Key factors in college recruiting (Part I)

By Mike Pantalione & Hugh Bell

Yavapai College, located in Prescott, Ariz., has captured seven NJCAA National Championships and finished in the top four nationally 17 times since 1990. The coaches are longtime NSCAA members Mike Pantalione and Hugh Bell, who will never claim to have all the answers. This is intended for college coaches and others connected with the sport to have a laugh, look back on some of their own experiences, and perhaps add to the list of key factors to be aware of during the recruiting process:

The Cover Letter
1. We always enjoy hearing stories how other college coaches received letters that are addressed to the previous coach and not the current one. Not a problem at Yavapai College, which has the same coaching staff (all two of them) since the program's inception.

2. The player sends a letter to your school but states that he wants to go to your rival school.  Who is stuffing your envelopes?

3. The player states that he has been playing soccer since he was 4.  He probably peaked to early and cannot play.

4. The player states he would like to come to your school, to improve his passing, shooting, dribbling, heading, ball control, and tackling so that he can play for another school. This is an intercollegiate soccer team, not a summer camp!

The Resume
5. The player or parent sends a resume which includes a lifetime scrapbook. The thicker the resume, the poorer the player.  We have plenty of books in the college library.

6. The player states that he scored 50 goals for the Wrens when he was 9. What have you done lately?

7. The player states that he plays right forward. Sounds like he will be playing left bench here.

8. The player states that he played for the United States oversees.  It’s amazing what a checkbook can do.  Hope you enjoyed the 10 days in three different countries tour. We are sure your touring coach did.

9. The player includes a photo copy of his honorable mention all-conference team certificate. Save a tree.

10. The player states that he played on a state title team. When, in practice or did you start every match?  It does not matter.  We still need to see you play.

11. The player sends a written recommendation from his ninth grade English teacher.  Congratulations, it’s now on your permanent record.

12. The player includes a written recommendation from the neighbor across the street.  Like we have time to read this.

13. The player includes a photo from his prom night. That should add to his legacy.

14. The player looks like he is 12 years old in the photo. Sure, no problem going one on one against a 26-year-old international player.

15. The player sends a photo taken by the local youth league photographer. Please, no smiling while holding a soccer ball.

The E-Mail
16. The player sends a "Dear Coach" e-mail. There is no mention of a school, city, mascot, or anything specific pertaining to the soccer program. Thank you for including us on your mailing list. Delete.

The Text Message
17. The text message. How R U going to pass Eng 101?

18. The player states that he has a “sincere interest in the program.” He must have fallen into the nearby Grand Canyon because we never hear from him again.

19. The player states, "after researching your college, I have determined that your school fits my academic and athletic standards.” He must have fallen off the face of the earth because we never hear from him again.

The Parents
20.  Mom calls for the player and lets you know he’s a good boy and would like to come to your school.  Great, a momma’s boy.

21. Dad calls for the player and let’s you know that he played sports in college and his son has what it takes.  Great, another parent trying to relive the past.

22. Mom returns a phone call left for the player by the coach. Will she be doing his laundry in college also?

23. Dad returns a phone call left for the player by the coach. At least we, as coaches, do not have to shine his shoes. Dad will take care of that.

24. Mom states that her son has been admitted to your school and is really looking forward to playing soccer. Since we have no idea who he is, let us recommend to him that there’s an intramural team called the Eleven Men from Uranus looking for a player.

The Video
25. You receive a video shot from ground level three years ago. Give us something useful and current.

26. Mom and relatives yelling on the video, “Way to go Johnny” and “good job Johnny.”  Let the coaching staff determine that, please.

27. Rap music accompanies the video.  If you are going to have background music, do some research on the age of the coach!

28. You receive a video shot so far away, the jersey numbers can not be identified. However, this should enable us to identify the types of clouds in the sky that you played under.

29. You receive a video clearly showing that the player that sent it is the 20th best player on the field. Do you think that we are only going to be watching you?

30. Edited video. Never making a mistake in the 13-0 win will always enhance your chances.

31. You received a video of a player scoring a bunch of goals.  Make sure that you keep the jugs machine completely out of the picture. Also, the goalkeeper and the defenders that take part in the video do not have the same logo that appears on your uniform. Do you also cheat in school?

Coming Soon: Part II, with  "The Campus Visit," "The Tryout," and more.

(Mike Pantalione has been Yavapai head coach since the program’s founding in 1989. Hugh Bell has been Yavapai’s associate coach since 1992. Further information about the Yavapai College soccer program is available at

What tips do you have to hel p in the recruiting process? Any big no-nos? Let us know below.

5 comments about "Key factors in college recruiting (Part I)".
  1. John Daly, February 16, 2010 at 12:29 p.m.

    It always mystifies me when a prospect tells me how interested she is and then, when asked to list her top four schools, I do not see our school listed! Very interested, eh???

  2. Kent James, February 17, 2010 at 10:49 a.m.

    Ouch, pretty harsh. While certainly some of the things you make fun of are clearly no brainers, you have set the standard pretty high. You want to see the player play, but you don't like videos that are shot from too close, or too far, or are edited, or in which the player is not the best player on the field. It would be great for coaches to be able to see all their possible recruits in the player's natural environment, but I'm guessing time and budgetary constraints make that pretty tough, especially if the player is planning to attend a school outside of his home region. I'm hoping your next article will focus on what players should do, instead of what they shouldn't do.

  3. Andres Yturralde, February 17, 2010 at 10:50 a.m.

    No doubt these coaches manage a winning program. But their tone is a bit too cynical.

  4. Sue Berger, February 22, 2010 at 1:43 p.m.

    Oh, lovely! Another harsh, cynical, jaded monologue from "We're so wonderful and your kid is nothing, don't bother to apply" department. You know there is more to life than soccer. I for one am sick and tired of coaches who think they have usurped God. Yuck! Furthermore, why would I even want to consider your college for my child after a diatribe like that? It is a complete turn off.

    Let's turn the tables and see how it sounds. I'm a nurse and here is my little diabtribe:
    1.) You're at a hospital, not the Hilton, don't tell me your coffee isn't hot or that you don't like the view outside your window.
    2.) You're not the center of the universe, I have 4 other patients besides you. Be patient!
    3.) No, I cannot arrange for you to have a procedure that was scheduled as an outpatient to be done while you're hospitalized because it would be convenient.

    Now, would you want me to be your nurse? I'd guess not. I wouldn't want you to be my daughter's coach either.

    If you'd like to make an impact instead of whining, drop the sarcasm and obvious disgust with parents, etc. and write something useful. I agree with Kent James. Write what you would like to see and get off of your very high horse!

  5. Jane Owens, February 25, 2010 at 1:16 p.m.

    #16 "the e-mail" - goes both ways coaches - Delete.

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