Welcome to Interview #73.
I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of NCAA Division 2 Women’s Head Coach of Missouri Southern State University, Chris McNaughton.
Chris McNaughton has coached at 5 different colleges over the past 14 years. He has coached at D1, D2 and NAIA schools. In that time he has done an incredible amount of recruiting. Success has followed at each of the soccer programs he has been part of.
What can or should high school athletes do from their end to get on your radar screen?
High school athletes need to attend showcase events where college coaches go to look at potential players. Emailing coaches at schools they are interested in, and attaching a profile also helps put an athlete on the coach’s radar. Let the coach know what events they will be playing in will help so the coach can watch them when they go out to these showcase events.
What is the difference between the players who have a successful college career and those who make a college roster but never live up to their potential?
To me this is very simple…the players who have successful college careers are the players who take ownership in their college career…they care more, work harder and probably most importantly, work harder when no one else is watching them. They don’t blame the coach, their teammates, etc.…they just care more, work more and want it more than anyone else.
Could you share, in whatever detail you are comfortable, what the athletic scholarship break down looks like on your roster and what is allowed by the NCAA Division 2?
NCAA Division 2 max is 9.9 scholarships in women’s soccer. Like most college teams in any sport…we have a variety in terms of how the scholarships break down on our team.
What are College ID camps? What are their importance? Can anyone go or is it an invite only camp?
These identification camps have become very popular in recent years. I know when I was at the D1 level as an assistant; we had these camps so the players who came could train with our current team.
I feel they are important to see potential recruits play with your current players, see how they fit in, how they get along with your current players and how they respond to your coaching. I think all schools are different, but we tend to email out invites to players who have emailed us and expressed an interest or players we have seen recently at events we have been to.
When you go out and recruit what kind of events do you go to and why?
I tend to go to showcase events where a lot of teams are playing. We try to get the most bang for our buck as I cannot go to every event I would like to go to.
What are some tips you have for prospective student athletes when they are going to attend a showcase event?
Email the coaches/schools you are interested in with your schedule. Since a lot of coaches go to these events, players will be seen by a lot of coaches over a showcase weekend…so play hard and compete regardless of how your team is doing…be a great teammate…and make good decisions with the ball and work hard off the ball.
How can players stand out or get noticed at a Showcase event?
By their skill, by their smarts, by their leadership and by their effort and mentality.
I get asked all the time by parents and players about their fear that their club team is not at a high enough level to be noticed by a college coach. Most of the time, this does not have to do with their talent but availability of teams in their location. Can you speak to this?
In my opinion, regardless of location, availability of teams, success of team, etc.… there are so many soccer programs and so many showcases in this country every weekend, if a kid wants to be seen, they can be seen.
What is the role of the parent in the recruiting process?
I think the best parents need to be hands off and only interject if there is a problem their son or daughter needs help with. I think college coaches enjoy recruiting the student athlete not the parents. Lastly, I think it doesn’t bode well if every time a coach needs something from a player they are recruiting, the parents supply that information, not the player.
What was your own recruiting story like?
Money is a big factor as it should be and I feel like it was my only consideration. My advice would be to consider everything. Location, academics, coach, etc.
Can you share a story or two about how playing on a college team has affected former players in their lives after graduation?
From Megan Rossee…Former player I coached at Lyon College
When I decided to play college soccer, I underestimated the value it would add to my life, not only while in college, but following graduation as well. Thinking back to my college years, not every practice or every team meeting immediately floods my memory. In fact, most of it is pretty blurry.
What I took from all of those years spent traveling around from pitch to pitch, eagerly anticipating battle with some of the closest friends I’ll ever have, continuously influences my view on this crazy thing called life: there are days we will spend preparing, there are days we will spend performing, there are days we will spend celebrating, and there are days we will spend mourning. We are not always going to have things go our way or be “winners”, but that doesn’t mean we are “losers”. Not every day is going to be glamorous or filled with medals and trophies, but that doesn’t mean our pride should shine any less.. Some days will be tough, so tough that we may want to give up, but that’s when our support system will lend us strength and tell us otherwise because in life, just like in college sports, you have to learn to enjoy the highs, learn from the lows, and ultimately recognize the joy that accompanies both.
From Stephanie Welsh (Henderson)…Former player I coached at Ottawa University and Lyon College
You taught me confidence and perspective. The confidence to face a board room full of way more qualified and higher ranking professionals than me, yet deliver a presentation like I’m the expert. And the perspective to know that while I might not know everything about my career field today, over time and with practice, I’ll own that! Oh! And you taught me a lot about working with people that drive me insane yet are a part of my team and I need them, so I have to make it work. I do this on a daily basis. It’s a very necessary life skill I watched you put into practice on a regular basis.
What advice do you have for recruits on how to prepare for their freshmen year in a college soccer program? What are typical things you wish incoming freshmen realized or knew before they arrived on campus?
Get your body in the best physical condition possible. The fitness level required to play collegiate soccer is very high, so spend the summer working on your game and working on your fitness level. The fitter a player is the harder it is to quit.
Coach McNaughton has just completed his first year as head coach of Missouri Southern State University. Previously he served three seasons as the assistant coach at the University of Louisiana-Monroe. Prior to that, McNaughton was the assistant coach at Arkansas-Little Rock for four seasons, as well as the head coach at Lyon (Ark.) College and an assistant at his alma mater Ottawa (Kan.) University.
Next, check out: How Can I Get a College Coach to Notice Me?
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