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How Videos Can Help You Get Recruited

Before the Internet, yes there was life before the Internet!  College Coaches would tell me they received videos of prospective players in the mail.  Early on, they were in VCR format and then progressed to DVDs; either way, they were sent to the Coach by snail mail for viewing.

This was without question the easiest way for a Coach to see you play.  But now it’s even easier, the student-athlete’s parent or an experienced Videographer can create a well-executed video.  I will list below some techniques that will be beneficial for an amateur.  Or, you hire a professional sports video organization; the cost can run from $300.00 and up.  The end result is the same. You will then upload your video on the Internet, via YouTube and have a link to send to College Coaches so that they can view you in action with just one click.   

College Coaches don’t have a lot of time, so keep your video concise and to the point.  For certain, no one is going to receive a scholarship simply based on video but a good video can attract the attention the College Coach to find out more about you.  According Mike Noonan, Head Coach of Men’s Soccer at Clemson University, “If anybody offers a scholarship from a video, kids should question right off as far as how serious the program is.”

Typical sports that video is requested by College Coaches includes: Baseball, Hockey, Gymnastics, Softball, Soccer and Lacrosse.  Of course stats mean a lot in many sports but in team sports, sometimes players, especially those in a defensive role don’t shine with outstanding stats so a video would be helpful.  

Five steps for a better video:

  1. Open the video by identifying yourself, name, club or school, jersey number.
  2. Edit the video, keep it under 8 minutes.
  3. Film from an elevated position, use a tripod; don’t just focus on the featured player; show interaction with teammates and opponents.
  4. Record video footage against the best competition, game conditions, not a staged practice.
  5. Keep background noise to a minimum have the opening action of you showing your skills and athleticism.
Frank Bagnato, at American Soccer Network will put up your video on his web site free of charge if you prefer not to use YouTube. Frank can be reached at frankbagnato@gmail.com.

U.S. Coach Bob Bradley explained that it can be difficult to evaluate someone from a video let alone recruit them. “Some players have gotten sophisticated and spent a lot of money in terms of creating video that are flashy, have music but that doesn’t mean much, you just need some game action.”

Neil Roberts, Head Coach at Boston University adheres to this rule, “The higher the view the better, because we are looking for basic tendencies in a player.”

Today, almost everyone has video equipment, smartphones can now shoot video, but be sure you do some editing before you put it online and send to the College Coach. You could also ask your Varsity Coach for some of the game video taken at school; if all else fails, you can pay to have one done.   

My friend Frank played high school Football. He was a linesman, and one of his teammates was quite the star and had his video sent to a College Coach, Frank, the player making the blocks for this running back was identified in someone else’s video and recruited in this manner.

Finally, don’t send an unsolicited video out; only if the Coach asks you for one, then send it. One parent told me he sent his son’s video to every D-I Lacrosse Coach in the U.S.A., wanted to know why his phone wasn’t ringing.

Use good judgment and be sure you are sending out the best possible video of yourself.

When I think about my mission, to find college opportunities for student-athletes keeping in mind the big prize, getting them into the best schools possible, I have a diverse roster of clients from the United States and foreign countries such as: Africa, Ireland and Thailand, just to name a few.  Academics first and always, since that is what will carry you through life. Perhaps their SAT or GPA isn't quite up to par for a particular school but their sport gives them the competitive edge they need to play at the collegiate level.

When working with a student-athlete these are my primary concerns:

  1. What is their level of competition?
  2. Academic level
  3. Demographics, (i.e. distance from home, size of the school, social needs)
  4. What is their intended major?
  5. Lastly and perhaps the most importantly: What are the financial considerations?

Above all, I want them to be happy with the school they choose.  I meet one-on-one with the student-athlete, and their parents, give them a brief power point presentation and then we speak frankly.  I try to be gentle when explaining that perhaps they should be more concerned about their academics and keep their nose to the grindstone during high school.  I tell them that College Coaches are very interested in strong students as well as good athletes.

I never randomly select schools for my student-athletes; I factor in what their needs are and where they will have the best chance to be recruited. I select college and universities that have the best academic rank in the student-athlete's particular major.  If they tell me they want to major in Pre-Med, then I'm targeting schools like Hamilton College, John's Hopkins University, Emory University.  If it’s Engineering, then we are looking at RPI or Lehigh University.

I'm always positive with student-athletes and I tell them to be realistic with the schools they are considering but I always offer hope and say that I saw the movie Rudy at least ten times and I would never shatter anyone's dreams.  I'm a big believer in having lots of options, a plan A, B and C, D, etc.

I can proudly say that there is a school for everyone to play and study and based on my expertise, I know where to find these schools.  

Bien Gets a Little Help from His Friends

"I just wanted to thank you for the selfless support of Bien and his college ambitions. His acceptance at Ohio Wesleyan is a dream come true for him and all of us who have been working to support his educational aspirations. We couldn't have done it without you, and we will always be incredibly grateful for your counsel, support and friendship. I'm looking forward to staying in touch and keeping you posted on Bien's progress at OWU. You've really helped change a life!"

—Warren St. John
Bienvenue Ntwari,

Warren St. John was the original whistleblower for the Fugees and their struggles in Clarkston, GA, wrote the initial series of articles in The New York Times and then wrote a book entitled, Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town, which was how I first found out about the Fugees and their Coach, Luma Mulfti.

Bienvenue Ntwari

Bienvenue Ntwari with Jenny Sargent
on graduation day, June 16, 2012.

"Six years ago, Bienvenue Ntwari arrived in the U.S. for the first time as an African refugee. He was a part of Luma Mufleh's Refugee Soccer Team in Clarkston, GA, that caught the attention of author and reporter Warren St. John, who subsequently wrote the book, Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town. Today, Bienvenue lives in Fort Wayne, IN, but he still calls Warren St. John, a mentor and a good friend. Warren secured a local tutor, Jenny Sargent, and introduced Bien and Jenny to Pat Grecco with the College-Bound Athlete Scholarship Service to help in his search for the right college."

"Jenny, we're so grateful to Pat for her help in navigating the confusing world of college athletic scholarships. Pat gave us the tools we needed to create a winning Soccer Resume. We had so many options immediately, and soon the phone wouldn't stop ringing with Coaches who were pursuing us for a change. In the end, there were about seven strong schools Bien had to choose from. With Pat's guidance, we secured not only an acceptance into Bien's first choice school, but also an affordable financial aid deal as well. Now he is looking forward to the opportunity to get a quality education and play for a highly successful Soccer Coach! Thanks, Pat, for helping us find Ohio Wesleyan University! You've played a big part in helping Bienvenue's dreams come true!"

—Jennifer Sargent
Bienvenue Ntwari,

We've all heard about Football, Basketball, Baseball, Track, Soccer, and Wrestling Scholarships, but let's not forget the lesser known sports such as Rifle/Pistol, Fencing, Golf, Diving, Women's Rugby, Women's Crew, and Women's Equestrian that don't get the notoriety that the major sports do. I have worked with a Rifle/Pistol and a Fencer and an Equestrian. The number of colleges and universities that have these sports is much smaller than the major sports but the number of people in Fencing, and alike are also much smaller. In addition to these NCAA Sports that is another angle to pursue and that is getting an Athletic Grant for such sports as Cheerleading/Orienteering, Dance Team, Kick Line, and Marching Band. The latter are not true Athletic Scholarships, but participants are given talent awards or other kinds of money. Our daughter played in the Marching Band at Fordham University and received a Band Financial Award for four years.

Since the gender equity legislation was passed, in order to balance the number of men's sports with women's you will notice that there are Scholarships for Women's Crew, Women's Rugby and Women's Equestrian to balance Football, Wrestling and other male dominated sports.

I found a Chess Scholarship for a female from China to Columbia University in New York City, hardly an athletic sport but there was grant money made available for this chess master who was also a good student.

It's all in knowing how to market yourself, and get your name out there to those interested in your particular sport or activity. Know where to look and of course selecting first for the academic piece and second the sport.  

Wishing you much success in your future!

For the Good of the Game

Docked in the waters of Pearl Harbor is an impressive warship named the USS Reuben James (FFG-57). This is a fast frigate guided missile ship, which is navy-speak for, "Fast ship, big guns, we’re coming to get you!” But what makes this ship so unique to all of us here on Long Island is its ties to the Long Island Junior Soccer League.

The Operations Officer on the ship is Deer Park’s own Lt. Jeanine Benjamin, an Annapolis graduate and currently 3rd in command on the Reuben James. Jeanine grew up playing Soccer in the LIJSL and was a standout Soccer player at St. Anthony’s HS when she met LIJSL Director of College Bound Programs Pat Grecco.

"Jeanine was interested in attending the United States Naval Academy, and I developed a relationship with her," Pat says now. "Even back then, Jeanine was such an impressive young lady, both as a student and an athlete. My son had also attended St. Anthony's and played Soccer, and when I met Jeanine he was still at the academy playing Soccer, so I had a good feeling that she would be an excellent fit for the academy."

Pat was right. Upon graduation from Annapolis, Jeanine was selected for the Nuclear Program, which is an assignment typically reserved for the most intelligent graduates. In that capacity she has served ashore and afloat with many deployments on various aircraft carriers, which are nuclear ships. Eventually, she landed her current leadership position on the James Reuben.

At this point, you’re probably thinking this is a very nice story about an LIJSL alum, but there’s more.

Although she did not play at Annapolis (she played Club Lacrosse), Jeanine’s love for Soccer is still evident in her involvement with her current ship’s Soccer Program. She was recently put in charge of the Reuben James’ Soccer Team, which plays in the Pacific Fleet League. Short on uniforms for a roster of players who are making minimum salary, Jeanine once again reached out to her friend Pat with an e-mail asking for help.

Pat contacted Beth Scafuri (Director of the Exceptional HS Seniors Program), and LIJSL Executive Director Joan Czach to see if the league could help. They found extra, unused uniforms and a week later two full sets of socks, shirts, and shorts (home and away colors) were on their way to Hawaii. Jeanine was kind enough to send back a framed photo of the team in their new threads, with a thank you note from her commanding officer, and commemorative USS Reuben James coins that will be proudly displayed in the LIJSL office in Ronkonkoma.

“We are so proud of Jeanine and all of our military personnel around the world for all they do for our country,” said LIJSL President Addie MatteiIaia. “Though this was just a small token of our appreciation, it was the least we could do for them in return for the courage and bravery they display in their work every single day.”

So we hope the entire league will join us in saying good luck to Lt. Jeanine Benjamin and the sailors of the USS Reuben James! May their new colors say, “Fast feet, nice unis, we’re coming to get you!”

College Athlete Q & A

What are the first steps in the college athletic recruitment process?

Research colleges and universities that feature your intended major; also consider your level of competition and lastly demographics, (distance from home, size of the school, campus climate and social atmosphere).

How can I obtain an Athletic Scholarship?

Most important, be a good student first and play or compete at the higher level, begin networking with College Coaches in freshman year.

Should I ask my high school coach for a recommendation?

Yes, this is always a good plan.

Should I invest in a video?  Will it improve my chances of being recruited?

A video is very important in team sports.  In other sports such as Golf, Tennis, Track, and Fencing, video is less important as your ranking and personal best times is what will get the interest of the College Coach. 

Will a video increase your chances of being recruited? I would say yes--it will prompt the College Coach to learn more about you and perhaps come and watch you play up close and personal.

How many schools should I choose?

Initially write to about 30 schools, all with your desired major, demographics, then narrow down your selections to approximately six to eight that you will apply to. Among those 30, have a reach school, lots of safety schools and financially affordable schools.

Will I get to meet College Coaches when they watch me play or compete or will they only contact me if they are interested? 

College Coaches are really not allowed to speak with you during competitions.  Usually they will only contact you if they are interested, but you can visit them at their school, call them on the phone or email them.

Is the National Letter of Intent a legally binding agreementWhat happens if I change my mind after I sign?    

Yes, NLI is legally binding, though if you change your mind for reason of hardship it might be negated.

Garden City Leads the Pack in Girls' Golf

Rohini was the Net winner of the WMGA's Junior Girls' Open in 2010.

Garden City is the team to beat after winning the Long Island championship, its third in the past four years, and returning seven players this year.

The road to successfully defending its title will not be easy, and the Trojans are aware of the growing competition in Nassau.

"Syosset is always tough; they have two strong returning players and some other improving players behind them," senior Alex Michielini said. "There are a lot of new teams on the rise so it'll be interesting to see how they do. It should be fun."

Syosset poses the biggest threat to Garden City with three returning starters.

"We'll definitely be competitive," Coach Steve Naranjo said. "Syosset is a great team so it'll be difficult. They're the summit, they're the team we're looking up at."

Senior Rohini Rudra returns for her final year and she is looking to make it a good one. Rudra has not lost a regular-season match in her high school career, according to Naranjo. Elizabeth Choi also adds experience even though she is just a freshman; this will be her third year with the team. Naranjo also mentioned junior Emilie Cullen as an up-and-comer.

Senior Jamie Genatt and junior Augusta Mayer return to lead Friends Academy, which finished last season with a 10-0 record.

Manhasset is another young team on the rise that can be competitive this year after finishing third in the county last season. Seniors Catherine Blando, Regan McCooey and Alexa Lopez will lead the team.
I have traveled as far south as Clarkston, Georgia, north to Buffalo and one of my most fond memories is giving a workshop at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, New York. Sound Beach Soccer Club and their President at the time, John Morris, invited me to my first workshop in 1990. Albertson Academy asked me to do a workshop at the home of a parent who happened to have a full size gymnasium in his house. I was twice the guest at Mad Dog Tournament in Saratoga, NY and for many years did the Massapequa Invitational Tournament College Workshop.

Outdoor workshops on the field are somewhat of a challenge and last year I spoke to the entire Long Island Player Development Program, boys and girls at the Peter C. Collins Soccer Park in Plainview, NY. The largest crowds are always at the Long Island Junior Soccer League's annual convention, approximately 300 or more student-athletes and their parents. For the past three years we presented part of the program in Spanish due to the large Hispanic population of soccer players in the New York region. Each student-athlete is given an info. packet containing NCAA Guide for College Bound Player and various articles by your truly entitled: How to's of Contacting College Coaches, Parents’ Role in the College Search, Transferring Issues; How Competitive Club Coaches Help their Players Grow; How Videos Can Help you be Recruited.

The panel usually consists of seven to eight presenters including: College Coaches, former players, a Club Coach, an educator/teacher and me; I'm the MC. I like to invite College Coaches who represent various college programs such as Division I, Division II, Division III and NJCAA schools, junior college two-year programs and community colleges. A Power Point Presentation accompanies each panelist's presentation and topics can include:

  • How to file for NCAA Eligibility
  • What is it like to play on a college team?
  • Athletic/Academic success in college
  • Show me the $money$ - All about athletic-academic and financial aid packages
  • What is a Coach looking for in a future player?
  • Am I a Division I player?
  • Nuts and bolts - When, where, how to begin the college search
  • Which colleges and universities should I look at?
  • College Search, the Parents' Role

The workshops usually last approximately sixty minutes, and includes a Question and Answer session from the audience.

The Long Island Junior Soccer League supports these workshops financially and offers their support to their 100 member clubs throughout Long Island and the New York City region. 

One of my future goals is to have an all Spanish-speaking College Bound Player Workshop, I would call it
"Operation Olé!", but at this writing I have found it difficult to organize such a venue but with a little help from my friends in soccer, we will get this up and running.  In the past I have given two Hispanic workshops, one was at the LIJSL Convention, but attendance was down as we found that student-athletes and their parents sometimes had transportation challenges, so after that I traveled to them and did a work shop in Southampton at a church, attendance improved greatly.

My message and my mantra: "There is a college/university for everyone to play and study."; "Better grades get more attention from College Coaches.”;  select the schools that will provide the best academic opportunities.

Club Presidents, contact me if you would like to schedule a workshop for your club. I would recommend you invite all high school age student-athletes, this way you won't have to repeat this venue for three years. 

Workshops are a tremendous information-gathering opportunity for players, parents and coaches; made available to you through the generosity and kindness of the Long Island Junior Soccer League.  

The Fugees

Fugees College Workshop at Agnes
Scott College, Georgia 

Nardin Academy

Nardin Academy Workshop, Buffalo, NY 


Long Island Junior Soccer League Convention  

Northport Workshop

Northport Cow Harbor Soccer Club 

College Workshop  
I would personally like to thank all who were involved in helping Samantha Calvet with her college search process. Last night Sam and I Skyped and she told me she had selected Hofstra University.  Congratulations to Sam and her parents!  
I began working with Sam on 1/1/11, when I received a phone call from Brenda Manfredi, Sam's guidance counselor in Thailand.  Brenda and I have a mutual friend, her former Principal at Southold High School, Mary Fitzpatrick that was the connection; Brenda worked at Southold prior to her current post in Thailand.

In June 2011 Samantha attended IGA Academy in Florida for a week, under the direction of Kim Dean, which was her first experience with American Soccer.  
I would say that the major break happened when Paul Riley agreed to allow Sam to guest play with his Fury team, who were headed to Disney College Showcase in Florida.  Thank you Paul Riley, Anna Choffel and Nick Fitzpatrick for helping make this happen.
Sam had many other colleges and universities interested in her, but the final selection was Hofstra University, an outstanding academic institution with a strong Soccer history, now under the leadership of Simon Riddiough; from a selfish point of view, I can say I'm thrilled with Sam's choice since I live a short drive away and can be of assistance to Sam if she needs me.
Never under estimate the power of networking.

How Athletes Can Beat the SAT

I'm currently working with a student-athlete who in spite of being an excellent student and a great Soccer player simply can not get a good enough score to be qualified with the NCAA Eligibility Center. How did we make his dream of attending college and playing Soccer a reality? Bein N. born in Africa, now living in the USA and although he speaks three languages, simply could not obtain a qualifying score, so we switched gears and began looking at NAIA colleges and universities that have a completely different set of standards compared to the NCAA. NAIA stands for National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, although a smaller association, NAIA contains numerous highly regarded colleges/universities throughout the USA.

In order to academically qualify for an NAIA school as an entering freshman you must meet two out of the three criteria listed below:

  • Achieve a minimum of 18 on the Enhanced ACT or 860 on the SAT.
  • Achieve a minimum overall high school grade point average of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale.
  • Graduate in the top half of your high school graduating class.

Although Bien did not score high enough on the SAT/ACT he was in the top half of his graduating class and had well over a 2.0 GPA; therefore, he was qualified to attend a NAIA school and receive an athletic scholarship/grant. Go to the NAIA website to learn more.

Other avenues for those who have difficulty qualifying is to attend a two-year college, play and then transfer to a four-year school, again bypassing the SAT/ACT regulations. Alfonso P. attended local community college, played and graduated; he was named to the National Junior College Athletic Associations All-America Team and then transferred; he received a generous scholarship to Fordham University in New York.

Lastly, there is no SAT/ACT criteria necessary for NCAA D-III schools and although they cannot offer you athletic scholarships/grants, you can receive academic scholarships and financial aid if you qualify.

Again, it's all about having options and knowing where to look. Contact me and I'll walk you through the process.


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