Athlete Success Story: Overcoming the challenges of recruitment

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My name is Zach Adams. I will be a sophomore this fall at a Division I college on the east coast. I am 19 years old and play center forward on their soccer team. I am also team captain, unusual for a freshman.

I have played soccer since I was 4 years old. Although I played lots of other little league sports, I was always drawn to soccer. I was very good at it, and began playing select and premier at the age of 8.

I love playing soccer and being outdoors. Soccer has given me the opportunity to travel all over the United States as well as Europe. On the select teams and Olympic Development team I played in tournaments in over 20 states. At a young age I played the Wide World of Sports at Disney World. Then in high school I played in the Keele Cup in England at age 16 and the Dana Cup in Denmark and the Gothia Cup in Sweden as well as training in Germany at age 17. Without soccer, I might not have had some these fantastic experiences. It has opened so many doors for me including living in Manhattan.

One of the greatest obstacles in soccer was the area of the country in which I live. In western Kentucky it is very difficult to put together a tournament team. We often had to pull from several counties over a wide area. In the eastern part of our state most places have several teams in each city. This made it very difficult to keep a team together, but my father coached, and worked with other counties and we travelled and played wherever possible. I got lots of opportunities to play because they were willing to go just about anywhere.

Also, I wasn’t one of the biggest guys on the team, but I learned the in’s and out’s of the game and worked to be very fast. It all paid off.

When it comes to recruiting for soccer, most colleges are very interested in my part of the state. Most high schools here don’t make a very good showing if at all in the state because of our size. So no coach was going to come look at me just because I had broken all the scoring records at my school. My high school coach was not very interested in helping our players with the recruiting process. He has a regular teaching job and just does soccer on the side. Not much time for anything else. So CaptainU was a major help in this process. I was able to get in touch with coaches from almost anywhere in the country. I was able to show them video and give them access to my resume. My academic standing helped a great deal in getting them to look at me also. But I could never have contacted that many schools without CaptainU.

I have always studied as hard I play. I was a straight A student all through school, and this helped me get a scholarships. It is difficult at times to do both, but I have always made academics the priority. All through high school and college I have worked part time, kept good grades, and played soccer. It is important to take care of school work first. Then everything else follows. Be a good steward of your time. Don’t procrastinate. Budget a little time each day for major projects. Don’t try to do everything at once.

I probably always knew I wanted to play soccer in college. Most of the things I did were not just to enjoy the sport, but also to get noticed. I tried out and made my state’s Olympic Development team and went to every ID camp I could from freshman year forward. It is imperative to be involved in these to get more exposure.

But the camps alone won’t necessarily do it. That’s why I think your strategy has to have several tiers.

I found trying to talk to coaches one on one at the camps was not successful. Also contacting them on my own didn’t do the trick. But I always got responses when I contacted them through CaptainU.

My family has always been very involved in helping me accomplish whatever I aspired to do. When I showed an interest in soccer, they were willing to travel, coach, volunteer, or do without to have money for me to play and travel. Often soccer tournaments were our vacation for the year. My dad always coached and spent endless hours learning as much as he could about the game. We often took other team members with us if their parents couldn’t come. My mom drove me all over the state to practices and games. Often they would research places and team to play. This was what gave me the experience and training I needed to succeed.

I think the most useful part of Captain U is being able to contact coaches so easily and invite them to see you at certain tournaments. I have to say being able to upload a highlight video was my favorite part of the site. I got a lot of hits from this also.

I would say to any athlete wanting to play in college. Focus on one sport. Start early thinking about where you would like to go so you can concentrate your efforts. Most importantly, study hard and keep your grades up. Often a school will look at you over another if they know they can get help with your tuition through academic scholarships. Also high academics let them know up front there won’t be any obstacles to getting you in the program.

I hope to continue as team captain this fall as well as be a leading scorer on the team. I hope that we can do better in the Hudson Valley Conference and perhaps get into the playoffs.

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