Soccerwire Q&A: Longwood University coach Eduardo de Souza at Jefferson Cup
By Michael Willis
MIDLOTHIAN, Va. — Soccerwire.com caught up with Longwood University assistant head coach Eduardo de Souza as he scouted recruits at the River City Sportsplex on opening day of the 2013 Jefferson Cup.
With so many major NCAA programs in attendance at the event, schools like Longwood have to take a craftier approach to their player identification efforts, finding hidden or unpolished gems who might be missed by larger universities. Located in Farmville, Va., a short distance west of Richmond, the Lancers benefit from a picturesque campus and strong tuition values, but as a small D1 program, must also consistently punch above their weight.
Coach de Souza graciously explained his outlook — and the essence of his recruiting pitch — to us.
Soccerwire.com: What does Longwood look for in a recruit?
Eduardo de Souza: We’re looking for a combination of academics and athleticism. Especially in Division I, and we’re a Division I school, a lot of times coaches are looking for the really skillful kids. The reality of Division I, though, is athleticism. We need kids that are tough, that can run hard, you know? And then we can refine their ability a little bit [their skills, technique]. Of course, academics is a very important part too, because sometimes you have a skillful player but his academics are down.
But particularly in the player, it’s speed, strength, and game IQ. We want someone who is intelligent so [the player] understands the game. You know, where to pass, how [the player] understands his position; that’s key. Because as you know, a lot of college coaches, they don’t have a lot of time to [teach]. For the freshmen, it’s a week or two of preseason, and then off they go to play! So if they understand the game well, that’s a key element.
SW: What’s Longwood’s recruiting pitch?
EdS: First of all we’re Division 1, a small school. We have around 5,000 students. We are a state school as well. A lot of people don’t understand that. We have the same setup as a private school, but we’re a state school so our tuition is really affordable. And plus, Longwood’s academics. Before it was a female school, but now it is co-ed [since the 1970s]. We have a lot of teachers that came to Longwood to teach [in a small school environment].
SW: How do you feel about recruiting younger and younger players every year?
EdS: Well we’re a little different mode. Longwood doesn’t have a large staff: the assistant head coach, [which is] myself, and the head coach [John Atkinson]. So it’s both of us recruiting. So we’re not like UVA or the big schools; we can’t recruit ahead to 2015. So right now I’m out here just looking at the 2014s, specifically, the U-17 category because that’s the [next class] for us. We’re not scouting ’15s. Of course, if you see a kid you like, you’re going to keep him on your booklet, but we mainly go year by year.