ID Me! (Part 1)

20 Feb

SCA phenomenon is sweeping the recruiting landscape; the college “ID camp frenzy.”  Showcase camps are popping up across the nation hosting coaches from several different schools with hundreds of student-athletes vying for their attention.

Individual colleges and universities are in on the game as well.  From D1 to D3, it seems that every school is offering the chance to be “identified;” often on multiple occasions throughout the year.

This proliferation can lead student-athletes to become a tad skeptical.  Is it really worth the time, effort and cost to attend?  Aren’t these camps really just a “money maker” for the coaches?  Are college programs even recruiting kids from these camps?

After connecting with coaches across the country and watching dozens of kids go through the process, I’m confident that these camps are indeed valuable.  That said, there are some important things to consider.

Note:  This blog will be posted as a series of two entries.  The first entry (the one you’re reading now) will be an exploration of showcase camps.  The second entry (coming next week) will be an exploration of the “on campus ID camp” experience, typically tied to one specific institution.

Showcase camps

Showcase camps are attractive because they offer the chance to be seen by multiple coaches at one location.  Camps such as Peak Performance host coaches from various schools at different venues across the country.  Showcases might seem to offer more bang-for-your-buck, but in reality they can be overcrowded given that there isn’t usually a cap on enrollment numbers.

Joe Clarke, Head Men’s Coach at Washington University in St. Louis shared some thoughts on the subject.  “There are several things for the prospects to consider. How many participants; it is easy to get lost in the crowd. Tied to that; how long is the camp (2 or 3 sessions with 300 prospects); surely good players can get overlooked.”  He went on to mention some of the benefits.  “When there are multiple coaches, they usually share insights so that can be good.  Prospects need to do their part so coaches know who is interested in their school.” 

Having watched a number of my student-athletes go through the showcase camp experience, I can tell you that Coach Clarke’s comments definitely resonate with me.  When players have connected with the staff ahead of the showcase, the coaches have then made it a point to seek them out and watch them play.  Furthermore, the schools where contact was made ahead of time are the ones that seem the most interested in continuing the dialogue after camp is over.  It’s only in rare instances, where I have actually seen a player “get discovered” at a showcase camp, meaning that they received real interest from a coach with whom they had previously had no contact.

Showcase camps can also serve as a gateway to an invitation to a particular school’s ID camp.  Many of my student-athletes have received a note from a coach after a showcase camp, stating that they would like to “see more,” and asking if the player would consider attending camp on their campus.  Essentially, the showcase can serve as a catalyst toward future evaluation.  It’s at the school’s ID camp where enrollment is often limited and players receive mor individual attention, that the coach can take a closer look and really evaluate the student-athlete’s potential.

As a summary, here are some important things to consider when thinking about showcase camps:

Do your homework:

Consider how many players will be attending the camp and how many playing opportunities you will have to show your stuff.  If there are a ton of kids and limited sessions, it might be difficult to make an impact.

Connect ahead of time:

Consistent with my  “It’s not random,” post it’s very important to connect with college coaches ahead of the showcase.  Let them know in an email that you will be attending specifically so that they will have the chance to see you play.  Include basic info about your academic profile along with high school and club soccer info.  And as simple as it may seem, let them know what you will be wearing during the showcase, so as to make it easy for them to identify you.  That bright yellow “away” jersey from your favorite team might just come in handy here!

Manage your expectations:

Showcase camps offer you the chance to showcase yourself to multiple college programs.  However, it’s important to recognize that the camps are most likely just an initial step in player identification, and the coach will likely need to see more from you over time. Nevertheless, showcases can be valuable as a tool for players looking to cut through the clutter, and begin the dialogue with a particular school.

Check back next week for part 2 in this series, all about the “On Campus” ID camp experience.

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2 Responses to “ID Me! (Part 1)”

  1. Dermot Connell February 24, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    Good stuff Pete. If a player is very interested in attending a specific school and getting into their soccer program is it better to go to their camp or to visit as an individual and meet the coaches and players in that trip?

  2. pgmethod February 25, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    Great question Dermot- I’d say it depends on what kind of communication the player has had up to that point. If the coach has seen the player in action and has indicated some interest, then visiting the school and meeting with the coaches/players can be a fantastic next step. It shows the coach that you are seriously interested in the school, as you are taking the time to really experience the campus, culture, etc. But if that hasn’t happened and the player is looking to attract the coaches attention, then a camp is a great call as it will allow the coaching staff to see what the player is all about. Of course you can visit a school without the coach having seen you play, and potentially even set up a meeting with them, but be prepared for the coach to say that he/she needs to see you in action before continuing the dialogue.

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