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Oct, 2019

Nina Calcaterra, College Advisory Program (CAP) Success Story


Rush encourages its players to pursue a college soccer career and offers many resources to assist players in making the decision. One of these resources is The College Advisory Program (CAP). Nina Calcaterra, a midfielder/forward from Naperville, Illinois, is one of many players who have successfully utilized CAP to narrow down their college decision. The Chicago Rush player recently committed to University of Texas-Dallas, where she plans to attend school and play soccer. 


The College Advisory Program provides players and parents with an introduction to the college recruiting process. It includes information about scholarships, decision processes, and financial support. Also included in this program is a free recruiting tool called College Fit Finder (CFF). This tool allows for players to create a profile and begin the process of finding the college they will call home as a student-athlete. The system allows for players to accomplish many things including searching for a college based off of certain parameters, tracking communication with every college, comparing colleges side-by-side and much more. 



Rush players are encouraged to use this platform. Nina utilized CFF in her process of narrowing down colleges:


“Before each tournament that college coaches will be attending, each player updates their CFF profile,” she explained. “Instructions were sent out on what to include, as well as strong encouragements to explore the website. It was easy to navigate, except for a small hiccup that was quickly resolved when the website was updated. After I finished filling in all of my information, I messed around with different restrictions for college requirements.”


“One thing that sets CFF apart from other websites,” Nina continued, “is the ability to select an individual’s ideal requirements of colleges. It allows the search to be personalized down to each variable to consider. I also like that CFF ranks the colleges according to how well it fits the restrictions and requirements. This makes it easy to look at top choices verses schools that might be considered safety schools.”


In February, Nina got the opportunity of a lifetime. She was selected to play with the Rush Select 2002 White team while she was playing at the President’s Day Tournament.  Her father, Steve Calcaterra, describes her experience:



“In Phoenix, Nina had an incredible experience with the Select National team and they ended up winning their division. She made friends from Rush clubs across the country and she knew she was getting the chance to participate in something very special.  While there, she played for Coach Josh Tyler, the National CAP Director, who gave her some tips personally about contacting college coaches. We didn’t know at the time how important it would be to attend that tournament.”


“Being there was an incredibly unique experience because it allowed me to play on a team full of talented players, all of whom I had never met before,” Nina commented.  “I was able to form a new and unfamiliar perspective to me, where I noticed how growing up in different locations influenced each individual.”


During the first night in Phoenix the players had a meeting in the hotel where they discussed CAP. 


“I went into it thinking that I knew everything about the recruitment process and how to make a meaningful impression on coaches,” Nina admitted. “My high school made it a point to give us all the information they can about this, and I’ve attended other camps and soccer meetings that have also talked about college. Because I had been exposed to the process, I thought that I knew everything about it. By the end of the CAP meeting, I had filled a section of my notes app on my phone with new information. Clearly I didn’t know everything.”


Nina took what she had learned from the meeting and applied it to her college search. She wrote emails to the coaches that she had found from CFF.


“Without realizing it, the coach of a college that received an email happened to be Josh Tyler... Luckily for me, this allowed him to take me aside and go through how to make the emails even better. After the tournament, I received an email from the UT-Dallas coach saying that he saw me play and is interested in me. We sent several corresponding emails back and forth where I incorporated the information I learned through CAP.”


Over the course of several months, Nina and the head coach of UT-Dallas exchanged many emails, texts, and phone calls. Nina described how she tried to look up information about the college online, but wasn’t able to find what she was looking for. Luckily, she had CFF to help her with her research: “It had everything that I needed to know about the college right there. It fit all of my requirements perfectly. The only thing left was a college visit to the campus.”


Nina made plans to visit UT-Dallas that summer, but was restricted by a broken hip. Luckily, the coach happened to be at a tournament in Chicago where Nina was able to meet at a coffee shop. Though Nina met with Coach Drugan on crutches, he made it clear that her injury was in no way affecting his interest in her as a player and they rescheduled the college visit for that fall.


September came around and Nina visited UT-Dallas. It was a success, “Being there showed me just how well it fit everything I wanted. It even made me adjust my requirements I had set for colleges because it gave me variables I hadn’t even considered before. With this in mind, my parents and I took another look at CFF. I needed to make sure I didn’t miss anything and I needed to have no doubts that this is where I want to spend four years of my life.” 


“We were very impressed with the campus and facilities, and more than anything we were excited about the positive relationship that Coach Drugan had with his players and how they interacted with one another,'' Steve said. “Although he offered her a position on the team while we visited, Nina needed more time to revisit her other options and to think about her choices.”



Nina, knowing that this was such a big decision, decided to reach out for some close advice. She met with Greg Muhr, a Rush coach who had impacted her soccer career greatly:


“Coach Greg is one of the reasons that Nina plays for Rush. Although he is not her current team coach, he has been one of her off-season trainers for many years, and has been a mentor for her in helping her make thoughtful decisions about soccer. He has been a unique resource for her and has provided her with excellent technical training and emotional support that has allowed her to develop into the player that she is today. To say that we trust his judgment in these areas would be an understatement.”


It turns out, Coach Greg had some good advice:


“He happened to have known Coach Drugan and UTD, and was able to give me insight from a different perspective,” Nina said. “He advised me to make a new list of potential colleges, as I was no longer interested in most of them after being at UTD. My dad and I spent the next couple of days messing around with CFF and made a completely new list of colleges. In the end, no matter what restrictions I put on the website, UTD was the only college that not only fit all variations, but it was also always at the top of the list (it was the best match according to CFF).”


Coach Greg had also encouraged Nina to think of anything that she would change about UTD to make the decision easier. Nina couldn’t think of anything except wishing there was “a slightly better bookstore”. Nina had been on multiple college tours, so she was confident that her interest in UTD was because of everything the school had to offer.  


“I lived with the decision that I would go to UTD for a couple days before I actually made a commitment. I couldn’t be happier with the decision, so I called Coach Drugan and made the commitment.” 


“I don’t think I would have been able to make a decision without CFF,” she admitted. “Even if I would be able to, it definitely would not have been this soon and I probably wouldn’t be as confident in my decision.” 


“Throughout this process, Rush has absolutely provided us with the tools to make these very difficult choices a little easier. Most importantly, it has been the personal relationships and experiences with the coaches that allowed Nina to be prepared for this process and be ready for college soccer,” finishes Steve.


Nina intends to major in biology/pre-med at the University of Texas-Dallas. 


We are so proud to see Rush players achieving their goals and pursuing higher academics and athletics! We encourage young players to utilize the resources Rush offers to assist in making a confident college decision.


For more information about CAP and how to get started click here.


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Rush Soccer Club
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