The Road to Playing College Soccer
(By Guest Contributor Shari Nomady, Co-Author of “Surviving Club Soccer. A Parent’s Journey“)
People often ask me for advise on how to prepare their child for their college soccer dream. My first response is always, “Is this your dream or their dream?” The reason I ask is that getting into club soccer because the parent wants it, is not a wise decision.
First, the finances don’t add up. Second, you can’t force commitment and the passion needed for playing.
Once your child goes off to college you will not be their alarm clock. You won’t be there to ensure they have 3 meals a day and are sleeping enough to get through grueling practice sessions. Let’s not forget about getting them to their classes so they can graduate! If your child doesn’t have a passion to play, the commitment won’t be there and eventually your child will fail somewhere along the journey.
If you really think your child is one of the few that has what it takes to play in college then I believe you should begin making decisions based on that possibility early on. You can always start with playing in college as the end goal, and along the way if things change, you can adjust accordingly.
In hindsight, we were fortunate to have built a path that took our daughter to college without that being our focus for the first several years. Now that we have been through it, here is what I would like to share with other parents.
*Play in the most competitive division your child can. This allows your child to be visible to scouts early on and to get on their radar. Note that I said, “play”. If your child is going to sit on the bench for every game, this is not healthy for them. If they are a starter, or a regular sub this is acceptable. The playing time and the regular training sessions with great players will make them a better player and desirable to college coaches. When children are younger, playing for the best teams with the best coaching is valuable.
*Secondly, make sure your child’s team is traveling to the best tournaments. This means you will be traveling. It does not mean you have to travel across the country every weekend, but it does mean that you’ll be giving up weekends for tournaments. If your team is not going to the high profile tournaments, like Surf Cup and the College Showcases, then find a team to play for as a guest player and go with them for the visibility.
How do you know early on if your child might be cut out for playing in college? I’ve watched many soccer players from age 7 on and of the kids that made a college team all of them had a few common traits. If you answer yes to these 5 questions, your child might have the passion and motivation to play beyond high school.
- Do they want to train on their own outside their team practices?
- Do they ask you to take them to the park to practice shooting?
- Do they practicing juggling on their own?
- Do they practice their ball touch by hitting the ball against a wall for hours?
- When they get older, do they run on their own?
Parents can help kids fulfill their college dream by setting good examples. Get them to practice on time. Don’t skip just because you didn’t feel like driving them. Like my daughter so eloquently put it in my book “Surviving Club Soccer. A Parent’s Journey” “If you’re not all in, don’t expect your child to be either.”
Over the last two decades, Shari Nomady has been a soccer mom, team manager and served as Board President of a Southern California soccer club. During this time she developed a unique perspective on soccer through her business life as well. Her marketing agency became immersed in the business side of soccer at varying levels. Her youngest daughter played 4 years of D1 soccer at Eastern Kentucky University, and graduated in 2014. You can read more from Shari and her club soccer experiences in her book, Surviving Club Soccer. A Parent’s Journey.