This past winter (pre-COVID-19), I attended a college soccer ID camp for a competitive Division II program. I was excited, not only to have some time in a warmer climate that was more appealing than the weather I was currently encountering, but to also experience this camp in a new role. For the first time, I wouldn't be attending this type of event as a facilitating college coach, as a supportive club coach to my players, or as a resource for the players that I train. This time my role was that of an observant parent. My job that day was to sit in the stands and watch my daughter play.
What I found interesting as I sat on the bleachers, was the conversation happening around me. With no identifiable clothing such as a school, club, or soccer logo visible, I truly was "just a parent". I met moms, dads, grandpas, and grandmas. I even met enthusiastic aunts that flew miles with their niece to attend this camp; and everyone wanted to talk to me. They wanted to know where I was from, where my daughter played club, and what year she was. They wanted to know what position she plays and how many "of these things" we had been to. Everyone had an opinion, and everyone was quick to critique this particular school's clinic.
Parents were setting up cameras, (some had multiple cameras to catch different angles of their child playing), and face-timing family members---maybe those that couldn't be there? What I found most unfavorable of all, were the parents yelling out to their children as they were coming out onto the field. As the day went on and the clinic progressed, the yelling out to their own child turned to yelling out to other people's children. Not everyone did this, but a lot did. The critiquing of the clinic also turned into the critiquing of other players. I heard a lot of comments being spoken around me, and they weren't all very positive. What these parents failed to realize, is that people notice. The coaches of this particular school notice. I noticed. What's worse, is their children noticed.
What I learned that day:
1) There were some individuals that felt their 8th grade daughter would verbally commit to that particular school that day. (Real Answer: No, your 8th grader is not going to be asked to verbally commit. Quite honestly, the coaches of college programs are recruiting 1-3 years out, with a focus on 1-2 years. Keeping in mind NCAA regulations, they are not looking at your 8th grader. I would also like to mention that no one, no matter how good you are, should even be considering committing anywhere until your junior year of high school. Your player needs to have physically and emotionally matured, and at least have an idea of what they would like to do in school. What 8th grader knows what they would like to study in college?)
2) Some individuals felt that being wanted by a particular school's athletic program mattered more than the academic experience of that school. One mother expressed to me that they were going to every single camp or clinic that was emailed to them-regardless of school. They were looking for athletic scholarship money and felt that her daughter would pick her academic major after being offered an athletic scholarship. (Real Answer: Academics come first. Your child needs to like the school even if soccer was not apart of it. Also, less than 30 percent (I stress the word "less") of your child's tuition will be made up of athletic scholarship money. No one is getting a full ride. Most players try and combine academic merit money with athletic scholarship money (if they are lucky enough to be offered any--less than 2 percent of athletes will.)
3) Some individuals felt that video footage from the ID clinic would serve as a great addition to their child's highlight video. (Real Answer: This is not a good idea. A college coach does not want to see footage from another college coach's ID camp. So, are you advertising that you are going to competitors camps? The soccer world is small.)
4)My final observation after enjoying a great day of soccer: only about 6 of the players (out of about 50), were of Division II college bound material.
It is really important that parents, as well as players, have a realistic idea of where they are athletically, academically, and emotionally when it comes to soccer. Soccer ID camps and clinics serve as a way to fund a particular school's program. Do you know if you are actually being recruited by the school? Or, are you on the "B" list? My advice to parents is to do your homework on the school, the program, and your own child. When attending ID camps or clinics: sit back, relax, enjoy watching your child play, and leave your camera (and opinions) at home.