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Recruiting Advice: How To Use Unofficial Visits To Your Advantage
Aug 7, 2017

The NCAA defines an unofficial visit as any visit to a college campus paid for by you or your parents. The NCAA permits an unlimited number of unofficial visits throughout the recruiting process. The only restriction placed on unofficial visits is during a NCAA “Dead Period.”
During a Dead Period, a college coach may not have any in-person contact with you or your parents, on or off campus. Be sure to double-check the NCAA Recruiting Calendar before making travel arrangements to ensure that you are able to meet with the coaching staff.  
Do not assume the coach will automatically know dead period dates off the top of their head — do your research. (NAIA institutions place no restrictions on unofficial visits.) Because prospective student-athletes are starting the recruiting process much earlier, the NCAA has passed new legislation that will make the coordination of your unofficial visit significantly easier.

SEENCAA BYLAW: 13.1.3.3.2 UNOFFICIAL-VISIT EXCEPTION
Institutional staff members may make unlimited telephone calls to a prospective student-athlete (or those individuals accompanying him or her) beginning the day immediately preceding the prospective student-athlete’s unofficial visit (per Bylaw 13.7) until the conclusion of the visit. If more than the otherwise permissible number of calls or otherwise impermissible calls occur under this exception and a scheduled unofficial visit is canceled due to circumstances beyond the control of the prospective student-athlete or the institution (e.g., trip is canceled by the prospective student-athlete, inclement weather conditions), such calls shall not be considered institutional violations. However, the institution shall submit a report to the conference office noting the cancellation of the unofficial visit and the reasons for such cancellation.

As of August 1, 2017, it is now permissible for NCAA coaches to call, text, or email a recruit the day prior to their visit, even if that is not normally allowed. This legislative change will benefit freshmen, sophomores, and rising juniors who would not have previously been permitted to communicate with coaches unless they initiated the contact themselves.
For example, coaches are now able to send you an itinerary the day before your scheduled unofficial visit, text you directions if you are having trouble finding their office, or give you a call to let you know that they will meet you after the tour in a specific locale. Such communication was not permissible before.
During an unofficial visit, it is typical for a coach to give you a tour of their athletic facilities, talk to you and your parents about their institution, and highlight their program. In addition to this athlete-specific portion of the visit, I advise scheduling a formal campus tour through the admissions office to view the school from a non-athletic perspective.

Email the coach well ahead of time to let them know the specific date that you will be visiting their campus and your desire to meet with them. Provide the coach with a couple of times you are able to meet — usually before or after the campus tour. I suggest starting unofficial visits at the completion of your sophomore year.

Unofficial visits can help in two primary ways. For a recruited athlete, unofficial visits are critical in gathering information as you begin to narrow down your choices. For a non-recruited athlete, unofficial visits allow you the opportunity to have a face-to-face meeting with the coach to tell your story.

If you are a recruited athlete, use this time to learn as much as you can about the program and coaching staff. Identify the factors that will be most important to you in determining if you will return for an official visit. Have a short list of specific questions ready that address your most critical factors. You should view unofficial visits as a means to narrow your choices — not as a mechanism to determine where you want to go. Keep in mind that during an unofficial visit you are typically only hearing the voice of the coach. Coaches are well versed in knowing what to say and how best to sell their programs. The official visit will prove much more informative.

If you are a non-recruited athlete, the unofficial visit serves an entirely different purpose. Use this time to sell yourself. You have a limited amount of time to convince the coach that he/she should be recruiting you. Give them a reason to want to recruit you. Instead of asking a detailed list of questions, use this time to express your keen interest in their program and desire to run competitively in college.  Be as low-maintenance as possible.

There is no imposed limit on the number of unofficial visits you may take, so take as many as possible. There is no better tool to help you hone in on the best school/program for you. 

Willy Wood boasts 26 highly successful years of NCAA Division I head coaching experience, two decades of which were spent at Columbia University.

*How To Effectively Utilize Your College Visit: Questions To Ask As Student-Athletes *

Parent’s Perspective

Willy Wood
Sep 12, 2017

(The original article appeared on MileSplit.com and has been edited to more accurately reflect the soccer recruiting process and timeline)

Your college visits will determine where you attend school and which team you compete for. With the average person now applying to up to 10 or more schools you will want to make the most of your time spent on each campus.

College visits are the single most effective way to learn as much as you can about the schools and programs you are considering.

Each school you visit will have their own specific methods of introducing you to their programs. Depending on the time of year (in season is really busy for soccer coaches) some schools will provide more or less programming for you on your visit. Some schools will have you attend an official admissions campus tour while others will have their student-athletes show you around. Regardless of the specific agenda for your visit, you can expect the same basic itinerary: tour the campus and athletic facilities, meet the team, speak with the coaches, and explore the community.

Make no mistake — coaches view your visit as one of the most important elements of your recruitment. You will be shown the most impressive buildings, eat at the best spots, stay in one of the nicer dorm rooms or hotels, and be told repeatedly how wonderful the campus and program are. This is the coach’s job, and you can be assured they will put their best foot forward. It is your job to see beyond the tree-lined quad and smiling faces and determine if this school and program is a good fit for you.

The areas in which I encourage you to take a closer look will impact your quality of life as a student-athlete. Beyond speaking to the coaches about training methodologies, program philosophy, and goals of the program, learn as much as you are able from the current-student athletes.

To do so, I suggest preparing a series of questions that you can ask off the cuff. Ask current team members questions in an informal manner when eating dinner, on your way to a movie etc. etc. Create a specific list of questions based on what is most important to you. Remember that you’re not visiting; you’re there to decide where you will spend four years of college.

Here are some questions to ask:

FACILITIES
How much time is required to commute back and forth to and from training sites?
When does the soccer team actually have access to the facility they are showing you — particularly shared indoor turf fields that the football team also uses?

SPORTS MEDICINE SUPPORT
Is there an athletic trainer assigned specifically to the team?
Do you have access to the training room on the weekends, even after early Sunday gym sessions or runs?
What type of preventive measures are used — ice baths, NormaTec, etc.?
Do they offer adequate support with physical therapists, chiropractors, and massage therapists?

ACADEMIC SUPPORT
Are study hall hours required of all student-athletes?
What type of access is there to tutors?
What type of walk-in support is provided?
Do athletes get preferential treatment when enrolling for classes?

PRACTICE
What time of the day do you practice?
Is there an athletic trainer on-site during practice?
Are nutritional needs adequately addressed on site — water and post-workout recovery foods/drinks?

TEAM TRAVEL
Who goes?
What criteria are used to determine travel squads?

PRE-PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT
Is there a full-time staff member in the area of professional development specifically within the athletic department?
How supportive are the alumni in helping athletes find internships?
Will someone assist you in creating a resume and letter of application?
What are they doing to assist you with finding a job upon graduation?

STUDENT LIFE
What does a typical Saturday night consist of?
Does the team party and drink?
Do team members live together?
Where does the majority of the team live — residence halls or off-campus?
What is the food like — are there adequate healthy food options?

Remember, you are using your official visits to determine where you will study and play soccer for four years. Use this limited time wisely. It is important to understand that the coaching staff and team members are evaluating you as well. Enjoy yourself and get to know as many people as you can, knowing that when you leave campus the coach will ask the team about their perceptions of you.

Leave a positive impression, and remember: do not be afraid to ask questions!

Willy Wood boasts 26 highly successful years of NCAA Division I head coaching experience, two decades of which were spent at Columbia University.

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Team Chicago Academy-2004 Premier Girls team took home first place hardware at the Bolingbrook Labor Day Tournament. The team opened the tournament with a dominating 3-0 win over Bolingbrook Raiders’ top team. Then beat a very strong Tinley-Frankfort Force team in the second match 3-1. 

The final game of round-robin play was against Eclipse who had also won its first two matches.  Despite an early morning game, 2004 Premier came out strong and won the game 2-0 to win the bracket and earn a spot in the championship match against Team Elmhurst. 

In the final Team Chicago Academy-2004 Premier continued using the width and served great crosses into the box.  When Elmhurst adjusted and was closing the flanks, Team Chicago started playing early, diagonal through-balls to ´create break-aways.  Team Chicago finished three opportunities to win the championship match 3-0.  Shaye Smith and Maggie Leger combined for three shutouts on the weekend, only allowing one goal all tournament off a penalty kick.  The entire team did a great job of defending as a unit, possessing the ball, and serving good crosses into the box.  What a great start to the season.

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Team Chicago Academy-1998 Elite advanced to the USYS National Championship semi-final after a 2-2 tie in a heroic battle in 100 degree weather against ASA Coyotes from Maryland. Going into the game 1999 Elite needed at least a tie to advance to the semi-final. However, since the other game in the group also resulted in a 2-2 tie, and all four teams ended up with identical 1-1-1 records, they ended up winning the group on goal difference.

With the first place finish in the group they now play the runners-up in the other group – Carolina Rapids Academy – in the semi-final at 7am on Saturday. The game will be live streamed at http://championships.usyouthsoccer.org/live/

In today’s hard-fought battle against a team consisting almost exclusively of current college players, 1998 Elite struggled to get a handle on the game in the first half. About halfway through the first half ASA got the 1-0 lead after a long free-kick missed all TC players in the box and was headed home at the back post. After the goal 1998 Elite got more into the game and created a couple of half-chances.

From the start of the second half 1998 Elite switched to a 4-2-2-2 formation to apply more pressure on the ASA center-backs. And the moved had the desired effect we gained more and more control of the game. And only a couple of minutes into the half Morgan Krause notched the tying goal off a Jordan King corner-kick. Krause delivered a powerful header from close range that the ASA GK was able to stop initially, but Krause immediately pounced on the rebound and guided the ball into the goal.

10 minutes later a perfect quick ball-movement build-up led to Caroline Reedy drawing at penalty kick after a great ball in-behind by Kat Stephens. Jordan King stepped up and calmly converted the PK for a 2-1 lead.

1998 Elite continued to have the better of the play and created a great opportunity to go up 3-1, and essentially putting the game out of reach. Unfortunately the chance went begging and as so often happens in soccer the opponent instead scored to tie the game a 2-2.

Knowing that a tie was enough to advance, the final 15 minutes were all about managing the game and the clock. And the 1998 Elite players did a great job with that. And they even created two 100% chances to take the lead, but again they went begging. In the final minute of play ASA got a great chance to win the game, but the effort was blasted over the crossbar, and in the end 1998 Elite got the necessary result.

It was fantastic effort by all the players, and proof that the team has grown tremendously over the past year when it comes to managing a game and doing whatever it takes to get a result. This should give the players great confidence going into the semi-final on Saturday.

Below is a link to the USYS write-up about the game and our group.

http://championships.usyouthsoccer.org/exciting_games_lead_to_four-way_tie_in_1920u_girls_group_b/

Team Chicago Academy-1999 Elite standout Sarah Griffith has been selected to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) High School All-America Team.

Purdue-bound Griffith was also chosen as the Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association (IHSSCA) Player-of-the-Year.

Below is a link to the All-America Team announcement:

http://www.nscaa.com/web/News/Articles/July_2017/NSCAA_High_School_All-America_Teams_announced_for_winter_and_spring_seasons.aspx