College Showcase tourney’s are a great opportunity to play in front of coaches. Over the past year many of these events have been cancelled or postponed. They are still happening in some parts of the country and will eventually return to be ing a main event and a great way to show your abilities as a player. Surf Cup, Dallas Cup, and until recently the DA Showcases would have tons of college coaches in attendance. If the school you are wanting to be recruited by will have coaches in attendance you can reach out to the school beforehand via email and let them know your schedule. It doesn’t guarantee they will see you but your chances increase when you make them aware of your interest. Finding out if there is a real interest from the coaches is important. If it is a no, at least you can move on, it’s part of the process. It is important to find the schools that are genuinely interested in recruiting you for their program. Don’t forget to use the opportunity to obtain the film from the tourney matches for your personal highlight video.
ID Camps are another way to get in front of college coaches. Some of these are quite large with a lot of college coaches in attendance. Again, you can reach out to the schools you are interested in before to let them know your interest. ID Camps can be quite expensive so narrow down to the ones you think are most beneficial for you. There are ID camps being scheduled for this spring and summer in California and already happening in other parts of the country. Junior year is a good time to start narrowing your college focus but final decisions do not have to be made yet. With this in mind, ID Camps that are held on the campus of the school you are looking at is a great way to meet coaches, check out the campus and learn more about the program. ID Camps on the school campus can allow for more personal relationships to be made. With the expense involved for ID Camps choose specifically to avoid paying a lot of money.
What Level of College Soccer to Play
There are around a thousand collegiate soccer programs in the United States. I’ve also heard it said that there is a place for everyone. I won’t go so far as to say that. But, if playing soccer in some level of college is the primary goal than there are many possibilities.
NCAA Division One
NCAA Div-1 is going to require the highest level of commitment. To give context, UCLA’s 2021 recruiting class consists of 5 MLS Academy players. These players are serious about their soccer and to play at that level takes top talent and a very strong mentality. Think of it as a job on top of school. Though the fall is the main season, both semesters require time, energy and focus. Keep in mind that not all Div-1 programs have the exact same requirements. Find out exactly what the expectations are at the school you are going to consider attending. If you want to go top level Division 1 make sure you are ready to fight and grind to play at that level while you are putting in the needed work in the classroom as well. The competition will be very high and playtime is no guarantee. You will find many of the top players and athletes in the Big Div 1 and 2 programs. Former Youth National Team members and MLS Academy players are in this pool of players to be recruited for Div-1 programs. Be honest with yourself and get trusted feedback on your abilities as a player. Also, ask yourself if you are comfortable with potentially minimal or no playtime. An important question will be if the student-athlete is able to manage the studies, the travel and the intensity of top Div-1 college soccer. It is very competitive and can be a grind. Some student-athlete begin with a team but last no more than a year or two. They may stay at the school and focus solely on their academics. Some transfer to different schools to get play time. Either they were not going to play or they found the time commitment just too much and had to make the decision to quit the team or transfer. The athlete at this level should be 100% committed to the intense environment they will enter. If you won’t be a contributor you may want to look elsewhere. It isn’t unusual to red-shirt or not play early in college and some never really make a starting role.
NCAA Division Two
Div-2 also attracts Academy level players and some of these programs are really strong. To get familiar with the level of play spend time watching the games and do some research on the players. The matches are often available to stream or better yet go attend live. The CCAA in California is a really strong Div-2 level. I would not be surprised to see them compete with some Div-1 programs. A very high level player may prefer a Div-2 program because of financial reasons, staying close to home or a particular major. Don’t think that just because it isn’t Div-1 that the program, talent and commitment levels are not high. I am speaking with broad strokes so please remember that within Div-1 there can be a difference in talent, facilities and commitment and the same goes for Div-2.
Remember to keep the grades at the highest level possible all through High School. Start with a list of schools that can get narrowed down closer to graduation. Go on campus visits and find out if there is genuine interest in the player as a genuine recruit. Play in showcase tournaments and choose any ID Camps wisely as the can be expensive. Realistically find the level that will suit your level of play and what you want to get out of college soccer. In Part III we will look at NAIA, Junior College, scholarships and then close it up with the key questions to ask the student-athlete in order to find the best college soccer experience possible.