Seeking to catch coaches’ attention, student athletes attend summer camps

September 10, 2019 — by Nitya Marimuthu and Sina Salehi

Junior Michelle Lim stepped out on the soccer field, immediately taking her spot as a defender. Among the 150 athletes attending an intensive camp at Brown University, only about 13-19 players were chosen to play in the final scrimmage. She felt lucky to be one of them.

Scrimmages were common among the camps Lim attended during the summer at universities including Brown, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania. The camps lasted between 1-4 days. Through drills such as these scrimmages, Lim said she was able to gain valuable experience playing against and learning from other top-level high school players.

“It was really cool because all the coaches watched and we got to play against the girls that were already committed,” Lim said. 

Throughout the summer, many athletes attend college sport intensives in an effort to improve their chances of being recruited. These summer experiences can culminate in valuable connections and eventual offers.

For Lim, the primary purpose of these camps was to connect with coaches, especially those from Division III schools, she said. Unlike showcases, tournaments consisting of a few games, camps give players the chance to talk to coaches on a more individual basis. Lim found the camps and showcases important for the process of making an impact on college coaches. 

“I do want to play soccer in college and I think that these camps really help with getting exposure to schools and meeting coaches and getting yourself on their radar,” Lim explained.

Junior Jane Loo had a similar experience. She went to basketball camps at UC San Diego and Brown. Loo said that both showcases and camps are vital. Although showcases allow many coaches to get a glimpse of how an athlete plays, camps give a better personal connection to these coaches. 

“When you’re playing in a tournament you could play a bad game, and then the coaches might get a bad representation of you,” Loo said. “But when you’re in the camp, you can talk to the coach and there are just less people there.”

The camps also provide valuable experiences to younger athletes who are just beginning to explore the college athletics experience. Sophomore Amoli Vanavadiya went to the Nike running camp at Stanford to see what college-level cross country practices would look like.

The camp consisted of a mix of runs, workouts and talks about running and motivation. Vanavadiya’s most salient memory from the camp was a drill that occurred on the last day, where athletes had to try to match the coach’s ideal pace for them without knowing it. 

The drill consisted of 800-meter repeats with breaks in between each trial. After each repeat, the coach gave the team feedback on whether they should go faster or slower to match the pace set for them. Every team had five chances to get as close as possible to their allocated pace in order to beat the others. 

While Vanavadiya’s team did not win, she still found it to be a useful and fun way to encourage the runners to push themselves. She said that although many of the drills tested her limits, she enjoyed the difficulty. 

Compared to the Saratoga team, Vanavadiya did not find drastic differences in the atmosphere. Both the camp and the Saratoga team had athletes encouraging and supporting one another. 

The major distinction between the two was the difficulty of the workout, and the level of competition between runners at the camps. 

 “It was definitely more challenging because there were a lot of people of all different levels,” Vanavadiya said. “It was just a bit competitive, but it was nice because it pushed me to do better.”

Getting noticed by colleges for recruitment can be a long and tough process. For prospective athletes, making connections with college coaches early in the process is especially important. 

The summer intensive camps are just one way for recruits to gain invaluable experiences for later on in the recruitment process. 

“I would recommend that people do the camps early so they can get recognized by coaches earlier on, so that the coaches can follow you,” Lim said.