College Recruitment from a Parents Perspective

by Brad Fields

Hi, this is coach ______ from _____ university/college.

Congratulations, a college coach is reaching out to your son or daughter about playing at the next level.  Everyone should be proud of this accomplishment, as only 5.5 percent of boys and 7.1 percent of girls will play collegiate soccer.

As a parent who lived in the process for three-years, I thought I’d offer my perspective to those heading on the same path.  First, your son or daughter has worked hard to get here and so have you, so enjoy the experience by making the most of it. Go on visits, stop at campuses during your travel and spend time researching various schools together.  You’ll be surprised the topics you’ll end up talking about with your child.

The good news is that in the end, most kids end up attending a school where they will be happy. This comes straight from coaches we met with over the past few years.  Now that you know it will probably work out, here are some important and not so important things to keep in mind:

  • Coaches care first and foremost about academics.   They talk about soccer, but your son/daughter needs to be able to speak about their classes, grades, study habits and potential major.  The better their grades, the easier the process and the higher the likelihood of receiving real financial assistance. The money resides in academics, not athletics.
  • Colleges and Universities parents find appealing will not always appeal to their child, so don’t fixate on a specific school.
  • Your child needs to understand they own this process.  Getting in front of coaches and having meaningful conversations requires work and once there, it is up to them to keep the process going.   Coaches recruit young men and women, not mom and dad.
  • Never underestimate the appeal of cool uniforms or mascots…these things are well down the list for reasons to attend, but they are on the list.
  • Attending college ID camps is a great way for your child to be seen, but by and large they are money makers for the coaching staff. If a school hasn’t seen your child play, invited them formally or the school is not on the preferred list, let it go. Direct mail solicitation does not equate to interest.
  • Don’t be surprised when coaches mention playing a position other than a preferred spot. This is especially true in players who are stronger athletically than technically. Coaches see potential differently.
  • Developing a list of schools is vital, but your son/daughter needs to be honest about how far they want to be from home, what size school is appealing and at least have an idea of their possible interest of study.  They can cut their teeth communicating with coaches on their list and evaluate new ones as coaches reach out to them.
  • Be sure your child fully understands there are no guarantees at the next level… they make their squad each year and past performance has little bearing on the present.
  • Convince your child to select a school, not the soccer program.   There really is no substitute for wanting to be somewhere and being happy.

I wish you well with the process and take advantage of the information the club has graciously put together for parents and players.  We are very fortunate to have outstanding people training our kids and I’m certain, if there is a school on your kids list, one of the coaches knows someone at the program or will be willing to reach out on their behalf.