Welcome to Interview #13.
I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of Isaac Brooks, former coach of Women’s Soccer at Union University. Coach Brooks was named the women’s soccer head coach at Union University in 2012. In his first two seasons as head coach, he has been given the task of leading Union trough the transition from NAIA to NCAA Division 2. He has also been quite active in local youth soccer, with the Jackson Area Wide Soccer Association.
Speaking with Coach Brooks, you will notice immediately he is passionate about coaching and he cares about people. Having coached during the transition from NAIA to NCAA Division 2 he has a great understanding of both classifications. From player to assistant to head coach, Isaac Brooks has seen Union University from all angles.
How do you find players for your team?
We find our players several ways. They may contact us and let us know that they are interested. We travel all over the country to showcases and tournaments. Almost all of our players have attended one of our camps at some point. Very rarely will we get a girl from a recruiting website.
Union University is a Christian school. Will all Christian schools be similar? What are differences that recruits should think about when choosing a religious school?
Not all Christian schools are similar. There are a lot of “Christian” schools that are in name only. Many schools may call themselves a Christian school, but their values don’t back this up. Further, there are a lot of schools that have Christian values to support their title, but their athletic teams don’t follow the same values. A little bit of homework can tell you a couple of things fairly quickly: 1) Does this Christian school adhere to traditional Christian moral values? 2) Do the athletic teams adhere to the same values as the school?
How do you use social media when recruiting? What is your advice to recruits about social media?
We will do a little research on players. Social media can change your reputation, either good or bad, very easily. Be careful.
What can or should high school athletes do from their end to get on your radar screen? If a soccer player personally contacts you by phone or email, what will you do next?
I love it when a recruit reaches out to us. It shows initiative and genuine interest. We will first talk about what they are looking for in a college experience to see if we may be a fit. If they are, we will want to see them play. There are several ways to do this, but the easiest is if they send me their upcoming schedule.
Recruits should make themselves familiar with NCAA recruiting rules. Coaches do have restrictions on how we are allowed to contact a recruit. It doesn’t mean that a coach is not interested if you don’t hear back from them. Further, I personally have to filter through 40-50 emails a day. It can get tough sometimes to respond in a timely manner!
There are always exceptions. Always. Speaking in a generic manner, though, we are about a year ahead with our recruiting classes We will have most of a recruiting class committed before the end of their junior year.
Could you share, in whatever detail you are comfortable, what the athletic scholarship break down looks like on your roster?
Most of our girls receive some sort of Athletic Aid. We do have a few walk-ons. No one is on a full Athletic Scholarship. We do have some girls that have full scholarships, but it is because they were able to stack Academic and Athletic Aid. It is extremely important for recruits to get good grades, because our players rely heavily on Academic Scholarships. Most programs are in the same boat.
What is the role of the parent in the recruiting process?
It will be different for each family, so be true to how your family operates.
It is important that parents don’t do all of the correspondence. We will begin to wonder if the recruit can speak for themselves. On the other hand, it is also important that we hear from the parents at some point. They are a big part of the process, but they shouldn’t take over the process.
What should players expect from a Christian college athletic experience?
As I already mentioned, this will vary from school-to-school and program-to-program. Speak to the coach about the culture of their team. If the coach doesn’t mention the spiritual life of their program, there is a very good chance that it just isn’t that important. Other coaches will talk about it and give you a very good idea about what it will be like to be an athlete on a program that is trying to honor Christ.
This answer could turn into a thesis, so I will err on the side of brevity! There are mountains of evidence that show that college athletes are healthier physically and emotionally. Their confidence and composure under fire is better. They tend to be harder working. The list goes on and on!
My advice to a player debating whether or not to play sports in college: do it. At times it may be tougher, but that is why it is more rewarding. You were able to juggle academics, athletics, and extra-curricular activities in high school and you can definitely do it in college.
How did playing collegiately yourself affect your life aside from ending up as a college coach yourself?
I wouldn’t be who I am without my experiences. Again, this response could become extremely lengthy, but the benefits FAR outweigh the cons.
How do academics and athletics fit together?
They can’t be separated. You go to college to get an education, and a part of that is athletics. Not the other way around. You can’t play if you don’t study. Further, a lot of players get the chance to play in college because their Academic Scholarship made it financially possible.
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?
Be proactive. There is a place for you, so start your search with an open mindset. Don’t pigeon-hole yourself before you get started because you will miss out on a life changing opportunity.
Next, take a look at Interview with Indiana Wesleyan Softball Coach.
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