Athlete Success Story: Earning a spot on the team

Cristina Cummings, Soccer Midfielder

Cristina muscles

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

I started playing competitive soccer at the age of 7, when I was recruited on a travel club team. While playing soccer, I was also training as a martial artist in Taekwondo, where I competed competitively. Before entering my junior year in high school, I decided to focus mainly on soccer; I began to love soccer more than Taekwondo, and I realized it was what I really wanted to pursue in college.

What do you like most about your sport?

Based off of past experience, I like soccer because it is a team effort. In Taekwondo I was on a “team,” but each member performed individually. Personally, I enjoy working with others to attain a goal, and it feels that much better in the end when you all finally get it.

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

The biggest obstacle I’ve overcome is being good enough to be on a travel team. I was recruited when I was only 7 years old, but I was one of the worst on the team. I knew this and overcame my desire to quit the team; instead, I would practice with a ball on my own everyday at my house to better myself. I dribbled a ball everywhere and continuously practiced and critiqued my fundamental skills. Not only did I, but also my coach and teammates, saw an improvement in my skill level; I finally earned respect as a player and a true place on the team.

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?)

The hardest challenge was overcoming distance. While I resided in New York, the colleges I was interested in were all in California. Because of the distance, no coaches were able to watch any of my games in person. Instead, I would have to continuously show them video footage and travel across the country to attend College ID camps whenever possible, sometimes even during the school year. I had to make sacrifices academically and for my parents, financially.

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

It’s a real challenge, but I always make my studies the priority. Over the years, I have developed exceptional time management skills to where I could balance high school, after school clubs, soccer, athletic training, studying, and homework. I make priority check lists for the day, so I know exactly what needs to be done. Schoolwork and studying always come first.

When did you realize you wanted to play college sports?

I realized I wanted to play collegiate soccer in middle school because I knew it would be much more difficult trying to find a college that has Taekwondo. It’s not a very common sport to have in college, and I was also beginning to realize I liked soccer more.

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

I initially learned about the CaptainU recruiting website from my travel club soccer coach. We were asked to join because we were participating in a College Soccer Showcase. I knew it would be beneficial to upgrade my account, so that I would have better access to college coaches and they could access me easier too.

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

Other than CaptainU, personally emailing and calling coaches has definitely worked. The most successful tool was CaptainU; however, I have had experiences with coaches that never replied to emails or returned my calls, so both tools worked and didn’t work when I tried to get in touch with coaches.

How was your family involved & how was this helpful?

My parents were extremely involved and helpful. My father searched for all these schools in the Bay Area that were a maximum of 2 hours away from my grandparent’s house in San Leandro, CA. He made sure they had a Major I was interested in such as, Pre-Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, or Kinesiology. In addition to my parents constantly pushing me to write and call coaches, they would fly me out to California and sign me up for various College ID Camps to make sure coaches could see me play.

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

Using CaptainU features, I used the checklist feature as a guide to keep track of my communication with coaches of potential colleges. I constantly updated my profile so it would stay current.

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

My favorite feature is where I can see which coaches are looking and accessing my profile, as well as being matched up. As long as I continuously maintain and update my profile, the coaches could easily access all of my profile, including video footage on one website and keep up-to-date on any of my events or progress.

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

My first recommendation would be to figure out what level you want to play at. I’ve been to College ID Camps for both Division I and II and realized Division II was a better fit for me. My decision to not try out and pursue Division I occurred during a College ID Camp, when a coach told me, soccer was the priority over my college studies. My second recommendation would be to start the recruitment process early. I started the process my Sophomore year; I visited all the schools I was interested in; my parents taped all my games, and even though it was a year too early for coaches to contact me, I contacted them just to let them know I was interested. The recruitment process ended for me early in my senior year, since I started so early and was set on my school. My last suggestion would be to prepare. Collegiate level sports are significantly harder than the high school, travel and premier levels. Keep up your fitness and work hard. Most importantly, do well in school. It will be easier to recruit you, if you have very good grades.

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 goal for this coming year is to make it on the college travel squad. There are 32 girls on the team, and I want the coach to see I am good enough to at least attend all the games. Currently speaking, my high school season ended in June. I play on a U19 Premier Level team, and we made it all the way to the championships, but lost 1-0. And yes, I have been recruited to a college already. I officially committed to a university on the west coast.

Connect with thousands of college coaches, access helpful tools and attend events with a free CaptainU profile today to take your game to the next level!