Committing to an NCAA Division III Program- Part I

It is that time of year again, when high school seniors across the country are deciding on which college they will choose for the next four years.  For some, it is the hardest decision that they will have to make due to the mental, emotional and financial stress it puts on them and their families.  For high school soccer players, it means choosing a soccer team that you want to commit to for the next four years.

At the NCAA Division III level, there are many pressures placed on high school seniors to pick one school over the other- from college coaches, from parents and from themselves.  And once that decision has been made, how does a high school soccer player commit to an NCAA Division III soccer program?  The answer to that question may surprise you.

As has been discussed in previous posts about the National Letter of Intent, the NLI is a binding program that only applies to schools that participate in the NLI program (namely NCAA Division I and Division II colleges and universities).  NCAA Division III schools, DO NOT have the NLI program.

So how does a student-athlete “commit” to an NCAA Division III school?

For NCAA Division III colleges, there really is no specific, binding action that you can take to commit yourself to an institution.  Let’s repeat that— there are no specific, binding actions that commit you to a college or university at the NCAA Division III level.  (The lone exception to that is if you apply Early Decision— that is binding.  For more info on early decision, see the College Board’s website on “Early Decision and Early Action”.)

Let’s look at the different types or levels of “commitments” that are typically used by a student-athlete and coach when looking at an NCAA Division III college.  First is the verbal commitment. That goes along the lines of a conversation like this:

Player- “Hey Coach, I really, really thought it over for a long time and I decided that I am going to go to your University in Fall 2016. Can’t wait to be a part of your team”.

Coach- “Hey that’s great news we are excited to have you on the team.  Did you sign your acceptance letter and send it back with your deposit?”

Player- “Well not exactly…..”

Coach- “OK, well as soon as you can get that done.  And don’t forget to send in your deposit for on campus student housing, because you want to make sure you have housing for next year.  Did you get that in?”

Player- “A deposit for what???”

Coach- “OK, let’s take a step back. Did you complete your application yet?”

Player- “Oh yeah sure I got that done today!  It is sitting here right in front of me.”

Coach- “OK, why don’t you send that in to the Admissions Office and we will go from there.”

Let’s be real—- this commitment, while it may be sincere and true, is essentially worthless.  The player could wake up the next morning after having made that “verbal commitment” and change their mind.  Do you know any high school aged kids like that?  They can, they do, and there is nothing restricting them from doing it.  And there certainly are a few “steps” more than just saying “I am coming to your school.”

As the above conversation showed, the next level of “commitment” is applying to the school.  By filling out an application (and possibly paying an application fee), the player is showing a greater level of investment in the school by actually applying.  With the increase in usage in the Common Application, even applying to a school has become easier and many high school seniors routinely apply to 10 or more schools if they accept the Common Application.

Also keep in mind that many students will apply to a “safety” school.  By this we mean a school that the student is fairly certain to get accepted to based on their own academic record and the admission criteria of the school to which they are applying.  They apply to this school only in the event that all other applications fall through.

In next weeks post we will continue with this discussion.

The bottom line is this— as Shrek said, like ogres, committing to an NCAA Division III school has layers.  There are several different “layers” of commitment.  Just saying that you are going and applying is not enough!

The D3 Recruiting Hub is offering FREE telephone consultations!  Do you have more questions that you need answered?  Would like a personal, individualized consultation?  Drop us a line at and we will set up a phone call with you.


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Meeting With NCAA Division III College Coaches

It is that time of year for NCAA Division III colleges and coaches and high school students to ramp up on their recruiting activities.  Colleges will host events for high school students, coaches will be out at soccer tournaments recruiting high school students, and high school students (and their families) will be making decisions about where they are going to go for college.

When you as a recruited high school student athlete (or parent of a recruited student athlete), get the opportunity to meet with the head coach, assistant coach, or players from one of the colleges or universities on your list of schools, you have a great opportunity to gather information.  The best way to do this—ask questions! Yet one of the things that frequently happens is an NCAA Division III college coach will say…

“Do you have any questions?”  

And the response is…nothing, silence, no questions!

This is a waste of a great opportunity!

In order to help you get started, here are some questions that you can ask.

For Head Coaches/Assistant Coaches

  • How long have you been coaching collegiate soccer?
  • How long have you been at the school?  How long do you intend to stay at the school? Is this position a stepping stone for another coaching job?
  • Are you full time or part time?
  • Do you have cuts?
  • How many players make the team?
  • How much playing time do freshmen get?
  • Can you describe what you do in the preseason?
  • What is your coaching style?
  • What is your coaching philosophy?
  • How do you select your team captains?
  • Do you coach other teams besides this one?
  • What times are practices?  Do you have spring practices?
  • What do players do in the off-season?  Over the summer?
  • What are your goals for the team for next year?  In four years?
  • Are you planning any trips?  Domestically or abroad?
  • Is the team involved in any fundraising activities?
  • Is the team involved in any community service projects?
  • What are the team rules?
  • Do you allow/encourage players to play other sports besides soccer?

For Collegiate Players

  • Why did you choose this school?
  • What do you enjoy most/least about this school?
  • What do you enjoy most/least about playing soccer at this school?
  • What is your major?  Why did you choose that?
  • Did you switch majors?  If so, why?
  • How is the team chemistry/team dynamics?
  • How would you describe the head coach’s style?
  • How would you describe the assistant coach’s style?
  • How is your relationship with the coaching staff?
  • What do you do for fun on the weekends?
  • How is the food in the cafeteria?
  • Do you live on campus or off campus?
  • If off campus, why do you live off campus?

These are just some of the many, many things that you can ask players and coaches about on your visit.   Take these questions with you in a notebook.  Write them down.  Be prepared!

Now understand, you might not hear some of the answers that you hope for.  Such as— “Preseason is really rough; two players dropped out” or “The food in the cafeteria is mediocre and Fridays are the worst” or “The worst thing about soccer is getting up at 6:00 AM for team runs” or “I really don’t like some of the away games when we leave at 7:30 AM and don’t get back to campus until 9:00 PM”.

It is better to know that stuff ahead of time rather than after the fact.  The other important thing is how the players and coaches answer those questions when you ask them.  It is important to start to build a level of trust with the coaching staff and players as you will be with these folks (at one school) for the next four years.

The bottom line is this—Any time you meet with a college coach, assistant coach or players, you should have questions to ask.  Asking questions, and listening to the answers, is the best way learn and help you make your decision for college.

Thanks for reading!  Questions?  Drop us a line at .

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How Do College Coaches Evaluate You?

On the East Coast, it is that time again when NCAA Division III college coaches start fanning out to college showcase events to see recruits as the Spring tournament season kicks off again.  Coaches have their lists of players and players have their list of coaches that they want to come see them play.  But the question is, how is that college coach evaluating you?

Most coaches, if they are smart, will evaluate you in many ways.

First, and most obviously, NCAA Division III college coaches will look at your fundamental abilities as a player.  How good are you technically? Passing, receiving, dribbling, shooting— pretty obvious so far right?  Next of course is the physical part of your game—speed, size, strength, quickness.  All important aspects of soccer.  All coaches want fast, big, strong players that are technically very solid.  Who wouldn’t?

Tactically it is always a little bit harder to evaluate players because a college coach watching from the sidelines does not necessarily know what tactics your club coach has told you to employ for a specific game or situation.  Maybe as a defender your club coach wants you to stay back and not push forward into the attack.  Or your club coach may have the forwards always stay in specific channels rather than interchange and be a little more creative.  But in general, smart tactical players make good decisions on offense and defense, so college coaches will look for that.

Another important aspect that college coaches will look for is the personality and psychological aspects of players.  What is your personality like?  How do you interact with your teammates?  College coaches are asking themselves if you would be a good fit for their team.

For example, when you get to the field, how do you start preparing for the game?  Are you the last player to the field?  Are you getting focused for competition or just chatting with your friends? Are you encouraging your teammates or just quietly getting ready?  What is body language like?  Are you excited to be there or just going thru the motions?

How do you behave during the game?  Are you a vocal leader on the field or just quietly playing your position?  How do you react when you are faced with adversity?  What do you do when your team is down a goal and it is late in the game?  Do you elevate your level of play to try and get an equalizer or do you just accept the situation?  Moreover, what happens if YOU are directly responsible for something bad happening— like you foul an opponent that leads to a penalty kick or you score an own goal.  What do your body language and resulting actions say?  You are going to face these kind of situations in college soccer, so college coaches want to see this.

How do you react to a bad call by a referee?  Are you yelling at the official in protest or do you just accept this as part of the game and move on?  What do you say to your teammates in situations like this as well?

What do you do when your coach subs you during the game?  Are you shaking your head like a prima donna or are you encouraging your teammate who is taking your place?  Again, your body language says a lot.

College coaches want to see how you react when you are faced with adversity.  It is easy to be a happy, positive player when you are playing a weak team and are up 6-0 -right?  But what happens when your team gives up a late goal to go down a goal in the semifinals of the tournament against a strong team. And the ref has been calling everything for the other team and nothing for your team.  Are you being resilient?

The bottom line is this—college coaches are CONSTANTLY evaluating you as a player.  From the minute they see you at the field until the time they leave.  They look not only at your soccer and athletic abilities but also your personality.  College coaches want to find players that are the right fit for their programs.  Moreover, they want to evaluate more than once to see you in different sets of circumstances as well.

Thanks for reading the Hub.  Questions? Comments?  Drop us a line at

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Do You Think That You Will Play Soccer In College?

What are the odds that YOU are going to play college soccer at an NCAA Division III school?  According to NCAA statistics, the odds are long that a high school student-athlete of today will play soccer in college.  If you think you are going to play at Division I or Division II, the odds are even worse (although not as bad if you are a female).

The NCAA publishes an article entitled the “Estimated probability of competing in college athletics” on their website and it presents some very interesting data for future soccer players as well as other student-athletes participating in other sports. (Click on the link to see the full article.)

Based on 2015 information, 417,419 male student-athletes played soccer in high school and 374,564 female student-athletes played soccer in high school.  The total number of NCAA soccer players across all divisions was 23,602 (male student-athletes) and
26,358 (female student-athletes).  Respectively, those percentages are 5.7 % for male high school soccer players and 7.0% for female high school soccer players.

Breaking it down by NCAA Divisions, for male student-athletes the percentage of high school soccer players is 1.4% for NCAA Division I, 1.4% for NCAA Division II and 2.8% for NCAA Division III.  For female student-athletes, the percentages are 2.4% for NCAA Division I, 1.8% for NCAA Division II, and 2.8% for NCAA Division III.

The first question would be- why is this percentage so low?  We can theorize and hypothesize about what the reasons are, but the truth of the matter is that roughly 6 out of 100 male high school student-athletes and 7 out of 100 female high school student-athletes will play in college.  If we look specifically at NCAA Division III, it is about 3 out of every 100 high school players (for both genders) that go from high school soccer and play soccer in college.

Think about that for a moment— for every 100 high school soccer players, only 3 will go on and play NCAA Division III college soccer, across both genders.  If your average varsity high school soccer team has 20 players, it would take FIVE high school teams to get THREE players.

The second question that comes to mind is what about club soccer?  There is constantly the struggle of high school versus club soccer and the benefits of playing each.  We do not have hard data on this in regard to the percentage of student-athletes that play club soccer in high school and then go on to play college soccer.  However, we can safely assume that since fewer high school student athletes play club soccer, then the percentages should be somewhat higher.  How much higher?  Of that we cannot be certain.

The bottom line is this— it is a privilege to play NCAA college soccer and a very small percentage of high school student-athletes get the opportunity to do this.  Even fewer high school student-athletes will get an athletic scholarship to play soccer.  Always keep this in mind as you progress through your high school career.

Thanks for reading the Hub.  Questions? Comments?  Drop us a line at

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How Do I Know If A Coach Is Interested?

One of the most common questions that we receive here at the D3 Recruiting Hub basically boils down to this- As a high school student-athlete, how do I know if an NCAA Division III college coach is interested in me for their school?

Since they do not have scholarship money to offer, NCAA Division III college coaches cannot offer you a scholarship or other athletic money to come to their school.  Since there is no National Letter of Intent for NCAA Division III, there is no “contract” for you to sign to commit to a school either.

So how do you know that they are interested?

The answer to that question is a very simple and one word answer- TIME.

The more time that an NCAA Division III college coach gives you, the more he/she is interested in you. But how does this translate into actual actions?

#1- College coach comes to visit you- If a college coach comes to visit you at your home, they are giving up their time to drive to your house, sit and meet with your family, and then drive back.  Depending on how far you are, that could be a lot of time!  And more importantly it is time that they are losing away from their other responsibilities.

#2- College coach watches you play- Most NCAA Division III college coaches want to see their recruits actually play soccer against live competition to evaluate you as a player.  Now, depending on their FIRST observation they may want to see you play again.  If they continue to come and watch you play a third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh time and so on…they have really finished evaluating you.  They are now “showing some love” and spending their time watching you, so that you know that they are interested.

This is a difficult area for student-athletes to understand, because NCAA rules prevent college coaches from speaking with players at recruiting tournaments.  We would love to chat with you, but we are not allowed.

#3- Campus visits- When an NCAA Division III college coach invites you to campus for almost any reason, they want to spend time with you.  Under these circumstances, they ARE allowed to speak with you (and family), so that they can really get to know who you are as a person.  Again, they are giving up time from their day, often on a weekend or in the evening at the player’s convenience, when they could be doing other things.  (The one exception/gray area is when coaches invite you to soccer camps at their school— camps usually put money in the pockets of the coach, so the more campers they get, the more money they make.  Although most also use it as an evaluation tool as well.)

#4- Communications- This could be emails, phone calls or text messages.  If an NCAA Division III coach is taking time to email you, call you or even text you, they are showing that they are interested in you.  Some coaches can go overboard with this, but nonetheless the more they reach out to you, the more they are interested!

Bottom line is this—Time is money for EVERYONE!  So the more time a coach is spending on you, the more they are interested in you as a student-athlete.  Since NCAA Division III does not have the tools to offer athletic scholarships or commitment letters, spending our time on student-athletes is how we show our interest.

Questions?  Comments?  Drop us a line at


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Recruiting And Social Media

Do you use social media as a recruited high school student-athlete?  Do you think that you can post anything that you want on Facebook because all of your stuff is private?  Do you believe that anything you say on Twitter is just going to be seen by your friends?  Do you feel that any Instagram pictures you take will not be seen by anybody?

Do you think that anything you post on any social networking/media site does not affect you as a future NCAA Division III student-athlete? You are wrong, think again!

First, social networking sites are not really as private as you think and people can get access and see what you are posting.  More and more college coaches at all levels are looking at what their recruits are posting on social networking sites as part of the recruiting process.  Why?  It is very simple; one of the most important aspects of the recruiting process is learning about your personality and how well you would fit in to the team culture.  If a coach does not think that you are a good fit, then you are likely to see less recruiting action.

For example, suppose you post things on your social networking site that is racially, religiously, or otherwise offensive to a specific group of people.  If a coach becomes aware of this and he/she has a team that is racially diverse, religiously diverse or just generally culturally diverse and tolerant, how is he/she going to react to that?  Do you think it will be favorable?

Don’t just take our word for it.  In the January/February issue of the Soccer Journal, Dr Wendy Lebolt had an article published entitled “Players #exposed on #twitter may find #collegecoaches passing them by”.

In it she says “an increasing number of coaches are looking (at social media sites).  Some are using it conservatively.”  Where one coach interviewed said “they absolutely check Twitter, Instagram and everything we can find. But we do tell them during the recruiting process” to make student-athletes aware.

This is especially true if a college coach is recruiting a student-athlete and their may be some “red flags”.   From the article, checking social media is “Not something that I always do, but I think if we had already seen a red flag elsewhere, we might look to confirm/deny that impression with Facebook/Twitter/etc.”.

Now really…. you think that the old gray haired coach you have been talking to is not tech savvy and doesn’t know Facebook from Twitter from Instagram?  Think again.  From the article, Jay Martin head coach at Ohio Wesleyan since 1977 says “I am a technological moron” but “I utilize my tech-savvy captains and assistant coach to screen recruits using social media.  We have actually stopped recruiting a few players due to inappropriate comments and pictures.”

The bottom line is this— don’t post anything online that you don’t want a college coach to see, because they can and will find it.  This can affect your college career as well as your job search in the future (they look too) because social media is here to stay and once you post something, it is out there for everyone to see.

Questions?  Comments?  Drop us a line at

Please note- the Hub will be on vacation for the next two weeks!

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What To Do- Senior Year- Part 2

The last few weeks we looked at things to do leading up to the all important Senior Year.  Last week, we talked about the importance of making a decision and some of the many things that go into that decision.  This week we are going to look at the practical things that need to be done in your Senior Year.

Most importantly, it goes without saying, is you have to complete your applications!  Many schools now use the Common Application, so if you complete it for one school, you can use the same application for multiple schools.  It is a great idea to start these applications EARLY!  Even before your Senior Year, so that you are not stressed about completing these during your Senior Year.  If an essay is required, get that done as soon as possible because for most students that is usually the hardest part and takes the most time and effort.

Make sure that you know the application deadlines!  If you are applying either Early Decision or Early Action make sure you know what those dates are for each school.

Financial Aid is another important consideration.  Make sure that you (or your parents) get the FASFA forms completed as early as possible.  Many high schools will have assistance for families that need help in preparing those.  Again, make sure that you are meeting required deadlines.


Once you have made a decision, make sure that you know what you need to do to accept the offer from a school.  Do you sign their acceptance letter?  Do you need to make a deposit?  What is required?  As with everything else, what is the deadline for that—need to know it!

If you are living on campus your freshman year, did you apply for housing?  When was that due?  Do you need to put down a deposit to reserve your housing?  Are there other related forms that you need to complete for housing?

Some other general things that you may need to do— Medical forms- schools will want your medical history to make sure that you have had vaccinations as well as your general medical history.  For some, those forms take time to fill out and can be a pain!  Placement tests- your school of choice may require you to take a placement test for Math or English placement.  It may be something you want to prepare for but at the very least, you need to know the dates for those too!

Last but not least— when is move in day!!!  That one is pretty self explanatory.  If you are playing soccer, you will be likely moving in sometime in August.  So you have to plan your family vacation, summer job and any other summer plans around that.

The bottom line is this— there are lot of different things that you need to get your Senior Year from applications to moving in to your new college.  Make a list of those things that you need to get done for your school (or schools) of choice and include when things need to be done.  It will help you along the way!

Thanks for reading!  Questions?  Comments?  Things you would like to see discussed?  Drop us a line at


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