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During my 20 years of involvement in youth soccer with both boys and girls teams, I am often asked by parents and players as they enter high school, what's the best way to get seen by college coaches and how to get scholarships. Before the youth soccer craze hit 15 - 20 years ago, not many high schools had quality soccer programs. Today most of the players on high school teams are probably club and travel soccer players, and presently there are many more high schools and colleges supporting soccer programs than ever before. This has been a good thing for college soccer programs because more and more skilled players are now available to recruit. There are even some premier clubs that tend to discourage or not allow their players to play high school soccer. There are mixed emotions about this, but it also depends on what level you are playing at. Many colleges in a regional area are now competing for the same players. If you are serious about playing college soccer, there may be several opportunities out there for you if you do the proper research and prepare in advance. Many fine young soccer players are overlooked each year because they didn't contact or submit their soccer resume to the right colleges, left out very important information, or waited until it was too late. It is also a fact that many colleges simply don't allocate all of their soccer recruiting funds because athletes didn't get in touch with them. 'SO YOU WANT TO PLAY COLLEGE SOCCER' will help the prospective college student-athlete with the process of researching, contacting and selecting a college that's right for them.
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BEFORE YOU GET STARTED
Be honest about your skills. You need to be very realistic about how good of a player you are, and what your chances are of playing in college. Those of you who are playing on premier soccer teams generally know who you are. I am talking about FC Delco, Syracuse Blitz, Dallas Texans, Busch SC, National Academy teams, etc. The opportunity for you to realize your dream of playing at a very high college level is good, but not guaranteed. Those playing for smaller or less strong clubs really are going to have to take a hard look at where you want to play. Which college’s soccer program best fits your playing style, or which college’s playing style could you best adapt to. Most college coaches do not want to change the way you play, just refine it and improve it. The college game is also much more physically demanding than what you may be accustomed to playing. One example is that the speed of play is often much faster on the college level. It may not look that way when you’re watching from the stands, but once you step on the field the first week of training camp you’ll see the difference. There will be challenges both physically and mentally that you will be confronted with your first year on the team.
Focus on your education. The number of soccer players who earn a living after college in the sport is extremely small. This means that when you graduate, you will need to have a good education. Select a school where you can do well. Sometimes change can be a good thing, but too drastic of a change may be a difficult adjustment in your freshman year of college. If you go to a high school that is in a small town and has 12 students in a class, don't assume that if you go to a large school like Rutgers or Penn State, and you have 150 people in your economics class, that you will do well. If you go to school in the northeast, is moving to the southwest a smart thing? Don't pick your school based on soccer alone or that it would be ‘cool’ to go there. Believe it or not, most college students do better academically during the soccer season than in the off season. You tend to manage your time much more efficiently because you have less free time, and there is also the added pressure of maintaining your GPA for playing eligibility. Regardless of your playing ability, you must do well academically to survive.
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Tony Buchler has been involved in youth soccer for over 20 years in administrative, coaching and training positions. During these years he has obtained extensive coaching and training experience with many teams on a premier level of play. He has exposed these teams to top level competition, attending and winning many premier and college showcase tournaments throughout Region I & II. He has also been involved in coaching and evaluating for the NJ State Olympic Development Program. He has worked as an instructor at several summer youth soccer camps in the Mid-Atlantic region. With the exposure received by the teams he has been associated with, many of these players have gone forward to successful college and professional careers. Tony has been recognized as an individual who not only has demonstrated coaching excellence, but one who has dedicated much of this time to the strong commitment of developing skills and character in young people through soccer.
Tony is currently involved with several teams in New Jersey using his recruiting process. Head Coach U-16G, Trainer U-16B & Trainer U-15G. Each of these teams are using the same principles outlined in the book that have helped many other players in the past find a college to continue their academic and athletic careers. Most travel teams today have no program or curriculum toward college recruiting other than a page on the club or team website with some common college recruiting tips or a few links to NCAA sites.
"My philosophy for the game of soccer is a simple one. Each player has an individual style and strength that they bring to the game of soccer. Recognizing the potential of each individual and helping them to gain the confidence to train and play just above that potential is a key element toward playing on a higher level. Over the years I have compiled the information in this guide to help players looking to play soccer in college find the right school. Implementing the system in this guide has helped many of those players find an excellent match toward continuing their academic and athletic future as a college student-athlete." Tony Buchler