University of Richmond 06 - Men's Soccer
I knew pretty early on that I wanted to play soccer in college and potentially pursue a career in the sport after graduation. Unlike most student-athletes looking to play a collegiate sport however, I did not start my school search until my senior year of high school. I knew of the top programs throughout the country because I heard the same names making it to the NCAA tournament year in and year out, but it was not until October of my senior year that I began contacting programs and receiving interest from other schools as well.
Playing for an elite club team in the Washington, DC area, we played in several tournaments known as College Showcase Tournaments. Only the best teams applying are accepted based on previous regular season and tournament records, and several dozen scouts and coaches show up to watch the games over the weekend. Through these tournaments I began talking with several schools that I previously would not have considered, such as University of California San Diego, College of the Holy Cross, Georgetown University, and George Washington University. It was not until later that the University of Richmond came into the mix.
I took official visits to College of the Holy Cross, Georgetown University, and George Washington University; reluctantly, I went to the University of Richmond at the request of my mother. I had a different experience at each school and received different feelings from each schools coaching staff and team, which is why it is very important to visit any place you are seriously considering. Out of my top three choices, I eliminated Georgetown University almost immediately after I returned home because I did not feel it was the right fit for me. I had a great time at George Washington University, but I was very impressed with the coaches and players at the University of Richmond and even though I visited on a blistering cold day in March, I still thought the campus was beautiful.
To the chagrin of the Georgetown University and George Washington University coaches, I signed with the University of Richmond. I remained laid back throughout the whole process, and signed because the University of Richmond had the complete package for me: a Division I school that was both academically and athletically strong, a quality soccer program, and a chance for me to make a major impact in my freshman year.
Of course, everyone wants to win championships, but I wanted to be a major contributing factor towards that, so I said no to several top quality programs that showed interest, such as the University of Virginia and Wake Forest University. I had a very productive four years at the University of Richmond, both on the field and in the classroom, and am very happy with the decision I made to attend. I even got to spend a year living my dream and playing in Europe after graduation.
As long as you know what complete package you are looking for in a school and program, there is no need to stress your final decision. You wont regret it.
Start your school search early! While the right school eventually came knocking for me, I am sure several opportunities were missed by waiting so long. Most athletes tend to have their schools finalized before winter break of their senior year of high school.
Do not be selective in your initial school search. You may find that a dream school you have had for years just isnt the right fit for you. Be sure to have several different options to pursue.
Know what you want before you go after it. I wanted to be an impact freshman, not just to be on a perennial championship team, so that helped me narrow down my list of potentials.
Academics come first, for good reason. Your opportunities will expand with how well you do in the classroom, and you wont have to worry about not being accepted to play for your dream program for academic reasons. Also, if a school cannot offer you an athletic scholarship, you may be able to earn it through academics.
Dream big, always work hard, and never give up.
Best of luck!
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