By Ian Shalapata
(WINDSOR, ON) – The Novelletto Complex at Mic Mac Park was the site, on Saturday, of the first ever soccer clinic hosted by Windsor TFC featuring two NCAA Big 10 head coaches. With more than 80 players, coaches, and parents in attendance, the clinic was a showcase for they type of training and skills development which is in store through the Windsor TFC Academy.
Moreover, parents were able to question Michigan State’s Damon Rensing, Maryland’s Sasho Cirovski, and Windsor’s Steve Hart about how their children should best approach playing at the university level in the United States and Canada.
Cirovski has been coaching at the University of Maryland since 1993, leading the Terrapins to NCAA championships in 2005 and 2008. As the Michigan State head coach since 2009, Rensing has twice taken the Spartans to the Elite 8 in the national tournament.
Cirovski and Rensing conducted skills sessions with the players, running them through drills and small-group scrimmages which are typical at the two US schools. The hopefuls looking to catch on with the Windsor TFC Academy U17 squad were guided through the disciplines and then expected to perform the drills to a high standard.
“We want to make sure the players understand what it takes to be a good player and the additional work and nurturing the sport requires,” said Cirovski. “It’s not just about being at a clinic or being on a good team, there’s an element of individual responsibility the player has to understand.”
The second part of the afternoon was a question and answer period for parents and coaches. The discussion revolved around the differences between the Canadian and US schools in terms of recruiting, scholarships, and training.
Hart told the gathering that Canadian universities base recruiting on academics as much as skill levels. Scholarships require an 80% average just to apply, while 70% must be maintained at the school. In Canada, coaches can also initiate communication with players during the recruiting process while in the US, players have to make their interest in a school known by contacting the coaching staff.
Usually, communication with a school is made by emailing a resume and, often, a video, to the head coach. Hart said the emails were appreciated, but warned that any videos with obnoxious music were routinely deleted.
Cirovski also suggested that t be the player who contacts the school and not the parent.
Rensing and Cirovski each related to parents that while scholarships were available to Canadians at US universities, they were generally less than “full rides” and more often accounted for a very small percentage of the roster.
“From the soccer standpoint, just kind of what the demands are for Division 1 level speed of play,” said Rensing. “We teach them what we are looking for, what we demand of our players in training sessions, and we let them know how the process works with the college selection process.”
Cirovski said that the private schools, like the Ivy League institutions, usually had more academic money available for athletes than the public schools.