What I Wish I Knew Before Playing College Soccer

College soccer was my goal during grade school. After I graduated high school, I wanted to be at a university playing soccer while simultaneously getting a higher education. A scholarship was a part of that goal, since paying for college was going to be challenging without it. Fortunately, my goal did come true. Looking back here are some things I wish I would’ve known before beginning my collegiate soccer career.

Sometimes it feels like a job.

Not that it’s a bad thing…after all I did get paid. But, I’ve never had such a physically demanding job as soccer at the collegiate level. I played in Division II and felt like maybe I would’ve had a more balanced experience in a different division. There were times I wondered what my life would’ve been like in a Division III or NAIA program. I likely would’ve had more time for academics, internships, job shadowing, and study abroad. When choosing a division don’t just think about soccer. Think about the life-balance too. 

Don’t assume your coach puts academics before athletics. 

Undoubtedly, you should always put your academics before athletics. If you didn’t, why would you be in college in the first place? There are other less expensive ways to continue training and playing soccer, like U19 leagues and opportunities to play semi-professionally.

There are qualities in your coaching staff that are worth considering when deciding on where to commit. For example, I requested to make up a 6AM. strength and conditioning session to prepare appropriately for an 8AM exam. I was told no by my coach. It’s hard to believe but some coaches won’t say yes to this kind of request. 

I disobeyed my coach and did not go to the 6AM workout. Instead I took my time. I got up, ran through my notes one last time, ate breakfast, and arrived on time if not a little early. Later that night I made up the session with the volleyball team, but was ultimately called into my coach’s office. I was criticized for prioritizing my exam over a workout. During your recruitment interviews with coaches I suggest to bring situations like this up and ask what would they do?

The best thing will be the sister-like relationships with teammates.

The single best part of college soccer was my teammates, which are now some of my best friends. I’ll take our hilarious memories off the pitch before our Sport’s Center Top 10 Plays appearance any day. The things that live on after college soccer are your friendships with teammates and your love for soccer. The women you go through athletics with will be your crew…even after you’ve graduated. Don’t take those friendships for granted. Soak up all the moments with those girls…on and off the pitch.  

Don’t let the athlete community be your only community.

I’m talking about your social circles. If you’re going to play collegiate soccer then you might have already lived the jock life in high school. It is or was a big part of your identity throughout grade school. You will likely go to a university or college with more students, opportunities, organizations, clubs, etc. Don’t let athletics take away from the social circles you haven’t considered before. 

My final semester of college I was no longer attending practices or workouts. I spent more time around students with other interests and with friends that weren’t athletes. It was actually refreshing and I wish I would’ve spent more time with people outside of the athlete community. It would’ve created more diversity within my social circles and within my hobbies. Just because you’re an athlete doesn’t mean you’re not going to get along with the snowboarding club or the honors society. Take time to get to know students that are not athletes.

Photo via Patch.com



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