Want to Play College Soccer?
You might be 8 years old and just love soccer. You might be a parent sending your kid to every trainer in town, looking at each training as an investment with a ROI of a college scholarship. Maybe you are a high school player with solid grades, and are starting to get a few letters in the mail.
Whatever it is, I can tell you that playing Division 1 College Soccer was one of the best experiences in my life…and while not all the time positive (there were plenty of hard days), it teaches time management and the rewards and friendships are endless.
Let me give you an overview, then tell you the best way to get there.
What if you could wake up every morning, train with your buddies…go to school with your friends, train more with your buddies…do a little homework, and play a game in front of hundreds to a couple thousand people every few days…and get money for it while getting an education. Would that be something you are interested in?
No brainer right?
Ok reality check.
What if you had to wake up every morning at 5am for fitness or the gym. Drag your sore body to class for the day…get on the training ground for the afternoon, then spend your evening in the library preparing for a test the next day, only you are too tired to see the words on the page…while all your normal friends did things normal college kids do…is that something you would still be interested in?
Not as glamorous is it?
But I can tell you, the rewards of playing soccer in college are endless. Some of my best memories are waking up on a crisp fall morning on the day of a game. After a quick shower, walking out of my dorm to the cool fall air hitting me on my face, knowing that at Sunset tonight I will play in a game (under the lights) in front of all my friends and family and the stadium will be rocking. And I will have an opportunity to score a goal and impact the game. Even at 36 years old, I can still remember the feeling.
Want to Play Soccer in College? Here are my Top 3 Video Trainings I did every week as a Division 1 College Player.
The harsh reality is that college squads now carry 20-26 kids on their first team. Many have reserve teams of equal numbers. Top Division 1 Soccer programs offer 9.9 scholarships per team. There are no Division 3 scholarships but lots of grants and awards. So even if you are good enough, there is plenty of competition for both playing time and money.
What isn’t advertised is the time management, real world decision making, and planning put on an 18-22 player whose parents have previously taken care of everything for them while balancing their academics. It’s a full time job. But it’s worth it. If you are still interested, read on, I will tell you how to get there.
5 Step Formula to Get Recruited to Play College Soccer
Grades. If you don’t have grades, it’s a non-starter. High school athletes need to pay attention to their grades or you might end up in a Community College for 2 years playing while you make up for high school immaturity. Not that this is a bad thing, many programs across the country can compete with top D1 programs- so it can be a great launch (or re-launch pad) for those lacking in grades. That said, do yourself and your parents a solid…Get the grades, do you ACT and SAT prep…
Make a List of 10 Schools. That’s right, make a list. 3 schools you could play at for sure 100%, 4 that would be on your level, and 3 that are above your ability. The idea here is to target the schools that offer both the academic and athletic solutions that can meet your needs as a STUDENT ATHLETE…see what I did there?
Put the student first. Going to college is your main focus, playing is second. 99.99% of us will be going pro in something not soccer…think long term but also seek solutions that can offer short term rewards. And I say this to you because here was my college recruiting strategy:
Sophomore Year Mark: “I’m good enough, they will come.” (oh you foolish boy)
Junior year Mark: “I’m playing well in showcases and getting letters, looking for the highest level and most money.” (oh you really foolish boy)
Senior Year Mark: “I can only afford the in state with the partial scholarship to play at the highest level I can…I will figure out the Academic stuff down the line. (seriously, are you getting dumber?)
It actually all worked out for me. Despite changing my major 3 times in 2 years, I graduated with a Business Degree in Marketing and a minor in Psychology, which on paper sounds great. I just got super lucky, there wasn’t a lot of thought put into the outcome. I was 17-was majoring in doing dumb stuff at that time in my life.
So look, this is a do as I say, not as I did piece. Since graduating and now coaching youth soccer, I’ve been able to help hundreds of players find the right fit for them. Both academically and athletically, and I developed this strategy along the way.
Make a list of your 10 schools that identify your interests academically. For those of you who are unsure…there is a Myers Briggs personality test to help you. This link will help you identify which areas you are pre-disposed to finding success. Don’t take this with 100% what you should do, use it as a guiding light to help you better understand yourself and how you can find your little corner in society. If you are an introvert who is good with numbers, being a Car Salesman is probably not your calling…look at Statistics and Big Data. If you are an ADD extrovert who can talk to anyone about anything, stay away from Engineering and get into Marketing/Digital Media.
Back to soccer and school. Let’s say you want to be a Software Engineer. Start looking at D1/D2/D3 schools that you think you can play at that have good Computer Science Depts.
Contact the Coaches. Here you are going to put together a form email. One you will write once, then update the information in to tailor it to every coach…and for God’s Sake…Don’t write whoever it may concern, or even worse, use the wrong coaches name. Check your work, use your head.
Dear Coach Connelly,
I’m currently at Junior at Patrick Henry High School located (insert town and state). I have a 4.0 GPA and a 26 ACT score and I’m interested in attending your school to major in Computer Science and I want to play college soccer at (Insert School Name).
I see you are graduating your leading goal scorer and 2 other top points players, my hope is to be able to fill that gap for you as I have a history of finding the net at the top levels in youth soccer.
I’m a forward with my (insert club team name) and a captain on the Varsity team at high school. I’m on the Regional ODP team. I am 5 foot 10 inches tall, 165Lbs, run a 4.2 40 meter dash and scored 25 goals last season.
Here is my highlight video. (insert video link to vimeo or youtube video 2-3 minutes in length). -Make sure this is a highlight video, coaches aren’t scouring 90 minute clips to find your 20 seconds of brilliance, you will need the video edited.
I’m interested in attending a summer camp at your college, is there a camp that you would best recommend for players that are interested in going to school there?
I will also be at Dallas Cup this April and the Las Vegas Showcase in Thanksgiving. I will provide you with my schedule and hopefully we can connect.
If you have any other questions, here are my references or simply reply by email.
See what you did there. You thought long and hard and did an email once. You told him your GPA info and test scores, you will also want to attach a player resume, you told him you identified a problem on the horizon and how you can solve it (did your homework), gave some hooks- the goals,ODP,Captain, etc…and then proof-the video. Finally, you gave him references.
Highlight Video. Right around Sophomore year you need to start developing a highlight video. Every major tournament you go to, there will be services to video all 3 of your showcase games, or whatever the format and package is. If not, use google for local videographers-I even have my own strategies for getting it done for next to nothing. If you are on a team competing in these tournaments you will likely have other players interested in going to college just like you. Join together to get the games video’d…it’s usually like $30-$40 a person, then you get the digital clip. Once you get 5-6 games where you play well and perform, you are ready for a highlight reel.
From there, hire a video editor off Fiverr or someone you know to put together a 2-3 minute video for you and upload it to youtube or vimeo. You might have to do this once…you might have to do it 4-5 times to keep adding better and better highlights. Or to show a college you are interested in that you are indeed continuing to develop.
Attend College Camps or ID Camps. From your Sophomore year on, make it your business to attend college camps of places you are interested in going to. For example, if you want to go to UVA (University of VA) contact Gelnovatch, ask if there is a particular camp that will be more competitive or that the program is steering those who want to play college soccer? (Don’t come right out and say, which camp are you sending all your recruits too). You should be doing 2-3 of these a summer. While you are on campus, take in the feel…you might fall in love with a campus…Or it could go the other way if you realize you are stuck in the middle of nowhere and you are coming from a big city, it might not be a good fit.
In addition, there will also be little College ID Camps around your area. They will likely be 80-100 college bound players from the area and there will be 10-12 coaches from different colleges there to lead the camp but also recruit a little. You want to go to a few of these.
Make it your business to be on a team, or guest play on a team…whatever it is, so that you are going to the top tournaments and showcases around. Dallas Cup, Disney, Surf Cup, Man City Cup, Showcase Events…Keep in mind that if you go to Dallas Cup, and your team doesn’t do well, or you don’t play particularly well. That’s ok.
The reality is, the top 10% of college bound players will be fought after by the top programs. There are still many mid-major Division 1 and top Division 2 programs that are very high level and will provide you more exposure to play and develop. I.E. You can spent 3 years on the bench and a practice player for UCLA or you can go and start at a lower level D1 school from Day 1. Find your fit that works best for you.