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Ask Pat: The Benefit of Soccer Camp to College Bound Players


Pat Grecco, a long time soccer volunteer and expert on the college recruiting process, will be writing a regular feature here on LIJSoccer.com, answering questions from players like you.

The Chairman of the LIJSL Scholarship Committee, Pat has been an invaluable resource for Long Island soccer players and student-athletes starting out on their college search. In addition, she owns and operates her own company called College Bound Athlete, a college recruiting service. She has worn many hats during her more than 25 years with the LIJSL, including Director of College Bound Player programs, which includes Exceptional HS Senior Games, College Forum, and College Workshops. Pat has helped numerous student athletes find collegiate opportunities through soccer. Her philosophy is that "There is a program for everyone to play in at the collegiate level."'

The best place to attend a sports camp is at a college campus where you can benefit from being identified by the college coach, observe the coach interacting with players and colleagues, live in a college dorm, eat campus food and just soak-in the campus climate. Other benefits include simply making you a better soccer player and observing collegiate players and their level of competition so that you can aspire to be like them. Most camps are offered in the summer, but some are offered during the holiday season. In the warmer states like California, Florida, and Arizona, winter clinics are also very important. They are usually held during the holidays, and don’t forget about spring vacation camps, “young stars camps.”

I will make an exception to my rule and say that IMG Academy in Florida, which has all major sports, is not just a camp, it is also a school. In contrast to other camps, at IMG its all about books and balls, they offer SAT/ACT Prep in addition to outstanding sports instruction by professionals in their respective fields. Scott and Kim Dean, former Long Island college coaches are on IMG’s staff. 

Lately I’ve been hearing the phrase “Prospect Camps” where individual colleges invite student-athletes to their respective schools to identify talented sophomores and juniors. I recently received info from Head Coach Mary Frances Monroe at University at Albany, a Division I program. Coach Monroe is a Long Islander from Northport, former National Team player, WUSA player, and 4 time Collegiate All-American at UCLA and UCONN. To find out more E-mail: mmonroe@uamail.albany.edu

There are specialty camps within the sport of soccer as well. You will see advertisements for Goalkeeper Camps, Strikers Camps, and Speed Training Camps. These can be of value as well. 

Keep in mind that even if the college coach invites you to his camp, it is not automatically an indication that he/she is recruiting you. When you are pre-high school its fine to attend a big name college camp. I have heard student-athletes say, “I was on the All-Star Team at Duke University,” or “I went to camp at Princeton University.” I’m certain this was a great experience, but high school student- athletes should be attending camps where there is a possibility they will be recruited. 

Parents, before you make the final payment, request a written evaluation of your son or daughter’s camp experience. Student-Athletes, if you are interested in being recruited to play at the school where you are attending camp, be sure the Coach knows this. Also, find out what other college coaches will be working the camp. Try to leave the camp with a reference, perhaps an assistant coach who was working with your group during week. Be sure you add this to your Athletic-Academic Profile. You should include the coach’s name, phone, e-mail, where he or she competed collegiately, and their current position. 

A few yeas ago, a student-athlete I was working with went to the Brown University Soccer Camp. Mike Noonan, who was head coach at the time, knew this player really wanted to attend Brown and watched him throughout the week. At the end of the week he told him that he was not quite at the level necessary to be recruited by Brown, but the Middlebury College coach was very impressed with his level of play. He also told the player if he got into Brown University on his own, he would take another look at him. In other words, he might perhaps invite him as a walk on for preseason, but would not endorse him for admission. 

Also be sure to network with your top choices and make them aware which camps you will be attending. Remind them via e-mail frequently. Also, I will say again, simply because a college coach invites you to his camp, it does not mean you are being recruited. But it is a good way to be identified, develop into a better athlete, learn new techniques, and move to the next level. The better camps do fill up quickly so be sure you apply early. Most important, be sure the camp is at or above your level of competition. These camps are sometimes called varsity week or rising junior and senior camps. 

Soccer is like playing a musical instrument. Practice, practice, practice. Camps provide professional instruction and give you a good look at what you need to do to compete at the collegiate level. 

As always, I’m here to help any college-bound soccer player, simply send me an email if you have any questions at soccervol@aol.com or go to www.collegeboundathlete.com



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