Welcome to Interview #24.
I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of NJCAA Women’s Soccer Coach of Andrew College, Cory Harbinson.
Coach Harbinson was named Andrew College’s first full-time head women’s soccer coach in August 2013.
*In 2017 Coach Harbinson moved on to Nova Southeastern to be the assistant women’s soccer coach.
How do you find players for your team? What type of student and athlete do you focus on?
I typically recruit from South Florida, it’s my comfort zone because its where I grew up). I’m looking for a student-athlete who is committed to both the classroom and the field. Additionally, someone who is goal oriented and plans for success.
Why do you think athletes should consider a NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association)? What are the benefits of an NJCAA school specifically?
Student athletes should consider Junior College, like Andrew College because it is a good opportunity to play right away, establish a comfort zone in the classroom and make a name for themselves early in their career. It also gives the athletes more time to find out where they see themselves at a four year institution as opposed to committing to a four year school due to pressure.
What can or should high school athletes do from their end to get on your radar screen?
They need to do their research and not be afraid to call or email a coach asking for a chance to be seen. We as coaches can only see so many athletes and there are tons of great players out there who go unnoticed.
Could you share, in whatever detail you are comfortable, what the athletic scholarship break down looks like on your roster?
We are allowed to give athletic scholarships based on a combination of academics, ability, and need. Student athletes are usually awarded a higher award package for higher academic performance. I want players to excel in the classroom. In addition, as an independent, residential, two year college; Andrew College does not have out-of-state costs for students making us competitive with a larger pool of student athletes.
When athletes are looking at a school that has not had a lot of success over the past few years, what should they look for?
In my opinion, they should be interested in accepting a challenge of helping turn a program around.
What is the role of the parent in the recruiting process?
Their roles are very important. Parents need to feel comfortable with establishing a relationship with the coach and school overall. But this also is the time for parents to step back to allow their child to become self-reliant and a responsible adult. It’s a lot of fun to watch these young people mature, even during the short two years they attend Andrew College. It’s a fine balance for parents to learn.
Do NJCAA schools have athletic trainers? What is their role with your team and athletes?
Yes, we have certified athletic trainers. They always travel with the team because of the medical history relationship between trainer and athlete. They are also present at all of our home games. We take the safety and well-being of all of our students seriously. It’s a top priority here at Andrew College.
What does the offseason, fall season and summer look like for a NJCAA soccer player?
During the season they are typically playing two or three scheduled games per week between August and November. In the offseason, they will work out in the weight room and spend a few days a week working on skills to keep fit. They may play an abbreviated spring schedule in the middle of semester. Typically, it’s between February and April. In the summer months, players receive a training packet designed by the coach. At the beginning of fall preseason workouts, I can always tell who spent time training and who did not.
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 as coaches are always looking for ways to give our athletes exposure to other programs. To assist in that process, I will schedule games in preseason and spring season against four year schools. The student-athletes should contact those schools they may be interested in attending along with informing me of their thoughts. I want them to make a successful transition. So the earlier I know, the earlier I can help them.
Andrew College has a number of direct transfer programs with four year colleges and several articulation agreements. One of the biggest transfer programs involves members of the Georgia Independent College Association. Our graduates can receive automatic acceptance to one of 16 different colleges in Georgia if they have a minimum 2.0 GPA and their associate degree. Student athletes who are interested in earning a degree at Agnes Scott, LaGrange College, or Berry College can complete their first two years of college for a fraction of the cost by attending Andrew and then transfer on to the college of their choice. That’s a win-win.
How do academics and athletics fit together?
Go to class, do the work, make study hall a priority, and show up to both practice and games prepared. At Andrew College, academics are very important. As an example, the amount of required weekly study hall hours is determined upon how well you do in the classroom.
I’ve found players who happen to do well in the classroom bring that same mentality to the game. It just takes good time management skills and my job as a coach is to help guide them to any resources they might need.
I take pride in seeing a number of my players receiving loads of academic awards during our annual Honors Award program and I also get some bragging rights among my fellow colleagues in the athletic department. And not to forget, we have a national honor society for two year colleges at Andrew College called Phi Theta Kappa. I urge our players to be involved so they can be around other students who have similar educational goals. They can really influence each other in a positive manner.
What are some myths or misconceptions about junior colleges?
I hear “I am better than a junior college” on a regular basis. Also, there is the perception we are not as serious and competitive and other some other ridiculous statement. I like to see where athletes I tried to recruit but lost to another school go. I try to follow up with them to see how they are doing. It doesn’t surprise me to learn many end up either redshirted or benched.
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?
Start the process early and don’t be afraid to ask to be seen. College soccer is the best time of your life, so get excited and want to be recruited.
Cory Harbinson was named Andrew College’s first full-time head women’s soccer coach in August 2013.
In 2014 seven freshman helped lead Andrew to its first Region 17 tournament semifinal and first playoff win in ten years behind, finishing with a 9-7-4
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