Soccer Tournaments, College Scouts and Players all Connected in One Mobile App
Technology and soccer work well together and can improve old fashioned methods immensely. As the popularity of soccer continues to grow in the nation, so do soccer tournaments. Bigger and better tournaments, especially college showcases, are being added yearly, and they all are looking to attract the college recruits from the nation’s top schools. With so many tournaments, how can scouts keep up? Well, two San Diego women think they have the answer for not only the scouts, but the players looking to be noticed and the tournaments looking to provide the best exposure.
SCOUTINGZONE is a cutting-edge mobile app that is changing the recruiting game for soccer tournaments, scouts and players. The innovation takes scouting to new levels, making it easier and more efficient than ever before by streamlining the on-site scouting experience at tournaments and showcase events. SCOUTINGZONE provides a comprehensive “virtual” database of player profiles where both soccer scouts and athletes will maximize their opportunities to find the perfect match.
Geared toward college soccer, SCOUTINGZONE provides scouts with immediate real-time access to player profiles from all over the country. Scouts can use the app to maintain a personal database of players while easily taking notes and privately rating them. They can flag new players they are interested in and communicate with or follow them on social media in real-time. Scouts are also able to view tournament schedules and search for specific players so that they can create and customize their schedules prior to and during tournaments.
SCOUTINGZONE gives players greater visibility among scouts and allows them to update their profiles to maximize exposure with photos and links to highlight videos. Players can create a Top 10 College list that alerts scouts of player matches for their program, increasing the opportunity for recruitment.
Founders of SCOUTINGZONE Tara Parker and Brooke Oxberry both grew up playing soccer, which instilled in them a thriving passion for the sport. Growing up in San Diego, they played together for Torrey Pines High School and San Diego Surf Soccer Club. SoccerToday spoke with Parker and Oxberry, two women in the soccer world, making a difference.
Diane Scavuzzo: What inspired you to create SCOUTINGZONE (SZ)?
Tara Parker: The inspiration for SZ came from being at a Youth National Tournament with a friend who was there recruiting for a University. The college coach came to watch one specific player but during the game there were multiple players that caught his eye. The coach was asking questions about who they were — Were they already committed to a college? I was searching the players names on my phone and he was jotting down notes on a pad of paper. That’s when I thought to myself, how are the kids today being recruited in the same manner I was so many years ago?
There has to be a better way to help these players be seen and help scouts be more efficient.
Then SCOUTINGZONE was born.
Brooke Oxberry: Tara and I have always wanted to get back into soccer in some way. We were just never sure how or what we were going to do. When Tara brought this idea to me I knew she was on to something big, and very early on it was apparent that the planets were aligning for us to keep going with it.
Diane Scavuzzo: Can you tell us how SCOUTINGZONE works? I am thrilled it is green!
Tara Parker: SCOUTINGZONE is an elite scouting platform. Players input their detailed information and scouts have access to it in real-time as they are watching the games. SCOUTINGZONE replaces the paper booklets, providing scouts access to more detailed information on each player on any mobile device.
Diane Scavuzzo: Neither of you have developed software before – were you daunted by this task?
Brooke Oxberry: Our backgrounds are both in sales, so we knew we could sell the product but developing it was a whole other issue. Everything Tara and I do comes with a “can do” attitude that I have to attribute to our days as competitive athletes. No mountain is too high. We made learning technology a huge part of how we ultimately brought this to market, and went through a rigorous due diligence process to find the right people to bring our visions to life.
Tara Parker: Our developer would have a good laugh with this question! Writing software is definitely like speaking another language. We hired an incredible developer that has taught us so much during this process. He shared in our vision and is an essential part of our team. We ask questions… a lot of questions. Unfortunately, for him Brooke and I aren’t the type of people that just accept answers. We both love to learn and understand the “why.” He’s been great with educating us and bringing us into the coding world. Two years later, Brooke and I both have a great understanding of software development and the needs to bringing a software product to market.
Diane Scavuzzo: What has been your biggest challenge and accomplishment?
Brooke Oxberry: I’d have to say getting Surf Cup was our biggest challenge. Make no mistake, our connections as former players only went so far. Mike Connerley was gracious enough to give us an opportunity to show him what we could do, but this did not come easy.
We had several meetings over the course of a year which included new “must haves” that we needed to produce. The last of which was a long list of elite college scouts whom he wanted feedback from. It wasn’t enough for him that we told him the scouts loved our product, he wanted to see it in writing. We went about the task of gathering blurbs from the different coaches who had seen our product and then added to that list. In the end we had around twenty plus elite programs give their seal of approval on our product and we only had a week to get that done. But whatever it was that he wanted, when he asked, we delivered… and this ultimately won us the three year long contract with Surf Cup – the Best of the Best youth soccer tournament.
Tara Parker: There’s been quite a few to be honest. From starting our own business, to developing our software, to securing the largest youth tournament in the country- all of it has been a challenge. Brooke and I are great partners with approaching each challenge as a team. I think being athletes and former teammates has given us a great foundation for approaching challenges in our lives.
We always have our end goal in mind and then we create a plan to achieve it. We’ve encountered many bumps and setbacks but quitting has never been an option for us. Securing Surf Cup has by far been our biggest accomplishment. Mike Connerley has built Surf Cup to be the most prestigious youth soccer tournament in the country. He was very forward thinking and dedicated to helping youth players get into college.
Diane Scavuzzo: What has been the reaction from college coaches?
Brooke Oxberry: I received an email from a scout who attended the soccer loco Surf Cup and he told me that our product saved him time. That’s music to my ears.
Tara Parker: The reaction has been tremendous. One of my most favorite stories to share is a conversation Brooke and I had with a head coach of a Div 1 program. We asked him if we could show him our product, he hesitantly said yes but also said “I’m sure you are lovely people but know I’ve been coaching for 35 years. I don’t like computers, I don’t like email, I enjoy using paper.” After two minutes of us showing him our product, he stopped us and said “I love this, I would buy this right now. This is so helpful.”
That right there, makes all of our late nights and hard work worth it.
This coach saw the value. There has been some coaches who are really used to their pen and paper.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are your goals?
Brooke Oxberry: We’d like to be the single solution for all of the elite tournaments and showcases across the country with high school aged kids as participants. That’s our goal.
Tara Parker: Our goal is to be the elite platform used by all elite tournaments. The players and scouts have all expressed interest with this. The more elite tournaments that utilize SCOUTINGZONE. the more efficient the scouts will be at these events.
Diane Scavuzzo: How do you feel your background as players and your passion for soccer helps you understand what college coaches need to be able to identify and track youth soccer players?
Brooke Oxberry: Knowing what the college scouts want is as easy as asking them. Tara and I don’t guess, we ask. When they tell you what they want and it makes sense, we add it. It’s that simple.
Who I really connect to is the player. I’ve been in their shoes. I’ve stepped onto a field where 20 scouts are on the sidelines watching the game I’m playing in. I know how badly I wanted to play college soccer. We are driven and lead by a single question … How do we help more kids get to realize their dream of becoming a collegiate soccer players? We do that by helping scouts be more efficient while they watch them play.
When a scout spends 30 minutes watching a kid who is already committed to go somewhere else, they missed an opportunity to see someone who could have been a good fit. We are solving those problems.
Tara Parker: I think our soccer background has helped us tremendously. We know the sport. We know what the players need. We know what the scouts want. We love the game and we did extensive market research questioning college scouts, tournament directors, players, and club coaches. SCOUTINGZONE is a product designed specifically for soccer scouts and created by soccer people.
Diane Scavuzzo: You were both very successful business women in your careers. Why start this company now?
Brooke Oxberry: I think that each of us have a few fleeting moments in time when we are presented with a chance to change the course of our lives forever in an incredible way. I see so many people let those opportunities pass them by because they are paralyzed by fear. I refuse to be one of those people. I’m so grateful for everything I’ve learned in business that lead me to this point. But you only live once. If you have a passion for something – go for it.
Tara Parker: For me, soccer has always been a part of my life. I still coach a youth team for Beach FC in LA. The entire premise of SZ is helping players reach their highest potential. Brooke and I had the best years of our lives playing Division 1 soccer. We want to share our passion and help as many players as possible reach their potential by playing at the next level, should that be their goal.
There’s something so pure about helping a player realize their dream.