Parents Perspective

Written by a parent 

Our daughter is a senior and completing the recruiting process. We learned some important lessons along the way, and made some errors. I wish someone had shared these things with us so we could have known.

Things to know:

1. The players who get full rides are almost exlusively ODP (Olympic Development Program) Nat'l and Regional players. Think about what that means in number of players. It means very, very few players will get full rides to college.

2. My daughter is a GK (goal keeper),  it seems like the "offering amount" for GKs in Division1 and Division2 soccer is $10K/year in athletic money. This figure has been quoted by several schools where my daughter has met with the coach. I don't imagine the amount for field players is that much different.

3. College academic grants can be as good or better than this amount. One of the greatest challenges for a college coach is getting a player academically qualified. Lesson-- don't think that you can get through the college admissions process on soccer alone. If your child wants to play for the better colleges they have to be able to get through admissions. That means grades, SAT scores and showing that your child does more than just play sports. Don't become so single focused on soccer that your child neglects their studies.

4. A lot of acadmic money is aligned with SAT scores. While you may get into college with a lower SAT score based on the coach's influence (within reason), you will not get academic money unless you meet the schools academic standards and SAT scores for that money.

5. Don't think you have to play for the "top" team in your area at age U9-U14. As long as your child is getting good training and plays solid competition, they'll get what they need to be able to play at the college level. The "top" teams will be looking for players at 9th and 10th grade. That's the time to switch to one of these teams if your child is interested in playing in college.

6. College coaches won't be looking at your child's soccer team until the Spring of their 10th Grade year, and then only in passing. It isn't until their 11th Grade year that they start planning on coming to games. While Notre Dame, UNC, and some of the top regional programs may have their players locked up by the summer of the player's junior year most schools are locking in players in the Fall and even Winter of the player's senior year. Can't tell you how many coaches have come up to parents on our team's sidelines this fall and asked if our seniors are committed, because they're looking for players.

Lessons learned: We got trapped up into the hype of thinking we had to play our daughter on one of the top teams in the state starting at U11. We spent countless hours in the car driving to/from the 3 practices per week. Had the expensive, full-time paid coach. Spent about $4-5K/year between club fees, team fees, tournament fees, coaching fees, trainer fees, and camp fees. This doesn't include the cost of gas for all the driving and doesn't include hotel and food costs at tournaments. We played in regional leagues that had us driving from VA to MA to western PA. We thought we had to do this to provide our daughter with the opporuntity to play in college if she wanted. We were wrong. We have players on our team now who played for their good local club's B team. They got good training, but didn't get caught in the rat race. They came to our team when in 10th Grade. They are getting the same recuriting contacts as the girls who've played for this team since U9. They practiced 2x per week, played in the local league as opposed to JAGS until they were in 9th Grade. It didn't make a difference.

Recommendation: Have fun and make it fun. Don't push your child-- encourage, but never push and don't criticize. If it isn't fun it isn't worth it. If it stops being fun, quit. If your child wants to play other sports-- let them. Don't buy into the "tale" that they have to play soccer alone.