Welcome to Interview #14.
I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of NCAA Division 2 Women’s Soccer Coach, Samantha Snow of Georgia Southwestern State University.
Coach Snow has been coaching college soccer for ten years, seven as a head coach, at NJCAA, NAIA and NCAA D2 levels. She has been with Georgia Southwestern since 2012.
Snow has also spent over five years coaching in Olympic Development Programs in Colorado, West Virginia and Georgia and has been a coach with U.S. Soccer Region I since 2011.
Read on. This interview is full of priceless information!Where do D2 soccer coaches most often find players for their teams?
It actually varies from school to school as there are so many different levels of competition within D2 soccer. Usually we find them at Showcase tournaments within the region of the school. For us, a lot come from these tournaments and ID camps.
What would a timeline look like for your recruiting of a typical player? What kind of communication do you send out and when?
The typical timeline for recruiting a players starts their sophomore year and junior years of high school. Normally, a lot of emails come in from sophomores, and they get on our radar, but we cannot communicate with them until June 15 leading into their junior year of high school. As soon as that date hits, we will be in touch via email, phone calls and sometimes text messages. In Georgia, the high school soccer season is in the spring so we like to get our recruits on campus during the fall season. Not only does this allow a recruit to train with our team but it also shows them what a typical day looks like for a student-athlete in season. We also have visits from high school seniors- we sometimes have players commit as late as April of their senior year. It’s definitely a good idea to start the recruiting process early but it’s also not too late if you’re in your senior year and still undecided.
When looking at college programs, not all of them will have been successful the year before. Talk about the advantages of going to a program that has struggled to win.
One of the major advantages is that you probably have a good chance of getting playing time, maybe even starting. For example, we haven’t had success in our previous seasons in terms of results, so everyone being recruited to our program can make an immediate impact- I am expecting all of our incoming players to have playing time immediately. The big thing is to meet with the coach, visit campus and get a feel for the team. Do their goals for the soccer program match up with yours? Does the commitment level of the coaching staff and the team fit with your level? Speak with the coach and ask what their short-term and long-term goals are for the soccer program. Then find out where you fit in helping the team to reach these goals.
What can or should high school athletes do from their end to get on your radar screen?
Send an email with your basic information- graduation year, high school, club team and your coaches’ information. But make the email personal to the school and coach you are wanting to communicate with! I cannot stress that part enough. Then keep us up to date on your tournament and game schedules so we can see you play.
What is college life like for a D2 athlete? What will day to day life look like? Can they be involved in activities outside of sports?
A typical day would be class in the morning and if you are injured or recovering from an injury, scheduling rehab somewhere between classes and practice. Practice for 2 hours in the afternoon, study hall after practice and then the rest of your free time is homework and studying. Our players joke that they don’t have any friends outside of the team- but you really do spend most of your day and week with your team-mates. Often you are in the same classes. The great thing about D2 is that classes really do come first- you’re at the school for an education above all else, so coaches will work with you around your classes. On the flip side, professors understand that athletics is still important and will also work with you so you won’t miss out on games. It’s a good balance that works for a lot of the student-athletes.
Could you share, in whatever detail you are comfortable, what the athletic scholarship break down looks like on your roster?
Nobody on our roster has a scholarship greater than 50% of tuition. Actually, there are very few that are close to 50% of tuition. But the great thing is that our athletic scholarships can be combined with other scholarships: academic, private scholarships, grants, etc. Just because a player is not receiving much for our soccer program doesn’t mean they aren’t getting money from elsewhere. Every player on our roster has at least one type of financial aid.
What is the role of the parent in the recruiting process?
The parent should definitely be involved with their child during the recruiting process, but their role should be mostly ‘behind-the-scenes’. Leave the communication with the coach to your child- we want to hear from them and get to know them as a person. It’s hard to do that when the parent is constantly the go-between. That’s not to say that we don’t want to talk with parents- I like to get to know the family of a recruit during the recruiting process. But when it comes to communication regarding recruiting, visits, etc., I want to communicate directly with the recruit.
What does the off-season, spring season and summer look like for a D2 soccer player?
The regular season typically lasts for 2-3 months, depending how far a team goes in post-season and the school’s final exam schedule. During this time, the team normally gets time off to prepare for finals but are expected to continue working out on their own. Normally, coaches send home a work-out for the players to complete over the winter break and the players are expected to complete it.
Spring season is a little different as we are allowed to condition, lift, and train as small groups (6 players or less) for up to 8 hours a week before declaring our Spring Season. Once Spring Season starts, we are allowed to practice with a ball for 24 days and will have dates where we can play spring games. Spring Season goes by fast- it’s normally over within 6-7 weeks.
Over the summer, the players are expected to continue training and working out on their own and we send them home with a summer workout packet to complete as well. If your coach gives you a workout packet for the summer- do it! The last thing you want as an incoming freshman is to be unfit for pre-season. Pre-season is short at D2 and if you aren’t fit coming in to pre-season, you will struggle to get match-fit in time for the first game.
How do academics and athletics fit together?
At D2, academics come first. The great thing is that schools understand that athletics are still important so a lot of professors work with our student-athletes to make sure they will not fall behind in class when they have to travel or miss class for games. We expect our student-athletes to attend every class but are excused from class when we have a game. If practice time conflicts with a class time, class comes first.
What are the short term and long term benefits of being on a collegiate athletic team?
The short term benefits are that you get a well-rounded college experience and for freshmen especially, it helps you adjust to college a little easier. Most freshmen struggle with time management but the structure of athletics helps you manage your time and make smarter choices. You have an instant family on campus when you are part of an athletic team and you always have at least 18 other people looking out for you.
As for long-term benefits, there are so many to list. You learn so many life skills and life lessons by being part of college athletics: accountability, time management, responsibility, leadership skills, conflict resolution, communication skills, service to others, etc. You also leave college with life-long friends. I still keep in touch with quite a few of my team-mates and coaches from college.
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?
I tell this to every prospective student-athlete: When it comes down to the decision on which college you want to attend, pick a school you would be happy at if you couldn’t play soccer there. So many different things can happen in your four (or five) years: a coaching change, an injury, friends leave, etc. If for whatever reason, you couldn’t play soccer all four years at the school, would you still be happy there and still want your degree from that school?
Samantha Snow, began coaching youth soccer in 2001. Coach Snow has a decade of college experience at the NJCAA, NAIA, and NCAA D2 levels.
Prior to arriving at GSW, Snow was the Head Women’s Soccer Coach at Bluefield College. Before taking over at Bluefield College, Snow was the interim Head Women’s Soccer Coach at Oxford College of Emory University in Oxford, GA; where she also worked as Assistant Coach prior to her head coach promotion.
Coach Snow has a wealth of coaching education including a USSF National A License, USSF National Goalkeeping License, and NSCAA Premier Diploma. She is a member of the National Soccer Coaches Association ‘30 Under 30’ Program.
Around her college schedule Coach Snow Coaches with ODP for Georgia Youth Soccer and coaching for US Youth Soccer Region I Program.
Coach Snow played college soccer at a D2 school for two years. She was injured during sophomore season and has been coaching college soccer ever since.
Snow holds her Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Georgia. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree at GSW. Snow and her husband, Elliot, have one daughter, Reagan.
Next, take a look at NCAA and NAIA Recruiting Rules.
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