Overcoming the obstacles of recruitment: Sydney’s Athlete Success Story

As an athlete, there are inevitable obstacles you will encounter on your path to success. In CaptainU athlete Sydney Fox’s case, she had to learn to be persistent with college coaches who were often too busy to talk to her and to work extremely hard at practice, constantly improving her ball skills, in order to counter balance being smaller in size than a lot of athletes.

“I was quick and skillful, but didn’t have blazing speed. To overcome these obstacles, I played and worked harder than most of my teammates, and actually loved to practice everyday.”

Everyone’s journey is different, but Sydney’s, and her success in taking her game to the next level in college, is one that a lot of athlete’s can relate to.

Sydney Fox, college Sophomore, Soccer forward.

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When did you start playing your sport? How did you decide to play your sport as opposed to another?

I started playing soccer at age 5. Seeing my older sister play first made me want to follow in her footsteps. My parents encouraged my sister and I to try other activities such as swimming, dance, volleyball, and track. But in middle school, they told us to choose one activity to focus time and effort on. It was easy for me to pick soccer because of my instant love for the game.

What do you like most about your sport? 

A big thing for me was that my whole (extended) family loved the sport. My mom’s siblings all played and my dad learned to love the game from my sister and I playing. I liked the competitive challenge of soccer, it was fun scoring goals, and I liked how my family attended every game and cheered me on. My dad would kick the ball around with me and give me some tips; we enjoyed that a lot, it was “our” time. He always said, “I’ll give you every opportunity to get better as long as you love the game.” He encouraged me always, but never pushed me to play. Our family’s approach was always the “4 F’s”: fun, fitness, friends, and family; and that is what we got from soccer.

What are the biggest obstacles in your sport that you’ve overcome? How did you overcome it?

My size was an issue early on; most coaches seemed to favor bigger players. I was quick and skillful, but didn’t have blazing speed. To overcome these obstacles, I played and worked harder than most of my teammates, and actually loved to practice everyday. When soccer became my one sport, dad found a coach to give me private lessons on ball skills; and that set me far apart from my other teammates to this day. I learned that if you love something and want to be good at it, you’re more willing to put in the time to get better.

What are the biggest obstacles in the recruitment process that you’ve encountered and/or overcome? How did you overcome it (if you did yet)?

Our family had not played any sports in college, so we didn’t know where to begin. My coaches were helpful, and always gave good advice. CaptainU made a presentation to my club, and that’s where we learned about that resource. This gave us an idea about how to approach recruiting…finding a college, contacting the coach, and staying in touch. Using CaptainU, I looked at 10 colleges, narrowed it down to 3, and made the best choice for me!

How do you balance being a good athlete with being a good student?

My college coach is insistent on keeping academic work as a top priority. My teammates, especially upperclassmen, have been a huge help as tutors, and just giving me their experience. Setting priorities helped a lot, academics, soccer, and then having fun as time permits. During the season, it’s essential to stay ahead on homework given our travel and practice schedule. To me, playing soccer has actually helped me academically because of having to stay focused and keep my priorities in line.

When did you realize you wanted to play college sports?

Our family started talking about it when I was a high school freshman, and it became a more serious topic my sophomore year. Most of my teammates (club and high school) wanted to play in college, so it just seemed like a natural progression. The first decision in identifying choices was Division 1 versus Division 3; and I was fortunate to have the option for either. I chose D3 because I wanted to play as a freshman, and have a social life; and D1 is more like having a job in college. Remembering why I play soccer for the love of the game, as well as wanting to achieve academic success in the nursing profession, D3 became a perfect fit for me.

Where did you first turn for recruitment tools, platforms, strategies, etc.?

That’s easy, CaptainU, they had all of those options. Without their easy guidance, we would not have found and covered as many options as I could have had. Coaches can help, but they have a lot of players to assist. And in the end, it’s the player’s responsibility to contact, and stay in touch with college coaches.

What things have worked and what things haven’t/didn’t work when trying to get in touch with coaches? 

Some coaches already have their recruiting list targeted early on, and they are hard to hear back from. Sending letters worked the least, because most coaches don’t have time to write formal replies. The CaptainU platform had all the contact information in one site, and the mechanism to reach coaches. CaptainU also was great at tracking messages with coaches, and notifying when on checked my profile. Posting updates to my profile was easy, so coaches could stay up with where I was, and show interest in me. 

How was your family involved & how was this helpful?

My dad took the time to learn and coach me on the CaptainU website. We all visited several colleges to get a feel for the campus. When we narrowed my choices, we all visited the coach and asked questions. They were good about reminding me to follow up with coaches and keep my information up to date. Most of all, they kept encouraging me, and gave me questions to evaluate my choices.

What tools, platforms, and strategies did you use throughout the whole process?

My dad videoed most of my games and created video clips to post on CaptainU, and that was a big help. Being able to compile a priority list of colleges and research them was simple. The contact list for coaches was simple, and tracking contact with them kept a file on their interest. I really liked how CaptainU notified me when a coach checked my profile. Posting tournament and game schedules for coaches to see also was easy to pass along.

What worked best for you on CaptainU / what was your favorite CaptainU tool?

Number 1, the coaching contact information was essential. Second, having my profile posted prevented me from having to customize for every coach. Messaging to and from coaches, and keeping a record of contacts was very important. Video clip uploads were made so easy. Also, high on the list was the organized approach to recruiting, how to, when to, and just how to start. 

What would be three recommendations you have to athletes trying to play in college?

Definitely follow CaptainU’s guidelines for getting started. Get in touch, and stay in touch with college coaches early. Talk to club/high school coaches for their perspective on where you would fit in college.

Finally, what are your goals for the coming year in your sport? How are you currently doing in your sport? 

I’ve played in every college game since day 1, and started many times. My current goals: I want to start every game. I will work over the summer on attacking skills so that I can score more for the team. I will help my team beat our biggest rival, win conference, and make the NCAA playoffs again. I will score goals during our European tour this summer. I will continue loving soccer and fully enjoy my last two seasons of competition.

Create your free CaptainU profile here to get access to thousands of college coaches and event directors and access tools to help you take your game to the next level!

Interested in other athletes’ who have been successfully recruited? Check out Katie’s story here.