As a young woman who has gone through the experience of college soccer, I know first-hand how challenging, confusing, and exciting it can all be. How do I decide where to go? How will I know if I made the right choice? Am I doing everything I can to be recruited? Well, what better way to navigate this process than to hear from girls who have been in my shoes. While everyone has a different experience, the more you know, the better prepared you will be!

 

For this blog, each week we will be using stories and experiences directly from the best sources – former/current college soccer players themselves! These women all have different experiences, may have played at different levels, and have their own story to tell. Let's meet the women of the week:

 

Carly Beyar – Former College Player (Founder of SGP)

College: Fairfield University, Fairfield, Connecticut

Division: NCAA Division I

Major: Communications, Minor in Studio Art

 

Emma Hill – Junior/Senior

College: Salisbury, University, Salisbury, Maryland

Division: NCAA Division III

Major: Exercise Science with a minor in Athletic Coaching

 

Alanna Locast – Former College Player (Founder of SGP)

College: Fairfield University (Soccer) & Adelphi University (Track and Field for 5th year of eligibility), Connecticut and New York

Division: NCAA Division I (Fairfield) & NCAA Division II (Adelphi)

Major: Biology at Fairfield and Masters in Exercise Physiology at Adelphi University

 

We asked each of these women a series of questions regarding their college experience. The following answers will include a mixture of their responses in order to keep things as honest as possible, names will not be directly attached to their answers, however all answers on this blog post will come directly from Carly, Emma and Alanna.

 

Why did you choose to go to school where you did?

Everyone chooses their school for different reasons; however, the biggest factors seem to include culture of the program, location of the school, and academic programs available. You want to be somewhere that you will not only enjoy your team, but also the school as a whole. This can play into your decision between a small school vs. big school. Sports programs are treated differently at every school, so if school spirit is very important to you, this is something to find out prior to going there. Location also plays a big factor. During season, you really won’t have much time to go home, if any. Even if you’re only an hour away! Your family may not be able to make it to every game to watch you play either. If this is something that is very important to you, it may be better to stay close. But don’t be afraid to go a little farther and gain new experiences as well! Find your happy medium. Lastly, academics can and should play a huge factor. Soccer is only part of the reason you’re there. You are also there to get a degree that will shape your future once soccer is over.

 

What influenced your decision more – soccer or academics?

This differs person to person. Sometimes you may not know what you want to study when you’re deciding where to go to school, so soccer will obviously play the biggest factor. You want to make sure you like the team, coach, coaching styles, and facilities since these will be a huge factor in your day to day life. In addition to this, make sure you’re at a school where you can grow, not only as a soccer player but in your academia as well. Make sure that this school has a major that you’re interested in, and that you will be able to commit yourself to it. Some coaches may not allow you to choose a specific major due to your time commitment to soccer.

 

What was the highlight of your college experience? What was the low light?

As you go along, there will be highs and lows. And it’s important to know that good or bad, you will get through them and come out stronger. The highlights seem to be the same – the team and group of girls. You spend such a significant amount of every single day with the same people that you end up growing incredibly close and becoming family. These girls will be by your side every step of the way! It’s a unique relationship not many are lucky enough to experience!

 

Low lights come and they will go. It’s important to stay focused and grounded during these times. Thankfully, your teammates will be there to help you through them. Whether it be a tough day, the loss of a loved one, or the stress of an upcoming test, never feel like a problem is too big or too small or that you have to go through something by yourself.

Is there anything you would change about your college experienceif you could?

The answer here is pretty consistent – NOPE! Aside from wishing a school had a little more school spirit and participated more at sporting events. Every struggle, strain, and injury has taught me just as much as my successes. The silver lining is that college can’t always be rainbows and sunshine, because you’ll start to take that for granted. So, enjoy every moment!

 

Why did you choose to play at the level you did? In this instance – DI, DII, or DIII

DI - I was trained to play at the highest level that I capable of and D1 seemed to be the perfect fit. This was very important to me to be on a D1 team.

DIII- I chose to play at the D3 level because I had a little more freedom with my time in the off season. During the off season we have 15 total soccer practices and we lift with the Strength and Conditioning staff 3 times a week (starting in February and ending in May). In my opinion, the D3 level also gave student-athletes an opportunity to study abroad or overload their course load to maintain credits/graduate early.

These are both important things to consider when choosing which level you would like to play at.

 

How did you begin the recruiting process? What age? Any programs? Anything you would do differently now?

This can differ person to person, depending on what you are looking for in a college. Bigger schools usually start earlier, while smaller schools may be later. But it really is up to you. You can start reaching out to schools when you feel you’re ready. Sophomore year seems to be a good time to get started. Programs like ODP can gain you exposure, as well as attending ID camps and tournaments with club teams. Emailing coaches is also a big part of this process! Don’t be hard on yourself when coaches are watching. If you mess up, you have to shake it off and win the ball back and show positive body language. 

 

Did you receive any type of scholarship (sports or academic)? How important was it for you to receive this? Did it have an impact of where you chose to play? 

 - “Yes, I received full-ride for soccer. It was very important for me to get this because then I would have had to attend a less expensive school that may have not had a high-level soccer team. I did not go to certain schools because of their partial offers.” – Carly Beyar

 

- “Since I play at a division 3 school, I do not receive any money for playing a sport here. However, I do receive academic scholarship money as well as money for scholarships that I have applied for. College is expensive and every little bit of money can help chip away at those student loans.” –Emma Hill

- “I received academic scholarship to go to Fairfield University. This was very significant when making my college decision. I knew I did not want to graduate college with a ton of debt!” – Alanna Locast

 

What was the communication like between you and your coaches? What aspects were good, and which could be improved? Do you have any recommendations for improving communication with coaches?

Communication with coaches is all about how you handle it. Be open and honest, and ALWAYS treat your coach with respect. It’s okay to disagree with them, be sure to always express your thoughts and opinions in a respectful way.

 

Did you have a mainly female or mainly male coaching staff? What was their coaching structure like? Do you feel there was a difference in the way you were able tolerate with the female coaches vs. male coaches?

 In the girl’s experiences, their coaching staffs were mainly male, with an occurrence of a female assistant. No matter their gender, coaches should communicate with one another about what the team needs and try to stay on the same page as much as possible. Personally, I don’t think it really matters if it is a male or female coach as long as they respect their players and coaches the same. A female coach could possibly relate and understand a female team in a better light, but this may not always be the case and as long as a male coach is open to listening and communicating, that's what really matters.

 

Please share any other thoughts or comments that you think will help young girls who are currently going through the recruiting process!

 Carly – “I highly suggest that you do on-campus visits/overnights AND watch their soccer team play! It makes a HUGE difference in your recruiting process. Really think about your DAY TO DAY life there with school and the team”

 

Emma – The reason we all started playing soccer varies a little from player to player. Whether you were forced to by your parents, you loved the competition, or you just liked kicking the ball around the field. The one thing all soccer players have in common is that we think the game is fun. To be real with you, collegiate sports are not for everyone, and that is OKAY. If you decide to try out for your collegiate soccer team and you realize that you are starting to lose your passion, you won’t be able to give the sport your all. This will likely make you frustrated. If soccer ever brings you to that point, it is time for a change. I am not saying that you have to quit your team, but you need to change something for your own mental health (making little changes in your training or preparation) before soccer, the thing that used to bring you joy, is ruined forever. Stay positive and always try to compete with yourself to be a little better each day.

 

Alanna – “Becoming very self-aware is crucial to the college decision. If you are not going to be honest with yourself or let other people’s opinions stand as more important than your own, you will end up making a mistake. When I say, “become self-aware”, I mean really close your eyes and picture yourself going through a day. If you do not really love training and dedicating a significant portion of your day and weekends to your sport all week on top of all of your schoolwork, then maybe a lower division with less required hours would be better for you. The level of competition and play at D2 and D3 can be incredible! Don’t limit yourself to only D1! If you don’t love the amount of time and dedication it takes training on your own to be able to handle 3 practices a day during preseason or you feel you may get burnt out at a school that has a vigorous training schedule, then it’s okay to talk and have an honest conversation with the coach and players about what will be required of you. If going far away sounds glamorous and adventurous but deep down you know you'll wish you were closer to your family, it’s okay to let that influence your school making decision! Remember, there are literally hundreds of colleges at each division! There will be a school that is perfect for you. You know yourself better than anyone, so trust the things that you want and that are important to you.”

 

While everyone’s experiences are different, there’s nothing that can better prepare you than hearing from those who have gone before you. Going off to college is a whole new ball game and can be a scary thing. We want to help as much as possible so that Lady Ballers everywhere have the best experience possible. If there are any questions, we missed that you’d like to have answered, let us know! Which part of the blog do you feel helped you most? Feel free to share any thoughts and comments with us in the comment section. Would you like to share your experiences? Reach out to us at tristin@soccergrlprobscamps.com. We’d love to hear from you! See you next Wednesday with even more content!