Describe the qualities that your program is looking for in a potential student-athlete?
Soccer talent is obviously important but for us, being the level of academic school MIT is, the main thing we are looking for is the attitude and enthusiasm to balance competitive college soccer with a rigorous academic environment. It is a challenge and we are looking for players who are aware of this challenge and are ready to rise to the occasion and put in the time needed to do both. My advice to high school players in this vein would be to make sure you look very closely at the academic facets of a school, regardless of what level of soccer you are interested in. No matter what you will still have to attend class and do well in school in order to keep playing. If very much turns off a coach when interested players seem to have no clue about the school and what it offers academically. It is nice to have a good fit as a soccer player, but if you do not have a good fit for the school you will not be successful in the long run.
Soccer wise the most important thing is willingness to work hard and train and get more fit and stronger. Soccer talent is good, but if the strength and conditioning are not there at the college level a player will not get it done. You have to be fit and ready to play at the peak when the season starts. The college season is too short to wait for players to get in shape. This means that the most important part of the college season is the summer in terms of preparation and due to college rules players have to handle this on their own. Those who truly excel have the discipline to do this.
Could you give an example of a current or former player who exceeded your expectations, highlighting the reasons that player excelled?
I currently have a senior who went from being a player I would never have thought would really play to a two-year starter. Her improvement was 100 percent down to strength and conditioning and work on her own. Her soccer skills were average when she got to school, but she was in good shape which allowed her to make the team. However, over the years she took this fitness to another level. She was always in the best shape and one of the strongest and agile players. She could play forever at the same level and never get tired. This gave her confidence and also allowed her to be very consistent. Her soccer skills improved greatly over this time mostly do to her improved speed and agility and the fact that her fitness did not have an impact on her soccer play. Though her first touch for example was not the best on the team, late in the game while others tired and dropped a level of play she stayed the same and this allowed her to give an overall solid performance. She is truly a player who excelled not based on talent but because she wanted it more and put in the work. Some people are born with soccer talent and others develop it even more thanks to certain physical traits, but every player can work hard and run and train and improve fitness. All it takes is the willingness to make the effort.