Teen soccer standout verbally commits to UT as high school fresh - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Teen soccer standout verbally commits to UT as high school freshman

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A 15-year old girl knows she already has a full ride waiting for her when she's ready for college.

Haley Berg started talking to big-name university soccer coaches while still in eighth grade, and she made a verbal commitment to the University of Texas before her first day of high school.

Many coaches wanted to snatch her up and get her to make that verbal agreement for her to play for their team.

Berg's club soccer coach warned her that colleges would come knocking.

"He told us that I'd be contacted early, but I didn't know it would be eighth grade early," said Berg.

The Celina High School freshman spent her summer playing soccer and deciding which free ride to a major university to accept.

"We knew she was a good player and she works very hard at what she does," said Berg's dad, Larry.  

Berg, who started playing soccer when she was 4, has for several years played club soccer with girls a year older.

She got exposure at an even younger age than most, and recruiters did not shy away. Ryan Godrey with Paradigm Soccer Performance trains Berg and understands the predicament for college coaches going after younger and younger players.

"You don't want to be that coach, you know, that is out there doing it," said Godfrey. "But you are looking out for your program. And you are trying to get the best players you can get."

Godfrey says 98 percent of Paradigm's clients are girls, mostly middle school age.

A lot of parents are keenly aware of all the scholarship opportunities for female soccer players because of Title IX funding. 

"She said, ‘Dad, I'm ready,' and I was like, ‘OK,'" said Larry. "She's a mature little girl. Still a little girl at 15, but she's mature and I trust her decision-making capabilities."

There are rules to keep college recruiters from approaching young athletes directly. But, like in Berg's case, they get around those rules by approaching the club coach, who has the player contact the college coach.

For Berg, an A/B student, verbally committing to UT at the tender age of 14, well before taking the SAT or getting her driver's license, was an easy choice.

"I was really confident in my coach and the school, and I just knew I wanted to go there," said Berg.

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