Aspire Atlantic recently took 12 high school soccer players to the Future 500 Soccer Camp in Philadelphia, USA. What we discovered, is that soccer in the USA is growing at a rapid rate and that college soccer is now a massive attraction for players from all over the world.
The tour was a unique experience for the boys. They got a first-hand taste of what life would be like as a college athlete. They were not put up in hotels; rather they stayed at the Eastern University dorms. The camp was four days of non-stop soccer and educational seminars, which is similar to university preseason and the camp councillors were all Student-Athletes who gave their insight into the life of a college athlete.
The most impressive part of the camp was the coaches interaction with players. At standard recruiting events, the boys will play, and coaches will watch. This was not the case. The coaches were tasked with training and preparing the players for their games, and they would even make substitutions. This unique experience is unlike any other I’ve seen, and the exposure is invaluable.
Players normally want coaches to approach them about recruiting opportunities. The truth is coaches are busy; they have thousands of potential players and for a coach to approach you, you will have to be exceptional. The best way for a player to be scouted is to approach the coach, introduce yourself and make a good impression; however, nerves get in the way and players are too shy. At the Future 500 ID Camp, coaches had hands on interaction with the players, allowing the boys to build a relationship with them, before starting the recruitment conversation.
Our boys have had fantastic responses from colleges. But the biggest lesson the players learnt was how to be more of an international player. They now understand how they need to play to study at the collegiate level. In the next 24 months, Aspire Atlantic and Alan Marcus will be working to develop a programme to coach soccer players in a manner that will enable them to compete globally. The game of soccer is changing, and we do not want to be left behind.
Many of our students are heading off to the USA to start their freshman year. So we thought it is important to provide them with some tips on what to pack, what to expect when moving into a dorm, will there be enough storage space and a whole bunch of other important aspects that you should know before embarking on your journey.
It can be quite daunting when packing for college, where you pack your entire life into two suitcases. When it comes to your dorm life, keep in mind that you’re moving into a small room with very little storage space and you will most likely be sharing with another person, so it is important to take only the things that are necessary.
Tips when Packing:
- Clothes: If you are going as an athlete, you will receive lots of university team gear. Do not over pack on the athletic ware as you will receive lots when you arrive. Take only the necessities.
- Bed linen: There are fantastic stores such as Walmart and Target that sell linen, and the prices are extremely affordable. Therefore, do not waste space by packing towels and linen, rather get it when you arrive.
- Toiletries: Just like linen, you can get all your toiletries in the USA. Take only the essentials and get everything else when you arrive.
- Seasons: Think about where you will be situated, If you are going to a warm area of the country, there is no need to take heaps of winter gear. The same goes for a colder climate, do not pack excessive summer clothes for a cold environment. Remember the seasons are the opposite when travelling to the States from South Africa.
You are not allowed to cook in the dorms as all freshman eat in the food halls, but sometimes freshman get small bar fridges and microwaves in their rooms. If a small fridge and microwave is something you would want, contact your college and see if one will be provided, if not, speak to your roommate before arriving and see if they would like to split the price and share. Sometimes your roommate will already have these things. These items are not necessary, but it is nice to be able to store fresh milk, juice and snacks in your room.
Once you are in the States, settled and your freshman year ends, there comes the problem that you will not want to take all your belongings back home with you, only to return it after the summer break. You have two options here, 1) You can rent a storage unit for three-months 2) Ask your friends who are staying through the summer if you can store your belongings at their place. This saves money and there are always people hanging around for the summer.
Make sure that you do not pay full prices for textbooks. You can find them online or at a local second-hand book store for much cheaper and make sure you sell them back after the semester ends. If you want to save money, you can rent textbooks for the semester, just make sure that you look after them.
Other Cool Tips:
Be sure to listen during orientation, speak to your student advisor about setting up a bank account, use your student discount wherever you can, join groups and clubs during the first few weeks, grab all the free stuff that is handed out on campus and purchase some wheels to get around. By wheels, I mean a skateboard or a bike, as this will save you time. Most bike stores let you sell the bike back to them when you leave, so you can get some cash back, which is always a plus for students.
Remember that all freshmen are in the same boat. You are all new, nervous and excited. Make the most of every opportunity, meet as many new people as you can and allow yourself to enjoy the experience.
Have a safe journey and all the best!
Choosing the correct subjects can make all the difference for aspiring athletes.
Choosing subjects in grade 9 can be daunting. Not all students know at 14 or 15 years old what they want to do when they get to university, so making sure that you set yourself up as best as possible is very important. When looking at what subjects to take leading up to matric, there are a few things you should know. Choosing your high school subjects wisely can play a major role in your USA athletic chances. There are three sporting associations; the NCAA, NAIA, and the NJCAA. The subject requirements set out by the NCAA, if followed, will ensure that you qualify for all three sporting associations, giving yourself the best opportunity to win a scholarship.
USA Universities and Athletic Associations take your Grade 9 to Grade 12 marks into consideration. The NCAA requires South Africans to take; Mathematics, English and a second language for four years. They also require 2 Social Sciences and 2 Natural Sciences over the course of grade 9 to grade 12. Maths Literacy is not accepted by the NCAA but is accepted by the NAIA and NJCAA.
The following subjects will give you credit when selecting a Social Science: History, Geography, Religion, Archaeology, Psychology, Anthropology, Sociology, Economics, Business Studies. South African Business Economics does not qualify.
Here are three ways to ensure social science compliance:
1. When selecting subjects, you should choose from History and Geography. These subjects are the most commonly chosen subjects by students when trying to qualify for NCAA eligibility.
2. If your high school combines History and Geography into Social Science in grade 9, you will get one credit. If they are listed separately on your report card, It does not matter that both subjects were taken in the same year, you will get two credits.
3. If it is too late to take these required subjects in school, an online course can be taken. These courses are eight to twelve weeks long and are completed online. Contact us for more information regarding this.
When thinking about recruitment, there is a lot one must take into consideration; how to best market yourself, get the best video footage and create the perfect resume. One of the most underrated recruiting tools is the ability to connect with coaches on a level that makes them instantaneously want to know more about you. Here are some tips that will help you to best connect with a coach and grab their attention:
Send personalised emails to each coach
By personally addressing each coach by name and writing a short email about how much you love their program and why you think it would be a great fit for you, shows the coach that you haven’t just sent out the same email to 50 different coaches. It allows the coach to see that you have done your homework on the team and you know what their university and program is about.
Keep your email short and sweet
A coach does not have time to hear about your life history in your sport. They want something short and to the point and with all the relevant information ready. Make sure you give a short introduction about yourself, give a brief outline of your main achievements and then attach additional information that the coach will want to see.
What does a coach want to see?
Coaches receive hundreds of emails from athletes everyday, so you want to make sure that you include the right information. The most important thing to include is the link to your video footage. A coach wants to see what you can do, not just hear about it.
Here is a list of items to include in your email:
- Link to Video Footage
- Attached Resume (Summarised CV)
- Coaches Contact Details
Thank the coach
At the end of the email thank the coach for taking out time to look at your information. By thanking them for taking the time, you will set yourself apart which may be the difference in a coach responding to you or not.
Here is an email template for inspiration:
Dear Coach ________,
My name is _________. I am a utility player currently playing for the __________ Club/Team. I attend _______ High School and will be graduating in November of 20XX. This past season I was selected to represent my Province in my age group. Please will you take a second to review my video: www.watchmyhighlights.com
I have been exploring my college options, and I am very interested in playing for you at ________ University. I have been watching your team for a few years now and I am inspired by the players and all that they have achieved. I have also looked at the academic options at _________ University and believe that this is the place where I would be able to make the most impact for a college team. Please see the attached documents which include my video footage, my resume, my coach’s information and my achievements.
Thank you for taking the time to look through my information. I believe that by joining your program, we will be able to win many national championships together. I look forward to hearing from you.
All blogs are written by former student-athletes. If you would like to learn more, please leave a comment below and the author will respond to your questions.