I had a very enjoyable evening last night attending the 4th annual Springfield SC Banquet. With over 450 in attendance, the Oasis Convention Center was overflowing with my kind of crowd – soccer junkies!
The featured speaker was NSCAA Regional Coach of the Year Dan Donigan, Head Coach for the St Louis University Billikens (pictured in the center with Bob Florez, Joe Kofron, Steve Eise and Jeremy Alumbaugh). Donigan and assistant Coach Dave Beck recently received a verbal commitment from Devon Newport to join the Billikens but due to NCAA regulations I couldn’t get a quote or even a photo so I’ll bring you the recruiting details from Devon’s standpoint next week.
What Donigan was able to talk about were his thoughts on what it means to be a collegiate soccer player and the steps a player can take now to prepare for that opportunity. It’s a familiar story but one that cannot be repeated often enough. Of the 30 players on the SLU roster, only 17 are receiving soccer scholarship money. There is not enough money available in men’s college soccer programs at the Division 1 level to help everyone. That, along with the rigors of essentially being a full-time athlete and a full-time college student, means that academics are critically important. By maintaining your grades now you demonstrate an ability to balance the responsibilities that will only increase at the collegiate level. You also increase the possibility of receiving academic scholarships that can supplement any soccer scholarship money that may be available. An important consideration at a private school like SLU that costs close to $40,000 annually.
There was one additional point that Coach Donigan emphasized. Entitlement. It’s an attitude, a sense of being owed a result. Don’t bring it unless you want to be disappointed. It’s a message that had every coach I saw nodding his/her head along with Donigan’s talk. I’m not going to belabor the point, I know my niece and nephews have heard it plenty from me. As a Sales Manager, all I can say is ‘earn the right’ to be heard, to play for a team, or more importantly to lead your teammates.
As I noted earlier, I had a great time last night. Soccer does that for me. Having an opportunity to meet Coach Donigan, only the fifth coach at one of the most storied programs in collegiate soccer and the measuring stick for D1 soccer in Missouri, was an added benefit. For other clubs in the region, consider a similar step. The banquet serves multiple purposes – recognition, community building, fund raising. It’s not cheap nor easy training, developing or competing with over 25 teams as Springfield SC does. But whether you have 3 teams or more, it can be a great way to get the word out and build your program.
Before I get off my soap box, I’ve got one more thing to say. Missouri State visits St Louis University in late September this year, for a game at Hermann Stadium. I asked Coach Donigan if we could expect SLU to visit Missouri State in the future, especially now that they’ve tapped the growing talent base this area has to offer. Based upon the response I got, I think there are still a few more things we need to do to earn that right. So here’s my idea – who would be prepared to join me for a road trip to St Louis on Saturday September 27th to cheer on the Bears at SLU? I want to rent one or more buses and take a very vocal cheering section to the game and send S Louis a message. Leave a comment or send me an email