In today’s youth soccer landscape, there’s a trend among male players…many of them are opting to forgo playing for their high school. Instead, they are playing for their club team in the fall.
On the girl’s side, most play for their high school in the fall and then rejoin their club for the spring season.
So, with the changing environment, can you play college soccer without playing in high school?
The short answer is a YES!
Let’s dig into it some more…
Eligibility for College Soccer
If you have not played soccer in high school, you may still be eligible to play in college. However, there are certain requirements that you must meet to be eligible to play college soccer.
These requirements include completing a certain number of core courses in high school and achieving a minimum GPA.
Note: In January 2023, NCAA Divisions I and II adopted legislation to remove standardized test (i.e.- SAT) scores from initial-eligibility requirements for student-athletes who initially enroll full-time on or after August 1, 2023.
You can find more information about these requirements on the NCAA Eligibility Center website.
In addition to meeting the NCAA’s academic eligibility requirements, you will have to get recruited by college coaches and scouts.
Club soccer benefits from many league-wide showcases.
If you play for your high school, you’ll need to seek these showcases out. But, before you do, you’ll want to reach out to college coaches with a highlight video.
More and more, it is harder to get noticed by college coaches if you play high school.
If you play for your high school, I highly suggest trying to play spring soccer in your sophomore and junior year.
Getting Recruited From Club Soccer
Many D1 and D2 colleges recruit from club soccer teams. If you look at the list of active rosters in D1, it is mostly composed of international players, MLS NEXT, Boys & Girls ECNL, and Girls Academy (GA) players.
Why is this? Club teams often play against other top-level teams and attend showcase events where college coaches can scout for talent.
Additionally, club teams usually have more of a network with local universities and scouts. Many clubs have a proven pathway from youth to college.
To increase your chances of getting recruited, it’s important to be proactive. Here are some tips to help you get noticed:
- Attend college ID camps: Many colleges host ID camps where high school and club players can showcase their skills in front of college coaches.
- Create a highlight video to share: Put together a video of your best plays and skills and share it with college coaches.
- Actively email coaches: Don’t wait for coaches to find you. Reach out to them and express your interest in their program.
- Maintain good grades: College coaches want players who are not only skilled on the field but also academically strong. They don’t want to jeopardize a spot on their team for a failing player.
Can I Join a College Team as a Walk-on?
If you don’t get recruited but still want to play college soccer, you might be able to join the team as a walk-on.
A walk-on is a player who joins a college sports team without an athletic scholarship.
To become a walk-on, you will need to attend an open tryout. These tryouts are typically held before the season starts, and they are open to all students who meet the eligibility requirements.
During the tryout, you will be evaluated on your skills and athleticism. If the coach sees potential in you, they may offer you a spot on the team as a walk-on.
Keep in mind that walk-ons are not guaranteed playing time. Coaches may prioritize scholarship players and those who have more experience.
However, if you work hard and show dedication, you may earn more playing time and even a scholarship in the future. It’s happened many times!
There are many ways to get recruited by a college coach or scout.
In my opinion, playing for a club is the best route if you want to go D1 or D2. The cream always rises to the top and you’ll be able to showcase your skills among the best in your region.
If club soccer is out of the question, you can still get recruited by playing for your school. In my opinion, if you have a stellar season, you’ll get found.
But, don’t just sit there and wait for your opportunity to come.
Instead, go out there and reach out to potential colleges that you might be a good fit for. You probably won’t receive much of a response from most but it only takes a few considerations to get the ball rolling.
Best of luck and remember to take full advantage of this time to get on the recruiting trail if you have hopes of playing college soccer!