This week we continue our analysis of the results of our survey of D3 head coaches (see Survey Results) and explain how this impacts soccer players and parents looking to play soccer at the D3 level. Again, most of these responses came from head coaches in states in the Mid West and on the East Coast (85.6%) with the majority (62.9%) coaching Women’s teams. You will find that the challenges that D3 programs face across the country are well represented in this survey.
As we mentioned last time, the majority of coaches are going to lots of high school games and college showcases to see their recruits. This is a great way for you as a player to get yourself exposure to D3 coaches and their programs. The key is to give them schedules in advance with an appropriate email (see How to Write a Good Email to a College Coach) and make sure to follow up with them after the event.
There are also a boatload of other events that D3 coaches attend in addition to these. In today’s post we are going to look some of the other events that D3 coaches mentioned in our survey.
One of the newer events is the soccer college combine. For these you sign up as an individual, get put on a team and play soccer in front of college coaches. The combine may include college recruiting seminars and practice sessions with college coaches too. The plus side is since these are not formal competitions, college coaches are permitted to talk to players unlike at college showcase tourneys. The downside is that the cost of these is usually around $100 each, travel time may be an issue, and you may get stuck on a team where you cannot show your talents. If you are interested, check out these sites–
Again you are going to have to weigh the cost versus the benefits for these events. From a D3 perspective, this will not likely lead you to more money—unless a school that is not on your list shows interest in you and they have non-athletic scholarship money to offer you.
Other events that were high on the list for D3 coach were ECNL and Academy games. The US Soccer Development Academy (for boys- http://www.ussoccer.com/Teams/Development-Academy/Academy-Overview.aspx) and the Elite Clubs National League (for girls- http://www.eliteclubsnationalleague.com/) comprise the best youth soccer players across the country. Players from these programs may go onto the professional ranks, or D1, D2, and D3 programs as well. The time commitment and cost for these programs can be very high.
One other venue where D3 coaches will look for players is the Olympic Development Program (ODP). The next step down from the ECNL and Academy programs, ODP is run by the state soccer associations. While the time and financial commitments for these programs can be prohibitive, they are not as extensive as the ECNL or Academy programs. Check with your local state association about your ODP teams.
The bottom line is this— as with all things D3, you must weigh the costs versus the benefits. You will not be getting an athletic scholarship to attend a D3 school! So if going to soccer combines or playing ECNL/Academy/ODP soccer in hopes of getting more money from a D3 school is your goal, you may want to think again. However, if your goal is to become the best soccer player you can and measure yourself against the best, then you are on the right track.