Welcome to Interview #62.
I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of NCAA Division 2 Women’s Soccer Coach of Converse College, Rick Parlow.
Coach Parlow has a wealth of coaching experience at different levels. He has coached at:
- three different colleges
- Director of Coaching for a soccer club
- ODP coach
- Assistant coach for a U19 team in Germany
- Assistant coach in the W-League
- Club soccer coach
He brings a wealth of wisdom to you today from his many different positions within the soccer world.
What would a timeline look like for your recruiting of a typical player? What kind of communication do you send out and when?
As a D2 institution we are not allowed to contact Prospective Student Athletes (PSA) until June 15 preceding their junior year in high school.
When that date arrives we will have a list of players who have contacted us and/or that we have seen play. We will send them an email expressing our interest in them as a student athlete. In that email we will send links where they can learn about our soccer program and everything Converse College has to offer. Those that show interest we will continue to communicate with and invite in for a campus visit.
What can or should high school athletes do from their end to get on your radar screen?
There are several ways to get on our radar. Be proactive and reach out to us. The pool of athletes we have to recruit from is very large. If you can make yourself standout, you will definitely catch our attention.
The best way to stand out and make an impression, is to attend one of our camps or clinics. Over 90% of our current players attended a soccer camp or clinic at Converse in the past. This gives the PSA an opportunity to showcase their talents over several days, instead of the 15-20 minutes we will get to see you play at a showcase. It also gives them in depth look at not only our soccer program, but the campus as well.
We also have a lot of PSAs contact us and express their interest in Converse or their desire to make a visit to campus. Send us a list of tournaments you will be playing as well as your schedule when you receive it.
If you see that we will be recruiting at an event you are competing in, reach out and ask us to come watch you play. We make it a point to watch whomever has contacted us at an event we are attending.
Converse is a women’s college. Why do you think female athletes should consider an all-female college? What are the benefits specifically?
I actually asked this of my current players for recruiting purposes when I first took the position here at Converse. Over and over I heard that they felt they excelled in the classroom. They said that with the absence of males in the classrooms, they did not feel the pressure to impress anyone and were not afraid to ask questions. With a team GPA this last year of 3.247, I would have to agree with them.
One huge advantage we have being in Spartanburg is the fact that there are 7 colleges in town. Our students are allowed into the other school’s sporting events including football, basketball, and baseball. So the ladies here at Converse get to have the same large campus experience as big schools, with the advantages a small school education.
Could you share, in whatever detail you are comfortable, what the athletic scholarship break down looks like on your roster? What is the average athletic scholarship players receive?
It really varies person to person. We have a great asset here at Converse in that we can stack scholarships. That means that you can receive an academic and athletic scholarship, plus any other institutional aid you qualify. One of the best ways to increase your overall scholarship is to work hard on your academics in high school.
What is the role of the parent in the recruiting process?
To be supportive and let your child do the recruiting process. Recruiting and being recruited is all about finding the “right fit” for both the PSA and the program. Let your child make the phone calls and answer the questions when they are meeting with the coaching staff. They are the ones who will be playing for the next 4 years.
When we see a parent doing everything, it is a huge red flag. Make sure the decision to play college athletics is what your child wants and not what you want. College athletics is very demanding and they will not succeed on the field or in the classroom if they do not want to be there.
We do pay close attention to the parents of PSAs we are recruiting. Two of the main ways parents can hurt the recruitment of their child is their behavior on the sidelines at showcases and taking over for their child on recruiting visits. Parents need to remember they are being watched by coaches as well and red flags could cost their child being recruited to the school they really want to attend.
Before you were a coach, you were an athlete yourself. Can you tell us a bit about your own recruiting story? Why did you end up choosing Middle Tennessee State?
I chose MTSU because the school was a good fit for me. It was not very large at the time and offered the degree I wanted to pursue. My recruitment story is very different. While I was recruited to play elsewhere, I decided to attend MTSU where soccer was not a sanctioned NCAA sport. The club teams were very well supported by the University to the point that we attended and competed in the national tournament in Arizona our senior year finishing 9th.
How did your coaches at Middle Tennessee State impact your life?
Charlie West was my coach as a senior in college. Years later when I was taking my 1st coaching license course, he was a guest speaker. His story reminded me of how patient he was with us. I often think back to that story when I have an athlete on my team who has made a mistake. I try to put myself in their shoes and remember what it was like when I was their age and help guide them through the situation. Every situation can be a learning situation in which we help our athletes grow.
If you could go back and live out your playing career, what would you do differently?
I am happy with the way my career went. It was not what I envisioned it would be when I was younger, but looking back on it I am satisfied.
You had the opportunity to coach in Germany from 2009-2011. Did you pick up any ideas about coaching that you brought back with you?
I liked the mentality the Germans brought to the field every day. I would see players of all ages and both sexes walking up to the clubhouse talking, joking around, and laughing. However, once they came out of the locker room, there was a different demeanor altogether. They knew they were there to learn and compete for the next hour and a half.
What gives you the most joy or satisfaction as a coach?
Seeing the transformation of the players from wide eyed freshmen into strong, confident women leaving campus to go off and make their mark on the world.
How are players who have gone through your program that have been impacted by their time playing college soccer?
I feel all college athletes are impacted by their time in athletics. Being a college athlete is very demanding on your time. The time management skills that successful college athletes must master truly helps them prepare for what lies beyond the classroom. Being a college athlete is about the same as working 20 hours a week, while going to school full time, but without a set schedule.
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?
Make a list of schools that you would want to attend, even if soccer was not an option. Then, start to look at the soccer programs. So often athletes pick a school based off of the soccer program or a coach and end up miserable. You will spend more time outside of soccer than you do in it, so make sure it is a school where you want to be. If you do this, you will end up enjoying your experience and having fond memories.
Next, take a look at Making Yourself Worth the Attention of a College Coach.
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In his first season, Parlow continued his success finishing the season with the second most wins in program history posting a 12-7-1 record. The Valkyries grabbed their fourth consecutive Conference Carolinas postseason berth along with their second ever Conference Carolinas Semifinals appearance. Under Parlow, the Valkyries have posted three Conference Carolinas All-Conference selections, seven Academic All-Conference selections and an All-Tournament selection.