A Scholarship is Not the Objective

Nothing shocks me more than a CRAZY SOCCER parent of a 12 year old player saying they are happy to pay for the youth sports now because it will lead to a college scholarship and money savings later! (Well, maybe a few things shock me more – but this is near the top of the list.)

I freely admit it, I would for love Cali, my 13 year old daughter, to play college soccer….And yes, I would love for her to get a scholarship to college. However, I draw the line at making a correlation to the financial investment I am making in her youth soccer now to the financial investment I will make in her college education later.

My investment today in youth soccer is an investment in my child’s welfare.

It keeps her busy and surrounded with girls that empower her and challenge her to be her best.

Soccer today teaches her lessons in time management, being a warrior, finding balance, being healthy and fit, teamwork, competition, and perseverance.

THESE LESSONS are the reason we decide to spend the money we do to have her play ECNL-level soccer.

Aren’t these lessons enough of a benefit?

Isn’t the return NOW worthy of the investment NOW?

Of course, we would all say “yes.”  However, somewhere along the way, possibly more so for girls because there are more scholarships available for them, an unhealthy mindset has developed. This mindset results in our children feeling as if they have failed in some way if they don’t get a SCHOLARSHIP TO PLAY IN COLLEGE. I understand our kids are competitive and this may be a dream of theirs….

It's time to help our children reframe their dream.  Let's have the dream be to PLAY IN COLLEGE and let's remove the pressure of the scholarship.  

As parents, maybe we need a reality check:

If our child is not playing at the very highest of levels in their high school years (ECNL, Academy, National/Regional level of ODP, top Non-Academy or non-ECNL club/team) it is most likely our child will not receive a college scholarship. And, if our child IS lucky enough to receive a scholarship, chances are it will be a partial scholarship that amounts to far less than the tuition, room, board and books will cost.

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The youth soccer experience cannot culminate with our children feeling like they have failed if they do not receive a substantial scholarship to play in college.

And, just as importantly, the youth soccer experience cannot culminate with our children making the wrong choice in a college just because they receive a partial scholarship to play there.

Where is this idea that a scholarship is the objective coming from?

Some youth coaches are partially to blame. In their desire to recruit players to their club teams, some club coaches will say things like, “Your child is more likely to get a college scholarship if they play for my team.” Or when parents balk at the cost of the training for their 11 year old, they are sometimes fed the line, “This training will put your child on the path towards receiving a college scholarship, so it’s worth it.”


We parents may also be partially to blame. We need to consider the possibility that in our desire to reconcile the stress we sometimes feel with the commitment of time our children are making and the amount of money we are spending – that we let the lure of the college scholarship make us feel better and possibly we reference the scholarship component in conversation.


Let’s begin a movement to change the words our young soccer players who aspire to play in college say.  Let’s have the statement change from the current “I want to get a SCHOLARSHIP TO COLLEGE” to the reframed “I want to PLAY SOCCER IN COLLEGE.”

And for now, let’s let the lessons in time management, being a warrior, finding balance, being healthy and fit, teamwork, competition, and perseverance be enough.

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Skye Eddy

Founder, SoccerParenting.com
Skye is a former All-American goalkeeper, professional player and collegiate coach. She holds her USSF "B" License and USSF National Goalkeeper License and is an active youth coach, soccer parent and coach educator.