Mankato, to a national championship game, finishing runner-up to Purdue University. While at MSU, he won seven conference titles, four regional championships and 131 games. Stoltz has also coached boy’s high school programs at Tempe, Ariz. and Loyola, Minn. Cam was the girl’s head coach at Mankato East High School (1997 to 1999) before serving as assistant women’s coach and recruiting coordinator Minnesota State University, Mankato (2000 to 2002). While with the NCAA II program, MSU was a top-10 NCAA program and won two consecutive conference championships. He has conducted hundreds of coaching courses for Minnesota Youth Soccer and U.S. Soccer. In 1994, Stoltz worked at the FIFA World Cup in Pasadena and Palo Alto, Calif., coordinating training facilities and team schedules for some of the world’s top teams.
As a college player at Mankato State University, Cam participated in three national tournaments including a 1989 final four run coming up short against Texas A and M in a national semifinal. After college, Stoltz participated in the Minnesota Amateur Soccer League which included a regional run in the US Open Cup in 1997 and two state championships (1997 and 2001).
In 13 years at DCTC, over 300 players have worn DCTC Blue Knight soccer jerseys for Coach Stoltz. Dozens of players have moved on to universities in all three NCAA divisions and the NAIA. Twelve DCTC soccer athletes have been awarded “Academic All American” while six have won “All American” status on the field. Former Knight Alejandro De la Mora played against David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007. Geofrey Kalanzi (DCTC 2007-2008) was recognized at the AT&T National Sportsmanship Awards and awarded the “2009 NJCAA Lea Plarski Award” which is the single most prestigious athletic honor bestowed on any two-year college athlete. In 2012, former Blue Knight Kassandra Young played for the University of Louisville and advanced into the NCAA Division I sweet 16 after beating national champion Notre Dame. With over a dozen years of Blue Knight Soccer history, DCTC remains the first and only NJCAA Division I scholarship program in the upper Midwest. In June of 2014, DCTC hired its second Women’s Head Coach, Mark Obarski, which shifted Cam’s focus to the Men’s side.
Stoltz also serves as an Assistant Men’s Regional Director for the NJCAA Region as well as an NJCAA’s Ad-Hoc committee for competitive eligibility. Cam sits on the National Rankings Committee for men’s Division I soccer. Coach Stoltz holds a degree in physical education and sports management with an athletic coaching minor. Stoltz also has over two decades of athletic administration and sports management experience.