Noah Gins on Helping Youth Players Play College Soccer and Get Scholarships
SoccerToday News is pleased to announce the focused youth soccer feature series with San Diego’s Albion Soccer Club. Every Tuesday is Albion Tuesday. Noah Gins, Technical Director of Albion Soccer Club is featured in a new column every week – published on Tuesdays – with information on player development and what is happening at his elite youth soccer club.
Last year, Albion SC college bound players were awarded over $2 Million in scholarships. How did Noah Gins and his coaches accomplish this? How did the $2 Million breakdown? Albion SC is dedicated to helping players get into colleges: Yale, Harvard, Cornell, UCLA, Cal Poly, Northwestern, Seattle U, ASU, Tuffs, Bowdoin, Princeton, Cal State Fullerton — the amazingly diverse list goes on and on. Here is the story:
Diane Scavuzzo: Last year, San Diego’s Albion Soccer Club helped their college bound players receive over $2 million in college scholarships. That’s an amazingly impressive figure. People want to know how did you do this?
Noah Gins: This was a class of High School seniors, which represented teams that have been competing at the highest level in the US. These players drew significant attention from college coaches based on team success as well as individual talent.
These teams got their highest level of exposure at the US National League playing in two Major Showcase events. We, as a club, spent a lot of time connecting the players to college coaches and maximizing awareness.
Knowing the talent pool and the opportunity at the college level, we – my coaches and myself – put in endless hours to help them gain the valuable scholarships they received.
Diane Scavuzzo: Can you please break down the $2 Million for our readers? Does the $2 Million value of scholarships reflect the total value of all the scholarships for 2013?
Noah Gins: Yes, we added up the value of the college scholarships that the players received in the 2013 class. For example, Cassie Elmore went to University of Jacksonville and received a full athletic scholarship valued at $50,000 per year for 5 years. The value of this college scholarship was $250,000.
Albion also had a player earn her way into Harvard University to play soccer. While Harvard does not award athletic scholarships for soccer, she received a full ride based on a combo of an academic scholarship plus financial aid. It was her soccer abilities that opened the door for her at Harvard.
It is an important responsibility to help players gain valuable scholarships to college and it is one we take very seriously.
Diane Scavuzzo: Many youth soccer clubs only help the top performers – the star, impact players on the teams. Do you help all your players that need scholarships?
Noah Gins: The objective of our program is to get 100% of our players into college so we focus on every player in our program that wants to play at the college level.
Diane Scavuzzo: How do you help players match their abilities and interests to the right colleges?
Noah Gins: This is a process that involves, player, parent, coach and the club’s director.
We take time with each player who is striving to play at college. It is important to interview them and ask about their college desires. Once we have all the info we need and know their desired colleges, we create a target list and review it – making sure the list is complete and then we get to work.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the difference between a D1 and D3 college?
Noah Gins: The pure athleticism and pace of the game at the D1 level is probably the biggest difference and something that is the most noticeable.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the best advice you can give a player looking to play soccer in college?
Noah Gins: The player must find a team and a club that will be a serious vehicle for exposure. The club should educate, bring forth exposure and create additional opportunities for players to be seen, while also helping to connect the players to the appropriate fit.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do you (and your coaches) pick up the phone and call college coaches for your players?
Noah Gins: Our college directors and I contact college coaches every day of the week to bring exposure to the players in Albion SC.
Sending an email is not as impactful as a phone call; these coaches get hundreds of emails daily.
We know most of these coaches personally so a phone call for a specific player means a lot and goes a long way.
Diane Scavuzzo: Have parents or players asked you to call specific colleges? Do you?
Noah Gins: Yes, and each time we do.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you think of college soccer? What is its impact on developing professional soccer players in the USA?
Noah Gins: College soccer — while the players are in season — is good, offering a very professional environment and high level games. But the season is too short and then the players don’t have games the rest of the year. I think this hurts the USA internationally and slows down our level of play.
Diane Scavuzzo: I’ve heard people complain college soccer is out of date; that a lot of long-ball is played instead of a possession oriented, passing style soccer.
Noah Gins: All in all, the college game is very much about winning and the style of play often goes out the window as teams play to percentages to get the ball forward and score.
Even with the pressure to win, there are still many teams that commit to playing good possession soccer and win or lose playing with a good brand of soccer.
Diane Scavuzzo: Did you play college soccer?
Noah Gins: I played two years at UNLV and then transferred to University of New Mexico. My senior year I signed a professional contract and did not play my fourth year of college soccer.
I was very ready to move to the professional level and always look back at my college days with fond memories.
Diane Scavuzzo: How well do you know Peter Fewing, Seattle University Head Coach? What do you think of his style of coaching?
Noah Gins: Seattle U’s Head Coach Peter Fewing is someone I highly respect and have gotten to know as he has been recruiting our Albion SC players.
Peter has a proven track record of success. He is big on character and respect for the game on and off the field.
I have a lot of admiration for Peter’s and what he demands from his players. We have three of our boys in his program. Peter and I both speak the same language when it comes to developing players – so it was an easy transition for our boys to play at Seattle U.
What Does a College Coach Say?
We asked: Seattle University Redhawks’ Head Coach Peter Fewing – and, here is what he said.
Fewing believes scouting for players is more than a quest for efficiency and that coaches miss a lot talent if they only scout the U.S. National Academies and do not check out the top youth soccer clubs.
“Albion SC’s U17 team coached by Noah Gins would compete well against any U.S. Academy team,” Said Fewing. “Noah Gins is a coach I trust. Noah, if he were to call me and tell me about a player, I would definitely ask where can I see him play.”
So often parents and players want to know how important is it to be on the starting 11? Do college coaches really see players who are the subs?
Fewing response was clear cut, “Players certainly develop more when they are part of the starting lineup. Playing in games helps players improve. There is a value in being a sub and training with better players, but if you are the 16th player to 24th player on the team – perhaps there are better options.”
According to Fewing, “D1 college soccer is like the MLS; it is fast and players need a combination of speed, intelligence and technical ability to play possession-oriented ball.”
Is college soccer always ‘beautiful’ soccer? “I think everyone on the college level wants to play good quality soccer, yet sometimes you have to play direct.”
“Coaches have to play with the players they have and yes, there is pressure to win.”
As a former Broadcaster for the Seattle Sounders (TV and Radio) and an experienced head coach for 19 years, Peter Fewing has just recently returned to Seattle University. Fewing coached Seattle U men’s soccer team from 1988 through the 2005 season, and just completed his second season back.