What can soccer coaches learn from football recruiting?

As our regular readers will appreciate, I have a strong affinity for the University of Michigan - academics and athletics alike.  With head football coach, Jim Harbaugh and his satellite camp tour in nearly every news cycle I have had plenty of reading material to occupy what little free time I have. Undeniably, Harbaugh's antics hold  pure entertainment for me - what a great graduation speech he gave at New Jersey's Paramus Catholic? His Twitter account is gold,  Whose jersey will he wear at today's camps? But let's not kid ourselves, these satellite camps are about recruiting first and foremost and it is in this area that soccer coaches should pay particular attention.

Every day I am reading or watching interviews one recruiting service or another has conducted with high school student athletes being recruited by the University of Michigan.  There exists a common theme through these interviews as the athlete describes the process. They all want to establish and build relationships with the head coach, position coach and overall staff of he schools recruiting them, Those being recruited by Michigan almost always state how football is actually only a small part of the conversations they have with Michigan coaches.  It seems that Harbaugh and his staff speak about academics, the student / athletes family, hobbies and especially life after football,

I have had success in increasing participation numbers in whatever program I coach in. I field questions about how I do this. The answer is simple - I build relationships with the players I coach.  That's how I went from 17 participants in year one at Lima CC to 26 the second year and getting dressed down by the athletic director about the need to "share athletes" with other sports at the small private school,  This is also how I ended up with two true U19 club teams in an area that has always struggled to field one in any given year, And this is why the numbers at my current school are beginning to grow at a rate quicker than even I anticipated. (hope I didn't just jinx myself there!).
Here's another little secret, Coach Harbaugh has won everywhere he has (played and) coached because he understands winning is all about quality relationships,  Sure, he and his staffs know the game of football, but that is not enough. Football is only a small part of who a student athlete is. Hence the Michigan staffs interest in a recruits family, hobbies and life after football.

Jim and his brother John recently referenced reading the Bible on a daily basis.  They stressed building their relationship with God to a group of over 650 young men and thousands of on-lookers at a football camp.

When our sons were playing people used to say your life is all about soccer."  No!  Soccer is something we do, but it does not define who we are. I define myself as a believer in God first and foremost,  I place my family and friends next. A whole cornucopia of varied interests follow after that with soccer falling in there somewhere,  As passionate about and committed to coaching soccer as I am, it's not about the sport itself.  It's not about winning or losing matches, It's all about the people. And because it is, our teams do find quite a bit of on-field success.  Remember this always, coaching is all about the relationships.