Calling all aspiring college athletes!
One of our dedicated CaptainU athletes has taken place in our first ever Athlete Success Story and if you hope to play in college one day, you won’t want to skip out on reading what she has to say!
Victoria has been successfully recruited to play college soccer, and she has some incredibly valuable advice for the recruitment process. Whether it’s about how to balance academics and athletics, what tools to use for recruitment, or how to best contact coaches, she has a lot of valuable ideas and answers.
Without further adieu, here’s Victoria’s story!
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 4, playing competitive at age 7 in soccer clubs around my hometown. I chose to play soccer as it is in our family – my mother played club and then went on to play in college for San Francisco State & Hayward State. My Grandpa played for Hartwick College in upstate New York (where he and his team won the Men’s NCAA Championship in the 1960’s). When I got to high school, I realized that in order to take my game to the next level & become one of the best, l needed to condition for soccer more during the off season. It just so happened that my high school soccer coach was also the cross country team coach, so l started running cross country during the soccer off-season as a freshman. As my speed and distance endurance improved, I tried out for track in the spring after soccer season. Summer meant club soccer and then back to cross country again in August/the fall before high school soccer season came around again. During the cross country seasons, I would continue improving my soccer skills by playing at night and on weekends for a completive club team. Playing or running during every season of the year was my way of staying in shape for soccer.
What do you like most about your sport?
Soccer has been so good to me. It has shaped me into the person l am. My high school team is like a big family to me – we have made many memories over the past four years. Soccer has helped me focus on my schooling as well. It motivates me to study and learn well since I need good grades to go on to play college. Being team captain for two years and helping the coach when he needed help with administrative items for the team (rosters, schedule, team dinners and such), really developed my leadership skills that will follow me into college and beyond.
What are the biggest obstacles in your sport that you’ve overcome? How did you overcome it?
Time! Sports, school, running, studying until late at night every night, a limited social life to a point … it has been really hard to keep my grades at a 4.0 or above while participating in my after school sports, traveling to soccer games, track meets and such. Most of the time l am on the bus going to a soccer game with my books open and doing my homework while traveling. Another obstacle is avoiding injury. Injuries can end your season. To avoid injuries playing soccer is difficult, because it seems that it is part of the sport, but I try and limit them by playing smart, eating healthy food and taking care of my body train all year-round to keep in shape.
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 part of the recruitment process again is “time”. The coaches all want you to visit and see the school which is great but sometimes during the school year it gets harder to break away from your team or schooling. To overcome this l had to do trips over the summer and on school vacations. I attended a lot of soccer ID camps during the summer and Christmas / spring breaks, which worked out the best because you can see the college and play in front of the coaches without missing school. The ID camps help get your name out in the recruiting blogs, and coaches also talk amongst each other, say, if one coach is not looking for an outside mid and the other may be. Also, CaptainU’s website was given out at all ID camps and their directors so they could see my profile, stats, and highlight reels. For this reason, and many others, make sure to always have an updated profile on CaptainU. The next hardest thing is figuring out what college you want to attend. There are so many colleges to choose from -you need to find out about the academics and then figure out what type of program are you looking for … NCAA D1, D2, D3 or NAIA D1 or D2? Try not to worry about this too much – always remember that after you graduate from college, you are only asked if you played in college, not which division you played in.
How do you balance being a good athlete with being a good student?
This one is really hard on my schedule. Every Sunday is put aside for major projects and catching up on homework that was not completed or is due that Monday. Sundays for me usually include church and then books, books and more books. No going out, just a full day and night of studying. Sometimes it is midnight on Sunday night before I am done but l go until it is completed. It’s my one day during the week of no training, just school work. During the week am up late at night finishing smaller projects after l get home from a soccer game. Usually it is 9:00pm when I get home, and then l have hit the books even if l am tired. l know my studies come first. I even spend the free time on the bus or at the stadium studying. Our coach checks on us to make sure everyone is completing homework and has their grades in check, which is helpful because you have someone you look up to holding you accountable.
When did you realize you wanted to play college sports?
I’ve always wanted to attend college as l want to be a doctor and give back to my community, but I did not realize I wanted to play soccer in college until my mom started telling me about how much fun she had playing on a college soccer team. My father also played college sports – was a wrestler in both high school and college, so often times they talk for hours about how much fun it was and how being on a team in college helped in making friends, especially since both had to move away from home to attend college. They would always tell me how was nice to have that sports family away from home. So, around the ripe age of nine, l told my parents l wanted to play like my they did in college. Since then my parents have been behind me 100%.
Where did you first turn for recruitment tools, platforms, strategies, etc.?
I used many different tools and resources for recruiting: both CaptainU and other websites where l could list my profile along with video, photos and documents (transcripts, coach reviews). ID soccer camps put on by college coaches are really good ways to become known in the recruitment process, but I really think you still need to have a completed profile or website with stats and academics so that coaches can find you and access all of that information in one place. It’s also important to make sure your high school team is using sites like http://www.maxpreps.com/ to help with keeping your school sports team information current. This is another good source for college coaches to check and find your school and track not just you, but how your team is doing with you as a part of it. Because of sites like this, our team has been invited to many outstanding soccer, track and cross country tournaments and meets over the past few years. When my family and l would be visiting a college, we would ask ahead of time if the coach would be around at the same time to visit with.We would call about two months before to make sure that the college was going to be open and coaches would be around. We never had one coach we couldn’t stop in and visit, because unofficial visits like this are allowed. I think you would be amazed at how many coaches will take the time to visit with you, and it’s a very valuable experience to get some personal, one-on-one time with the coach.
What things have worked and what things haven’t/didn’t work when trying to get in touch with coaches?
In my opinion, you just really need to get your name out onto the internet and to do this, you should have an updated profile at all times on multiple recruiting sites, and visit colleges and see if the coach is around to visit with. Emailing coaches is not ALWAYS the best as coaches are so busy and limited on time to email back, but internet recruiting profiles, hand-written letters seem or college visits seem to do the best job. It’s also very important to always have your resume (school clubs, church, schooling, sports clubs) high school transcripts, etc. together to hand out to coaches or the assistants when you go to a camp or visit. Finally, if you have a highlight video, make sure to have the CD with you to give out. For me this worked the best – you are trying to market yourself so you have to have everything in one place to hand out/show the coaches. Something that came in handy was always having a few packets of all those materials in my car in case an unexpected encounter with a coach or recruiter came up.
How was your family involved & how was this helpful?
Family is a big part when you are deciding on your college and which program to go with!! Keep in mind, though, that the coaches want to talk with you, not your mom, dad or cousin … so get ready to talk with them when the phone calls come in. Work with your family ad parents’ advice so that YOU know what to ask about the college like, is your major at that college? How about the sports program? What’s the team record and history like? What’s the culture of the team like? Since YOU are the face and person that will be playing for the team, the coaches want to contact and talk to you to get to know who you are and if you’ll fit in his or her program, not your parents, but my parents were still 100% involved with helping me make these important decisions and organize it all. Your family is a very important part of recruiting and it is fun to have them involved since a lot of the work is done behind the scenes.
What worked best for you on CaptainU / what was your favorite CaptainU tool?
CaptainU was a great tool for me as l used the profile to get coaches to notice me and the list of ID camps on CaptainU helped me find the camps I wanted to attend and to be able to contact the corresponding programs. Also, I was able to see the colleges that were interested in me and at the same time l was able to check them out also and see if the college fit my academics and sports needs. The biggest thing l can say is to keep your profile current with grades, transcripts, photos and video loaded into it. You are trying to market yourself and to do so, you need current information for the coaches and Athletic Directors to see.
What would be three recommendations you have to athletes trying to play in college?
a. Always have an updated profile!! Make yourself a packet with your school resume, transcripts, test scores, and your updated sports profile to hand out to college coaches. If you have a video, which I highly recommend having, make copies on a disk to hand out along with your packet. On all of these materials, make sure contact information is correct and updated.
b. If you’re not in clubs or government at school, you should consider joining something of the like because it helps strengthen your resume and the coaches get to see that you are involved in your school along with your team. Taking your ACT or SAT is also a big deal. I would recommend starting early as most colleges will super score and taking the first test at the beginning of your junior year, so that you get a good feel for the test, and then take another one before senior year starts.
c. Have a good highlight video (with no sound)!! A coach can’t watch a video when the audience is yelling in the video.
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?
Right now, I am in the middle of my soccer season and my senior year, so this is my last season of high school soccer. Our season is going well – we are in the running to win our league for the 8th year in a row! We are all trying to stay healthy and avoid any injuries if possible. My recruiting time is coming to an end, and it has been a great time for myself and my family. It has really been a family event that we will never forget and am so happy that l could share this time with them. I have been offered a few scholarships for soccer and after talking through all the offers and options with my family, I ended up signing with a college in the Midwest. After visiting the campus, teachers and team coach and players, we decided it was a good fit for me. I am so excited to be putting on that college’s uniform in the Fall 2014.
Want a shot at being recruited and taking your game to the next level like Victoria? Create a free CaptainU profile today!