Welcome to Interview #98
I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of NCAA Division 2 Men’s Soccer Coach of Saginaw Valley State University, Andrew Wagstaff.
Coach Wagstaff and I met almost 20 years ago (the same week Coach Dicicco was leading the U.S. women to a World Cup victory over China in one of the best soccer games ever) while doing our “C” license coaching education course.
Coach Wagstaff is an amazing coach who has a passion for coaching and developing young men. His SVSU team is coming off of a 13-4-2 record and an NCAA tournament appearance. He has provided some great tips for us about how to go through the recruiting process and prepare for Division 2 athletics.
What would a timeline look like for your recruiting of a typical player? What kind of communication do you send out and when?
So at the D2 level we are typically closing out our next incoming class at the end of the fall season. For example, between November 2017 – March 2018 we are closing out the incoming class for the fall of 2018. We are simultaneously narrowing down our top 2019 needs. I feel like Division 1 is a year ahead of this.
What can or should high school athletes do from their end to get on your radar screen?
Our best way to recruit is for players to attend the Prospect ID camps that we run each year. We generally run three a year and this is the most controlled environment to assess not only the player’s ability but attitude and overall interest in us.
Other methods might be via email or via contacting a common contact such as a coach that coaches that player in club who I might be acquainted with.
Finally, I think sending in some film, but most coaches are so busy that maybe 1/3 of all videos that come to us are effectively viewed.
When should a recruit begin getting videos to coaches?
When they have enough solid footage that shows the all-around ability of a player.
Should recruits follow up after they have sent a video or link to a video? How long should they wait before following up?
They can, but if they haven’t heard from us then we are probably not interested.
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?
We have a total of 26 players on our team. About half of them receive $0 to $2000 per year scholarship. The other half will typically absorb a chunk of the scholarships. We are not fully funded unlike many other programs.
The average is probably $1500-2000 per year which is approximately 10% scholarship.
Should prospective athletes bring up scholarships with coaches or wait on the coach to initiate that discussion?
I like to see what the “real” level of interest is from the Prospective Student Athlete (PSA) then we are the ones that initiate it. If a player brings it up I am not put off, its fine either way…they just have to be serious about our college.
For a Division 2 school, how and when are scholarships offered? How much time do athletes typically have to respond?
There is no set time for us to make offers, it all is situational.
I usually set a timeline for the player based on the size of the offer. Less time for larger offers, probably a week or two.
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 Oakland University?
Yes, I played for Huddersfield Town for two years and Bury FC for another two years before being released and decided to try the US scholarship route.
I was recruited by Central Connecticut State and Oakland U. The fact the OU was challenging for national championships each year and the persistence and integrity of the head coach, Gary Parsons, made my decision easy.
How did your coaches at Oakland impact your life?
I feel like the upbringing I had in England with my family set me up to be relatively successful in college and after, but the staff at Oakland taught me the true meaning of teamwork, togetherness, never say die attitude. I also feel like I learned a ton about how to coach which has helped in my career.
If you could go back and live out your playing career, what would you do differently?
I probably would have tried to play longer. After college I played a few years in the indoor professional leagues, but when I had a chance to be traded I declined and just began coaching full time. If there was a chance for me to continue playing at the time, I sometimes think it would have been nice to have kept that going but I did not want to have to play for minimal money when coaching was becoming a good lifestyle for me.
What gives you the most joy or satisfaction as a coach?
I honestly get a kick of out of recruiting the top players and finding ways to piece them all together and field a strong team. I love to develop players that want to learn and are coachable.
Seeing them get better and be successful is extremely rewarding. I take great pride in seeing them make smart decisions in their lives and then give everything they can to their team.
Watching them walk to receive their degree is an amazing feeling as a coach as well.
You can find out more about Coach Wagstaff and SVSU men’s soccer by clicking here.
Next, check out: How Can I Get a College Coach to Notice Me?
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