Twenty years ago, coaching for the first time, I first understood the painful economic side of the club teams. One of the best coaches in our club was also a father of four. One of his own children was able to play on his team without paying the coaching fee but he could not afford to have his other three children play. He was a man who loved the game of soccer and loved it for his family as well. But three of his children played on the recreational level due to economics.
Over the years I have been on every side of this issue. I have coached at two high schools, 3 clubs (two as the director of coaching) and at three colleges. The club verses high school debate has been going on as long as I have been coaching.
What if You Can’t Afford To Pay Club Fees
My last post revealed the truth that college coaches are not watching high school games. Today, let’s start with a FACT: There are a lot of talented and passionate athletes that are priced out of the club system. The high school athletic program is their only option.
THE PROBLEM: High school athletes that would like to play in college are not being seen by college coaches, but they would desperately like to play at the collegiate level. And this is no small number of players.
Here are a few solutions that I know will work. I want you to jump into the conversation and offer up ideas and solutions that will benefit the players who, because of economic or family reasons, cannot join a travel team.
You will hear me say over and over: being proactive is the single most important thing you can do to play in college. So these tips are for everyone. Outside of the club structure being proactive is twice as important.
Let’s Start at the Beginning
The first thing you need to do is your homework. Research colleges and prioritize which schools you are interested in.
After researching and picking out several schools, contact the coach. You are free to call, text, or email a coach at any time.
An email is an easy way to get started. The email should be short. Make the letter personal to each coach and school. Include details about the school. Spam or mass email to coaches goes straight to the trash.
Don’t Neglect the Communication
Communication should be regular. Failure to hold up your end of the communication will make the coach lose interest. Remember there are a lot of high school players vying for a select number of college roster spots. You are part of a big numbers game. Coaches don’t have time to invest in players who don’t respond.
Several years ago a player who had a distinguished college career for me, including being my captain and goal keeper was not able to play with a club her junior or senior year of high school. She played only high school. I didn’t find her. She found me. She called and scheduled a campus visit. In all she came to campus three times her senior year in high school. After months of demonstrating interest in the school, I watched one of her high school playoff games. Her freshmen year of college she won the starting position between the posts. She was that good. Had she not been determined to seek me out, she never would have stepped foot on a college playing surface.
They Have Got To See You Play!
First research, then contact the coaches. Now you need to get yourself in front of the coaches.
First, make a YouTube account and post video of yourself and your team. You can add a skills video and one of raw game footage. Depending on the sport and the coach, it is good to have a couple of each type available. If you didn’t include this in your first contact with a coach, send a follow up email with links to your YouTube videos. Don’t have a camera? Talk to your high school coach, there are probably other parents who are already filming the games and would be happy to help. Be proactive.
Go To College Camps
Second, sign up for camps at the colleges you are interested in. I would suggest you go to a couple different levels of colleges (D1, D2, D3, NAIA) over your high school years. This will give you a better indication of where you fit. This is a great way to develop a relationship with the coach and have them see you play. Camps can be both a week long summer camp and a one/two day ID camp. If you can’t afford a college camp, try asking the coach for a scholarship. You never know. Be proactive.
Invite Them to Your Games
In my last post I said college coaches DON’T attend high school games, but I didn’t say they WON’T attend high school games. Coaches are looking for two things: talent and interest. Send coaches your schedule and invite them to watch you play, yes, even at the high school. College coaches may not show up at high school games to find players, but many will come to a specific game to watch a specific player. These are the high school games that I attended, and they often cemented a player on my roster. Just don’t expect them to show up uninvited and discover you. Be proactive.
Letter of Recommendation
Fourth, have your coach prepare a letter of recommendation for you. This provides the college coach with the phone number and email of your high school coach. Most coaches want to hear from your current coach anyway. A conversation gives the college coach one more indicator of what type of player you are.
What To Do If You Don’t Know What To Do
Do you feel anxiety building, wondering what you need to do?
If you feel like you have been stumbling along or have not even started the recruiting process, it is time to take action.
Nobody can guarantee you that you will end up on a college roster or that a coach will offer you a scholarship? However, you can greatly increase your chances if you know what to do.
If you are ready for Recruiting to be made easy, you are ready for
How to Get Recruited: Got Talent. Get a Plan. Get Recruited.
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