How to Get Recruited Guide
Ursinus Women's Soccer

Interview With Ursinus College Women’s Soccer Coach

Welcome to Interview #89

I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of NCAA Division 3 Women’s Soccer Coach, Aileen Ascolese.

Aileen Ascolese is so new at Ursinus that the paint has not even dried on the office door yet. We wish her well with her new program. Ascolese was the head coach at Alfred University the previous four years.

Prior to Alfred Ascolese spent two years as an assistant at Brandeis, two years at as an assistant at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institue, and two years as a grad assistant and j.v. coach at Elmira.

What can or should high school athletes do from their end to get on your radar screen?  What are the important steps for an athlete to get noticed by you?

The first step a high school student-athlete needs to take is to get in touch with me. Shoot me an e-mail expressing your interest in Ursinus, why you’re interested in Ursinus, and give me some background about your soccer and academic career.

From there, the next step which is the most crucial, is for me to see you compete. Watching a prospective student-athlete play in person is my preference but sending along film can be beneficial, as well. I attend dozens of college showcases and club tournaments throughout the entire year, so hopefully our paths cross there.

Passing along whatever schedule you have – tournament, league, high school, etc. is a must so that I know when and where you are competing.

Why do you think athletes should consider Division 3? What are the benefits of Division 3 specifically?

In my personal opinion, D3 offers a holistic college experience that isn’t as readily available in other divisions. D3 prides itself on the student-athlete experience and the strict time regulations placed on D3 athletes and coaches allows for opportunities to indulge in different offerings outside of just your sport.

Ursinus Women's Soccer

My athletes study abroad, hold jobs both on and off campus, are part of various clubs, play multiple sports, are in different extracurricular program, study two majors – there’s a whole host of activities they have time for because the soccer piece of their experience doesn’t consume all of their time and energy.

As such, I believe D3 athletes are often more well-rounded and more prepared to tackle the “real world” upon graduation.

Similar question, why should student-athletes consider Division 3? How does the Division 3 experience differ from the Division 1 and 2 experience?

Regardless of division, the main goal for all collegiate student-athletes is to excel in the classroom so that they graduate ready to enter society fully capable of being productive, working citizens. The D3 lifestyle – no organized coach-led training for four months – allows for student-athletes to hone in on different avenues of their college experience. This might mean buckling down with school work, having time to do research or an independent study, or participating in an internship. It could also mean getting involved in a club or campus organization, picking up a part-time job, or simply trying something new. Having time away from soccer can open up so many different opportunities to succeed and pursue other passions.

What are a few of the most common mistakes that prospective-student athletes make in the college recruiting process?

Focusing on their respective sport more than their academics. When looking at a potential college, academics should always come first.

Soccer can be a close second, but the sport itself or a coach should never be the main reason a prospective student-athlete chooses a college. Coaches leave, programs get cut, and career-ending injuries are a reality. Picking a school because you value the education and feel comfortable in learning environment must be the top priority. One of these unfortunate things could happen to you.

Another often seen mistake is playing with the intention of getting a soccer scholarship. Play for the love of the game, not to be able to have some money taken off your tuition bill. If you do your research, you’ll find a college that you feel comfortable with and there are ways to make it affordable through academic scholarships, merit money, and other financial assistance processes. Never let the thought of having to earn an athletic scholarship motivate you to play!

I coached at the Division 3 level for seven years. One of the biggest concerns from parents was financial. Parents would tell me because Division 3 does not offer athletic scholarships they can’t afford it. What would you say to those parents?

Very similar to what I mentioned before. Do you research and look at the price tag of each school, but know there are several ways to cut that cost down significantly. Academic scholarships, merit money, financial aid, non-university outside scholarships – all of these are available for your child at 99% of the colleges in the nation.

I encourage recruits and their parents to seriously sit down and weigh out whether or not they think the degree from the school is worth the cost. Will the degree open up doors once the student-athlete graduates? What are the employment statistics for recent grads? What are the credentials of the college’s professors? Are there internship/co-op/research opportunities? What’s the return on investment? These are all questions to ask yourself when deciding whether or not a school is affordable for your family. I also encourage families to set up meetings with the folks in the Financial Aid office to get additional information and ways to make the college affordable.

How do you use social media when recruiting? What is your advice to recruits about their use of social media?

Social media is a great tool because virtually everyone is using it. I personally very much enjoy handling the team’s Facebook and Instagram pages and take pride in the information and perception we are presenting. It’s a terrific way for alumnae, recruits, parents of current players, to see what’s going on with the team and to stay involved with the program. I personally love following my Alma mater’s social media pages.

As for recruits, I hope they are being smart and conscientious about what they are posting on social media. Coaches, myself included, are looking at the type of online presence you have and are taking in to account what we are discovering about you. Nothing ever truly gets erased from the internet so be cautious about how you portray yourself.

This is particularly good advice because the same will happen as you begin to look for jobs and get your career off the ground. Employers are monitoring what you say and do online – trust me!

What are college coaches looking for in a recruiting video? What is the best way for recruits to format the video to be useful to the college coach?

For me, I am looking at the good things you do but also the bad things and how you are reacting to those mistakes. I prefer recruits to send me a game rather than a highlight video because highlight videos are just that – highlights and all good stuff.

I want to see you have a bad pass or give the ball away and what you are doing to fix it. I am interested in your body language, are you jawing with the referee, how are you treating your teammates when they make a mistake, what happens when you’re team goes down or is losing. Seeing all of these are just as important in my decision-making process as seeing the positive things you are capable of doing.

What is the role of the parent in the recruiting process?

Be supportive throughout the process and let your child choose the school she feels most comfortable with and where she thinks she’ll thrive the most. A good college experience can be life-changing. Please do your best to not hinder this!

Also, let your child do the talking when meeting coaches – the college soccer experience is about and for her – not the parents!

What are the differences between competing at the high school or club level and the college level? What do incoming freshmen need to be prepared for?

High school and club soccer both require a large level of commitment, but college soccer is at a whole other level. In Ursinus Women's Soccercollege, you will train far more than you play matches, a big difference from high school and club ball. You will also see your coach almost daily. You will live with your teammates, eat with your teammates, travel with them, go to class with them – so if you have problems with them, you better figure out how to sort them out and overcome. Cattiness, drama, and selfishness are things that simply can’t happen at the college level if a team strives to be truly successful. You need to leave your baggage in the locker room and show up every day willing to give 110% if you want to reach your goals.

Incoming freshmen need to be prepared for a difference in speed of play, physicality, and overall mental fortitude. College soccer is undeniably more challenging that high school and club soccer. Decision-making needs to be pristine. Laser-sharp focus is a must.

  • Work rate and pride go hand-in-hand and you won’t be successful without both.

Be prepared to work when you are tired, mentally drained, stressed, under pressure, and hurting. And then be prepared to figure out how to work harder. It sounds challenging – and it is – but the sense of accomplishment you feel when you’ve dug deep and found another level to play at is indescribable!

You had a successful playing career at Division 1 Rider University. How did your college teammates and coach impact your life?

Best experience of my life and best decision I’ve ever made. My time at Rider and as a Rider University Women’s Soccer player changed my life. I had a tremendous coach who I still keep in touch with, made fantastic friendships, and learned so many valuable life lessons along the way. I am a college coach because of the incredible experience I had. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life and strive every day to give back the same type of experience I had to my own athletes.

Can you share a creed, quote or philosophy you try to instill into your athletes?

Aileen AscoleseMy coaching philosophy has many different layers to it but one of the pieces I hold so dear to my heart is trying to instill in my athletes the need to make their own decisions, both good and bad. I realize that it would be much easier to demand specific actions from players in specific situations and would likely result in fewer costly errors. But doing that would negate the opportunity for the spectacular or creative flair that makes the game of soccer so special. Therefore I try to provide my players with situational recommendations but I insist that they make the ultimate decision themselves. It is my job to analyze their results and provide feedback (both positive and negative) and to assist them in learning from their past experiences so that in the future they might make the best decisions available to them. This goes for soccer and in their “non-soccer” lives.

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?

Take it slow! Don’t rush to make the decision simply to get it out of the way.

Do your homework, research extensively, map out what you want educationally, athletically, and socially, and take your time navigating through it. The last thing you want to do is make a hasty decision because you rushed or someone rushed you.

I believe there is a college soccer program for everyone and your college soccer experience will be what you make of it. Ultimately, if you make a mistake and choose a college that wasn’t what you expected it to be, you can always transfer!

Next, check out this article: Results and Responsibility.


Aileen AscoleseAileen Ascolese is so new at Ursinus that the paint has not even dried on the office door yet. We wish her well with her new program. Ascolese was the head coach at Alfred University the previous four years.

Ascolese was a standout player at Division 1 Rider University. She has a Master’s in general education, a ‘B’ license from the USSF, and a NSCAA Advanced National Diploma.

For a Full Bio go to Ursinus Women’s Soccer.



Next, check out: 4 Tips Toward a Great College Athletic Experience.


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