There is no absolute right or wrong way to approach the college placement program, there are lots of decisions to be made on the 1 to 4 year path to finding the best collegiate fit for you.


Always remember, academics is your priority, soccer is secondary. While soccer may be what you love, it likely won’t be what what you do for the rest of your life, what pays the mortgage or where you will have the most impact as a human being, during your lifetime. 


College athletics is wonderful and college athletes are mentally tough, disciplined, talented and they are sought after in the workplace. 


There is a path to become a professional soccer player through college soccer. There are also opportunities for players to go the professional route directly, instead of college soccer and while still pursuing a collegiate degree.


Our partnership with SportsRecruits and HUDL are great tools for your college process.


Key Factors to consider when creating your list of colleges:



Size of School/Classes



Year By Year Guide

College Placement Program: Freshman Year 

  • Attend WNY Flash Recruiting Education Seminars
  • Attend High School orientation
  • Set four year Academic Plan with your high school counselor
  • Begin wish list of colleges you would like to attend
  • Meet and review your goals and school list with WNY Flash Head Coach
  • Create your free NCAA Profile Account 
  • Start a college folder to review with your WNY Flash coach periodically
  • Start an academic goal list with your family
  • Set soccer achievements for yourself
  • Attend the WNY Flash College Information Night
  • Be part of school activities (student government, clubs etc...) and community service projects
  • Begin to create a Student Player Profile/cover letter/resume to send to college coaches: include academic 

and athletic accomplishments.

  • Get experience on a WNY Flash team attending Showcase events
  • Become the best player you can be, always.


College Placement Program: Sophomore Year


  • Set Academic Plan for school year with counselor (review and revise regularly)
  • Meet and review your goals and school list with WNY Flash Head Coach
  • Review grades and goals with parents
  • If you haven’t already create your free NCAA Profile Account
  • If you are already getting interest from DI & DII Schools create your NCAA Certification Account ($80 US/$125 International Students)
  • Start listing 10/20+ schools you are interested in (Factors to consider… Academics, Geography/Climate, School Size & Soccer Program)
  • Add a contact list to your WNY Flash file (Include school, coach name, email, phone etc.)
  • Attend College Night High School functions & WNY Flash College Information Night
  • Sign up and take PSAT
  • Start gathering additional information to write your personal cover letter, update profile/resume and share with WNY Flash staff
  • Your WNY Flash folder should be filling up
  • Plan to visit college campuses and attend matches to learn about school and soccer programs
  • Gain more experience on a WNY Flash team attending Showcase events 
  • Commit to play soccer and study at the school of your choice, only if you are certain you are ready and you have a very good financial offer.
  • Become the best player you can be, always.

College Placement Program: Junior Year


  • Review & revise academic plan for school year with counselor, ensuring you are on track with all NCAA core course requirements - Have your counselor send your transcript to the NCAA Eligibility Center
  • Meet and review your goals and school list with WNY Flash Head Coach
  • If you haven’t registered for NCAA Eligibility Center, do so quickly (create your free NCAA Profile Account & create your NCAA Certification Account ($80 US/$125 International Students)
  • If you are looking at NAIA Schools (they have soccer scholarship money available), the NAIA Eligibility center is at and you need to register.
  • Visit college info nights at HS and local colleges, college fairs & WNY Flash College Information Night
  • Verify SAT registration deadlines. Take first SAT and ACT 
  • Get letters of recommendation
  • Update cover letter and resume with the WNY Flash staff
  • Continue to visit colleges of interest and watch matches to find climate and size you prefer
  • Attend Financial Aid workshop/Obtain financial form (FAFSA) (can’t be submitted until Jan of the year you will attend and needs to be submitted every year you attend)
  • Take AP classes or Honor classes if possible
  • Have your Top 10 preferred college list
  • Review college applications for admittance with your counselor
  • Gain more experience on a WNY Flash team attending Showcase events 
  • Commit to play soccer and study, at the school of your choice, if you are ready.
  • Become the best player you can be, always.


College Placement Program: Senior Year


  • Review and revise academic plan for school year with HS counselor - ensuring you are on track with all NCAA core course requirements - Have your counselor send your transcript to the NCAA Eligibility Center
  • Meet and review your goals and school list with WNY Flash Head Coach
  • Apply to the Colleges/Universities of choice (September, October, November)
  • Finalize application essay topics & recommendation letters
  • Review application essay with parents and teachers for proofing
  • Submit FAFSA and get any other Financial Aid forms (January 1)
  • Meet all application/scholarship/housing deadlines
  • Parents and student meet with school counselor to finalize transcripts
  • Take 2nd or 3rd SAT/ACT. If necessary re-take SAT/ACT.
  • Send mid-year and final transcripts to clearinghouse/eligibility center
  • Meet with WNY Flash staff for assistance as needed
  • Follow-up and maintain communication with college coaches
  • Continue to develop and gain experience on your WNY Flash team, attend all sessions, games and  showcases. 
  • Have a strong soccer season to wrap up recruitment and/or prepare for college.
  • Commit to play soccer and study, at the school of your choice.
  • Become the best player you can be, always.

Useful CPPP Information


Men's College Soccer Programs

Women's College Soccer Programs

Do's & Don'ts of College Soccer Recruiting

NCAA Recruiting Guide and Calendar

NCAA Eligibility Center Checklist

NCAA Eligibility Center

NAIA Eligibility Center 

Womens Soccer Recruiting/Contact Rules

Mens Soccer Recruiting/Contact Rules

ECNL - Communicating With College Coaches


  • Continue to train and play at a high level. Look to improve everyday. Do not miss an opportunity to get better.
  • Attend individual meetings with your team coach and/or DOC
  • Put together a realistic list of schools that you are interested in. Email the coaches, introducing yourself and provide your schedule. Take interest in their program. ‘Cc’ your WNYF coach.
  • Attend showcases, communicate your attendance and schedule, and follow up with coaches.
  • Love the game and enjoy the process.
  • Academics, academics, academics. Study, study, study. Grades, grades, grades.

Do I need an Individual Recruiting Service?

You already have one, built in and paid for with SportsRecruits. Our partnership with SportsRecruits helps facilitate your ability to identify, research and comunicate with colllege coaches, and allows our coaches to see exactly what is happening in your individual process so they are ready to assist and support you.


Ultimately, college coaches want to find the right players, by identifying them on the field or via the players contacting them directly, or through club coaches who they respect and trust, rather than through 3rd parties.



  • Starting in your freshman (National league level players) or sophomore year you should start to email the schools you are interested in attending. The email should always be short, personal and written by you, not your parents. Your parents cannot write like a teenager and coaches see straight through it.
  • It should start with the following information; Name, Club, Team & Coach.
  • Include something from the website (research) to show that you have taken an interest in the program and are tracking the team.
  • Finish with your schedule of games and tournaments and invite them to see you play.



  • College Coaches are limited by their rules, depending upon their division, in terms of returning phone calls, so it can be smart to filter them through your club coach. After September 1st, following your Junior Year, all coaches can call you directly.
  • Avoid wasting time calling coaches who may not know of you, it is easier for a club coach to establish this relationship, if you and your WNY Flash coach agree that the school is a good soccer fit.
  • A Club coach can always arrange a time for the two parties to link up if there is interest on both ends.
  • WNYF Coaches will always be honest when speaking to a college coach. The relationship between the club and college can only work through transparency and honesty.
  • If you speak to a College Coach, get through the first line...  “Hi my name is Molly, I play for WNYF 01G ECNL and I’m very interested in your program.” College Coaches are very good at these conversations, and they will take care of the rest. Of course, it makes sense to have a few good and substantive questions ready. Some will talk a lot and be very personable, others know exactly what they want, what they need to know, and won’t waste anytime with general conversation.


Prior to a Showcase

  • Email coaches personally and invite them to watch you play. Let them know you are interested in their school and believe you can help their program.
  • Include the following information; Name, Club, Team & Coach and a brief line or two about why you are emailing them.  Finish with your schedule of games at the specific event.


Game Day at a Showcase

  • Are you a good teammate? Are you a good person? What is your body language like? Are you coachable?
  • Do you work hard?  Do you have an impact? Do you show a special quality? Do you persevere when facing adversity?
  • Coaches may only watch you for 20 minutes so you have to seize the opportunity.
  • Show you are a competitor, that you want to win.


College ID Camps

College ID Camps are an option. They can be expensive.

  • This visit is to establish if this is a right fit for both of you.
  • Parents... do not force yourself on the coach, or talk about other schools or how good your child is.
  • This is a relationship building exercise not a business dealing, don’t discuss money.
  • Ask insightful questions of the current players: team dynamics, what is the coach like, style of play, social aspects, team chemistry.
  • The coach is looking for you to show you want to be a part of their program.
  • Analyze how the team plays.
  • Don’t be on your phone.
  • Don’t ask only social questions. 
  • Coaches may ask the team for their thoughts on you.

Financial Aid

There are three main types of financial aid available to help pay for your college education:


Financial Aid (FAFSA) - Free Application of Federal Student Aid. 

Academic Aid - The better your grades and test scores the more academic aid you may qualify for and be eligible to apply for.

Athletic Aid - DI, DII, NAIA and Jr. Colleges can provide athletic scholarships. All are limited and all will use this money very carefully.


Do not get hung up about what type of aid you get to pay for school. College coaches will actively try to help get you academic money or financial aid money, if you qualify, because it saves their budget and allows them to use that elsewhere to strengthen their squad even further.


It is not a good plan to assume athletic scholarships will pay for your college education. We are all one injury away from not playing soccer again. For top players and for any player who works hard through this process, there is a college soccer fit for you and for many of you there will likely be money available to help you, via the different types of aid listed above.


SAT/ACT Testing, GPA’s & AP Classes

Consider taking an SAT and or ACT as often as possible. For seniors, find out the last applicable date that a college will accept your scores from, as some will have a cut-off date.


On average, most students take the SAT and/or ACT test 2 to 3 times. Check to see what combination of scores can be utilized for the schools you are interested in attending. Some may let you create a ‘Super Score’, or will allow you to take the best scores from a single testing date to submit for admissions purposes.


Taking AP courses in high school could earn you college credit and academic scholarship money.


If you have a GPA of 3.5+ with an SAT of 1800 or ACT of 30, you could earn a Presidential or Provost Scholarship at a number of universities.


The better your test scores and GPA, the better opportunity you have to be accepted and to earn academic scholarship.


Remember academic application requirements can differ between institutions, so it is always important you check what you will need to submit to each school.


Separate Yourself

Not just on the soccer field. Admissions departments at many schools, especially academically elite schools will look for students who are active in their communities, especially in volunteering capacities and even more so in leadership roles within volunteer groups.


Final Thoughts

Level of Play, Club, Staff

  • It is important to be seen at the correct level of play.
  • Elite players should be playing at the ECNL level
  • The next level of player will be best showcased at the Region I or NPL level, then the thruway.
  • Having knowledgeable, well respected coaches with good college contacts is important in getting this right.

Quality and Amount of Exposure

  • Elite players should be playing at the ECNL level to maximize their development and exposure. This is where the top programs in the country will do the vast majority of their recruiting. It is also where the US Soccer on the girls side has identified the vast majority of all players currently representing the USYNT’s and USWNT the last ten years.
  • It is about playing at the right level for you, not necessarily the highest level out there.
  • Elite players need to be showcased consistently at the U16 and U17 age groups and then in to the U18 age group, a select few will be sought after by top schools at the U15 age group (Girls only at U15).

Individual Work Ethic

  • Do your actions of today match up with your goals of tomorrow?
  • How hard do you train? How hard do you play? How fit are you? How technically sound are you? Do you do more than the person next to you? Do you do more than the other, approximately 400,000 HS aged male and female players? Do you know that approximately 372,000 of the 400,000 in each gender will not play college soccer?

Planning and Preparation

  • You’re at the WNY Flash Academy. That is a great start, and you’re actively involved in our CPPP. Be diligent, be thorough, and have a smile on your face throughout. Enjoy and love the process of playing soccer and graduating on to college. The ups and the downs make us stronger. Life lessons.


  • The ECNL is the elite level of play on a national level in girls soccer, and focuses on college preparation and identification. On the boys side the ECNL is currently established as the highest level after the boys DA. Playing in an ECNL club is the best place for you to develop, prepare and be seen by college coaches.
  • A number of top ECNL clubs have developed a second and even third level of play that is a very good level. This creates tremendous depth, and tremendous opportunities for players to find their perfect fit on a college placement level. The trust between these clubs and the college coaches is significant.
  • HS Soccer and ODP can be fun, a good experience and developmentally beneficial. They are not without value to a player. Each player needs to identify their own pathway and then prioritize their time and energy. Talk to your Flash Coach and DoC.

Be Realistic

When you have set academic/geographic factors, identify schools that fit your level of play.