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August 19, 2021

Lack of Head Coach Brings Women’s Soccer Team Closer Together

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Edited by Jaime Evers

Nowadays, the recruiting process for athletes can start as early as freshman year of high school. For me, it started my junior year of high school, and this is my Recruiting Horror Story™. I knew that ID camps and big showcase events were common places for college coaches of all division levels to use as scouting grounds for future players. However, most of my successes during the recruiting process were not through ID camps, but rather through emailing my highlight film to coaches. The reel included videos from my junior soccer season and a comprehensive summary of game stats and awards I had accrued throughout my high school career. My highlight film was so impressive that one head coach offered me a spot on the team before he ever had the chance to watch me play in person! Recognizing that the coach was interested in my skill-set just from my highlight film said a lot about him and the potential he saw in me as a player. 

Picking my Top Choice School

All aspects of the school, including the campus, social life, and academics were amazing. The major reason the school was a top choice of mine was because of my strong relationship with this head coach. His willingness to reach out and tell how much they wanted me to attend the school and play for the team showed how valuable I was to the program. While many coaches and recruiters recommend focusing on academics and campus, my attention was purely on the fact that the school had a coach who wanted me there and who would care for me as a player on and off the field.

My Recruiting Horror Story 

It was before my freshman year of college when all the success of my recruitment started to crumble. I was out on the soccer field getting some touches on the ball when my future head coach called, sounding upset. He then expressed that he was being pushed out of the job because of administrative issues: “I am so sorry to tell you this, but I was just informed now that my contract is up for grabs at the end of this season. It infuriated me that the administration did not give me a heads up that this would be my final season, so I do not want to be under their control anymore, and therefore, I am resigning as head coach of the university.” Once he hung up the phone, my heart sank. Several thoughts popped up in my brain, “What was I supposed to do now? Do I decommit? Do I look for other schools to go to?” My head was spinning with contemplation on what my next move would be. He was the reason the program and school were so intriguing to me; the relationship we built was the deciding factor that drove my commitment.

Then, things only worsened. Two days later, a notification on my email popped up that the assistant coach of the program had resigned as well. The email stated, “Due to the administrative issues going on with the women’s soccer team, I have decided I should take a step back and move on with my career.” Now, this was the moment my head began to fill with alarm and frenzy. Panicking and agonizing over the next steps, I had a lot to think about with very little time to do so. We had less than a month until we needed to report to campus for pre-season and there were no coaches. Anxiety and stress overtook my mind; everything was uncertain. 

Two Weeks – Still No Head Coach

One week goes by, no head coach; two weeks go by, no head coach. As the time neared closer and closer to pre-season report day, the more stressed I became to go to school in a few short weeks to begin college soccer at a new program with no coaching staff. Living with such uncertainty, I was beginning to doubt ever committing to play. The only reason I did not quit was the support from my parents, club coaches, and teammates, who continued to assure me that it was all going to be okay. 

Following the resignation of the assistant coach, the administration reached out with an official statement to address all of the events. They claim to have hired an interim head coach who was a small-town native and coach of the high school team in our area with no college experience. My thoughts were, “Why is someone with no college experience coaching being hired for the head coach position of a strong Division II soccer program?” It made no sense to me or any of my teammates. More than that, it was disappointing to not receive any guidance or support from the administration during this stressful process. The way the situation was handled made our team feel as if we had no one on our side. 

Related: Recruiting Horror Stories™ by LRT Sports: Stanford Field Hockey Program Cut One Month before Season

Meeting the Interim Head Coach

Finally, it was pre-season report day; it was time for the team to meet our interim head coach. It was hard for anyone to have a positive mindset knowing that the most successful coach in the school’s history got pushed out of the job. This was frustrating for most of us to be dealing with because having a new head coach is essentially like having to re-try out for the team you already committed to. This meant I would have to prove myself all over again because the new coach had no idea of my style of play nor my strengths and weaknesses. 

I never thought I would have to endure two recruiting processes, but in the blink of an eye, it was my reality. I was back to square one. Once again, I would have to prove myself and why I should be on this team. Having new head coaches is like hitting the restart button on your computer so you have to completely re-input all your favorite settings. It is a painstaking and meticulous process.

My freshman year was a challenge. The new coach was not a great communicator, and I did not get much constructive feedback. He was also very inconsistent with his lineups as after I scored my first career goal, I then played five minutes the next two games. However, with the help and advice of my older teammates, I made it through, and a new coach with collegiate experience was hired, and he remained my coach for the next three seasons. 

Growth Through Adversity

With our new head coach, I was able to improve each year and make All-Conference during my junior season, and graduated early after three and half years. I’m now attending a graduate program at the same university. The lesson learned from my experience is that a new recruit must expect the unexpected – even the possibility of losing the coach that recruited him or her – and consider what is best for them both academically and athletically.