Joining a junior collegiate athletics team is a fantastic way to make connections, advance one’s standing as a player, and hopefully fund one’s education. Junior college soccer, with one hundred and twelve men’s D1 teams and ninety-nine women’s D1 teams, offers a unique opportunity to participate in the extracurricular life of junior college while earning an affordable or free education.
NJCAA allows for eighteen recruited players on full scholarship at each junior college Division 1 team, with additional partial funding available for lower-ranking players. While these junior colleges occasionally go out of their way to recruit exceptional players, the lack of budget and scouting ability means more often the onus to be recruited or given a scholarship falls on the player. Reaching out to the coach of a junior college is a great way to network, both academically and athletically, with staff of the college while still in high school. This may involve simply expressing interest, offering to try out early, or inviting coaches to high school games to see a student in competition mode.
In addition, participation in the Olympic Development Program can exponentially increase a student athletes chances at being recruited or invited onto a junior college soccer team. Students who make the state team become something of note and are far more likely to earn scholarships than those who are simply “good” players on their local teams. Establishing a good soccer resume can enable students to earn full junior college tuitions, setting them on the path to an NCAA full scholarship after junior college.
Another, less fiscal benefit to playing junior college soccer is that of the lessons learned in JCS. Students involved in a junior college sports program tend to learn social and political skills, as well as development of character traits like determination and discretion, far more sufficiently than their non-athletic peers. Whether on a Division 1 or Division 3 team, the learning acquired through junior college soccer is immeasurable.
For those put off by the concept of junior or “community” college as a whole, it should be noted that earning one’s associate degree saves time and money, allowing the student to transition easily and effectively into a senior college without the debt or hassle of four years at a private institution. Junior college is a smoother, less stressful transition from high school into collegiate life. The student athlete’s social and home life are impacted far less, meaning less stress on the entire family. Engaging in sports like junior college soccer allows the student athlete to build an impressive and rounded resume while still focusing on other necessities, like schoolwork, home life, and jobs or internships.
Working towards recruitment and/or acceptance onto a junior college soccer team is an admirable and attainable goal. With a little effort, the student athlete can play for a team he or she can be proud of while cutting collegiate costs and establishing valuable friendships.