Coaches being asked to review their current program policy to align with their educating of recruits on how to communicate with coaches in 2019.

For years, soccer showcase tournaments around the country have been perceived as one of the best ways to play in front of and establish relationships with college coaches. Many college programs, however, have found a loophole in the current registration systems at showcases that could enable an unfair advantage.

Using the Showcase site and its “Attending Coaches Page” to establish and receive player emails to build their own pool of names for their ID Camps without attending the actual College Showcase, has recently been brought to the attention of players, parents, club directors and college coaches themselves who are learning that some are playing a little loose with the spirit of the rules.

NOTE: Most coaches interviewed for this article were completely blindsided by this report and those who do participate in adding their names to the attending list were sincerely not aware of the potential issue. That is a good thing that it’s not an egregious practice being done to skirt the system and receive an advantage in obtaining player emails.

About a year ago while iSoccerPath President Jeff Jaye was getting ready to host a college coaches panel at a major West Coast Soccer Showcase, he reached out to about 20 coaches whose names were on the showcase “Attending Coaches” page. The inquiry was to see if those coaches would like to be on one of the panels during the event.

Approximately 40% of those coaches responded that they weren’t going to the showcase, despite being listed as attending for players and parents to see.

Jaye started by contacting the five coaches that had replied, and pressed the issue to get an understanding of why this was happening. Every coach didn’t believe they were necessarily doing anything wrong, because “that’s how it’s always been done” since they became college coaches. Doing some more research, Jaye learned that this practice indeed went back over 10 years.

It is not uncommon for every coach who puts their name on the “Attending Coaches” page to receive 100-plus emails and videos per day leading up to the event from players all over the U.S. and other countries who will be attending the Showcase. College coaches use these emails and videos to develop their mailing lists for their ID camps.

If each showcase produces 200-300 player emails and 2% of them attend the college ID Camp of the coach that does not attend, it could generate a profit for their program as well as possibly get the upper hand on a top recruit.

Signing up a head or assistant coach as “attending” takes 5 to 10 minutes in total. They then get all the emails of all the players attending that showcase, whether they arrive or not.

In the last 2 years, the amount of work an 11th grade girl or boy puts into researching, drafting and proofing letters, finding admissions requirements, looking at affordability, and doing a follow-up event – just to target one school and coaching staff – has probably quadrupled in time for the player and extra dollars spent by parents to go to a showcase because 5 of the schools their child wants to play for are on the “Attending List.”

College coaches educate the players on how to do one invite/email at a time not once, but twice the week of the event, and at least once more after. Put into context that a player will try to do between 5 and 10 invites per college showcase, and you’re looking at anywhere from 3 to 5 hours for that young player to put out of their time in order to make sure the coaches attending gets invited personally to come and see him/her play.

I am sure reading this will most likely make parents, club coaches and the players have an increased amount of stress that is already building on their kids that week. College Showcases have increased in terms of popularity of where coaches are going to find players they will ultimately make offers to.

“College coaches speak as to how important character is in the recruiting process to parents and players, it is also what us parents are looking for in the coaching staff we want to take on our kids next phase of life learning,” Jaye said.

“I hope that this article will bring some needed attention to update and upgrade a long-term policy that can level the playing field for coaches and players. If I’m a college coach and don’t have to go, but still get all the perks and benefits of attending (email list and hundreds of emails and videos that week from players coming in), then that is not fair to the other college coaches who do attend that event.”

Being very hesitant to speak out with over 275 college coaches participating in iSoccerPath’s college panels, as well as design iSoccerPath’s player portal, Jaye ultimately knew that the long-term respect and mutual admiration for what college coaches and iSoccerPath do, this alert to the very small percentage of programs doing it the wrong way can be self-corrected.

When iSoccerPath reached out to 2 or 3 of the college showcase directors about this topic, they were very much unaware that this was taking place. Also contacted were the companies running the registration websites, as it is their site to maintain and get feedback from. They were also unaware this practice was going on.  

Solution Ideas To Consider & Implement:

Basic topics to get the dialogue going:

  1. College Coaches – Check to see if this practice is going on at your school.
  2. Showcase Directors – Study the best way to have coaches either pay a non-refundable fee up front that then allows them to add their name to the “Attending” page. Maybe like a rent-a-car, hold $200 on their card at registration. With proof of attending when they get there, that charge goes away. Why $200? The value of the emails that will be received.
  3. Players – Pick up the phone and/or email the coaches on the list you see and simply confirm they are attending early in the week. BEST PRACTICE for the players.
  4. Club DOCs/Team Coaches – Call early in the week for your player, and inquire for them as to whether the coach is going to be in attendance or not.

Just because things have been done a certain way in the past, doesn’t mean it’s the right way. Moving forward in 2019, as the recruiting education process evolves into a much more player personalized system, we should all be doing our absolute best to help players and families be assured that the money and work they put into these showcases and camps aren’t wasted and that it’s fair for all players and college coaches.