College Soccer / The College Experience

The College Experience: Finding the right destination

Photo courtesy the Reider family

Editor’s note: PSP is excited to introduce “The College Experience,” a first-person series about what it’s really like to be a college soccer player. DJ Reider, a senior midfielder at Widener University, and Will Boehmer, a junior defender at Rosemont College, will share the story of their upcoming season, each posting on alternate Wednesdays.

About fifteen years ago, Ronaldinho broke the internet with the first YouTube film to reach 1 million views.

The legendary player got his “Touch of Gold” boots and tested them out by showing off some impressive ball manipulation, juggling it to the top of the 18-yard box and then striking the crossbar multiple times in a row without the ball touching the ground. As a young child seeing someone show such skill with a ball, without using his hands, was mind blowing.

I immediately knew what I wanted to do as I grew up.

With the support of my parents, they got me involved in as much soccer as I could as a young one. Luckily, I am very close to Harrisburg, so in the spring and summer, we were able to go see the Harrisburg City Islanders play. The United Soccer League club had many players offer training camps, which I quickly got signed up for and involved in. This is where my playing began.

Not long after, I found myself on some local club teams in central Pennsylvania. Playing as much as I could and for some of the best teams in the area, I was quickly growing as a player. Each coach and team brought not only new knowledge and skill on the field, but also lessons that are useful in other aspects of life. Discipline, time management, problem solving, leadership, and many more life skills.

With some fantastic coaches in my youth days, I was able to play for the varsity team in high school as a freshman the whole way through my senior year, and for some high level club teams during the spring. I knew I wanted to continue on playing after high school – I couldn’t imagine going without it – so I began to reach out to college coaches when I would be heading to tournaments in the spring, letting them know when and where I would be playing. After talking to a lot of head and assistant coaches, I had some options to choose from on where I wanted to go to school.

Some coaches interested were from local universities, while some out of state and some in state, but further away. Besides having to consider location, I also had to sit down with my family and discuss other aspects, such as finances and academics. College isn’t cheap nor easy to do well academically. Division III athletics cannot offer athletic scholarships, and Division II and I can, but it is rare for soccer players to receive them at most programs, so a lot of soccer players hope to receive academic scholarships.

After a lot of visits to various universities, and considering the aforementioned aspects, I had to make a decision on which schools are most important to me and apply to them to begin getting acceptance and rejection letters. With some tough decisions, I decided to head to a university that was two hours away from home – Widener University.

Just outside of Philadelphia, and very close to the Philadelphia Union, it seemed like the ideal place to learn and move forward. I chose Widener because the coach always kept in contact with me throughout the entire recruiting process, the campus was a good size and home-y,  the university has a good academic program – including a Co-Op program – and the location near Philadelphia meant there would be a lot of job opportunities. The Philadelphia Union being close was a huge bonus, as I can make a lot of games if I am not busy practicing or playing my own games!

Now, about to start my senior season, I have lot of experience under my belt and am excited to continue to share other details about playing at the collegiate level. Some aspects that I will be sharing in future posts will include leading into my freshman year,  having a student-athlete lifestyle, what a preseason and season looks like, some unique experiences during my sophomore and junior years and finishing up by providing live thoughts during my current season which begins on August 15 with my first game on August 30!


  1. Scott of Nazareth says:

    Thanks DJ! I look forward to reading more from you and Will. I have HS sophomores just dipping their toes into college planning and trying to see if playing soccer will still be a fit in those plans.

  2. Its good to start as soon as possible when looking into colleges! Plenty of time to make decisions about what the plans are going to look like.

    Thanks for giving it a read – I’m excited to share more experiences!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *