Jan. 28, 2021

College Recruiting 101 with Don Williams of Sports Recruiting USA

College Recruiting 101 with Don Williams of Sports Recruiting USA

In Episode 14, Don Williams, Head of Operations for the Americas for Sports Recruiting USA and former coach at all levels of soccer, talks with Phil about the #1 tool college coaches use to find recruits, how soccer players can find the “right...

Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Spotify podcast player badge
RSS Feed podcast player badge

In Episode 14, Don Williams, Head of Operations for the Americas for Sports Recruiting USA and former coach at all levels of soccer, talks with Phil about the #1 tool college coaches use to find recruits, how soccer players can find the “right fit,” the recruiting implications of the small world of college and pro soccer, “punching coaches in the nose” with player emails and videos, and real world lessons kids can learn through the recruiting process. Specifically, Don discusses:

  • His story and how he developed his passion for soccer, leadership, and his long journey to SRUSA Soccer (1:31)
  • How Don’s work with SRUSA is similar to his work as a coach of soccer teams at all levels (5:19)
  • The need for players to have both raw athleticism and passion for the sport to play at the college level and beyond (11:06)
  • The importance of soccer players finding the “right fit” and how they can do so (16:00)
  • Why creating and knowing your budget is critical in the recruiting process (23:53)
  • Selling yourself and not burying the lead in your videos, emails, and other recruiting communications with prospective colleges (and employers) (32:53)
  • The importance of “punching someone in the nose” in the recruiting process (37:17)
  • How to make videos on a tight budget (40:58)
  • Making the kids put in the work with their videos, emails, and other areas of the recruiting process (43:33)
  • The small world of college and pro soccer, and how it relates to the world outside the game (44:58)
  • The #1 tool that college coaches use to find recruits (49:46)
  • What most coaches are looking for when they recruit at tournaments and showcases (55:08)
  • Showing the colleges (or employer) that you’ve done your homework on them and that you know why you think it’s the right fit for you (59:44)
  • Real world lessons kids can learn during the recruiting process (1:03:50)
  • How to grab a coach’s attention in a subject line and email (1:06:56)
  • How Don is using lessons learned in soccer in his life outside the game (1:10:22)
  • Don’s book recommendations

Resources and Links from this Episode

  • Uncut Video of the Episode – https://youtu.be/B12pc9XvRTk
  • HSEL Facebook Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/howsoccerexplainsleadership
  • Don’s Twitter handle -- @Don_K_Williams
  • SRUSA Website -- https://www.sportsrecruitingusa.com
  • How Soccer Explains the World, by Franklin Foer
  • Inside Out Coaching, by Joe Ehrmann
  • 10% Happier, by Dan Harris
  • Inside College Soccer Podcast -- https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/inside-college-soccer/id1480369430

[00:00:00] Phil:[00:00:00] Welcome back to How Soccer Explains Leadership. Thanks again for your download. And once again, we have a great guest on here today. I'm Phil Darke. the host of this show and I am looking forward to another guest who's going to share with us his wisdom. soccer has been part of his life and he's been part of soccer for decades. He's now a recruiter with SRUSA. Don Williams is with us today. In a minute here, we're going to get to Don, but I just want to remind you to go on Facebook and join the Facebook group. If you're not a member of it already, how soccer explains leadership Facebook group, rate and review the show wherever you are listening to this right now.

I really also hope that you have subscribed to the show. And if you haven't go ahead and hit that. Hit that subscribe button so you don't miss any more episodes hopefully you haven't missed any of them, but if you have, you can go back and listen to them and then you can subscribe and you can be able to hear all the episodes that are coming up as well.

So without more on that today, Don. [00:01:00] Please tell our guests a little bit about yourself, you know, just briefly share who you are. Cause I know. a lot of the people that are listening don't know who you are and don't know what you're doing and don't know what you've done. I look forward to hearing this as well again, even though I already have, but for those who don't know you, just briefly share a bit about who you are and how soccer has been such a big part of your life and leadership.

Don:[00:01:21] Yeah. Thanks Phil. I started playing when I was young, eight, nine years old, like many kids across the country. And it took me and kept me out of trouble and I fell in love with it. And then when I was older, started coaching. And then eventually as I started working my way up through licenses, you know, D license C license, B license, a license.

I had a friend that asked me to get involved in college coaching with her at Cal State East Bay in California. That kind of really pushed me into wanting to make coaching a career. And so 22 years later, I a coach did almost every level in the country pro coach in the NCAA.

I've coached Division 2, Division Three, NAIA, [00:02:00] junior college. And I've helped hundreds of kids along that journey get into college. And so when I retired Sports Recruiting USA came in and asked me to run the Americas for them and to establish a presence. They already had an established presence in the United Kingdom and Dubai and UAE, but not much in the Americas.

And so I've been helping them do that. We've got about 99 Scouts all over the world. Former college players or coaches or pro players or coaches. So our job is to scour the world and match players up to college programs that we think they would be a good fit for. And being former college coaches.

It's about 12 of us main ones that have coached at pretty high levels in the country, including like Ernie Yarborough division one national champion at Indiana, some pretty high connected group of, coaches they can pick up the phone and ask a college coach what they need. And then see if we've got players that'll match that [00:03:00] need That's the short

Phil:[00:03:00] of it. Yeah. We'll get into a lot of that, much deeper as we go through this conversation. But you'll see with that vast array of experience and expertise. Why the conversation we're going to have today is, is so rich because it will not only talk to parents and college coaches about recruiting on both sides.

we won't just talk to a coach who has coached for decades. it will also speak to, people in organizations because these principles are really recruiting principles and hiring principles and principles that go to just business practices and best practices. So I'm. Very excited.

As I have been in it. And I also want to just let people know how they can get ahold of you Don. So you can you share Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, wherever you're at. I know you're sharing all kinds of stuff every day that's real, just great nuggets of wisdom on social media, so can you share that?

Don:[00:03:51] yeah, I can do that. So our website is srusaoccer.com. And if you just put in SRUSA [00:04:00] soccer or sports recruiting USA then our Facebook pages will come up on our Twitter pages. They'll come up and Instagram pages and LinkedIn pages. and all of that good stuff.

Me personally on Twitter is probably where I spend 80% of my day helping people and answering questions for them about college soccer or, or post high school soccer. What's going on. I'm at Don_K_Williams on Twitter. And if you reach out to me there DMS are always open.

same thing for Facebook.

Phil:[00:04:35] Yeah. And like I said, you can get a lot of great wisdom information from Don on those Social media places, as well as the website. today we're going to talk about several posts that he's done. It's actually where I met Don was on Facebook, I believe.

And then was able to go over to Twitter and See that, yes, that is where he spends a lot of his time. What last time we talked, you just, you really talked about your leadership position with SRUSA and how it's similar to [00:05:00] coaching and leading college soccer teams.

So you can just share a little bit about those two things and how they're similar and what that can teach the people that are listening in.

Don:[00:05:09] Here's what I've learned as a leader of any organization over my 58 years of living on this planet and of my, 30 or so years in coaching.

Tapping into an individual's intrinsic motivation is really important. It's nice for me to have an agenda at the top of a business or the top of a coaching structure or anything, and to push that agenda. And for a while, I can force that agenda through fear onto the people that are with me, but if I can get them to want to do something rather than me wanting them to do something. And if those two things will, if I can get those two things to align what I want them to do and what they want to do, that's where the magic happens. And it's that intrinsic motivation. And in my world, I'm constantly looking, Phil, for people [00:06:00] who love what they do. I I've tweeted about if you love to play soccer that you will play with a soccer ball, you'll juggle with it because you can't get enough of it.

I noticed basketball players. I lived grew up about 20 minutes from Oakland. Always followed the Warriors, have a lot of friends that played basketball, had coaching, friends that played we had some basketball legends. Like Jason Kidd that we grew up watching. And I remember watching him break a back board in a playoff game one time.

And you know what those guys are with the basketball all the time, man, they're never, without it. It's crazy soccer player will come just to practice without a ball. Imagine a baseball player going without a permit to practice, never happened. They've got a ball in their mint and the first chance to get, they want to play toss.

Or a basketball player wants to shoot baskets, but a soccer player in this country will go to practice two days a week, play on Saturday. And then the soccer ball [00:07:00] never comes out again. And then they say, this is what I love more than anything in the world. And I will argue, that's not what they love more than anything in the world, whatever they spend most of their time doing is what they love more than anything in the world.

So can we figure out with our players. And can we figure out what the people that we work with, what their intrinsic motive. Some people are motivated by money. I work with a guy who works in our company with us. He's a multimillionaire many times over, he doesn't need money. Money's not his motivator.

Something else is his motivator. Then I work with young guys that have wives and young kids and making a living and providing for their family is their main motivator. And then. Everybody's got something that makes them tick a little bit differently. And so my job as a leader is to try my best, to figure out what that person wants and then help them get what they want it.

As long as there's synergy, right. There's gotta be, it's gotta be a win-win situation if you're [00:08:00] in it for the longterm, in any relationship. That's right.

Phil:[00:08:03] And you said a lot of really cool things there. The first thing I'll say though, is, when kids love baseball and go to their practices, they won't go without a admit, well, my nine-year-old unfortunately has done that, but I'm gonna chalk that up more to parenting and him being nine, then not loving the game.

So he also would go without shoes sometimes, but that's a conversation for another day,  But in all seriousness, I think one of the things you said there was fantastic. And it's just really that idea of, in sports and in and in any job that you're doing right there, there's gotta be that motivation, that intrinsic motivation, you can force people to do things for a short period of time.

If you have that, position over them and you can, make them do something. But the reality is whether it's in a job or in a sport, that's not only going to last so long before they quit or before you're gone. Because somebody else will be over you. Every, everyone has a boss.

Right? I mean, and so if they see that and they know that you're a bad leader, that will be seen very quickly because leadership [00:09:00] is influence, as we've talked about on this show. Positional leadership does not last very long unless you're in the military and and then that is what it is.

But then we know what happens to a lot of

Don:[00:09:09] That’s also fear-based though, isn't it?

Phil:[00:09:11] It's absolutely fear-based but it's harder to get out of the military than it is to get off of a sports team or a job that you have, but you're not going to get the most out of your people if you're leading that way.

Right. You're not gonna have that intrinsic loving it. And that's something that I wanna, I want to hit on a little bit more and go a little bit deeper on that, the fact that raw talent isn't enough and quite frankly, a love for the game. Isn't enough either to get to that next level, you got to have kind of a combination of both.

And on there, you got to have a raw talent and a love for the game. And I've seen a lot of kids at the younger ages who you look at them and you go, you know what I, and even at the older ages that I just don't see that raw talent there. Now I could be wrong and I've been proven wrong before, but usually you see that both/and, and you had a [00:10:00] post going back to the social media. “So do you want greatness? Sure. Athleticism is important, but it's not nearly enough. It's about passion, love for the sport above all, and a willingness to let it embrace and encompass you. And this goes to what you were just talking about too.

Right? Enjoy watching. Spend every spare moment, loving that ball, playing juggling, taking it with you everywhere and getting in millions of touches. Then let your destiny unfold. But. You spent a lot of time on that, on the love part. And, but also that raw talent part is important, right? It's not the end all be all, but it is important.”

And so I just want you to talk a little bit about why that is such a critical life lesson for players and parents really, that it needs to be a both/and, and so I think that that to not be delusional, on one hand, and also to not think that you can just be a really good athlete and therefore you deserve something at the college level or whatever.

So can you speak to that as, as you've seen both as a coach and as a recruiter now.

Don:[00:10:56] Yeah. And, and I think the people that really follow me on Twitter [00:11:00] sometimes, and every once in a while I get called on it, it feels like I'm playing both sides against the middle. And like, I can almost argue against myself.

And it's because of my experiences in life that I've had as a coach, I had my own son, Brad, who I will say he was cursed with my jeans. He was never going to be he was never going to look like Ronaldo.  It just wasn't going to happen. He wasn't going to have that speed or that explosiveness or any of that.

And. he told me when he was 10 years old. He's gonna play in England. And I, I know I didn't do it in front of him, but I, cause I, I was coaching pro at the time and I literally, I, you know, internally rolled my eyes internally. Not literally, and it was like, yes, well, what can I do to support you? How can I help you?

And so I did all the things and, and dog gone it, he ended up playing in England for two years and ended up trying trialing at FC Cologne in Germany when, but he was there with the 20 threes and, and played division one soccer. And at time in the area we were in, I can't think of another person [00:12:00] who played Division 1 soccer and that particular area, the of California that we lived in.

He got there because he went to a wall every day and they called him wall, boy. And cause he had a wall ball in his locker and he go spend an hour and it didn't matter whether he was he had practice that day or didn't he, he was just out there cause he wanted to be out there and he was juggling was his release and he was a bag of tricks and he could go left right left right down to the end of the field and back on a sprint, not break the pattern and not drop the ball.

And he was a goalkeeper. And that was, she didn't have to, he just wanted to, and I saw where it took him. Then I had kids like Kemani Hill. And some of your listeners may know who Kemani was. He was us national team, went to UCLA, played for four years at Wolfsburg in Germany played for Colorado. and I got to coach him and he was same age as Brad and I got to coach him in ODP and then club for a little while.

And that kid just had it. You knew from the minute you saw him, that was a stud the stud. Just an [00:13:00] athlete. You knew he had it. And then he worked hard in addition to that. So where can not being that great of an athlete and working as hard as you can take you, it could take you to a trial in the Bundesliga, maybe.

But if you're got the drive, the passion and the athleticism, it could take you to playing in the Bundesliga and the same could be reversed for the athlete high level athlete. I can't name enough of that. I mean, there would be too many to name high-level athletes who really didn't care that much about soccer.

But they played and it was fine and it was great, but they didn't really care that much about it. And some ended up playing baseball and some others just quitting sports altogether, some ended up doing this, that or the other. So I think that, that the passion is at the core of being a professional athlete.

that's the core, then you have to have the athleticism with that core. And I think the passion can take you very far, [00:14:00] but it won't take you as far as being passionate athlete about your sport.

Phil:[00:14:03] Yeah. And let me push into that a little bit more, you say with your son, I just want to be clear.

I mean, I'm, I'm assuming that your son wasn't tripping over his feet and he wasn't a kid who just really had no athletic talent. How did the base it had it had the basics. Yeah. And then he worked really hard, but you and I both have seen those kids who are just really uncoordinated and yes, you can work on those things, but, and I'm not like here to kill people's dreams.

I'm just here to, I've been at. tryouts, where it's seven year olds out there and the parents are like, this is the team you're supposed to be on to get a scholarship for Stanford. And then you watch these kids play and you look at them and go there's so many things wrong with what you just said.

But I, I'm gonna first start with, do you think your kid even likes the game first of all, and then. Have you watched your kid play, right? Like, have you seen that? The, the, that level now? I think also though that you can play soccer your whole life and never be a great player and that's just fine. But [00:15:00] I think going to this idea of it's a both/and to get to the highest level, but also it may be that, and this goes to our next question that I really want to dive into that right fit.

And it may be that your right fit is pro. And go on that path, but it could also be that your right fit is rec soccer, all the way up through which is fine. But to know that, and to be honest with yourself, that's a conversation that I know you have with everyone that you talk with is this concept of the right fit. what does that look like in the context of your recruiting for college soccer? Obviously we're just talking about a certain subsection or subset of the players when you're talking about the college conversation, but how is that college conversation similar to all other areas and all other levels of soccer, which you have coached at?

Don:[00:15:50] You know, it always starts, I love that you started the name, the levels and where kids can play and stuff. and this a common quote effect I tweeted about this one today.

Very [00:16:00] common question. My kid plays at the ECNL level. What's the best level for them to playing out, be playing out if they want to play college Or pro soccer. You can insert either one, depending on who I'm talking to. What, what's the best level for my child to play at. And the answer is, I don't know how good is your kid?

You see, because you're on the number one team in the country. Pick it. I don't care, whatever did, whatever you say is the number one team in the country. That's great. Being on that team is not good enough. You have to be a good player. So, this is one of the arguments that I can get into very quickly with people.

And I have to be careful, careful how I word things with folks on the internet, because now I'm just going to say it and I can explain what I mean, rather than typing it out in a few words. When it comes to playing soccer in college, the soccer's really important for most soccer players. They've invested 13, 14 years of their life in this.

This is their passion. This is what they want to do. And then I hear advice like, Hey, [00:17:00] choose the school. You want to go to academically first and then worry about the soccer later. Well, the problem with that is I want to go to Stanford and I'm not good enough to play at Stanford so I can research Stanford ‘til the cows come home and have playing soccer is important to me.

I'm not playing at Stanford. Doesn't mean I can't go to Stanford. It's fine. It's lovely. Don't play soccer, play club soccer. Do whatever you want to do. I'm talking about playing varsity first team soccer in college, not on the JV team, not on the club team. I'm talking about going in and at some point in your, within your first two and a half years, you want to begin to be an impact player if not immediately.

So what's the right fit. Look. Some kids will not sit the bench won't tolerate sitting the bench don't want to pay their dues. They want to play immediately. Well, that means that even if they are capable of playing at a mid-major type D-1 level, maybe that's not the best starting place for them, because they're gonna have to sit the bench for two and a half years.

But if they go to this other college, maybe it's a, maybe it's another Division 1. Maybe it's a different Division 1. [00:18:00] Maybe it's a lower-level Division 1. Maybe it's a Division 2. Maybe it's a Division 3, NAIA, junior college, whatever one of those other ones might be the best fit for me.

If that's where it is. Because when we talk about the right fit, Phil, whether it's life or whether it's going into college, I think. All of us are making decisions on a daily basis that are weighted. Not every decision is equal. And what is important to me may not be important to you. So in the world of college, for example, we've got what we've got the soccer, the, maybe the level paying for national champion, maybe it's we've got the academics, what am I studying?

And if I really want to study aeronautical engineering, then Savannah School of Art and Design is not my best choice. Even if they've offered me a full scholarship. Right. And then you've got the finances. Look, if I want to go to, if I want to go to Villanova [00:19:00] I was having the discussion with the Villanova coach the other day about one of my kids.

And he says, by the way, it's $74,000 and there's no academic scholarships. And what are your, most of your kids pay $74,000. Most of them. And so if you, so money becomes important for some people now, for some of the families I deal with it's. So what's your budget? What do you mean budget? What are you talking about?

Budget school's paid for? I don't know. But any school? Yeah. Look, they've got a trust fund. It's all sorted. Don't worry about it. Okay. Then I've got other families that are zero EFC. What that is EFC is the government's number that they assign to expected family contributions. When you fill out your FAFSA and zero means the government is expecting them to pay zero.

That means they're in the they're in that poverty barrier area right there. They're really close to poverty level, if not in that poverty level. And. And so that's what that means. And so then, so Villanova might be in for the first kid, but might be completely off the table for the second kid.

[00:20:00] No questions asked why would I ever, why would ever pick up the phone and call Alex and go, Hey, I got a kid for ya. So finances come in, then other kids won't move within 50 miles of home. I want to be on the beach in California. That's what I want to be. That's why I've lived my whole life.

No way I'm moving to Michigan. No way. I'm moving to bring them to New York. No way. I'm moving to Houston, Texas. Some kids can't stand the snow. Some kids can't stand that humidity. Some kids want to get homesick too easily. Everybody's got a different thing. So some now waiting. Some kids will wait the away from home at a 98%.

Other kids will wait it at a 2%. And so we list out all of these varying factors, big town versus small town, right? Some kids first thing is one thing I'm not going to as a town of 750 in the middle of Amish country. That's where my son went to school division one. And they were a conference champion contender almost every year.

[00:21:00] But St. Francis university in Loretto, Pennsylvania is a really bad choice for that particular person who says I need the excitement of a big city and then vice versa. We've got kids in this, around the world that New York city would freak them out. No way it's happening. They're not living in New York city.

It would freak them out. They're from small town, this or that. And they need to at least an intermediary step before intermediate step. Sorry, before they go on to the. That is something else in life that's bigger. They are too nervous. So it just depends, but it's this waiting thing. And I think as leaders, we always have to be aware that the people that we are serving, that we are helping all have different needs and sets of desires and different ideas, even though the goal might be the same, they've got different ideas of how to get to that goal.

Phil:[00:21:54] That's there's so much there that I want to talk about one of the things is, and I just want to point out and I have a [00:22:00] feeling, it hasn't changed since I was talking with the Vanderbilt coach a few years ago, and it happened to be the Vanderbilt coach. It could have been several different universities, but it was the Vanderbilt coach on the sideline of one of my daughter's games.

And and you said that at the time, my daughter's team was ranked in one of the rankings out there, which there's too many rankings, as with anything else, there's too many things. And too many people put too much stock into that, but she was very, very high top three, I think at that point in the country were playing at some, a big thing.

And there was play on her players on her team who didn't play in college. Didn't want to play or couldn't have, they weren't good enough. Right. But that was still the best team in the country or one of the best teams in the country. And then some of them went to UCLA, San Diego State my daughter's up in Canada playing.

So there's that part of it. But then the Vanderbilt coach comes up to me and says are there any players on your team good enough to play at Vanderbilt? So, point number one, he asked me that question just straight up and I'm like, well, there's a couple that I'd say, yeah, because obviously my credibility is on the line and he was about to watch the game.

I said, there's a couple. And he says, What's their parents' income. I was thinking, that's kind of an [00:23:00] interesting question, but I know I know some things about these things and I said, honestly, this team is from an upper middle to upper class area. So I don't think any of them would qualify for your no scholarship thing. Cause he's only got so many scholarships and he knows that if he can get some in free, because that's how van Vanderbilt has that deal, where if you make under $75K as a family, then you can get full tuition covered. And so That's part of a right fit conversation too.

Right? if you don't make that much, either you make a ton of money or you don't make any money. There are certain schools that doors are opened on that, in that regard that might not be otherwise.  is that something that you're seeing a lot too and, that allows you as a recruiter or as a, someone who's talking to these schools.

Is that something that's still the case?

Don:[00:23:43] Oh, a hundred percent. It, the money. So opening salvo, right? I sit a coach says I need a striker. I sent him a video, maybe two or three recommendations of players that I believe can played for him. And he goes, this is the one I really like right. Next question is [00:24:00] I've already given them GPA.

So they already know what the base, they already know the kids kind of an NCAA qualifier or whatever. Next question is what's their budget. What's our budget. nobody is a zero budget, nobody in this country, because if you have truly no money you're a zero EFC full Pell grant, you're getting somewhere between $12 and $15,000.

then if that's all the money, the family, then their budgets, $15,000 or their budgets, $12,000 on the surface, because you also have the ability for player to work in the spring and a very light working schedule in the spring of a few hours a week will net you about $3000 in the semester. And then you've got summer that you can earn another three to $5,000.

So you can add that $8,000 of the kid working to that, say $12,000 and you've got a $20,000 budget, $20,000 will get you to almost any school in the country. If you're a 4.0 GPA, Not almost standing. I shouldn't say it that way. Get you into most schools in the country. If you're a 4.0 GPA that you can afford to get there for $20,000, you can [00:25:00] make that happen.

if you've got a high GPA and then. it just goes down from there. I mean, schools are rewarding good grades. And it just goes down from there. So that, that's the conversation that, that happens. And, I've got a young man last year who lived in Watts, California.

Most people in this country won't know where Watts is, but they've heard of the bloods and the Crips. And this is gangbanger territory in Southern California.  And that's where this kid grew up. And the kid was just a heck of a soccer player with a 4.0 GPA. Now he's going to Central Connecticut State.

What culture shock must that be kid going from Watts, California to Connecticut. Very wealthy neighborhood in Connecticut. And he's coach says he's doing well. It looks like he's going to captain the team in the future. So. this is what it's about. It's about finding where do you slot, There's a place for almost every kid. It's funny. I go to a tournament, maybe like the one you were talking about Phil and I've, gone to thousands of these and there are teams to where I look and go. Yeah. Every kid in that team could play soccer somewhere in America, not at the [00:26:00] bottom of the level, either.

Not at the worst junior college in Alaska. That's always the running joke ‘cause there are no junior colleges that play soccer in Alaska. So I'm safe. I'm not going to insult anybody. But they're not going not at that level, they don't behave at a decent level where you could play for a .500 team.

You could win at least as much as you lose, you could play college and you'd probably be happy and there are whole teams of it. And then you find out that only three kids went on to play college soccer out of that. So now why. That's might be a conversation for a different day.

Phil:[00:26:30] Yeah. there's all kinds of reasons.

And we could go on and on for all those reasons that you don't go play. But the reality too is, and you hit it on the head earlier. There are some kids who say, I want to go play for X school and it may not be the right fit for them. I go back and it's funny, you talked about Jason Kidd earlier.

Cause I was at Cal for one semester when Jason Kidd was there for that one year and we overlapped that year. Cause we graduated high school the same year and I got to watch him play with Tracy Murray and some great Cal basketball. But I was there [00:27:00] for one semester because I went there to play soccer and I realized this is not a great fit. And I was, I transferred to a different school, the thing is I knew before I went there, it wasn't the right fit. I just wanted to play D-1 soccer and the other options were D-3 and D-whatever,  but that actually translated later in life.

Maybe it's just my character coming out right now. I don't know. But when my first law firm, I went to, I realized after a while it wasn't the right fit. And the nice thing is, is in life. I think that the differences that separates people who are miserable and other people who just, move on is to say, okay, it's not the right fit.

So let's now figure out what is, and let's go and do that. But this is a good lesson life lesson that we can learn from. And imagine you've had those stories too and yours where, they may not have made the right fit at the beginning. But hopefully you're doing your job and you're helping them with that right fit decision. I wish I had somebody helping me with that right fit decision. My parents were, but I didn't listen to them as much as I probably should have. But I think that's the other [00:28:00] message. I think that is if you don't make the right fit decision at that first part, because here's the deal that Stanford guy, maybe they were good enough to play at Stanford one year, but that year their positions filled.

And they're not going to bring in those players because that position is filled or a million other reasons why that coach may not like you for whatever reason and another coach at that you could maybe than the UCLA coach. ‘Cause here's the thing. I didn't the UCLA coach didn't like me for whatever reason, but the Cal coach did, like, there seem to be kinda equal levels on some areas.

So anyway, that's something that is, another part of that equation. Is that your level? May be that it, a bunch of schools are at that level, but because of what's available, what the coaches are, who the coaches are, you may not like them. They may not like you. There's so many variables here that go into it, which is why, I mean, you're helpful for people, but also for people to not just say, I'm this good.

Therefore, the schools are all open to me. Is that fair?

[00:29:00] Don:[00:28:59] It's it's really fair. and look, I love it. The story, first of all, Phil, because you were mature enough at some point when you were a kid to realize not the right fit for me and, to go do what you needed to do. And I've got stories that go all kinds of different directions.

I can tell about the player that I put, she says, I want to go to Colorado when we're having this discussion. It's like Colorado, like the buffaloes Colorado. Yeah. Yeah. I want to play UC. It's like, Oh, you can't play at UC. You're not good enough. Yeah. But I'm in. But you're in, what do you mean you?

I applied. I mean, yeah. And dad's paying for it. Yeah. Okay. All right. So I called the coach and I said, got a goalkeeper. She'll be your fourth string goalkeeper. She'll be your fourth string goalkeeper probably for four years, but she'll never complain. She'll make the team dinner. She just wants to be at Colorado.

And she just wants to be part of what you got. And he goes, yeah. And he took her and that's where she was. And she graduated and I watched her play her only 90 minutes against St. Mary's in California.  That she got, it was a spring game and that was it, but, and she tells me to this day, her name's Kelis Johnson.

You can actually look her up. She's a [00:30:00] Dominican university now in the San Francisco Bay area, coaching, division, two soccer, and she says best move I ever made. Never getting to play at Colorado was the best move you ever made. Then I've got other players that would drive some nuts that would drive them absolutely batty bonkers. That would never work for them. My son was one, I would have been the abs. It was that kid I wanted to play and I've got most of my kids that that's, they just want to play other kids want to be at a certain thing. So it depends where they go. And then, we had over a thousand girls in over a thousand boys in the NCAA transfer portal.

One of the reasons why players do transfer off of the portal, it's because it wasn't the right fit. Now, some outgrew their school. Now it happens too. It's like, no, I'm way better than the level here. And some stepped in and just said, ah, I'm not even close to the level here. And then all kinds of points in between the coach.

Wasn't right. For me, the coach left, that happens a lot. That happens. There's going to be 500 coaching changes in the country this year. So coaches like, Oh, I did like the coaching staff now I [00:31:00] don't, or, or they drop saw, I mean, all kinds of stuff happens, but one of the reasons is wasn't the right fit.

Phil:[00:31:08] So again, we could go on and on about that, but we're not going to I love that conversation because it goes to every area of life, and I think that, well, except like my kids can't choose other parents, they might want to do that sometimes, but they can't transfer families, but most areas of life, not to say every other, every I've gotta be careful because people will tell me the reason, the way I'm wrong, but.

Jobs, when you're looking for your first job out of college, when you're looking for, other jobs as you're transferring, as you're moving, as you're doing things for positions within the Peter principle is a real thing that you usually get promoted to the position.

That's just one higher than the place you should be. And, that's a real principle because this right fit conversation. So I just want to make sure. Parents coaches, everyone out there, make sure that that player fits in your program. If you're pit picking them, make sure that [00:32:00] you as a player, that's a right fit for you.

And you know, again, that's, that's a principle that I really hope you take to heart. So now we're going to move on, right? To this idea of selling yourself, not in the literal way, but in the figurative way, but it's a way that you are actually selling yourself to coaches selling yourself to employers in other areas, but the same principles apply.

And you know, you've had a lot of stuff about. put the best up front when it comes to films and resumes, don't bury the lead, so to speak. can you dive into that a little bit more than the, the surface of that concept into what that looks like in the actual recruiting process and what you've seen on the coaching side, as well as what your, coaching up people and training people to do from the recruit side,

Don:[00:32:43] Yeah.

I mean, look, it doesn't matter what you're selling, whether it's yourself or whether it's, this pen, it doesn't, it doesn't matter what you're selling. If somebody doesn't need what you're selling, then you're wasting your time. So I think the first thing that [00:33:00] people have to know.

Is in the world of college soccer is what does that look like? So it was interesting. The coach walked up to you and asked do you have any players that could play at Vanderbilt? I think most people would say well, what the soccer looked like at Vanderbilt, cause I've never seen a Vanderbilt game.

I don't know. Right. I don't know what that looks like. and I think that so many players and parents. My kid's a D one player. Good. How many D one games have you seen? None. So tell me how, you know, your kids, that D one player. and what does that even mean? D one, I mean, is it D one or is it D one or is it

There is a  women's team in this country that won their conference or won their conference playoff game. they got the NCAA birth and then they got smacked down 15, nothing in the first round of the playoffs. So they're, both D one folks, you know, so then the worst team in that conference that literally had zero wins. What does that team look like? If the best team that was almost undefeated that season [00:34:00] get smacked down 15, nothing by Stanford. What does that worst team look like? And could we find a junior college in this country that could smash them around?

Pretty good. Yes, we could out absolutely zero doubt in my mind. That, that the team could beat them nine times out of 10 that I could pick 10 junior colleges in this country that would beat that team nine times out of 10. So what does D one even mean at that point? So it really comes down to that intrinsic feeling that you have.

What do you really want? Let's stop spouting around words. Look, if I'm, if I'm selling a used car and you come to me, And, and you go, Hey, I, I want to Porsche. That's what I want. I want a Porsche, my dream car. And I go, I can get you one for two grand and you go, what? And then I bring you a Porsche.

Look, there's no engine. You didn't specify that there no wheels, it doesn't run. The interior is torn up. You go, but who was it made by? It was made by Porsche. Or you could take that same two grand and get a. Get [00:35:00] up used Honda civic and it could go the next 50,000 miles for you never breaks down, never have a problem.

It just doesn't have that status symbol. So how I relate that to life, if it's like, what are we chasing folks? Are we chasing status symbols? Are we chasing just things so that we can brag about something? Or are we chasing happiness? Are we chasing a place where we can feel like we're contributing to something bigger than ourselves on a regular basis?

Like we're like, we're helping people like we're being, good human beings and contributing to society and our world and, and feeling fulfilled or do we just want stuff so that we can brag about stuff and post Instagram pictures of stuff and dance on Tik TOK around our stuff or whatever we do.

So that people will give us a Pat on the back. And so I think that, picking a college team is a lot like life it's like, no, just what fits me, who is all out of all those things, we kind of listed just what makes it feel like home to me so that when I think about this and I'm standing on, I [00:36:00] go, ah, I'm home.

I'm home. I'm good. I'm happy. I like this.

Phil:[00:36:05] Yeah. and with all of that, as far as selling, as far as, the Porsche thing merely made me think of something in, law school, when I was in law school and people were looking for jobs and I remember a kid actually got.

Kicked out of school because he put on his resume that he was a golfer and he got a job at a law firm and they took him out golfing, no realized he could not call

Don:[00:36:26] golfing.

Phil:[00:36:27] And, and it's, it's unbelievable what people will do.

Right. But, so I think there's that lesson of, when you're selling it, make sure you're selling. And you're honest with. Every part of it, you put your best up front. Yes. But don't exaggerate, don't sell something that you're not And, the interview advice I give everyone who ever asks me is be yourself because you don't want them to hire you. If you're putting on some air and you want to find out who they are. So if they don't like you, then you don't want to work there. I mean, that's the way it is. [00:37:00] And so I think that's something that I've seen I imagine you've seen similar things as you're getting people coming to you, even coming to you to say, Hey, represent me

Don:[00:37:07] Yeah. you're right, Phil.  so the tweet that I had made that you, that you referred to, I really didn't address it. It then that's look, I literally, I can show people. I watched a video that was a 16 minute long video. There was no action for the first two minutes and 30 seconds. It was all newspaper clippings. And then the next seven, eight minutes was just pedestrian.

Just absolutely average. Then somewhere in the middle, it was like, Oh, I think this is pretty good stuff. So I ended up not getting this kid as a client because they just didn't have much money and I wasn't going to take their money. And I, I figured I could give them enough advice to push them the right direction.

I got them to redo their film and got it down to about six minutes. And when I showed that six minute film to a bunch of kids trying to show them what a good film looks like you knew immediately. And throughout that film, that the kid was. At division one player of, a very high caliber. And [00:38:00] that six minutes though of good stuff was buried inside 16 minutes of stuff that doesn't matter.

No coach cares about a still shot of you. you're not trying to get a job in a modeling agency. Nobody cares about a still headshot of you. So a little bit crude, Phil, but you know how you make somebody never forget you for the rest of your life.

Walk up to somebody you don't know and punch him in the nose and then walk away. They will remember every freckle on your face. They'll remember what you looked like. That's never happened to them, possibly ever in their life, that somebody just cold up walks and will never forget you. Now take that concept to your resume or your video, or however your, elevator pitch, whatever you're trying to do to sell yourself or whatever you have.

Don't bore people. Don't give them irrelevant information that isn't directly pertinent to what we're talking about. don't sidetrack yourself, don't sink yourself before you ever start walk up to him and metaphorically punch him in the nose. Now, prospective student [00:39:00] athletes for PSA's, that video, man, when you open up with a bicycle kick and you follow up with a full volley and then a diving header, you own me at least for the next two minutes, whether it's good or not, you own me.

Yeah, I'm looking for another one of them. I love soccer. I love to see amazing soccer plays. And when I think that a kid is, is asking me to help represent him or when I was a coach, whether I thought a kid wanted to come here and they blew my. Doors off. I got so excited. There was a feeling inside of me, you know, that, that I really can't describe it's it's almost like love it's that butterfly it's that heart going in?

It's an adrenaline rush. It's that feeling like? Yes. I found the person I'm looking for. And, and as an employer, I was that way, when I saw a resume and then I interviewed somebody and I said, Holy smokes, this guy blew my doors off. I've got to have this guy. Gotta hire this guy. And so it's that, that's what it is.

And that's, so many times whether it's [00:40:00] a cover letter or a resume or a video or whatever, the good stuff's buried in there, and you never really catch the eye of the of the person who's reading it. Right? Yep. Yeah.

Phil:[00:40:13] absolutely. You got to have something that sticks out and, you know, and I, and I'd encourage people.

I mean, so, so let's just take a step back and go video. Some people will be just intimidated by that right away. I know, I've been a little bit with my kids cause we don't have a lot of money. We're not able to hire someone to do videography and whatever. Is it good enough to do an iPhone zooming in, on your kid?

Or what does that look like? As far as that goes, when you're not playing at the higher level, whatever that might have a videographer. And even if there is you can't afford it, what does that look like for, the reality for probably a lot of kids out there who might be listening.


Don:[00:40:48] the, the, yes, they can be done on an iPhone to short, short answer. I pad's usually a little bit better than an iPhone, but it can be done on an iPhone. I always say film from elevated positions. I've [00:41:00] seen people standing on ladders. I know you feel silly, but you're doing the right thing because you, need perspective, right?

if you're on the ground level, it just looks weird. if you ever, have you ever seen a GoPro on the ground, which is as low as you can go, you know how weird it is and, but the higher you get that GoPro, the more of a, view of the whole. A better perspective, you get of the situation of the layout and what players are doing.

So yes, it can be, but you know, in today's world, I think we are finding that if all the families of a teen chip in together, you can get a pretty decent setup for what is per person, a pretty reasonable cost, even for a poor family. And then, you could train even.

You could either go to two, like the VO with the AI technology where no cameraman needed. That's a little more expensive. You're talking a couple of grand outlay the first year. But divided by 20, it may not be that bad, but for some teams that would be not be reasonable. So you can go get a decent video camera train two or [00:42:00] three parents and have it done the right way because you don't want that.

You mentioned zooming, zooming in is disorienting to the person watching. And when you're too tight onto your player, because you want to catch everything, your player does, you lose the perspective of the action. And it's almost gives the viewer something like vertigo, having to zoom in and seeing things bounce around all of the time.

So you just watch, I always tell people, watch a soccer game on television and copy what they do. That half field perspective, three quarters field perspective is what most of the game, 90% of the game that you're watching is the zoom in doesn't happen except for the other cameras that are around it.

And, sorry, we're just not going to get that multi-camera perspective and you know, what the cool part is. college coaches aren't expecting that. They're not unreasonable. They understand that moms and dads look just please. Don't zoom. Don't don't film through a fence. Don't film from your car in the parking lot, and then blame the college coach because they don't like your amazing [00:43:00] child.

You've got to figure out a better way. I'm not talking about a COVID year and all of that stuff. That's, that's different. I'm just talking

Phil:[00:43:06] normal. Right. And then it's a matter of finding the clips and taking the time and that's just going to be time. And like you said, if you're not loving it enough to go out and do the hard work on the pitch and on the ball, and you're not taking the time to go do the video, then you know, it may not be the right thing for you because you're not willing to put in that time for it.

Don:[00:43:23] I didn't do my own son's video. I told my own son 20 years ago, my wife filmed the games. I said, now, if it's that important to you in a play in college and sit down and watch your games and write down where the good plays happen, and then we will sit down and we will figure it out. But if you can't watch a game and get out of pen and paper and go.

Minute nine 12. that was a past minute eight, 17. that was a header. And if you can't just sit down and do that with a game, then I would argue that you're not that intrinsically motivated to go play college soccer.

Phil:[00:43:56] That's right. You don't want it enough. Okay. So [00:44:00] we have a little bit more it might be a lot more depending on how long we talk, but I love this next topic. We're going to talk about here because it's something that I firmly believe and I've seen it come into play so many times in my life, in my career in soccer, but, more in my career. in the non-profit world, all around the world, but it's this idea of the small world of in this case college and pro soccer and how it relates to the real world.

Right. You hear, it's not what, you know, it's who, you know, and There's a lot of truth to that, and it does no different here in soccer. So can you speak to that and the things that you've seen there's a lot of tweets. If you just go up, if you scroll down on Twitter or Facebook or whatever, with Don, you'll see a lot of tweets on this.

So can you speak to that and we'll just have a good little conversation about it.

Don:[00:44:48] one of the ones recently started me thinking about it because a buddy of mine who coaches one of the top junior colleges in the country, Is pretty connected to he's had deep conversations with [00:45:00] marker Corrine at Florida state, Anson Dorrance at UNC chapel Hill and with Becky Burley at Florida, and about some of his players and, he was talking to me about how players won't even bother, Oh, you go to a JC.

I'm not even going to answer you, And it's like, Oh, if you only knew who he knew. If you only knew the doors that this guy could open up for you, if you went and performed for him. You have no idea. And I was one of those guys in my last junior college diet. I had one of the few junior college players in the country, I think ever recruited to Florida state the year after they won their first national title out of junior college, there was sending kids to Penn state and UMass and Lipscomb and New Mexico state and Cal state Bakersfield and on and on and on.

It's like, well, it's not that I'm better at what I do than everybody. I'm just been around a long time. And I know a lot of people and I am a very social person anyways. And so I'm not afraid to walk up to [00:46:00] anybody in this country and go, hi, I'm Don Williams. I just want to tell you, I admire what you do.

And yeah, I've got time for a cup of coffee and to get to know that person a little bit, right. That's right. And I think that what people need to understand is when we go for our licenses, we meet people. Then the guy, five years later, you find out he's at you know, my son's coach at St.

Francis Loretto, Pennsylvania, nobody knows who, what, where. He went to Notre Dame after that coach for Bobby Clark. Now he's at Oregon state, So it's like, you don't know where people end up and you don't know what people do, and you have no idea who knows who, so please be kind, please be respectful.

And that's why, even on internet or Twitter or whatever, and people DM me, they could be. It could be Anson Dorrance, diff not, but DM-ing me with some name of some other players somewhere. I don't know who, who really, so I just treat everybody respectfully and give everybody whatever time [00:47:00] that they need to, help them do whatever they need to do.

And I think that people understand that soccer is no different than everything else. You get into an industry, you get into the lighting industry, you get into the heating industry, you get into whatever, and you get people that have been around 20, 30 years that are movers and shakers and the real estate industry or whatever it is.

You'll find out that it's a small world and that somebody knows somebody. So we should all probably treat each other as if. we were talking to, the most connected person in whatever industry that we're in.

Phil:[00:47:30] Yeah. And one tweet, or I think it was on Facebook that I, that initially got me interested in talking with you was when you said most don't realize, but the number one college or tool college coaches use to find recruits isn't websites or webpages.

ID camps or recruiting events. Number one tool used by a vast majority of college coaches as they're well cultivated, trusted network. And this is something I've been telling my kids as they're going through the college process, just looking at different schools and a coach gets [00:48:00] out and reaches out to them.

I said, Have you responded yet? Well, you know, I got the, I know you're not interested, but you need to respond and thank them or get on a call with them. If, if nothing else it's good practice, right. It's good practice to have a conversation and know what an interview with a coach, really what it is.

Right. It's an interview with a coach, know how to interview what great practice for life. And so I said to him, I said, it's, it's rare. And what in it's practice where you don't. Thank you want to go to this school and you know what? You have no idea whether you want to go to this school until you look into it.

going back to the right fit conversation. But then the other one that you said, which, which made me laugh. And I agree as it says, I prefer to be told no by a recruit than ghosted or not replied to at all, And then you went on to basically say it's just the right thing.

And at the end of the day, it's just courteous. It's just courtesy and, and people want to know that. And it's funny you say that about, I look just this show, right? So I interviewed a few college coaches and one of them, I'm not going to name any names. He [00:49:00] knows who he is. And if the. Father of this player knows that knows who they are.

But I got my friend from high school who played at UCLA, but he said, Hey there's a girl on my daughter's team who really wants to go to that school. Can you connect, you know, like, I'm just, I'm not even a college coach, but I do coach high school. I know, you know, this guy knows that I know what I'm talking about.

And if I were to call him and say, Hey, if nothing else, it gets her to the top of the email list, right. It, that email may get responded to and she'll get a look. And so, you know, sometimes you just need that. Yeah.

Don:[00:49:36] And this is where it comes down to. Having an advocate for you and that advocate could be your high school coach.

It could be your club coach. it could be a parent on the team that maybe they played at Notre Dame. Back when, Bobby Clark was coaching there and Mike Avery was coaching there and maybe they can reach out, I don't know who that advocate's going to be in your life, but I think players need to have that [00:50:00] advocate because yes, it's not emails.

It's not tagging people on Instagram. It's not going to an ID camp. Do players get placed that way? Of course they do. Of course it does happen, but those are outliers. That's one of my other rants lately is like, will we please people stop living by outliers in our life? can I live life Willy nilly and plan on my retirement being hit or hitting the lottery and can that work can do we all really want to plan our lives that way by an outlier situation or a one-off.

And so With college and playing in college soccer, it's, the same way. So all of these things can work and maybe at times it's a combination of all of these things. So maybe it's not just one thing or just that thing. Because it, it could be a lot of things that happen. And I think it's important that players look for all avenues and ways to express themselves and maybe catch the eye of a college coach.

And. [00:51:00] Yeah, social media has, really in the last 10 years established itself as almost a news source. So coaches are beginning to look at that news source, Twitter or Instagram or Facebook as a place to discover players. Still a vast majority are because a college coach.

Went to college with and played with a now club coach who picks up the phone and calls him and goes, I got a kid for you. That's right. I got a kid for you. And that's how by far a vast majority of the players in this country are placed. And it's how 100% of our players are placed. It's through. It's true.

Do we, do we post stuff on the internet? Yeah. Yeah. we don't expect anybody to, to look at anything ever. We just go ahead and pick the phone up and message the coach and say, Hey, are you still looking for a striker for 2022? Yes, I am. Then take a look at this kid. I think that could be a good fit for you.

And because we've been there and done that they will listen. They will tend to listen. Not every time, I suppose, but [00:52:00] 99% of the coaches will listen. That's

Phil:[00:52:02] right. Yeah. I sent two of those texts out a couple of weeks ago. There's a winger and I knew one of the coaches was looking for a winger.

I said, you're still looking. And he's like, yeah, who is it? And I said, is she good enough if I said, yeah, I think so. you'll have to make that decision, but I think so my daughter. The school she's at, she'd never heard of. And one of her club, coaches said, Hey, you should think about this school.

It seems like a fit for you. And it was, and it was great. but that's how the coach even heard of her. Cause he'd never heard of her, never seen her. She'd never emailed until, This connection was made. It it's real. And it's just, it's so important. And you have no idea.

And this again is life in jobs. You have no idea who knows who no one would expect this dude who is happens to be the host of this podcast. Now they might because I'm the host of the podcast, but I've been a high school coach that no one's heard of in the soccer world, a few people, unless I have to be friends with them, but high school coach who happens to know a lot of [00:53:00] people in the soccer world.

And that's just the way it is. It's just, it's not something I've tried to do. It's just something that's happened. Right? One of them, my wife was the chaplain of the Atlanta Beat when it just so happened that a bunch of these players played for him. My co-host Paul Jobson now cohost. Baylor soccer coach.

His wife was one of those players. I mean, it's just this game of Paul and I now joke and say, should we start a family tree of all the people that we know jointly that we're connected to. I'm like, you know, we really need to, that'd be fun, but that's the reality of it. And that's something that just goes to life.

So, one last question that's kind of related to this, that I just got to know your thoughts on it. And if, and if you don't answer correctly in my mind, I'm just going to edit this out because I don't want my kids to think I was lying all these years, but. I have this theory and I've talked to several coaches about it and they've, tended to agree other than they don't always want to admit it.

But I said to him, I said, because I tell my kids, if you reach out to coaches and you show that you care and you, and you have a conversation with them and they like you, or [00:54:00] they want to like you, when they watch you play, first of all, they'll see you in the watch, you, but they're going to want to like you.

And so if you do one or two good things in that game, they're going to assume that. Those are how you normally play. Whereas if they don't know who you are, they quite frankly, they don't really want to like you. I mean, you know what I mean? I hope, but they they're going to be skeptical. If you have one good play, they'll probably be like, well, that might be a fluke.

But if they want to, like, you they'll see a mistake and go, Oh, that's probably just. It was a bad mistake. It was just happened to be everyone makes mistakes, whatever I'm seeing you nod, but what are your thoughts on that? And how do you, it goes to this thing we've just been talking about, right?

Treat people with respect, treat people how you'd want to be treated as basically that principle But how does that play out when they are going out? Because as we both know, when they go to a tournament, they're watching you for five to 10 minutes maybe unless they really want you and you're a national team player or something.

Don:[00:54:58] Well,  first of all, you've got to get, [00:55:00] you've got players have to get figured out how to get themselves to the point of that conversation with the coach. And that's the punching them in the nose part, right. It's like, Oh, crud. I really liked this kid's video. I want to go see them play in person.

I like their GPA. I like what they want to study. Let me, let me get them on the phone and just kind of see where their heads are at. See how many other schools they're talking to and see if they want to stay. If they want to travel to West Virginia. From California, see if they're even interested.

and so you got to get the coach to that point where you're having that conversation, then, then it comes time to, I don't know, we just had surf cup. Right. So, okay. So I'm going to go to surf cup and I'm going to go watch a player play. You're right. I want to like this, look, I've already, put this kid in my schedule.

I've already, flown all the way to Arizona in this case, normally San Diego, I've flown all the way to the tournament and I'm going to see this kid play. I want to love this kid. I want this kid to be the right fit right away. And, and that's good. And the coach, I think you're right on as opposed to look when I come.

When I go to watch a game, I know in the first [00:56:00] 15 minutes, if I want to stay anymore or not. It doesn't and if the best player is on the bench, that's not my fault. there's 10,000 kids to see here. And it always drives me nuts when I go to see a kid play. And I think it's the best player on the team.

And the coach is resting the kid for the finals and I never get to see the play. And I've got to catch a plane at 10:00 AM Sunday morning, and I'm not going to get to see the final. So I always tell coaches, look, when you're going to a showcase event, treat it as such. And give the players do respect, not worry about resting players, so you can win a championship by the way that most coaches won't even be at.

So then who's it for, is it for your trophy case or is it to help the kids get recruited by college coaches and all argue that if the finals, honestly, I've stayed at a few, almost no college coaches. We've already seen enough soccer by about day two, end of day two. You have a blurry soccer vision. You've watched so much.

And so you do it's 15 minutes at this field. Okay. Nothing catches my eye. Oh, good. I got a [00:57:00] player that caught my eye now. just emotionally, physically, and mentally. It's very difficult to assess 22 players simultaneously. You need to focus in on that kid and you need to watch everything that kid's doing.

What's the head doing? Are they checking their shoulder? Are they moving away appropriately in the space? Which part of the foot are they receiving it on? What surface did she strike it with? Can she strike it with multiple surfaces? what are they doing when they make them. Steak, I'm watching their head drop.

So they make a mistake. I'm watching their head drop. I'm watching how they recover emotionally. And whether how quickly they get back into the game, a player over there could have done a bicycle kick. And I paid no attention to it. I completely lost it. So it's like, how could you not notice my daughter?

She just scored it by school hit goal because that's the kid I was recruiting. I wasn't watching. Maybe I caught it out of the corner of my eye. And by the way, send me the film. Well, I'm not recording it again. Who's fault is all of this. some families really need to step up and take responsibility.

And every time I [00:58:00] post about video, somebody I can guarantee is going to chime in, Hey, there's poor people that can't afford to get a professional videographer. Your kids standing on the corner with a smartphone. So they own one. Yeah, but the parents can't go to the game. They can't ask somebody else to whatever, what responsibilities the coach have in all of this, by the way, who may or may not be paid and any paid coach in this country, I believe Ozer player responsibility to somehow make sure that every match is being filmed.

Otherwise. By the way coaches, how do you break down film? How do you study things after the fact unemotionally to see what you need to work on a practice? If you're not filming, what method do you use? You could use a notepad and I've done that to be honest. But film is much more effective to be able to play it back.

Phil:[00:58:48] something that all this goes to. And I, and I just, I do want to bring it back to the, just really the leadership principles here. And I think from a recruit, you're, again, leadership is influenced and as a recruit, you're wanting to influence these coaches.

[00:59:00] You're wanting to show them that you care. You're wanting to show them that you've taken the time to put together a video. You want to show them that, you know what you're talking about and you know, what. We'll make you look better, you're going to put your best foot forward. And I think that that is something that is so important too, to know, but also, leading yourself is important and to have this concept of the right fit to have this concept of, you know, you've done your homework.

That's the other thing I think coaches are looking for is that you've done your homework about their school, and you're not just spamming a bunch of coaches out there saying. I want to go to your school because you're a good soccer school.

Don:[00:59:34] So spot on and I just drive. I got one. I get one once a week and I'm not even a school.

Hey, coach love your school. Love to play for you. It's like, Oh, crud. You're sending this to every person in the entire world that you think might be related to college soccer. You think everybody's a school don't you? And they're usually kids from overseas who would do that to me. Almost [01:00:00] almost always, but concept remains the same because as a college coach, we all laugh that we get every once in a while we get the one where we can see the hundred and 37 coaches, they forgot to do BCC.

They forgot they did CC. They didn't know the difference between CC and BCC. So it's like, Oh, crud. Well, guess what? You're contacting Stanford, Virginia, UCLA, and me at my junior college. 700 kids in the mountains of California. Yeah. I'm probably not even going to respond. Why would I, I don't know. It's like, I don't, I don't even know what to say.

And usually I would just answer back and go by the way, which one of us are you addressing this too? I don't, I don't know who you're talking to. Yeah. And I would like to know who you're addressing and what you're trying to say. And, I want to study engineering and you're sending it to Academy of Art.

You know, it's like, well, then you're not doing your homework. I look, it's not a joke, Phil. I'm going to make a solid [01:01:00] estimate that I think would hold true from the day that someone starts working on college recruiting. For whether it's making their videos, putting them together till the day they sign is going to run somewhere between two and 3000 hours, two and 3000 hours, somewhere in there.

Some good lucky look, some, get lucky. Some, some players on the U S national team and every school in the country is coming after him. And you only got to spend six, 700 hours answering emails, visiting schools, back and forth, all that, but most people between two and $3,000. So. It's a job. It's a part-time job.

You need to work at it. It to play college soccer.

Phil:[01:01:40] And you gotta want it, I remember going back to that,  at the law firm I worked at, and again, this goes to every area of your jobs of, getting employment, whatever, take the time to write personal letters, emails to who you're wanting to go to.

Cause we had a letter. [01:02:00] Taped at the time to our recruiting director's door and it was. A letter that was written to a different law firm. And they said how much they want it to work for us. And that person will never get a job at, that law firm, because their name is now known in infamy.

on the flip side, what I've said to my kids is not just write a personalized letter to each person, I said, you need to study every single school. You're interested in, know what the majors are that they have, because if you say that you want, like you said, you want to study engineering.

They don't even have engineering. You want to study business. A lot of schools don't have business, they have something that's related to it. I went to UC Davis for undergrad and they had agricultural economics is what the business people to, you need to know that. And you need to put that, you know, you need to show them that you've done your research because why would they want to invest in you if you haven't even invested that little bit of time to do it?

Even when I write emails and I run a nonprofit, I write emails to my, ministry partners in the [01:03:00] organization that I run and I write. Individual emails to each one of them and I personalize them and yeah, we have maybe some template stuff that we're putting in there, but for the most part, it's going to be, I'm writing to you and that you can tell.

When you open up an email, you can tell when it's personalized to you. And then when it's some stock email that they've written to a bunch of people, whether it's BCC or not, you can tell. And so that's just something that I think is a life lesson for you out there for parents listening, which I hope there are a lot of parents listening, make sure that you're not only that you're.

Teaching your kids up to do that and training them up to do it, but that they're doing it.

Don:[01:03:40] that's the other part, Phil? I like that because, I think it's really important. I had a parent get into a long argument with me. Look, professional athletes have agents. Why can't I be my child's agent?

Why can't I do this for my child? My child's busy studying my child's busy. Busy going to soccer practice. My child doesn't have time for [01:04:00] this. So I think, and my answer was, look, I'm not saying that your child has to do every thing. I think that you can proofread your kid's emails for them and make sure that they go out, your kid can send them to you.

You can send it back to them and go, yeah, it looks good where I would change this, or I would change that. So I think that we can advise. Without micromanaging and isn't that a good lesson in business that we can help our employees be more productive, be better, come to good decisions without micromanaging them.

And yet I think a lot of parents want to micromanage their children. Because I don't know why. I think it could be a lot of different reasons. I think maybe some parents don't think their kids can handle it. They really don't. They don't think their kids are very good at this particular thing. Well, what better opportunity do you have as a parent than to teach your child how to be better at something if they're not very good at it.

And these are real, as you've said, Real world lessons that they are going to use [01:05:00] in their life. And by the way, I don't want any parent to think can't copy and paste anything. Of course you can bear copy and paste the one paragraph of your bio and your birth date and all of that. You don't have to rewrite everything, but as you said, it's really nice.

It's really nice when it's not coach Williams, but it's. It or a coach, but it's, it's coach Williams. It's really nice when it's not, I want to study at your school, but it's, I want to study at Cal state East Bay. It's really nice when you say I like what your school has to offer in the way of academics.

And instead you say, I understand you've got one of the top 10 kinesiology programs in the entire state of California. all of these things just make the coach go. Oh, and it's always great moms and dads always great. What connection do I have to that area that I could tie into?  Aunt Biloela that we visited every Christmas is down the road from Akron.

We used to drive by there all the time. Hey, I've had family in Akron. I've been [01:06:00] around that area and yeah, I love it. Then the coach already knows there. There's no question about the homesickness. There's no question about the weather that you've answered a lot of the coaches questions by sticking them.

That little piece I visited, we had a cabin. I've had families do this one. We had a cabin. Up in your area, went there all the time would love to live up there. Great. Well, that's where my school is. Come live up here. Cause you're a great player, and that, that time personal and that's just a sentence or two, it's not a lot.

Phil:[01:06:31] Yeah. Anything, anything that connects you with them? You know, and that's something that in my daughter had it pretty good. Like I said, with the Baylor, because you could say your wife held me as a baby. again, it's a personal touch that separates you.

Anything that can separate you, when the coaches are watching you wear that pink headband,

Don:[01:06:46] You know what the number is, Phil, in the United States. How many girls and boys are in high school playing college soccer. And when I say in high school from my high school age, maybe they don't play high school. Cause they're in the DA, that's fine. High [01:07:00] school age playing soccer that or a senior there's a pretty close to a million men and women. And then you add an international players on top of that. And on the men's side, I know the figure it's about 21%.

Of players playing an NCAA from another country. So you're not just competing anymore and it's growing on the women's side. It's not that big, but it's growing and it's growing rapidly. You've got to separate yourself from that million. How do you stand out to be one in a million We talk about headlines. We talk about headlines to grab coaches attentions and in the world of email, that's the subject line, right? So 2022 graduate available is the subject line pretty, pretty common. I've seen that as opposed to rapid goal scoring striker available in 2022.

Oh, yeah. I'll look at that video. Which one am I going to look at first? I'm going to look at the first one and if I liked that first kid, I may never get to the second one. I may never get to it. It's no [01:08:00] different than a resume or cover letter or something that's put together differently to say which one do I want to read first?

Because I have a choice. in the matter, which one I want to read first, look at first, you know, anytime we put out, last year we had max Broten, who's at SIU now, England under 17 captain. He was a captain for the England under 17 team. That one that's pretty Not a bad headline.

Right. And I'll never, nobody has that. So like I said, that's why I gave the first example, strong, big center back, you know, heading beast, tackling beast, I don't know, take the words that describe you and then boom. And then the video. Punch him in the nose with that thing right there, show them what you, what they signed up for.

So you don't want to mislead people with sensational headlines and then not have it cut the mustard as an, today we call it clickbait, right?

Phil:[01:08:49] Yeah. You need to make sure to be able to back it up like we talked about earlier, don't say rapid goal scoring striker, and then you play a false nine and you're slow and you're on a team.

That's not that good [01:09:00] at scoring. Yeah. Right. but I will tell you if you are a rapid goal, scoring striker, you will have a lot of coaches responding to you. If you have something to back it up, because those are not very common. I was actually just talking with our, the last Post game show we did.

If you haven't listened to folks, you can go back and listen to me and coach Jobson and I talking about this, but we were talking about that because one of our prior episodes, the guy talked about when you have that striker who may be a bit arrogant and may potentially be a virus on your team, but they're a striker and that's what makes them great at their position.

it's a hard balance and he goes, I'd be happy to have one of those strikers it's really. Hard to find, but you wouldn't obviously with the virus, he was kidding. But anyway, all that to say, there's so much more to this as, as with everything we could talk about, the good news for you folks is you can go and, check out a lot more wisdom from Don all over that social media that we talked about.

But I have a couple more questions that we ask our guests. And I look forward to hearing your answer on this, but what lessons have you learned directly from soccer? [01:10:00] And we've talked a little bit about what we mean by that, the idea of retaliate or gets the red, or, touch the line or things like that.

From soccer have you used in your leadership, in your marriage parenting and really other relationships?

Don:[01:10:12] It really is about relationships and everything in this world really does tie down to relationships and how you connect to others. and I think soccer has really laid that out for me over my 30 years, coaching and gosh, almost 50 years playing, not, quite we'll be in a few months, but.

it's about the relationships that we build with, with referees, right? With other, with opposing coaches, with sometimes with opposing players. I love nothing more than having a good laugh with, with an opposing player over somethings, maybe silly that our team did, where we both look at each other and go that that just happened.

That's great. and it's those connections. And I think in the business world and in. Relationships with, with people you work with and with colleagues, you know, having those [01:11:00] relationships and understanding where they're coming from. I think as it's tied in really, really tightly to my life and, and how things work and my kids want, I would say I've grown up a lot.

And even the last 20 years, I'm, I'm really glad I'm not the same person that I was 10 years ago or 20 years ago, or even two years ago. I'm not that same person. I'm a different person than I was. And then I, and I think all of us, probably if we're honest and we look back, we'll say, yeah, I'm a different person and I'm glad, and I'm glad for it.

So also having that flexibility and allowing yourself to maybe not approach life as this is the way we've always done it. But, Hey, I've got a choice here. There's a fork in the road. Maybe even it's a little one in my life. I can choose to take the path less traveled or I can choose to take. Maybe I took the path less traveled last time.

And maybe I do want to take the easier route, to it. I think that that's probably what I've taken away the most [01:12:00] from soccer as it relates to the rest of my life.

Phil:[01:12:03] That's great. And so the last question again, there's more to, there's so much more, I'd like to talk about it and all these things, but we are running a little long right now, so I'm going to just skip right to the last question we have, which is what have you read, watched or listened to recently that has impacted your thinking on how soccer explains life and leadership.

Don:[01:12:22] I don't know recently, I'll list out a few books that have really changed my perspective on life of the world. One of them, ironically, is the name of your podcast we can talk about is how soccer explains the world. And, and that book breaks it down. I think we talked about this.

I think you said you had read it, Phil. Yeah. Yeah. It breaks down all of the socioeconomic ills of our day and breaks it down into a club or a game or a situation in the world of soccer. And that really helped me tie together in my own head. Oh yeah. What we're teaching? What we're teaching is life skills to kids.

If I was a great artist, if I could paint, I'd be [01:13:00] doing it through painting. If I was a violinist, I would be doing it through music. I like to teach people. I like to help people. I like to guide people along the right path, and I just happen to use soccer as the tool to do it. So that was one of them.

One of the other things in my life there's a great book called 10% Happier. If you've never read it 10% Happier pick that one up. The guy that wrote it is a television guy. He does good morning America on the weekends and his name's Dan Harris and yeah, pick that one a bit changed my life.

And he started me down reading some different books. About about just kind of how we look at life and how we look at the world and how to enjoy being in the present moment of whatever we're doing right now. And so, Thich Nhat Hanh is another great read. that kind of tie into that, to what we do on a daily basis that affects others in a positive way.

And looking at things more extensive, right? more to the greater picture of things, instead of [01:14:00] internalizing everything and thinking you're the only one who has those thoughts. And you're the only one who feels that way. And for me, that was a very lonely existence.

Thinking that I was the only one who thought these thoughts, or I was the only one who felt that way about these things, because I was too embarrassed to express myself or admit my own vulnerability or admit that I don't know something I've started to say more than ever. I don't know. I don't know this whole COVID thing.

We're all predicting what's going to happen. And the fact is none of us know, none of us have a clue that I don't care. Even the biggest. Whatever virologists in the world, can't predict when this thing will end, when it will go away on and what the final solution is going to be. So I think being vulnerable and being afraid, not being afraid to say, I don't know, and listening to.

Listening to guys like Gary Vaynerchuk, Gary V if you can stand the swearing, he swears a lot, but Gary V just spits a lot of he's on all of our Instagram [01:15:00] life lessons. Just stuff that he's learned, he's a multimillionaire, but he doesn't talk about getting stuff and wanting stuff. He talks about empathy and kindness and helping people and all of those, the traits that I think most people would say, yeah, I possess those traits.

I'm a good person. I'm a good person. Yeah. I liked that. I think most people, I even serial killers answer that way. I'm a good person. I'm doing the world. Good. Right. So most people internalize that they're good. Right. That they're a good person. So now how do we externalize that? How do we demonstrate that to the world and how do we truly make a difference?

So those are the two, I would say that in the last 10 years. Oh, there's another one. Oh, now I'm going to forget who it is, brother. I'm going to recommend this to all coaches and I got to come up with this real quick here. It's Oh goodness. So Dan Harris has one. And then, and then like I said, Thich Nhat Hanh is another one that I would recommend people read people read, and the [01:16:00] other one is, Oh Lord, it's going to escape me.

I tell you what if you've got end notes at the end of the episode, I will get you. I will get you a list of. Have a couple of, of a couple of books. Okay.

Phil:[01:16:11] Yeah. You can send me those and we'll put them in the show notes for people and the, yeah, that'll


Don:[01:16:15] just happens when you're 58 years old. You forget things like

Phil:[01:16:18] you did.

Totally. I understand. And I will say that, one of the pieces of leadership advice I give to anybody that I train in leadership and anybody that I train really in anything relating to leadership is I don't know, is a phenomenal answer when you don't know. Because it's not something, you want to say all the time or else people will think you have no idea what you're doing, but if you don't know, I don't know, it was a great answer.

And then the follow up should always be, but let's find out together or, let me go check that out and find out I can find out from somebody and I'll get back to you, whatever the case may be, if you don't know. And there's a way to figure it out now, like you said, with COVID and what's going on.

No one knows. And if they say they do they're [01:17:00] lying. Because nobody knows. Or they have top secret information that I wish everybody would be able to know, but I think it's that nobody really knows what's going on. And it just is. And that's, when that's the fact that's okay. And I think in our jobs, in our coaching, in, in things like that, I think you gain more respect from people when you say, I don't know.

And you have that vulnerability.

Don:[01:17:21] the way Phil it's inside out coaching by Joe Ehrman, And I tell people may be the most important book on coaching that I've ever read in my life. And it completely changed the way that I see myself as a coach or how I wanted to see myself as a coach, what I wanted to be inside out coaching by Joe.

Phil:[01:17:40] Yeah. It's fantastic. Transactional coaching versus relational coaching and a whole lot more than that, but such a great book. I totally agree with that. Actually. It's funny because at our. At our high school last year, the athletic director made it highly suggested reading for us. And I'm very glad she did because what a phenomenal book.

And I hadn't heard of it [01:18:00] yet. So I'm glad you, I'm glad you found it and I'm glad you referenced it. And with that, we are going to wrap up another episode that I've, loved this conversation as much as I thought I would. I really appreciate getting to know you a bit better and now we can

add this to that list of the small world that we have, that we know each other, and we can help each other out in that regard. But thanks again, Don, for taking the time to be a part of this. Thank you for all that you're doing for so many kids out there who are wanting to go to that next level, whatever that next level for them is.

So thanks a lot, Don.

Don:[01:18:28] Hey, thanks Phil. And I'll leave it with this one. We also have Inside College Soccer Podcast in which we've interviewed some of the greatest that have ever coached in the game, as well as sports psychologists, like Dan Abrahams one of the best in the world. And, but you guys can check that out too.

It's called Inside College Soccer.

Phil:[01:18:46] definitely check out that podcast. If you're on this podcast, chances are, you're going to want to listen to that podcast as well. So again, thanks a lot for the download. Thanks for being a part of this conversation. Folks out there really appreciate you.

And I look forward to hearing [01:19:00] how these episodes are impacting you. If you have other people you'd like to be on the show that you know, would be good guests, please email that to me at phil@howsoccerexplainsleadership.com. And with that, I hope that you take everything you learned in this show as always.

I hope that you're taking it to help you to be a better coach, a better leader in whatever area of this world you are leading, whether that's your family, whether that's your organization or whether that's your soccer team. So thanks a lot. Have a great week.