Recruiting can be stressful and overwhelming to any prospective college athlete. The sheer number of colleges and the number of other athletes who look to play the same position as you make the recruiting process seem daunting.
Janine Beckie, Portland Thorns player, Olympic gold medalist, and Canadian Women’s National soccer team constantly thought the same thing. Because of her experience with recruitment and her outlook on equitable options for athletes, she is teaming up with Signing Day Sports. Signing Day Sports is a platform that looks to create an accessible and equitable platform to help athletes get recruited to play in college.
Beckie was a three-sport athlete in high school and didn’t really know what she wanted to do afterward. Playing soccer, track, and basketball, Beckie kept an open mind throughout her time in high school and eventually decided to stick with the sport that she was most successful in; soccer. She was recruited in what she called “the old-fashioned way” to play soccer at Texas Tech.
The “old-fashioned way” included playing at the club level and hoping that exposure at the tournaments you went to and the help of your club coach would lead to a connection with a college coach.
“We had just won our state cup tournament and we were headed to regionals, this would have been summer before my sophomore year of high school, Beckie said, looking back at her experience. “After that tournament, due to NCAA rules, coaches couldn’t contact me directly. They went through my club coach and said, ‘We’re interested in Janine, can you have her give us a call if she’s interested?”
She ended up committing to Texas Tech Univerisity about a week after visiting their campus. While there she made 67 appearances for the Red Raiders and scored 43 goals.
Recruitment is a crucial moment in any athlete’s career. For Beckie, it meant she was called up to the Canadian Women’s National team in 2015, and now has been playing professionally for six years.
Signing Day Sports is a recruiting service for athletes that aims to create an equitable space for men’s and women’s soccer players to get discovered and find opportunities nationwide. Beckie remembered the recruiting process being very stressful and overwhelming and she was very intrigued by the options that Signing Day Sports offers. “There are obviously many, many benefits to a platform like Signing Day… especially from the perspective of just starting the process initially, I know that that was really kind of stressful for me and I was like, ‘Where do I even begin?’”
The platform helps athletes simply get their information out there and gives them a place to start. To Beckie, the impact is significant. “Being able to upload clips that a coach can see without having to ask takes the pressure off of the athlete to be in that conversation, and to have that conversation initially with a college coach when they’re just kind of getting started in the process.”
Beckie also emphasized the idea that there is equity in this process. Athletes are able to put their information out there and don’t have to simply rely on clubs, which are quite pricey and not accessible to every player who looks to continue playing in college. Sports, in general, have been synonymous recently with the idea that men and women who play sports are at an equal level— and should therefore be paid as such.
The Canadian Women’s team has been in discussion with Canada Soccer since January of 2022 about equal pay, and Beckie believes it has been a long time coming. “It’s amazing to see kind of the domino effect that the equal pay deal with the US has created and I think, you know, as a women’s soccer player, it’s very much long overdue for someone who’s been in the sport for her for so long.”
Along with the U.S, England, Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain, Brazil, and others have all made moves toward equal pay in recent years. In addition to equal pay, many teams that haven’t had much support historically now are showing just how much progress has been made.
“You look at teams like Trinidad and Tobago and Panama and had we played these teams five years ago we were absolutely blowing them out of the water,” Beckie shares. “Now even though the score lines are still quite significant, the play is so much better, and you look at a team like Jamaica who is just making huge waves and playing football that they’ve never played before and now have qualified for their second World Cup,” said Beckie when looking back at the recent CONCACAF W tournament in Mexico. Beckie also made sure to discuss the success of the Canadian Men’s team, who just qualified for the men’s World Cup for the first time in 36 years, and how supportive they’ve been in the negotiations of equal pay.
On the negotiations, Beckie said, “We’ve been successful for a long time and it’s just the next logical step. And so long overdue, so, we’re in the middle of those negotiations. There has been an agreement put on the table that outlines what equal pay could look like for us but it’s definitely not where we want it to be, but it’s definitely the floor and we can negotiate up from there.”
Mental health has also been at the forefront of sports news with players like Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles making public statements reflecting that their mental health a priority. Beckie discussed how a full schedule and transferring to different teams can make one’s life very hectic. However, her outlook on the amount of work she does is a positive one. “The fact that our schedules are busier is a great sign because it means there’s more competition, there’s more interest.”
She does admit, however, that she wasn’t always good at managing her crazy schedule, “I would have said here a few years ago, I wouldn’t have been as good at managing all of this, but as you get further on in your career you get a sense of how it’s going to go.” Beckie also looked at the opportunities soccer gives you on a much more personal level. She discussed moving to England and how that challenged not only areas of her game but, “Living in a different culture is extremely beneficial as a human being, but definitely to be in a different footballing environment as well was really great for me.”
Janine Beckie and the Portland Thorns currently sit in first place in the league. She has played in nine games and started in seven of them and has tallied two assists as well. Beckie next plays with the Thorns on August 10th away at the Washington Spirit.