What Does Auburn University Look For in a Soccer Player?
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Interview with Karen Hoppa, Women’s Head Coach at Auburn University
Karen Hoppa has been the head coach of the Auburn women’s soccer program since 1999. She has led the Tigers to seven SEC Western Division Championships and 10 NCAA Tournament berths over the past 16 seasons, including a school record six consecutive from 2006-11. She is the 51st women’s soccer coach to reach 200 career wins and the 10th female head coach to hit that mark.
College Information: Auburn University
Auburn University Athletics: Auburn Athletics
Auburn University at a glance
Established in 1856
Total Students: 25,078
Number of Undergraduate: 20,221
Over 140 majors
Diane Scavuzzo: What did you think of Surf Cup this year?
Karen Hoppa: It was a great tournament. San Diego Surf always hosts a great tournament for both the players and the college coaches. There is a really high level of competition.
Diane Scavuzzo: How useful is Surf Cup in looking for, recruiting and identifying players compared with other soccer events throughout the country?
Karen Hoppa: It is one of the better events that we attend. There are a lot of great tournaments, but this is really one of the best.
Diane Scavuzzo: What type of off-field aspects are you interested in for players? What are the most important traits to you?
Karen Hoppa: Obviously, they have to be academically capable to succeed in college. Character is also a big aspect we look at. There are a lot of great players, but we want great players with great character as well.
Diane Scavuzzo: How would you describe your team’s playing style?
Karen Hoppa: We are an attacking/possession type team. We are also very competitive. We won the SEC Tournament last year, so we are really trying to be the best of the league and in the country.
Diane Scavuzzo: If a player wants to play for your school, what steps should they take?
Karen Hoppa: They should e-mail us. We always tell players to e-mail coaches directly; don’t send a mass e-mail to multiple programs.
Diane Scavuzzo: Is sending videos a good approach to get a coach’s attention?
Karen Hoppa: We do look at videos. YouTube has really revolutionized videos because it’s easy to watch highlights and it’s even easier to send them out to programs. It’s a good way to get coaches’ attention and get them to want to come see you in person.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do you ever talk to coaches to get a sense of the coach-ability of a player?
Karen Hoppa: Absolutely; the club coach’s feedback is really important to us.
Diane Scavuzzo: How long does it take to make a decision about a player?
Karen Hoppa: We like to watch a player several times, and we like at least two of our three coaches to see all the players that we are going to offer scholarships to.
Diane Scavuzzo: What’s your favorite soccer team?
Karen Hoppa: The U.S. Women’s National Team.
Diane Scavuzzo: Who is your favorite player today?
Karen Hoppa: That’s a tough one. I actually have coached and handful of the National Team athletes with the U.S. Youth National Team, so I don’t think I could pick just one.
Diane Scavuzzo: Describe your soccer background.
Karen Hoppa: I played college at University of Central Florida a long time ago, before many schools had programs. I actually played two years with Michelle Akers there. I also played on the Youth National Team and was in the Women’s National Team pool for a long time.