There comes that time in high school when you are nervous about the future, which schools will be recruiting you, and (of course) which schools will offer you an athletic scholarship.
I had the opportunity to sit down with good friend, mentor, and college coach Mario Rincon to ask him about his advise when looking to be scouted by a college team. To give a quick bio of Mario, he is definitely one of the most experienced, well-known and respected coaches in the collegiate soccer map. He has both scouted and coached in the MLS with the Metrostars (now New York Red Bulls), and then was part of the coaching staffs of Duke University, University of Miami, Baylor University, Wright State, Florida Gulf Coast University, West Point, University of Arkansas, in addition to being an Olympic Development Program (ODP) Coach for many years. Mario is now the head women's soccer coach at St. Leo University in Tampa, Florida.
At tournaments and showcases, what do you look for in a player?
"I look for unique qualities of players in their respected position. For instance, if forwards can score goals from different angles, if midfielders can cover box to box, if the defender can shut down the attack. Then, of course, if they have any added attributes like athleticism, speed, or technique."
Which of the three do you favor most- athleticism, speed, or technique?
"A combination of both. If a player can catch my attention quickly by one of their special attributes then that is a great thing. I like when a player has a quality that stands out amongst the rest. And, of course, great technique and being good in the air stands out to me as well."
What are some other important qualities that you look for when scouting?
"I try to get a glimpse of their true character. For instance, I look at how they interact with their parents during the tournament... see if they are respectful and a good kid by first impression. I also like to attend the last day of showcases or tournaments, which I call "Character Day". Usually by the last day the players are both physically and mentally tired. It is this day that I look at the players who are still strong, fighting hard and giving 100% effort, showing their true character."
How important has social media played when scouting a new player?
"Social media plays a significantly large piece when scouting a player. In today's social media world, it is important that coaches check out the player's social media handle(s) because many times it shows their character away from the soccer field. It is good to make sure what they are posting or tweeting is appropriate because down the line we would hate that they are not given an opportunity due to something they had posted five years ago. In a number of schools, many athletic departments have volunteers that monitor student-athlete social media posts so it is good for students to know that."
How can a player really make a great impression to be scouted?
"Be proactive. Write a personalized email to the coach and make it interesting on why you like the school, program, and team you are interested in. Make sure your email has good points that truly show your interests so that the email is not so generic. Also, another important factor I look for is that the student is excited about the school because of the academic program. Kids need to choose schools also because of the majors offered. As an athlete, there is always a chance of injury and in that situation, the student needs to enjoy their time away from the soccer field. The women's transfer rate in collegiate athletics and universities is very high and I think it is because many students are not choosing the schools for all of the right reasons.
If you are interested in learning more about college scouting or would like to reach out to Mario Rincon, please feel free to contact us!