The Before, During, and After A Showcase Tournament!

Date Posted: 5/17/2016

This past weekend the Blue Chip Classic was held in southern Ohio and I want to provide some comments on this events and other events Coach McCarthy and I have attended this spring.  First, there is not a weekend in the spring where there isn't a soccer tournament.  So many, that this past weekend there were 2 large showcase events in Ohio (Blue Chip and the Nike).  If you participated in either of these events, or another tournament, you will often see anywhere from 1 to 20+ college coaches, sporting their college gear for all to see that they were at your game.  Having coached and recruited at all levels (NCAA Division I, 2 and 3).  I want to share with you the process that takes place before, during and after these events.

Starting a month prior to an event we (college coaches) begin to receive information from prospective players providing us with information on them and a notification that they will be playing in the upcoming showcase.  Sometimes you (the prospect) have been in contact with us (coaches) and we have established a relationship.  You may have already visited our campus, communicated with us via e-mail, text message or phone, completed an on line recruiting form and/or sent us a highlight video.  Then there are those prospects that either look up on the Showcases web site, click on the link "college coaches attending" and then send a mass message to all coaches on the web site that are listed as attending.

In our case (Denison soccer staff) we respond back to every inquiry and send the prospect a letter explaining our recruiting process, asking the prospect to complete our recruiting questionnaire and send us their game schedule for the tournament.  We tracked how many inquiry letters we received for the Blue Chip (100+) and responses back and completed questionnaires (60).  So here is my first bit of advice, "before you write a college coach, do your homework.  Go on the school's and program's
web site and see if the school is one you will be interested in".

Our staff is no different they most of the other college coaches at events.  We have a schedule of games of the players that have contacted us and we identify what fields we have to be at throughout the weekend.  In most cases we have to watch more than 1 game at a specific time slot.  Because of this we settle in at a field for 30  minutes to 1 full half and then move to another field.  During those 30 minutes you may be playing (or not), while playing you may show well (or not), you may see a lot of the ball (or not).  The challenge for the coaches is to manage all the players we need to see, form an opinion and then provide feedback at the conclusion of the event.  This is a challenge.

A second challenge is field location and the quantity of games.  Back when the Blue Chip first started, there were 12 teams invited and all teams had to be state champions from the previous year.  The Blue Chip was a warm up for the upcoming regional event in the summer.  This year there were 65 teams in the u-17 age group and over 75 teams in the u-16 age group.  In addition, there were games in Oxford, Xenia, Hamilton, and Cincinnati.  We were contacted by over 30 u-15 and u-16 players and we were unable to see any of these players play.  And then there was the rain delay on Friday.  The final game on Friday ended at 11:00pm.  All of this makes it very difficult to fairly evaluate and provide
meaningful feedback to prospects.

Yes, we do go to more than one event (our staff attended CASL and Disney in December and Jefferson Cup, Crossroads and Blue chip in the spring) however, showcase events are
not always the best way to evaluate players.

Once an event is over, Coach McCarthy and I meet and we discuss the players we have watched.  We try to make contact with all players and provide them with meaningful feedback. Unfortunately, due to the reasons I have explained, it is difficult to give every  prospect a fair assessment.

This is why I suggest to all high school sophomore and junior soccer players who are interested in playing college soccer to attend a camp specifically for college bound student-athletes.  The camp you attend should be either on the campus of a school you have researched and feel comfortable at if you attended OR at a camp where you can work with a coach from that school who will be working the camp you are attending.