2 time Northern KY Soccer Player of the Year and ALL STATE soccer player Josh Coldiron signed last week with Eckerd College, an NCAA DII school in Florida. The post below is from Josh's father...
First and foremost, Josh did his homework through the recruiting process, and formed a team that helped and advised him along the way. It was a long and tedious 2 year process, that was hampered by the fact Josh also played HS basketball and was unable to visit as many schools or play in some college showcases as needed, due to his BB schedule. But, he wouldn't change that or his love for HS basketball, or the experience and friendships it developed.
People always forget that Josh 1st goal was to get the best education possible, have a comfortable fit and have a fair chance to play right away. He also was looking to preferably be in a warm climate near a coastal area, which pigeonholed him quite a bit. He would listen, and consider other schools, but stuck pretty close to his original plan and goals. Eckerd college was near the top of his list the whole way through the process. NKU was considered, but more as a respect to his advisors and coaches (who all played there), to his family and local ties, as well as the current coach John Basalyaga (who Josh thinks will turn NKU into a powerhouse very quickly). The current NKU recruiting class is awesome. Josh had to listen and consider them, but they were never necessarily at the top. As Josh so eloquently said, "you have to keep all avenues open, you never know what can happen to our family or a situation arise that he might have had to stay close to home." Good advice to any recruit.
The team consisted of his parents, his HS Coach Shawn Neace, Tom Greco (NSR), JT Roberts (Town & Country director of soccer) and Ryan Schaffer (St. Henry soccer coach). All were involved, advised Josh, but ultimately Josh made his own decision which was not easy. He had solid offers from all levels, DI, II and III as well as NAIA. Josh also talked with many former and current college players, just recently he spoke with former Northern KY player of the year Jeff Hughes, who as a sophomore led the MAC in scoring this year and was a top DI player after a miserable freshman year. (Several MAC schools were interested in Josh.) A DIII school was also on his final list (if you are a good student, they can often put a terrific package together for you).
Some of the most misunderstood things about college soccer (and most secondary sports) is there is simply not a lot of soccer scholarship $$ out there (local example is Xavier, which has only 7 scholarships to potentially dole out to 20+ guys). This is pretty normal. There is fierce competition and hundreds of great players like Josh out there, as well as the foreign players who sometimes can dominate a college roster. Also misunderstood is that the level of play between the various divisions is not as great as in many sports, in fact plenty of DI schools can't compete with some of the higher NAIA, DII and III schools. With the exception of the top 15 or 20 DI schools in a given year, all the various levels (at the top) are competitive, just check the scores on any given week.
Also, face it, there are only a couple forwards that play on every team, so if you want a fair chance to play as freshman or sophomore, you have to study the roster makeup closely. Example is one of the better Carolina schools, which was high on Josh's list, but they were and are loaded with forwards... he felt his chances of quickly contributing would have been very difficult. Several others he liked were also loaded, and the coaches basically told Josh his best chance would be a little down the road.
On the other hand, Eckerd had nearly everything Josh had listed, and needs current help up front. They are in a definite rebuilding mode, will have a new head coach and are currently building a new state of art soccer complex with synthetic Sportturf which compliments Josh style and speed. It all seemed to fit. While it is a gamble that they can turn it around in the tough Sunshine conference, it was one Josh felt was worth the risk. The AD also has a strong soccer background, and is spearheading the turn around. (He made Josh an outstanding and generous scholarship offer he simply could not easily turn down.) Some examples we studied and benchmarked were the big four basketball studs who went out of Northern KY last year - Doellman, Jones, Neltner and Brock. Who would you say did their homework out of that group and got the best fit?
Another factor is the academics, they played a huge role in his choice. Frankly, nearly every school used good grades as a must (just like NSR said they would), along with a well rounded portfolio. All potential recruits: work on those grades, test scores and extracurricular activities they unquestionably come in to play!!! And try and choose a school you will be comfortable with should sports not work out.
At any rate, I post this as an inspiration to any young athlete who is looking down the road at college ball. Use this info as a blueprint and for ideas that might help you.
As for Josh, hopefully it will all work out, he will be potentially gaining a great education, playing a sport he loves and being in a area he has always dreamed of living in. Will he look back and wonder whether he should have or could have competed at one of the big DI schools? Maybe on occasion, but truthfully he made a great choice that hopefully will work out for him, and make everyone who advised and worked so hard for him proud!!