Since taking over as Head Coach of the Men’s Soccer team at the University of Denver in 2015, all Jamie Franks’ rosters have done is win, both on the field and off.

Coach Franks spoke with iSoccerPath about some of the principles and philosophies that have led to this success, as well as some of the misconceptions that he sees in the recruiting process.

Since making the school’s first College Cup Final Four appearance in 2016, the Pioneers have set the bar high for future student athletes. Denver boasts a 96% graduation rate from the team, and has had the highest Team GPA in Division I Men’s Soccer each of the last 3 years, and is looking for a 4th when the numbers are released later this Fall for 2019.

For Franks and his staff, that’s all due to the caliber of person that they look for in a recruit.

“Everybody’s looking for something specific. For us, it’s about having a growth mindset, and being self-aware as a player. It’s my job to develop people, not just players,” Franks said.

Building this culture came by a process of vetting the character of recruits, and doubling down on that character development once they stepped on campus as student athletes.

Developing men who accept responsibility off the field and in the classroom away from the spotlight is a core belief of the Pioneers’ philosophy. “We have players meets professors the first day, sit in the front of class and really be engaged in the academic community.”

Winning on the field has been a byproduct of the growth of players off it, according to Franks.

“In a sport where you have the ball at your feet for 4 or 5 minutes and without it for 85, you better be a good teammate, too. We want extraordinary people, people who won’t take any shortcuts and are willing to put themselves outside of their comfort zone to grow.”

When asked about what advice he’d give to players navigating the recruiting process, Franks urged to be proactive, but to first really identify what you’re looking to get out of the experience.

“I think the first step to it all is understanding yourself as a person and what you’re trying to achieve,” Franks said. “It allows you to align certain schools with what you want to accomplish and you can go from there.”

“Too many players are making purely a soccer decision. You should carry the brand and school’s badge of honor for years after.”

In terms of players’ expectations throughout the recruiting process, he believes there’s a misconception about the amount of attention they’ll receive.

“They expect that it’s going to be enough to just go to camps, but there’s not enough scholarships out there. There’s a misconception that school is gonna come recruit me. You have to take ownership of it, you have to take responsibility and self-advocate to the schools you’re interested in,” Franks said.

The emergence of iSoccerPath has helped shed light on some of these misconceptions, providing resources on how to attack a plan of action during the recruiting process.

“I think now there are these services that players should utilize,” Franks said. “I hear about money being a problem, but I think there’s over $80 million in unclaimed scholarships. Have you applied for academic aid, used the financial aid calculator? Once again, you’ve gotta put the work in.”

Finding the right fit can be a hard process, but the only way to truly be satisfied with the end result is by knowing you’ve put as much effort into it as possible.

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