Match Fit Academy is one of the country’s premier youth soccer clubs, and its co-founder and director of operations, John Calcaterra, works with PREMINENTE student-athletes looking to not only elevate their soccer game but also make themselves more marketable as college prospects. In addition to providing comprehensive guidance throughout the college recruitment process, Match Fit develops young soccer players into responsible and mature role models who are stewards of the sport and are prepared for the rigor of academics and athletics at the college level.
In this On Point with PREMINENTE interview, So You Want to Play Soccer in College, we talk with John about the state of youth soccer in the United States today and the challenges associated with playing soccer beyond the youth level.
So, You Want to Play Soccer in College?
Soccer – or football, as the rest of the world calls it – is having a moment in the United States. Do you see this surge in popularity continuing? And how has it changed the landscape for player development?
The Women’s World Cup is a global tournament that has done an incredible job of shining a spotlight on to the sport of soccer, and we’ve seen incredible growth in the rates of youth participation in recent years. The sport is an extraordinary platform for young men and women to build character and develop self-confidence, and by playing in tournaments nationwide, they are able to see the country in ways they might not otherwise be able to, which can influence their post-high school goals and aspirations. This explosion of participation also means there is significantly higher competition vying for the limited number of opportunities to play at the collegiate level. The basic principles of player development remain intact, and our approach to supporting our members throughout the college process is constantly evolving so that we can meet the needs of players seeking to extend their soccer careers.
At Match Fit, we take great pride in finding Division I, Division II, and Division III programs, respectively, that will offer both a great opportunity for players to get field time as well as academic offerings that best align with the player’s professional career interests and personal passions. Many players aspire to play for top-tier soccer programs. Factors such as university size, offered academic majors, and the social environment, in addition to projected athletic playing time, are emphasized in the consideration process in order to determine their best fit.
Most players come to Match Fit because they aspire to play at the next level. What do you focus on with these players and their families to help them realize their goals?
Match Fit’s mission is to ensure these athletes play at the highest levels of youth soccer and receive the exposure and training they need to be competitive in college. It is important for them to have a strong understanding of the recruiting process, which is why we conduct joint seminars through our college coordinators. We then help guide individuals to find the right fit, taking into account their academic and athletic capabilities, as well as any relevant financial criteria.
Our club has a vast network within the college arena, which is incredibly beneficial for supporting our players through every critical step of the soccer recruiting process. Match Fit is able to successfully optimize a player’s potential both in the classroom and on the soccer field by tapping into decades of professional experience.
With more kids playing soccer in the US and globally than ever before, what has been the effect on college recruiting and the choices players are making?
The college recruiting process is notoriously complicated and is even more challenging when you factor in the large pool of players from around the world, previously on a professional track abroad, now looking to pursue higher education in the United States and play soccer at the collegiate level. This poses a challenge when it comes to placement, especially at the Division 1 level, and is something that we educate our families about as part of the process in finding the perfect school for our players.
You have a strategic partnership with Maven Sports, another of Preminente’s partners. What does this alliance help achieve for your players?
This strategic partnership is focused on ensuring our members can continue playing the sport they love in college and beyond. By working with Maven Sports, we are able to provide our players with the combined requisite resources and guidance they need to play at the highest levels of soccer. I have been a Liverpool FC fan for nearly fifty years, and when I think of the relationship between PREMINENTE, Maven Sports, and Match Fit, I’m reminded of the song, “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” that has long been Liverpool’s de facto anthem. With our trifecta of services and support we provide a one-stop-shop for aspiring collegiate and professional soccer players, so that none of our players are ever alone in navigating the recruiting process.
If you could provide one piece of advice for young soccer players who want to play at the highest levels of the game, what would it be?
The most important lesson for a young soccer player to learn is discipline and how to remain dedicated to all their commitments and passions, both on and off the field. At higher levels of the game, coaches are scouting for players who can both perform well on the field and also meet the demands and expectations of elite athletes off the field. This is why, at Match Fit, we emphasize that being a well-rounded individual is essential for achieving long-term success in soccer, the classroom, and in life.
Let Match Fit, PREMINENTE, and Maven Sports help your player take their soccer game to the next level!