Over 150 college coaches registered for NPL finale
By virtue of its unique structure, this weekend’s 2016 NorCal NPL Fall Showcase aims to provide players with the best possible opportunity to prove themselves to the more than 150 of college coaches looking to attract some of the top talent Northern California has to offer during the two-day event.
NorCal Premier Soccer’s important change of introducing a competitive aspect to the showcase by making all the games part of each club’s National Premier League season has ensured that those attending can get the most value possible for their time and come away with a better idea of which players they want to pursue.
“When I was working at various Northern California colleges, one of the most important events on my calendar was the NPL Showcase,” said NorCal Premier Soccer Director of Operations Daniel Chamberlain, a former college coach. “Not only did it afford me the opportunity to see all the top players in Northern California in one place, but it was always an extremely well-run event. NorCal always did a great job of taking care of the college coaches who were in attendance, and because the games were part of the league and the teams were playing for something, the games were always competitive.
“I found it to be one of the top events that I attended in terms of quality on the field and the ability to scout players in a competitive environment.”
It’s not an exaggeration to say that college coaches in the modern soccer landscape face numerous challenges in all facets of their careers, perhaps none of which are more daunting than the convoluted recruiting process which is only exacerbated by the vast geography of the United States.
In relatively-small European countries like the Netherlands or Italy, a talent evaluator can hop on the train with breakfast in hand, travel halfway across the country to watch a prospect, and still make it back for dinner before dark.
Here, a coach would struggle just to make it across the state and back in one day, let alone traverse thousands of miles to the far reaches of the US.
To combat these issues, youth soccer organizations around the country have often scheduled these massive playdates, known as “showcases,” in order for coaches to view hundreds of players in a short time without breaking the bank in their travel budgets.
But with many showcases come more problems: the games aren’t always competitive and players may be thrown together with unfamiliar teammates if the event is set up in a combine-style manner.
Thanks to NorCal’s solution, many teams will be fighting for the hard-earned points that could prove the difference between qualifying for this spring’s Champions League or missing out on that top prize altogether when the girls (U15-U17, U19 divisions) take the field at the Davis Legacy Soccer Complex in Davis and the boys (U16-U17, U19 divisions) suit up at Mary Grogan Park in Modesto this weekend.
Past NorCal showcases with this structure have shown their worth as multitudes of players in the NPL have earned spots at colleges all across the country, with 326 girls and 274 boys from the last three class years (2014-2016) moving on to play at the next level.
“(The NPL showcases) are great opportunities for our kids to be evaluated by college coaches. NorCal has done a great job of building this event and bringing in college coaches and it’s only improving in that respect,” said Marin FC Director of Coaching Josh Kalkstein. “Additionally, it provides our kids with the opportunity to play with just the little bit more pressure which they need as part of their development, particularly at the older age groups.”
“To date, the NPL Showcase has just gone from strength to strength,” he added. “NorCal has done a fantastic job and we, as a club, are very
appreciative of the work the folks of NorCal have put in on behalf of the kids.”
Over the course of Saturday and Sunday, coaches can pick from any of the 121 girls games or 83 boys games to watch, with the close proximity of the matches allowing for the viewing of multiple matches simultaneously.
In addition, most clubs are scheduled for contests on each of the two days, giving coaches a second bite at the apple should they miss out on a team while watching another game taking place at the same time.
“At each of the schools that I worked at it was really important to know our back yard and do a good job bringing in top players from the area,” Chamberlain said. “The NorCal NPL Showcase allowed me to look ahead to some of the top young players as well as get confirmation on older players that we wanted to bring in.”
By Evan Ream. Follow @EvanReam