Marc Narducci: Video legwork pays off for Moorestown goalie

Nick Savino aided his own recruiting cause with a highlight video he sent to the University of California, Santa Barbara, which offered him a partial soccer scholarship.
Nick Savino aided his own recruiting cause with a highlight video he sent to the University of California, Santa Barbara, which offered him a partial soccer scholarship.
Posted: February 12, 2012

As another letter-of-intent period passed and numerous South Jersey student-athletes made their college destinations known, the No. 1 lesson of recruiting was emphasized in the story of so many who earned partial or full scholarships.

That lesson is simple: Do your homework in recruiting.

No greater example of that is Moorestown soccer goalie Nick Savino, who signed a letter of intent with the University of California, Santa Barbara, earning a partial scholarship.

UCSB isn't exactly a haven for South Jersey athletes. In fact, the state of California isn't known for its South Jersey representation.

So how does a school from California hear about a player from Moorestown?

Well, that's the simple part.

Savino took it upon himself, with the aid of his father, Joseph, to make a video and send it to colleges.

"We had a recruiter come to the high school, and he said that there is no magic thing called a radar," said Sharon Savino, Nick's mother, who joined him on the recruiting trip to UCSB.

"The recruiter said if you want to be seen other than by people who your coaches know, you have to get your name out there."

So Nick Savino did that, and apparently the video he had made was worth more than any craftily worded resumé.

"Every day, I get three to four e-mails from goalkeepers who want to come here," Stuart Dobson, who coaches UCSB's goalkeepers, said in a telephone interview. "Sometimes, I will get sent tapes that are 10 minutes, some are an hour, and I usually only look at a few clips."

That was all he needed to see of Savino to be impressed.

"He sent me a few, and straight away I said this kid has something," Dobson said.

It also helped that Dobson was familiar with this area. He used to live in South Jersey while a backup keeper for the Major Indoor Soccer League's Philadelphia Kixx.

One of the people he knew was Paul Wimbledon, the owner and director of coaching at Three Lions Soccer Academy, where Savino competes.

"I have yet to see him play in person, but I was going off the video and Paul Wimbledon, whose opinion I really value," Dobson said.

So recruiting isn't as sophisticated as some might think. Players are still presented offers without the coach seeing them compete.

The only way that occurs is if somebody does his homework in recruiting the way Savino did.

Other than UCSB, Savino was considering schools in the East. His twin brothers are seniors at Penn, so the roots are in this area.

When he made his January recruiting visit to the campus, about an hour north of Los Angeles, it was 80 degrees. One part of the campus is on the beach, and another part is surrounded by mountains. Anybody could get used to that climate and scenery.

Plus, UCSB plays in 17,000-seat Harder Stadium, one of the best soccer venues in the country. Soccer is UCSB's main sport in the fall, since there is no football team. This is a program steeped in tradition, having won the 2006 NCAA title.

Still, despite so many positives, there were a lot of sleepless nights while contemplating his decision - mainly because of the great distance from home.

"I spent a lot of time to decide," he said. "My whole family is in the East, but it was tough to turn down a good soccer program that is academically strong as well."

Still . . .

"It was a tough decision," he said.

Yet it's one he feels comfortable with after doing the necessary legwork.

"It feels good because you realize that a lot of hard work has paid off," Savino said.

That hard work came on the soccer field, making himself a better keeper, and off the pitch, taking the time to make the necessary contacts and do all the grunt work of recruiting. And it has all paid off in a big way.


Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, mnarducci@phillynews.com, or @sjnard on Twitter.

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