“I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.” – Frank Lloyd Wright
It’s a decision most soccer players must ask themselves at some point in high school. Do I want to continue my soccer career in college? If that answer is yes, there are some important things to consider in order make sure you end up at the right school. While ultimately everyone takes a different path towards collegiate soccer, there are some steps that you should take to set yourself up for success.
Even if you are only slightly considering playing soccer in college, begin researching schools early in your high school career. While having a long list of possible schools is a good first step, eventually you should narrow it down to your serious choices. The easiest way to do this is to tour the schools, even if just means walking around the campus. Try to imagine yourself attending that college. Would you attend this school even if you weren’t going to play soccer? If not, that university may not be the right fit for you. Athletic participation is just one of the many things to consider when picking a school, so it is important to feel comfortable on campus.
The next step is to reach out to those college’s head coaches. Unless you are heavily recruited or play on a high-level club team, you are most likely going to have to create your own “buzz." Even during your freshman or sophomore year, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to coaches. Inviting them to a game or, if possible, sending them footage of your play is a great way to make that initial contact. Another important thing is to do this step yourself. Having your parents reach out to the coaches for you will not help your cause. Send a nicely worded email or handwritten letter to the coach introducing yourself and your interest in their program. It also does not hurt to check in with the coach throughout their season, just to give them a reminder that you are still interested. Coaches like to see this initiative from prospective players, and will more likely consider you if you start the conversation.
It goes without saying that keeping your grades up in high school is equally important. A major responsibility of a college head coaching position is to retain players for the length of their academic career. Excelling academically can go a long way in selecting a school. Some universities have stricter acceptance standards than others, so it is vital that you can meet these requirements. Ultimately, your academic performance, not your soccer performance, is what will set you up for a career after college.
Looking at colleges should be a fun and exciting process. While initially nerve wracking, this is a once in a life time opportunity to start your new path to independence. Being part of a college soccer team is not only exciting, but is a privilege as well. Your level of ambition and hard work are key factors in your choice to pursue collegiate soccer. Having played on a college team for four years, it has allowed me appreciate this process and all that it can provide for players.