NAME: Jaileen Goncalves
Jaileen Goncalves played her last season of soccer at the University of Rhode Island in 2019. She was a captain of the University of Rhode Island women's soccer team for two years. She started in almost every game throughout her four years as a student-athlete and played in all but six games. Jaileen was a role model on and off the field; she led by example. Her commitment to the team and her consistency was bar none. Every time she stepped foot on the field, you knew what you were going to get. Besides playing on the soccer team at URI, she was also a member of SAAC and was on the dean's list every semester.
For those athletes who are looking to play soccer at the DI level, how many colleges do you think they should be looking at? How many did you look at, and do you think that was enough?
For athletes that are looking to play soccer at the DI level, I would advise that you look at as many colleges as you can. Do not limit it to a number, but make sure you are realistic at the schools you are looking at. I only looked at four schools seriously, and that was not enough. You need to keep your options open; looking at several schools will help you discover what you like and dislike. Do not limit yourself to a certain number; explore as many schools as you want.
High school athletes have a tough time starting the recruiting process; what were the first two-steps that you took?
The first step I took when I started the recruiting process was making a list of schools I was interested in. My list started short because I was only a freshman in high school, so I had no idea where I wanted to go to school. It is hard to think about where you want to go to college when it seems so far away, but I recommend putting this list together as early as you can.
The second step I took during the recruiting process was sending out emails to the coaches of all the schools I had on my list. If I had a showcase coming up, I sent them my schedule to let them know what time and where I was going to be playing. Keep in mind that coaches cannot answer you until you're a sophomore in high school. It does not hurt to reach out to them, so show that you're interested, and it will put you on their radar.
Related: Reaching out to College Coaches
When did you start reaching out to coaches, and how did you go about it?
I started reaching out to coaches when I was a freshman in high school. The recruiting process looked a little different then because the coaches were able to respond to you no matter what grade you were in. I started by sending emails to schools I was interested in. I introduced myself and told them where my upcoming games or showcases were going to be. After my games, I followed up with either a phone call or email to see if they were able to make it to the game. I recommend you start reaching out as early as possible! Most coaches prefer either an email or a phone call.
How did you get on the college coach's radar?
I played ECNL, Elite Clubs National League, and because of that I played in many showcases across the country. There were college coaches lined up on sidelines during these games, so it was a great way to get on college coaches' radars. I would email the coaches prior to the game so they would know what field and what time I was playing.
For the soccer athletes who want to play in the northeast, what showcases or tournaments would you recommend that they attend? Do you think attending college's soccer camps is key?
The best showcases and tournaments are the ECNL showcases. Like I mentioned above, tons of college coaches attend these games. I pretty much only looked at schools in the northeast, and there were tons of coaches from that area at the showcases. There is one every year in New Jersey, but the rest of the showcases are held in different parts of the country. I attended one college soccer camp, but that is because the coach asked if I would go after she saw one of my games. I think it is a great way to get recognized by a coach, but I do not believe they are essential. Some schools recommend you go to their camps, but others do not. For me, it was not crucial. I attended the school's soccer camp that I committed to because they had seen several of my games.
What three key elements do you think make a great DI soccer player?
The three key elements that make a DI soccer player are commitment, resilience, and competitiveness. There are many traits a DI soccer player must have, but to me, these are the most important. Playing any DI sport is a huge commitment, and every player that is looking to play at this level needs to understand it is a job. There are going to be moments where you feel like it's too much, and that is where the resilience comes into play. You need to be able to get through the setbacks and obstacles you may face throughout the years. Lastly, you need to be competitive. My coach would always say at practice and games, “you need to compete.” This sounds like an obvious one, but it's not. This does not mean just compete in games “when it matters” you need to be competing with your opponents and your teammates constantly. By competing at practice, you are not only making yourself better but your teammates as well.
What advice can you give to a high school athlete who does not get along with their coach and is not being played as they should?
Although it is tough not to receive the playing time one deserves, the most important thing is to stay positive. Keep working hard on and off the field. If you continue to work hard, do what you're asked, and maintain a positive attitude, then I think it is appropriate to have a conversation with your coach. Even though you may not get along with this coach, you should approach him in a nice, professional manner and ask why you are not getting playing time.
What are some questions that are vital for soccer athletes to be asking about acquiring athletic scholarships?
You need to ask yourself, will you be receiving the same amount of athletic scholarship for four years? Or is it going to differ every year? When a coach gives you a percent of what they give you, you should ask yourself how much left are you going to have to cover. College is expensive, and when a coach gives you an offer, it can be deceiving. The amount may seem like a lot when they first tell you, but you need to ensure you can afford whatever amount you are left to pay.
We have spoken with a vast amount of DI athletes that have told us that they were promised full-rides, but when it came down to it, they were not offered anything close to that. Any advice on how a recruit can secure what a coach offers them?
I went through something similar. I was told the amount of athletic scholarship I was going to be given, and even though it was not a full ride, financial aid and academic scholarships would cover the rest. That was not the case. I received a lot less than what I thought I was going to be given. If you are verbally committing, there is no way to secure the offer because it is not finalized until you sign your NLI. There are questions you can ask yourself though, do you trust this coach? Is the coach making you decide right away when they give you the offer?
Now that TikTok is a huge social media platform for high school athletes, what is some advice that you can offer them on how they should be using it, as well as social media in general?
I can honestly say that I do not have a TikTok, but treat it like any other social media platform. Remember that what you put on social media is out there forever, and you do not want an inappropriate post on social media to be the reason you can't play at your dream school. A rule of thumb to go by, “if you do not want your grandma seeing it, do not post it!”
Let's talk about parents' involvement in their child's recruiting process. How involved should they be, and when should they back off?
I think that the recruiting process can be a challenging and confusing time for high school athletes. Parents should be there to guide and help you through this time. They should support you in whatever decision you choose to make but offer advice when they think it's needed. For example, I think parents should be involved in the financial aspect. When coaches are talking about scholarship offers and financial aid, the parents need to be involved. The times where they should take a step back are when their child is making a list of schools they're interested in and when their child is talking about the pros and cons of each school after unofficial/official visits. Parents are not going to be spending the next four years at the school; their child is. Lastly, and most importantly, the parent should leave all communication with the coach to the child. Parents should not be emailing or calling coaches for their child.
If you could go back in time and change one thing about your recruiting process, what would that be?
If I could change one thing about my recruiting process, it would have been keeping my options open and not rushing to make a decision. I should have looked at more schools and not jumped at the first offer I was given. Something else I should have considered is “would I go to this school even if I was not playing a sport?” I played my sport for all four years, but that is something you should ask yourself because you cannot make your decision solely on your sport. You are going to go to school to #1 get an education and #2 to play your sport.
Would you have used 2aDays as a resource when you were looking to get recruited? Please explain.
YES! I wish I had access to 2aDays during my recruiting process. The recruiting process is very difficult, and 2aDays would have helped make this time in my life easier and more organized. My parents had no idea what they were doing either, so having 2aDays as a resource would have helped my entire family have a better understanding of the recruiting process. It also would have helped me stay organized, and most importantly, it would have allowed me to explore real, transparent ratings on the coaches of the schools I was interested in!
3 Fun Questions:
What is the craziest thing you saw a parent do at a game?
One time when I was little, a parent of the opposing team ran up to the sideline ref, handed the ref a whistle, and said: “here I think yours is broken!”
What is the funniest thing that happened to either you or another player on the field?
During a game in high school a girl pulled my pants down..thank god I was wearing spandex!
What was the nastiest thing you saw another team's player do to one of your players?
In high school, we were playing our rivals and a girl that I knew very well purposely slapped me in the face! I said to her, “did you just slap me,” and she said, “yes, what are you going to do about it.” Don't worry; we didn't get into a fight; I walked away, hahaha.
* Originally published on September 1, 2021, by Jaileen Goncalves