For all of the big NCAA Division I football schools, the National Signing Day has come and gone. You may have seen ESPN’s coverage (www.search.espn.go.com/national-signing-day/videos/6) of this annual event. In the meantime, there are over 400 NCAA Division III soccer programs still working with their recruits to get them to commit to their respective programs for next year.
This is, of course, where you come into the picture. With the help of your family, friends, club coaches, high school coaches, teachers and other people you trust, you are going to be making a decision that is going to affect you for the next four years. It is a BIG decision!
The important thing that I have to stress here is that your decision cannot and should not be based primarily on the soccer team. That will weigh into your decision, but not as the MOST important factor. You have to choose the school because you like the school. You have to like the campus, the academics, the social environment, the opportunities that will be presented to you and the education that you will receive.
Because playing collegiate soccer (or any collegiate sport for that matter) is a privilege, it is not a guarantee. There is a possibility that you could get injured and not be able to play for a season or more. There is probably nothing harder for an athlete than rehabbing an injury long term and not being able to compete and contribute to the team— now imagine doing that when you don’t like the school, you don’t like the dorms, you don’t enjoy your major, and you can become very unhappy very quickly.
Second there is always the possibility of being cut from the team. A coach may tell you you are a great player and you will be starter to get you to come to the school, but once you get there you may find out that was not the truth. (See the last post on the importance of building an honest relationship with college coaches.) Or you may simply be stuck behind a player who is better than you. If you come in as a freshman goalkeeper, and there is also another freshmen goalkeeper who is significantly better than you, well most likely you will spend four years riding the bench and only seeing mop-up action or if the starter gets hurt. And the reality is that the coach might recruit another goalkeeper the following year who is better than you that will bump you down to third string.
The bottom line is this— choose your college for the school first— the academics, the professors, the campus, the education you will receive— and soccer second.
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