UNC and England Star, Alessia Russo, Talks College Soccer Recruiting

Alessia Russo is a former soccer player at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In her three seasons at UNC, Alessia scored 28 goals and had 9 assists. She was a Hermann Trophy semifinalist, first-team All-American, 3x first-team All-ACC, and team captain. Recently, Alessia Russo played for the England National Team at the 2023 World Cup, where they made it to the championship game. She now plays club soccer for Arsenal in the Women’s Super League. Alessia Russo is one of the bright starts of the future of women’s soccer, and we were lucky enough to have her answer some questions about her recruiting experience and what it is like to play Division I soccer at UNC.

What is the best advice that Coach Dorrance have given to you or the team as a whole?

One of the biggest things [Anson Dorrance] advocates throughout your career at North Carolina is that what’s most important is our character development. He ranks the whole environment at North Carolina on three different levels.

How many other colleges did you look at before you decided on UNC and what was the deciding factor?

UNC was the only school I visited. I always knew I wanted to come to America to play college soccer.

Should recruits be prepared to play different positions in college if needed?

Yes, definitely. That’s for any team, doesn’t even have to be at college. If you can play multiple positions that’s great for your career and your soccer CV. If you can be adaptable and play where needed, that’s massive for college soccer and soccer as a whole.

What is it like playing for such a legendary coach?

Coming to UNC is probably the best decision, soccer-wise, that I have made. Often, our team gets asked questions about Anson and it’s hard to put into words how influential he can be until you’ve been involved in his environment.

What is the most significant difference in the game of soccer that you noticed from the youth level to the high school level to the college level?

The physicality for sure. Also, the speed of the game. When you go to college, every girl is the stand-out player on their high school team. You really have to take your training and take your attitude up a level.

Were your parents involved in your recruiting process? If so, were they balanced in their involvement or were they involved a little bit too much? What is some advice you can give to parents who try to control their child’s recruiting process?

My parents were both involved, I wouldn’t say heavily, but they were involved. I visited on my own, my parents didn’t come. At the end of the day, it’s your decision, you’re going to be at the school for four years.

What are three key ingredients that you think an athlete needs to play soccer at the collegiate level?

You’ve got to be fit. Especially in college soccer, you’re playing two to three games a week.

Also, be a good teammate. That’s one massive thing we encourage at UNC; look out for your team.

Finally, be a leader. It’s hard as a freshman, you go in and you have to learn from the sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

How can athletes use social media to help them with their recruiting process?

Social media is massive these days, especially with our generation. You can definitely use it as an advantage, but it can also be very detrimental to your recruiting process.

What are some dos and don’ts when a recruit goes on an official visit at UNC?

Don’t be shy. We love having recruits and taking them around campus and giving them a little feel for what it’s like to be a Tar Heel.

What is the craziest or fun thing you have seen happen on the soccer field?

The past final four in San Jose, we played the semifinal against Washington State. Our group of players had never played on that field before…Our two center backs both go out to press one of the girls and they both lost their footing…A guy had to fly all our studs in for the final and we all had to wear brand new cleats. Some didn’t even fit us, we just had to use the sizes that were there.

What is your go-to pregame song?

Our locker room before a game is crazy and it was never like that in England. We have a disco ball. The last song before we leave the locker room is “Get Out of Your Mind.”

What is your go-to meal before a game?

Panera. Every game, our team goes to Panera whether we are in North Carolina or on an away trip. Some girls love it, some girls hate it, but I don’t mind it.

Image Credit: @alessiarusso99/Instagram

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