Tips for making a college soccer team

Do you want to improve your conversation skills with college coaches? Need tips about how to show off your best skills to college coaches?

Libby Closson has committed to a university to play soccer, and she is offering up all of her advice about how to use CaptainU’s tools, how to talk to college coaches, and how to be a good student athlete in order to take your game to the next level.

Get started with a free CaptainU profile today and take Libby’s advice.

Libby Closson, Center Back/Center Holding Midfield

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

I started playing when I was 7 years old. It was our town rec team. Probably, I started soccer because my dad had played in college. And he thought it would be fun for me. I played a few other sports like basketball and a little tennis. But soccer was the one I was the most interested in doing.

What do you like most about your sport? 

I love being part of a team. It has been really fun getting to know girls from other towns. Plus, with the traveling, I get to meet other girls from different states. One time, when my family was in Mexico, there were a bunch of boys playing soccer. I was watching and they asked me if I wanted to join. It was really cool. Some of the kids were local and some were from other countries but we all had a great time. It didn’t even matter that we all spoke different languages. As it says on a poster hanging in my room, “Soccer Unites the World”.

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

Well, there are the obvious things like being balanced. I am right footed so I had to work hard on my left foot so I could handle the ball easily with either. I had to work on headers. So, it didn’t hurt me to do them. It is also sort of scary to go up for a 50/50 ball. And that really brings me to what I REALLY had to work on. It wasn’t the physical stuff but the mental toughness. I had to learn to make a mistake and let it go. I had to learn to have my coach yell at me and not get my feelings hurt. I had to be able to overcome a loss. I had to learn to believe in myself whatever the circumstance.

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?)

I guess it is easy in recruiting to get confused about which way to turn. There are so many colleges. There are so many ID camps and summer camps to choose from. It is easy to get unfocused. And be running all over the place. Spending your time and money just everywhere. It can feel overwhelming.
I think it is important to realize first what kind of school I wanted to attend. Did I like a city setting or an urban setting? Would I feel more comfortable in a small or big or medium sized school? Plus, what part of the country did I want my school to be? I think figuring out all that stuff. Helped to narrow my search. There are a lot of questions that I had to ask myself before I started reaching out to coaches.

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

My grades are very important to me. So, is being the best soccer player that I can be. I have to keep very organized. It actually is helpful to have only so much time to do my studies. Because when I have too much time I tend to procrastinate. Having only a couple of hours before practice and a couple after makes me really focus in and get my work done. I guess the #1 thing would be to be organized with your time.

When did you realize you wanted to play college sports?

I have wanted to play in college since 8th grade. I can’t tell you why. I just knew that I was going to play in college. And I was going to play Division

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

I am fortunate to play on a club which goes to really good showcases. You have to go where the most coaches are going to be! My sophomore year at Disney, we had over 80 coaches at one of our games. That is pretty amazing. I mean they have to know about you to be interested in recruiting you! So, I would say that Showcases are a great platform for displaying your talents. I also did a Captain U Highlight video. Really to keep them interested and wanting to see more. Besides, the coach may not have been looking at the moment when I made a good run or pass. But I think the video should really be no longer then 5 minutes. The coaches are busy and I don’t think they want to spend 30 minutes looking at one video! My main strategy was just “name recognition” almost like what cereal companies do! I know I did a really good job with that because many college coaches told my club coach that I had been excellent in communicating with them and updating them on our games.

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

The thing that works the best is just keeping the coaches updated on where and when my games were. Every tournament, I would send out 20 invitations to various coaches giving them the information.

I would do each one separately. I think mass mailings are insulting and they don’t tell the coach that you care about THEIR particular school. Coaches are people, too. They want to feel wanted and special to you. I was always courteous and respectful in my letters. And I always wrote thank you letters when they came to my games. If they weren’t able to make it, I would send them a letter telling them about what happened. In between tournament, I would e-mail about every 3 weeks with updates about our season or anything interesting that was going on with me soccer wise. Just a few lines or a paragraph…so, they kept seeing my name over and over again.

What doesn’t work is doing nothing and hoping that someone will notice you. There are too many other players, like me, who are in contact with them.

How was your family involved & how was this helpful?

My family was involved by giving me support and space to figure out what I wanted. They also, obviously, drove me around to the tournaments and visited colleges in the area with me. My parents would talk to me about what I liked and didn’t like. The ultimate decision was left for me to make though. I really appreciated that.

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

It was pretty cool seeing what college coaches were looking at my profile. I could also see how many hits my highlight video was getting. I think the best tool was how my video was edited together. My mom actually watched all the footage and then had Captain U put it all together. Also, at the end of the video, Captain U listed my resume. I think that was a big plus for coaches to see.

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

#1 KEEP UP YOUR GRADES (You are applying to a college! They want to see good grades)
#2 Start looking at schools before they are looking at you. (You have to narrow down your focus or it will be overwhelming)
#3 Write the coaches (Send them your tournament schedules and thank you notes and any soccer updates which you want to share)

I will say that even if I weren’t interested in a school but the coach reached out to me, I would write them a nice note back. You never know where that coach will end up AND they do all talk to each other. So, always be polite in your interactions.

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

My goals are to keep working on my foot skills, get my fitness to the level it needs to be for playing in college AND to enjoy my last years with the club team I have spent the last 7 years playing for! My club team is the currently reigning NPL National Champions. We hope to be repeat winners this year! I am committed to (an east coast) university for 2015.