SAN DIEGO – During the Surf Cup event this weekend, we were able to connect with some college and club recruiters. In an event like Surf Cup and mainly at this group age from U15 to U18, most of the players are really serious about making it to the next level, which for most of them is to play college while for others is to play professionally.
We met with John Taylor, who is one of the assistant coaches for Azusa Pacific University. He also runs his own software company in which he developed apps for clubs and organization. Even though he is not actively recruiting, he knows a lot about this business.
[quote_box_center]As he said: “Its really important for any college to have the right fit, every college has a unique program and you want to find a player that fits that program.”[/quote_box_center]
As John mentions, they were there at Surf Cup to watch the players that have contacted them. Not a generic contact, which is easy to sort it out, since they get about a thousand of those per year. They came to watch the kid who writes a real email with real information who shows he has done his homework and is genuinely interested in our school. Signs like this show that the prospective student really did their College & Career Prep, and that they know exactly what they want and where they want to go. Those players they will spend a lot of time investing their resources in.
As John and other coaches have said, it is the top 1 and 2 players in each team that every coach there will be looking at.
[quote_box_center]“He might be a central midfielder at the club team but might be a right back at the next level, so it’s important for a player to be adaptable,”[/quote_box_center]
Another important factor that John stresses is the relationship between players, college coaches and youth club advocates. For example, nowadays, there is always a club advocate who is walking around with a sheet of paper with the team’s roster. It’s always good for recruiters to talk to them and create a relationship with them since they act as the liaison between the player and the college.
[quote_box_center]“That’s something that has changed over the years, and I think a lot of the clubs have created a position or made a priority to interact personally with coaches and be that advocate for the kids.”[/quote_box_center]
As John said, just like anything in life, this is about the relationship you have with coaches and people. It is always best for the player if a college coach takes the time to invest in a relationship with a club director or a coach.
[quote_box_center]“Because we will have the opportunity to watch 200 or 300 kids a year and we take 5 or 6 so it’s a lot more about making that process more efficient”[/quote_box_center]
At Azusa Pacific, they want to recruit players who value the university and not use the university as the vehicle to play soccer. They want people who really connect with the school, and say “AP is a school that I’ve known since I was in 9th grade and had my eye on it and hope that I’m gonna play there”, as John said those are usually the ones who end up making it through the funnel.
There are a lot of really good players out there, but they want the ones who have made an investment to understand the university first, then second you should be athletic and technical to play at this level. The best way to see that is by going to a camp or ID weekend. Once they are on campus, the coaches check how they interact with the team, as they want a player that commits to the team and contributes to the program. That’s the last thing they figure it out, but it is also the most important.
[quote_box_center]Advice to kids: “Be proactive and authentic in building in relationship with the program. Send the coach emails often, don’t pay for recruiting services to send email blasts, we get a thousand of those, find your 7 schools you really want to go to and pursue them like you are trying to apply for a job.”[/quote_box_center]