Welcome to Interview #99
I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of NAIA Men’s Soccer Coach of Mount Marty College, Carlos Saenz.
Coach Saenz is coaching at the college, club and high school levels which give him a unique perspective on the recruiting process.
Why do you think athletes should consider an NAIA college? What are the benefits of an NAIA school specifically?
NAIA schools tend to be smaller, and you can get an education that is more tailored to you. This allows you to be a person, and not just a number. Competing at a NAIA institution can be just as competitive and organized as larger NCAA colleges/universities. You get to receive a quality education while competing at a very high level.
What are some myths or misconceptions about NAIA colleges?
Some believe there is not enough competition in the NAIA compared to that of DI, DII, or DIII. There are very strong programs in the NAIA that can compete with any DI, DII or DIII program. It is better to know what program you are getting into before you get fully involved in that program.
Another misconception about the NAIA is that with it being primarily composed of private institutions, NAIA schools are too expensive. While the price tag might look expensive, NAIA colleges offer great scholarship opportunities for potential prospects. This helps make NAIA colleges affordable and very competitive with cost compared to Dl, Dll, and Dlll’s.
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?
One way to get noticed by college coaches is by playing club soccer if possible. Playing club allows a player to compete in tournaments and showcases that tend to get exposure. Going far in tournaments typically gets a team more exposure.
Another way to get noticed is by making sure that they have a profile with important information available, such as high school GPA, ACT/SAT scores, and other information.
What are the benefits for student athletes to go to a small school in a small town?
One benefit is that students receive more attention from professors and coaches. This attention allows you to have more one on one interaction with your professors and holds the students accountable. Another benefit is the small town allows for not as many distractions compared to that of big cities. This allows students to focus on their academics and the sports that interest them. It also makes student athletes feel more like a person and less like a number.
A smaller school is heavily invested in their students, so from the admissions department to the business office and all the other departments, they want their students to succeed.
What are a few of the most common mistakes that prospective-student athletes make in the college recruiting process?
One thing that is a common mistake is when prospective-student athletes do not present themselves in a formal way when being introduced to a coach, whether it be over email, phone, or in person.
Also not having any knowledge about the school. By doing research on your own about the school, it allows you to better understand the school. Having this knowledge allows for coaches to answer questions, being the students have background information on the school.
Could you share, in whatever detail you are comfortable, what the athletic scholarship break down looks like on your roster?
Scholarships range depending on the college. Certain colleges have a maximum amount they can give, while others have the funds to give a wide range of scholarships. Some are based off of an average system so at the end of the day when the roster is complete the average scholarship per player should be near the goal set by the budget.
The way our college works is that our scholarships vary depending on the needs of the team, the position of the player, and also what the player can bring to the team as a whole. It is up to the coach’s discretion to make a scholarship offer to our Athletic Director, if approved the scholarship will be awarded.
What are some things that would keep you from recruiting a player?
Some things that keep me from recruiting a player is their Behavior, attitude, and a lack of self-discipline on social media. We want players that will be a good role model for the team as well as the community. This shows that the community, that our program supports both the school and the community. We look for players that have a positive, strong mental attitude and who are respectful of themselves, their peers, and all those around them.
Should prospective athletes bring up scholarships with coaches or wait on the coach to initiate that discussion?
If the prospective athletes have a question about a scholarship, they should ask, however, it depends on the coach. I prefer to be honest with the athlete so that I can build a relationship with the player. This relationship is built on trust, and the only way to continue to build it is if both the coach and the player trust each other.
The amount of money that recruits are receiving is based upon performance and what they bring to the team. As coaches, we expect the player to continue to bring their talent to the team because of the amount they are being awarded.
What is the role of the parent in the recruiting process?
Parents play a huge role in the recruiting process. I believe the parents should be supportive of the player’s decision. Also being able to help aid in the FASFA process and school admittance process as well.
Parents should allow the player to decide if the school is right for them and not for the parents. College is a milestone in their life, and they have to choose a school that they feel will be their home away from home for the next four years.
As well as being a college coach, you also have coached high school and club. Is it necessary to play on a club team as a path to a college team? Why or why not?
It’s not necessary, because we do recruit plays based on their high school performances, but it does help if they do. We spend more time with those players that play club due to their ability to play and practice for longer periods of time throughout the year, and also the competition at the club level tends to be a higher. Club teams sometimes are exposed to a higher level of competition, which brings out the best of a player.
Can you share a creed, quote or philosophy you try to instill into your athletes?
I always tell my players “don’t expect to get what you want, without giving the effort in return.” I haven’t met anyone in life that is not willing to meet a goal without giving 100%. I want my players to know that hard work will not only benefit them on the field, but also in their life and future career.
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?
Make sure academics are taken serious because academics are the reason they are going to college. They are going to earn their education and graduate with a degree in their field of interest and that will prepare them for life in the work force.
Academics play a large role in financing school. A lot of NAIA institutions offer great academic scholarships, so the better your grades and test scores are the more academic money you might receive.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to coaches and ask questions.
Make sure to do some research on the school and don’t just listen to what the coach has to say. Take some initiative in order to choose the right school for you.
You can find out more about Coach Saenz and Mount Marty College men’s soccer by clicking here.
Next, check out: How an Email to a College Coach Can Open a Door or Slam it Shut
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