"The Girls Guide" - To College Soccer 2

Blog Post 2

Written by Emily Scott

We are back for round 2 of our blog, “The Girls Guide” – To College Soccer! We’re answering questions that we feel can make the biggest impact for young girls going through the college recruiting process. As a former Division 1 college athlete myself, I know what stresses can come from it all.  

As you may remember from last week, for this blog we use 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:

Shannon Fay – Former College Player (Founder of SGP)

College: Fairfield University, Fairfield, Connecticut

Division: NCAA Division I

Major: Communications, Minor in Television and Film

Tristin Stuteville – Former College Player (Founder of PS90 Soccer)

College: Ball State University, Muncie, IN

Division: NCAA Division I

Major: Undergrad – Marketing

Masters: Athletic Coaching Education

Emily Scott – Former College Player

College: Ball State University, Muncie, IN

Division: NCAA Division I  

Major: Communications, Minor in Marketing

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 Shannon, Tristin, and Emily (myself).  

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

Once again, these answers can differ by who you ask but a few topics seem to come to the front when this question is asked. Important factors include a close and small community. You want a “family vibe” on the team, since these are people you will be surrounding yourself with. Having a team that supports you, as well as a coaching staff that you can work with You also should look for a school where you will get a great education. This matters just as much as the athletic side of things, which leads us into our next question!

What influenced your decision more – soccer or academics?

When committing, we feel it’s important to find to a university that is going to best suit you both academically and athletically. It’s great to find a school that hits both of these metrics, because in case you change your mind about one, you still have another reason to be there. Your decision should come from many different factors. You never know what will happen in the future! There is a lot of pressure placed on players going through the recruiting process in their first and second years of high school, to know what they want to do with the rest of their life. It’s okay to take your time or even go into your first year of college undecided. I think its important, if you take that route, to find a university that is well rounded academically and can offer a plethora of options for you to choose from! Remember that you are a student-athlete throughout your experience and that ultimately ‘student’ is the first word in that title for a reason, make sure that you are going to be happy at that university if soccer was no longer on the table for you.  

What was the highlight of your college experience? What was the lowlight?

Highlights are the best part of your college career, obviously. Once again, ours are the lifelong friends that we gain and the memories that come along with them! This is a big part of knowing where you’re meant to go to school. Before you commit to a school, it’s important to go on visits and get to know the girls! Make sure you can see yourself spending your days surrounded by them.

Lowlights SUCK! And for athletes, it seems to be that these are usually losing big games, AKA Conference Championship games. For us, we know that these games are so much more than that. You don’t remember every win, but you DEFINITLEY remember every loss.

Is there anything you would change about your college experience if you could?

Let’s just make one thing clear, while there may be things we would change or not change, we don’t have any regrets! Everything happens for a reason and no matter what, we’re grateful for our experiences. While one of us may make no changes at all, others may wish they could alter a few aspects when we reflect on our experiences. This can come with how early the recruiting process has started at these days. This can cause you to rush into your decision and commit when you are still so young and don’t know exactly what it is that you want and need from your college experience. Take your time, the right school is out there for you, there is no need to rush. Yes, schools have recruiting timelines and there are limited spots but if a university wants you, they should understand you taking your time as long as you are transparent with it. Down the road, you don’t want to look back and think “huh, what if…” because you rushed into a decision you weren’t ready to make.

Why did you choose to play at the level you did? In this instance – All 3 of us played DI

Playing at a Division 1 level was something we all aspired to do since we started playing really. Everything we do in our soccer careers led to trying to play at a Division 1 school. It matched our dedication and competitiveness. Of course, this is not the only option to play at but for us it provided the academic and athletic balance and demand that I was looking for in our college experiences.

After graduating and looking back, I do wish that I would’ve explored other options and not been so set on playing at the DI level. After meeting so many people who played at other levels, I wish someone would’ve told me that it’s not the only option and you can play just as competitively at a Division II or III school.

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

These days, you never really begin the recruiting process, you kind of just get thrown into it at some point. One day you’re just playing tournaments and games with your parents on the sidelines cheering you on, next thing you know there are college coaches amongst the fans on the side and your coach is telling you that you should reach out to school A, B, and C because they were at the game and were interested in talking to you. It seems like these days; this begins during your freshman/sophomore year of high school. It begins with a lot of phone calls and emails and navigating the NCAA regulations to make sure you’re going about it the right way. Reaching out to coaches, letting them know who you are and where you’re playing is a big deal! Be persistent. Don’t be shy, be yourself and the coaches will appreciate it!

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?

- “I received a full athletic scholarship; I wasn't going to make having a full ride the deciding factor in my decision but definitely was hoping for some sort of athletic or academic scholarship because I didn't want to take any loans out if not needed.” – Shannon Fey

- “I did receive a scholarship at both universities that I attended and am very grateful to have had that offered to me. It was very important for me to receive a scholarship whether it be from athletics or academics. Financially, that was how I was going to go to college and that was what made sense for my family and me. I was fully aware of that growing up and was something that I worked for both on the field and in the classroom. I think that is an important conversation to have with your parents and the schools you are looking at so that you know what you are getting into and make sure that it makes sense for whatever your situation looks like.” – Tristin Stuteville

- “I received 50% academic and 50% athletic scholarship. To me, earning any sort of scholarship was a big deal because I really didn’t want to end up having a ton of student loan debt when I graduated. I am very grateful to have received what I did. I learned the importance of taking the initiative to apply to any scholarships possible and it really benefitted me in the long run. Especially now being graduated and seeing my friends and boyfriend with a lot of loans, I’m even more grateful for the scholarships I earned.” – Emily Scott

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?

Between all of our experiences, we’ve had the opportunity to see both the good, the bad, and everything in between. There are so many aspects that go into communication between you and your coaches. It’s important to find a coach that either fits your communication style or is at least open to learning yours. Everyone likes to be coached and critiqued in different ways, so finding your style is important, but you also need to be open to learning a coach’s communication style, as they learn yours. Be open and honest! Know when to speak up and voice your opinion, and when it’s better to just listen. If you ever are having communication problems with your coaching staff, you have to be willing to have those tough conversations, knowing it’ll make things better in the long run. Coaches don’t want to have poor communication with their players but sometimes they don’t realize it until it’s brought to their attention.

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 to relate with the female coaches vs. male coaches?

- “My club coach was male, high school coach was female and college coaches were male. I didn’t feel any difference in relating to my male or female coaches.”  – Shannon Fey

- “I’ve always had a primarily male coaching staff. My first university had a female head coach and my second university had a female assistant coach and the other two positions were male at both universities. Personally, I think I was able to relate more with our female assistant coach simply because I felt that she had been in our shoes before and understood where we were at with things but I felt like I was pretty fortunate to get along with most of my coaches at my second university so it was a good experience overall.” – Tristin Stuteville

- “I had a male head coach in college, two female assistant coaches (not at the same time) and a male assistant coach. Personally, I think it’s more about the coach rather than if they are male of female. I always connected more with my assistant coaches because they were much more understanding and caring of me and my teammates. It was easy to go to them and talk about what I was going through. I think coaches are one of the biggest parts of a college career. They can make you or break you, and it’s easy to be broken when your coach, who should be your biggest motivator, is the one putting you down.” – Emily Scott

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

Shannon – “Don't pick a dream school without visiting and that school and other schools! Be open to other schools, make sure you sit in on a class, go to a practice, speak with the coach and team, etc. You want to go to a school you see as a good fit not just athletically but academically as well!”

Tristin – “I would just suggest that you take your time with it and truly find the right fit for you both athletically and academically. Get to know the girls on the teams you’re looking at and don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions, sometimes they are the most important ones to ask. Lastly, use your resources around you, you are not in this process alone and we are all here for you! There is a great network of strong females within the soccer community, many of which have probably been where you are and would be more than happy to help you through whatever you may need a hand up in and whatever stage of the game you are in! Utilize them, don’t be afraid to reach out and let us help you make this an enjoyable experience!!”

Emily – “College soccer is a whirlwind. You need to be ready for anything and everything because every day will be a challenge. When you’re making your decision, your commitment level should play a huge factor! You have to know that for four years, this is going to be your life – practices every day, a coach telling you what you can and can’t do, and so much more. While it is definitely the best experience of my life, it was also one of the most difficult. Thankfully, I had my teammates who were my best friends and became like my family to get me through it. Take your time when you’re choosing a school. It is so important to get to know the girls who are currently there. Go in with the best attitude, but don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. Ask about how the coach really is, ask what the best parts and the worst parts are. It’s important to find this all out so that you can be as happy as possible! And if you do end up going to a school that isn’t for you, transferring is always an option. It may seem scary at first, but definitely can be worth it! Overall, just go into it giving your all and with the best attitude! What’s meant to be, will be.”

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!