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Wednesday, April 11, 2012
What I Learned: Recruiting Tips, April 11

By Chris Ackels

According to the NCAA, less than six percent of all high school senior soccer players will go on to play at the NCAA Division I, II or III level. The recruiting process can be complicated, daunting and downright confusing for many athletes seeking one of these coveted soccer scholarships.

ESPNHS is turning to these high school athletes for helpful advice in dealing with the recruiting process.

Each Wednesday in the month of April, ESPNHS will feature tips from elite high school soccer players who have verbally committed to NCAA Division I programs. Each of these players is featured on our Class of 2013 Verbal Commitments List, and each has something unique to offer for other players seeking scholarships.

Today, we hear from Caroline Alexander, Elizabeth Keester, Kaitlin Kuznacic, Meegan Johnston and Tori Prager.

QUESTION: “What did you learn or what surprised you about the recruiting process?”

MEEGAN JOHNSTON
Hometown:
Grayslake, Ill.
High school: Carmel Catholic (Mundelein, Ill.)
Club: Team Chicago
College Commitment: Illinois

“I had to think about what I want after high school. I had to reflect deeply on who I am as a person and who I am without soccer. That was the hard part; everything else was as easy as breathing. I knew what I wanted in a program, the coaches and style of play. What really got me was the question, ‘What about life after soccer?’ My dad has always stressed how soccer relates to life. I knew that had to be a big part of my decision, and in the end it was. A degree from Illinois is part of that equation. I’ve been fortunate to play for successful teams. I’m on the ODP Region II team, but I credit most of my success to my current club Team Chicago and my head coach Phil Nielsen. Coach Nielsen was so supportive and went the extra mile spending hours communicating with college coaches.”

KAITLIN KUZNACIC
Hometown:
Cedarburg, Wis.
High school: Cedarburg (Cedarburg, Wis.)
Club: North Shore United
College Commitment: Southeast Missouri

“You really need to begin communicating with colleges you’re interested in as a U14 or U15 player. One of the things that sticks in my mind is being at a soccer camp in December of my sophomore year and having the college coaches say that if you’re a junior and you don’t have offers, it’s probably too late. Being with a smaller, less well known club, it’s more difficult to get noticed than with the well known, large clubs. You need to contact the colleges and ask them to come watch you rather than waiting for them to come to you. In the end, having multiple colleges interested in recruiting you is a great feeling and makes the training and commitment even more worthwhile.”

ELIZABETH KEESTER
Hometown:
Tulsa, Okla.
High school: Jenks (Jenks, Okla.)
Club: TSC Hurricane
College Commitment: Texas A&M

“What surprised me the most about the recruiting process is how it begins so early now. When my sister went through the process it was much later in her high school years. Although I appreciate knowing where I am going to school, the process is a lot to put on a sophomore in high school. It’s very tough to analyze all the schools, consider all the factors and make so many important decisions. I’m glad it’s over.”

TORI PRAGER
Hometown:
Mt. Laurel, N.J.
High school: Lenape (Medford, N.J.)
Club: PDA
College Commitment: Rutgers

“It surprised me that as competitive as soccer is, there are so many wonderful players and coaches associated with the sport. This applies to all of the schools I visited. I was also surprised and appreciative of the many people that were interested in and took their time to help me make an informed decision in regard to my academic and athletic future. I am very grateful that I have had an opportunity to learn how many great people are associated with the sport at the Division I level. Although I was impressed by the facilities at all of the schools I visited, I learned that it is the people behind the programs that are truly impressive. It was fun, but I am very happy and somewhat relieved it is over.”

CAROLINE ALEXANDER
Hometown:
Charlotte, N.C.
High school: Myers Park (Charlotte, N.C.)
Club: Charlotte SA
College Commitment: Alabama

“I learned that the recruiting process is stressful! There were so many coaches at all of the showcases and it can make it very nerve racking. I learned that you really need to start visiting schools early to get a feel for what you want. I think camps are the most beneficial because you are able to get to know the coaches and other players on a personal level. Also, I have learned that first you need to pick the school you love regardless of soccer. Just because players are committing around you it doesn't mean you have to speed up your decision.”