Danielle Colaprico hosts camp to help athletes whose recruitment was derailed by COVID-19

Colaprico’s camp will feature 50 players ages 14-18 who will be showcasing their skills in front of coaches from NAIA, junior college, Division II and Division III programs.

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Danielle Colaprico

Samantha Mewis #5 of North Carolina Courage attempts to drive past Danielle Colaprico #24 of Chicago Red Stars during a game on day 5 of the NWSL Challenge Cup at Zions Bank Stadium on July 5, 2020 in Herriman, Utah.

Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

When Danielle Colaprico was being recruited to play Division I soccer, she had a slew of options.

After narrowing it down to seven schools, she decided on Virginia.

When she reflects on that time in her career, she remembers being full of excitement because of her opportunities. The players she trains when she’s not in the midfield for the Red Stars remind her of how different it would be trying to earn a scholarship now.

That was the inspiration for her two-day identification camp this weekend at De La Salle.

“From what I’ve seen and experienced, unless you’re on a top club and going to elite tournaments, it’s really hard to get seen by coaches,” Colaprico said. “That’s a huge reason why women stop playing and a reason I wanted to host this camp.”

Colaprico’s camp will feature 50 players ages 14-18 who will be showcasing their skills in front of coaches from NAIA, junior college, Division II and Division III programs.

Colaprico said a few of her Red Stars teammates also would be in attendance this weekend, including Casey Short, Hannah Davison and Cassie Miller.

The event, which will last almost three hours, costs $200 and includes camp gear and refreshments. Colaprico emphasized that if any player interested in attending could not afford the cost, sponsorships are available.

For Colaprico, this camp is bigger than just helping college coaches see players. She’s trying to persuade the latter to stay involved in the game.

“It’s sad,” Colaprico said. “I talked to some of the girls I train, and after this entire year, they’ve said, ‘I don’t know if I want to play soccer anymore.’ ”

Colaprico said she has noticed a huge drop in motivation among some of her players and attributes it to the uncertainty surrounding the sport’s immediate future.

Recruitment is challenging enough in women’s soccer; much of the responsibility falls on the players themselves.

Adding the pandemic to the mix has made recruiting nearly impossible, said Nick Rizzo, coach of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.

During his four years as coach at Monmouth College, a big recruiting tool for Rizzo was an identification camp.

Since the pandemic, Rizzo has had to rely on recruitment videos sent in by players, coaches and parents. The number of videos he has received has skyrocketed, but he is looking forward to Colaprico’s camp and the opportunity to see players in person.

“For them to have a player of Danny’s caliber try to help them in this process of recruiting is incredible,” Rizzo said. “It shows them how much players in the NWSL care about the next generation of soccer players coming through.”

Indeed, Colaprico is concerned about the next generation of soccer players. She knows the sport’s future success is dependent on these young women, and if players decide to quit early, that success is threatened.

Her own passion for the game came into question during her rookie season. Colaprico was making less than $20,000 and told herself she’d play for four seasons before getting a “real job.”

Now, six seasons later, she’s thankful she didn’t give up on herself or her career. She’s hopeful that other young women will remain steadfast in their passion for soccer.

The sport depends on it.

“I make it a point to encourage young women to continue playing and to make their sport a priority,” Colaprico said. “Sometimes, they let go of sport, and it’s a huge mistake to do so.”

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