Bohn adding international flavorAs recruiting classes go, Phillip Bohn’s newest collection of Jimmies is about as eclectic as you can get. Bohn, the head men’s and women’s soccer coach at Jamestown College, has gone international to upgrade the talent base of the program, which is only three years old. Bohn has nine commitments so far, five of them are not from around here. Two are from Great Britain, one is from Belgium, another hails from Ireland and then there’s Gonzalo Vodopivec, a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
As recruiting classes go, Phillip Bohn’s newest collection of Jimmies is about as eclectic as you can get.
Bohn, the head men’s and women’s soccer coach at Jamestown College, has gone international to upgrade the talent base of the program, which is only three years old.
Bohn has nine commitments so far, five of them are not from around here. Two are from Great Britain, one is from Belgium, another hails from Ireland and then there’s Gonzalo Vodopivec, a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
There’s nothing new to foreign players coming to the U.S. Virtually all of the top programs in the NAIA feature a heavy international flavor.
Bohn, in the middle of his first full recruiting season after getting hired in January of 2009, wasn’t necessarily targeting a certain number of international players, but this year, things just fell into place.
“Our goal is to find kids that fit into what we’re about as a school and as a soccer program,” Bohn said. “It’s an interesting puzzle that needs to end up fitting together.
“The process often takes time. There’s a certain courtship that takes place on both ends, but when you’re able to find that match, it’s exciting. We just feel really good about all the kids that have chosen to come to Jamestown College.”
The dynamic in getting potential recruits to come to the U.S., let alone North Dakota, is a unique one.
So far, Bohn has secured commitments from Francis Maxwell and Dominic O’Connor from England, Neal Kelly of Ireland and Lex Rauh, a native of Belgium.
In many cases, players from soccer-crazed nations like the U.K, or Ireland and many, many others, face a dilemma when they hit college age.
In order to compete at the highest levels, players are often essentially forced to pick between continuing their soccer careers, or going to college. Doing both in most European countries just isn’t possible due to the elite level of competition.
“The draw for a lot of these kids is that they can come over here and get the best of both worlds,” Bohn said. “In our case, they’re coming to a strong academic college and then also getting to continue their soccer careers.
“It’s really quite impressive what these young men are doing. They love soccer and they want to keep playing, but they also want to educate themselves and prepare for the rest of their lives.”
Almost invariably, Bohn said, they come into the process with their eyes wide open. For example, they’re not coming to Jamestown expecting sandy beaches and sun year-round.
“These guys spend a lot of time educating themselves in what they’re about to do,” he said. “They have a very good grasp on the school, the culture and what they want to achieve academically.”
It’s also a major financial commitment and something neither side takes lightly.
“This is a major life decision for these young men,” Bohn said. “They’re basically leaving their families, their friends and what they’ve known for their entire lives, and then making a commitment to us.”
The process does take time. Bohn has developed contacts with various coaches and clubs throughout the world. Advances in technology have also helped. Players can now post entire games on YouTube or send DVDs to prospective coaches to showcase their skills.
“We have a really good feel for these players in terms of how they play and how they’ll fit into our system,” Bohn said. “Obviously the skills they possess are important, but we also put a huge emphasis on their character, their passion for the game, their commitment to the program and, of course, succeeding academically.”
After three rough seasons in the win-loss column, expectations will rise with Bohn’s banner recruiting class. But he’s not shying away from that.
“What we’re excited about is that with the boys we’re bringing in, combined with the team we have coming back, we feel like if the season started today, we’d have a very good team,” he said. “But we still have some time to add a couple of more players if we can find the right fit. We can be a little more picky at this point, but we’re still looking for players that we think will fit in with what we’re trying to build here at Jamestown College.”
Sun sports writer David Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org