NorCal College Showcase History
When hundreds of teams take the field later this month for the 12th year of the NorCal Premier Soccer College Showcase, it will be yet another opportunity for talented players from all across the state to catch the eye of onlooking college coaches and secure the next portion of their soccer journey.
And few players will have to travel particularly long distances for this incredible opportunity, but it wasn’t always this way.
NorCal was founded in 2004 and before it put together its inaugural showcase a few years later, there were few opportunities in Northern California for players to get scouted.
“A showcase was clearly something that we always wanted to do and once we received or achieved a certain number and level of clubs and teams we knew it was a natural addition to the competition platform because ultimately the vast majority of the children who are playing 16-19 typically have aspirations to play at the next level so we wanted to provide them with a good California showcase,” said NorCal Premier Soccer Vice President and co-founder Shawn Blakeman.
The event started much smaller than it is now, where thousands of players and hundreds of college coaches gather twice a year at a central location for the talent identification process.
But though it began in a more modest fashion, the NorCal College Showcase helped fill the need for a large local event that the entire soccer community could converge on.
“Prior to that, the showcases we attended were primarily Surf Cup and then you’d have to splash in a Vegas trip or something in Arizona,” Blakeman said. “We realized that statistically, if you look at the players of Northern California, an overwhelming majority are going to end up going to a California institution so why are we spending time and money going somewhere else when most of these kids aren’t going to go to those schools?”
Because longtime NorCal residents like Blakeman and fellow co-founders Benjamin Ziemer and Paolo Bonomo had built up a long list of contacts throughout their years of playing and coaching, dozens of college coaches showed up at the first event and the amount of participants has increased almost every single year.
While the majority of the event is still made up by California college coaches, now some all the way from the Midwest and East Coast make the NorCal College Showcase a priority on their calendars.
“It’s a really great event,” Cal Poly Humboldt men’s head coach Fred Jungemann said at the 2021 showcase. “There are a lot of quality teams in Northern California that come here so we know we can get a good overview of all of the players here. It’s a great opportunity for us to cover a lot of bases in one weekend.”
Furthermore the event provides a place where NorCal’s PDP staff can further evaluate talent and continue working towards narrowing down the candidates who it selects as part of the PDP State Team that travels to an international tournament every year.
“Year after year, what a great event that it has become, especially the one that’s done in the fall because it’s always the week before Surf Cup so these kids are getting tremendous exposure two weekends in a row,” Blakeman said. “We’ve seen a trend where coaches come to our event, stay a couple of extra days, and then head down to Surf. It’s a great synergy between the two events because now they’re getting to see these players more frequently and in good, competitive games.”