Posts Tagged ‘university’

Want to Play College Soccer? What is your GPA?

February 22, 2010

I recently caught up with Patrick Scheufler who was a player on the inaugural iSoccerStar.com reality soccer show (I met him through a good friend of mine). The show followed a team of hand-selected U.S. players who traveled to Montenegro and Albania to play local teams in hopes that some of them would attract the attention of some European clubs and sign those selected players to a professional contract.

This year, the program is back for a third year. This program’s primary goal is to showcase talented U.S. soccer players to Europeans clubs on European soil. Patrick is now a scout, talent locator, and partner with E.D. United which is the company behind the program. He told me that they are holding tryouts across the U.S. this spring to find the next group of players that will be part of this year’s team. For more information, visit One Shot One Dream.

This got me thinking about what it takes to play soccer after high school. Athletic ability is certainly important. The best U.S. soccer players will either sign with a European or other foreign club or accept a full ride scholarship to a top-rated college or university of their choice. For the many thousands of players who are one level below the first group, college will be their main option. For these college-bound players, however, there is something even more important than soccer ability. It is academic ability and achievement.

Most university and college football programs can offer upwards of 20 full-ride scholarships a year. As result, up to 80 football players on a team are playing with a full scholarship. College soccer is different. Oftentimes, these programs will only have a few full scholarships they can offer. What coaches will often do is break those scholarships in half, thirds, or quarters in order to attract as many players as possible.

In talking with some high school coaches, I’ve learned that university and college coaches would rather recruit and sign an above average player with a 3.5 – 4.0 grade-point-average (GPA) than a superstar with a 2.5 – 3.0 GPA. These coaches want to be guaranteed that the players they sign will be able to handle the rigors and obligations of being a student-athlete. The best barometric indicator to predict this success is good grades. In addition, if coaches can attract players with good grades (or other unique talents), it makes it much easier for them to go to the college recruiting administrators and seek partial academic (or other) scholarships to make up the difference.

My advice to players who wish to play competitive soccer past high school? Pay as much if not more attention on your grades as you do on soccer. Only a small percentage of high school players will play college soccer. Of those fortunate enough to player college soccer, only a handful will have a soccer-playing career. You will need something to fall back on and good grades and academic ability are a smart back-up plan.

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‘Adopt-a-College-Soccer-Player’ Program

January 20, 2010

A few months ago I noticed a signed photo in my daughter’s room of a local soccer player who at the time was playing soccer at a local university on a full-ride scholarship. I was surprised to see it given that it was over seven years old. This player had been invited to my daughter’s U10 competition team to run practice and talk to the girls about the importance of school and hard work. Her university was nice enough to supply her with action shots that she signed for the girls. Later that year, the players were ball girls at one of the University’s home age. At least for my daughter, this player had made a favorable and lasting impression on her.

In an earlier post I wrote about a ‘Adopt-a-High-Soccer-Player‘ program and how such a program would benefit youth soccer players, the high school soccer players, the school/club/soccer organization, and adult coaches. These same groups will stand to benefit from this program as well. However, because the college/university player is more mature and a better soccer player than a high school player and there are simply fewer college players available, there are different types of ‘wins’ that such a program can produce.

Winner #1: Youth Soccer Player

Youth players will still relate better to a college player than a 40-year-old parent figure. The more youth players who get to hear, see, and interact with the college player, the better. The celebrity factor should make young players more interested in and attentive to a college player than a high school player.

Winner #2: College Student-Athletes

Given the college player’s playing ability and maturity, there are many more roles this player can assume within a Club/League. This player could:

  • Meet, speak, and run a practice for each team in the Club/League.
  • Be a regular trainer for a competitive team. Given the college player’s knowledge of the game, a competitive team with better and more focused players would be a better fit.
  • Become a board member for the Club/League. As a person who is living and experiencing soccer at an advanced level but is not too far removed from being a youth player, he/she could play an integral role in helping develop and shape the future of the Club.

Either one or a combination of these activities or responsibilities would look terrific on a resume or post-graduate application.

Winner #3: College/University Soccer Program

If a college program is able to partner with a local soccer Club/League, attendance should rise as interest in the team increases. The college will have an endless supply of ball boys and ball girls. And who knows, maybe five or 10 years down the road, a few of the youth soccer players who were a part of the ‘Adopt-a-College-Soccer Player’ program will be stars at the same university.

Winner #4: Adult Coaches

Once again, many soccer coaches have little or no soccer experience themselves. Any help or instructions, especially from someone with extensive knowledge of the game can only be beneficial.

Winner #5: Youth Soccer Club or League

If a Club or League develops a reputation for bringing on board local college players to help train its youth players, membership will grow. Having young, knowledgeable, and good soccer players train the Club’s youth players should result in better teams and players. With a good relationship with the local College, perhaps its coach(es) will contribute their knowledge and expertise to the Club/League as well.

Any player who is fortunate enough to play at the college level must be good. Only the ‘cream-of-the-crop’ play college soccer. If there is any way to get such a player to volunteer his or her time to your Club/League, go for it. Only a select number of college players will play and earn a living as a professional soccer player. By giving these players an opportunity to train, teach, and help build and grow a Club/League, they, too, will be part of a unique and valuable experience. It will be a win-win-win-win-win situation for all.