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My Recruitment Experience

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My Recruitment Experience

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I was in 8th grade. I had just completed a 6 hour drive up to Syracuse University. I stepped out of the car and walked into the Syracuse training facility with all the cockiness in the world. I had never really been to a recruitment camp and had never really played against high school kids. I walked in under the impression I would be the best player in the room and would probably get recruited after I played. When I entered the building I was looking up at all the other goalies there. There were high school goalies standing over 6 feet tall and some who had chest that were popping through the t-shirts that they had given us. All of a sudden, I realized my journey to playing college soccer would not be a short or easy process.

I started playing soccer where everyone started playing soccer in this area, SYSA house league soccer. It’s every parent’s first choice. Why? I have no idea. But when you walk into houses you see pictures of their kids when they were 5 or 6 years old, posing for a picture in their bright orange SYSA jersey, holding a soccer ball. I went all the way through the house league soccer system and continued to travel soccer at the age of 9.

I’m not going to lie. Our team was not very good to start. We barely had enough kids at our first try out to field a team. We lost a lot of games my first year and I wasn’t so sure if I wanted to keep being a goalie. That all changed when I was introduced to ODP.

ODP was a program to help recognize elite youth soccer talent and help grow and improve the United States Soccer Program. They started tryouts for the program when kids were in the U11 age group. I went to the tryout and up until that point I never really had compared myself to other goalies before. The tryouts went well and I had made the district team (the first step). After sometime in districts I had tryouts for the Virginia State Team. The competition had largely improved at this point but I still managed to make the program. After a few months on the state team, I was recruited to the Region 1 ODP team. This team was an all-star team of all the best players in my age group from Virginia all the way to Maine. This team gave me amazing opportunities as I travelled to Spain, Florida, and Arizona for tournaments.

Being on these teams sparked my confidence and showed me that I was a high level soccer player. This made me start to turn my attention towards college soccer. I began trying to get recruited way before most kids do. I was sending emails to college coaches back when I was in 8th grade and when I was a freshman in high school. A little side note, college coaches are not even allowed to talk to me until September 1st of my Junior year. That just shows how early I got involved into the entire process. With that said, I think it prepared me for what is happening now as now I can be talked to by these coaches. I was exposed to college recruitment camp environments way before most people so I don’t get nervous at them.

I love the game of soccer but at times it feels like a job. Every week I would have 4-5 practices a week and that doesn’t include games or tournaments. These tournaments take me away from friends for days or weeks at a time. Sometimes it’s hard watching all my friends hanging out and having fun while I’m out trying to become better and get recruited to play in college. Back in middle school I was considering not wanting to play soccer as I felt like I didn’t have any true friends. I had stopped being invited to hangout with people that I thought were my good friends. It was hard. I had cried and was close to quitting soccer. Luckily for me, I found some friends when I got to high school who understood what I had and didn’t think differently about me no matter where ever I was playing.

Recruitment is extremely stressful. Every time I step out on the field I feel like I cannot make a mistake and when I do I feel like I let myself and everyone else down. It’s not easy always knowing there are people watching. Luckily for me though, I have gotten used to the pressure. It’s something I’ve learned to embrace when I step on the field and I think it has helped me get noticed.

I’ve started to engage in recruitment talks with some different coaches, but it is still early in the process. Through all these years of soccer and all the sacrifices it seems to be getting to the fun part. I have a few visits lined up for April and during spring break and I can’t wait for the fun step in my career.

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My Recruitment Experience