DC Stoddert Soccer held its Annual College Seminars on April 23-24 at the Jelleff Boys & Girls Club for several hundred Stoddert nation players, parents, and coaches. Organized by Len Oliver and Evans Malyi, Director of Travel Soccer, the workshops provided families with a casual and front line opportunity to interact with area college coaches, ask questions and gain further insight on athletic recruiting, financial aid practices and procedures, and the difference between playing intercollegiate athletics at the NCAA, NJCCA and NAIA levels of competition.
Karen Kelser, Age Group Coordinator for Stoddert’s Girls’ Travel under 11 and 12 age groups, and Keith Tabatznik, former Head Men’s Soccer Coach at Georgetown University, moderated the events and helped direct questions from audience members to the panelists, who oversee programs at area colleges and universities, including American, Catholic, George Mason, George Washington, Montgomery College and the University of the District of Columbia.
“One of the takeaways from the event for me was the importance of acting sooner rather than later when it comes to recruiting”, said Tabatznik. “I felt that all of the coaches made it clear that it is imperative that Stoddert players and their parents start thinking about college by their sophomore year.”
Travis Beauchamp, Head Coach of the Men’s Soccer Program at Catholic University, said that there are different rules for player prospects to follow at all levels of the NCAA, with particular attention paid to the fact that Division III institutions like Catholic are not permitted to offer athletic scholarships. According to Beauchamp, “Academics come first in DIII schools”, and Catholic encounters very few “two-sport athletes”. Beauchamp further elaborated that Division III coaches can contact prospective players, although no “off campus” contact is permitted until the prospect’s junior year of high school. With that being said, Division III coaches can “text” with prospects and they are allowed unlimited visits to campus.
George Washington Head Coach Sarah Barnes said that she offers over 10 athletic scholarships every year, with one-third of the team not on scholarship. Barnes tends to recruit players on the East Coast and encourages players to “walk-on” by trying out during the spring semester.
“My advice is to get your name on the coaches’ radar during your sophomore year”, Barnes said during the panel discussion related to recruiting. “Go online, research the school, find out how many seniors we have on our rosters, look at the strength of our schedule and above all, make contact with us. Above all, be proactive and realistic about who you are and what you want to do after high school.”
Insight on Stoddert players continuing their soccer careers at the junior college level took the seminars to a new level as Pedro Braz and Brad Hartin of Montgomery (Md.) College offered insight on who they target and how the admissions process differs at community colleges around the country.
“We are a bit different from many of the schools represented here tonight in that we are extremely affordable”, said Hartin. “As an NJCAA institution, we only offer two-year degrees and average tuition tends to be $2,000 per semester.”
Both coaches described their programs as highly competitive and quality educational experiences. In recent years, more than twenty student-athletes who played for Montgomery College’s nationally-recognized soccer teams transferred to four-year institutions to continue their athletic and academic pursuits. Bras added that, like DIII schools, the community colleges do not offer athletic scholarships. “We do not have a budget for travel, so it’s up to you to contact and meet the coaches, and see the campus. Parents and players should know that there is a balance between academics and soccer.”
As the panelists concluded their remarks, Oliver compiled all of the key findings and recommendations over the course of the two-day seminars for Stoddert players and their families to consider as they begin the process of researching colleges and universities at all levels of athletic competition.
Takeaways from the Seminars
- There is a school with a soccer team for everyone but do your homework and be realistic.
- Coaches tend to look at Regional and ODP players, top travel players, and others brought to their attention through tournaments, league games, and ID Camps.
- E-mail coaches regularly to let them know you are interested, and tell them your schedule. Forward links to your YouTube clips but be careful with the music you choose.
- Start looking in your sophomore year and register with the NCAA Clearinghouse.
- Consult the NCAA’s College Bound Student-Athlete Guide at http://www.ncaapublications.com/p-3931-2009-2010-guide-for-the-college-bound- student-athlete-pack-of-25.aspx
- Women’s teams make recruit decisions further ahead than most men’s teams.
- Schedule tours of the campuses during your winter, spring and summer breaks.
- Relate to the Coach. Relate to the Players – especially when visiting.
- Check out the Dorms/Meal Facilities.
- Talk to Alumni. Past players and coaches.
- Know the “campus environment.” Understand “campus life.” Research the college’s “retention rate.”
- Watch games/practices to see if you “fit into the system.”
- Don’t overlook the U.S. military academies (e.g. Air Force Academy, Coast Guard Academy, West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy).
- If producing a video, keep it brief, indicate jersey color, number, position, and date of graduation.
- When writing or calling, know the coach’s name.
- Key Questions to Ask : 1) “Can I get into this University/College?”
2) “If the school is a good fit, can I play at this level?”
3) “Where do you see me fitting in over the next few years?”
For further information about DC Stoddert Soccer’s Travel soccer program, please contact Evans Malyi, Director of Travel Soccer, via email.