City High midfielder Sam Schroder talks about her soccer recruitment and how Iowa ended up being the right fit. Dargan Southard/Press-Citizen
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Once the offer rolled in, little deliberation was required. Sam Schroder knew her collegiate choice all along; a chance to play soccer there only sweetened the deal.
The City High midfielder, who recently committed to Iowa only six weeks into her junior year, always believed she’d end up a Hawkeye, even as just a regular student.
But after Schroder’s soccer recruitment picked up steam over the last few months with heavy interest from Iowa coach Dave DiIanni, she grasped the potential she possessed.
No sense letting it float away.
“She’s one of those girls who I don’t think realizes quite how good she really is, but I think she’s starting to realize that now that she’s going to Iowa,” said Iowa Soccer Club director Jon Cook, who’s coached Schroder in club for many years. “It’s pretty cool.
“She’s a really unique player, very athletic. There just aren’t that many players who are creative — and she’s capable of creating goals on her own — but she’s also really good at playing others into spaces and creating goals in that way. She’s a really strong dribbler and has deceptive speed. She doesn’t show it, and then in a second, she’s behind you. So I think she’ll bring that value to the Iowa program for sure.”
Following a sophomore season in which Schroder had five goals, five assists and helped lead the Little Hawks to a Class 4A regional final appearance, the center midfielder officially jumped on Iowa’s radar after attending the Hawkeyes' camp this summer.
She then visited the Iowa campus in September and met with DiIanni, who had kept an eye on the City standout for a few years since his daughter, Karissa, was both high school and club teammates with Schroder. In that meeting, an opportunity arose.
“(DiIanni) told me on my first visit that he wanted me on the team, and I didn’t really realize I had the potential to be an Iowa player,” Schroder said. “So when he first told me that, it hit me like, ‘I actually have a good opportunity I can take.’
“I hadn’t decided yet if I wanted to play soccer (in college), but I’ve just been enjoying it a lot recently. And the fact that I can go play soccer at the college that I want to go to sounded really good to me. And so that was my ultimate decision — I was going to go to Iowa regardless — but the fact that I can go to play soccer is great. It didn’t take me very long to decide.”
Schroder made one more trip to Iowa last week to visit admissions and check in with coaches once again, A commitment, she said, had been brewing for a few weeks now. She officially pulled the trigger over the weekend, cementing her collegiate and soccer future well in advance of high school graduation.
“When I committed, my mom was in shock,” Schroder said. “She was so surprised. She didn’t know I was going to commit (that early), and my dad didn’t know either, but they both told me they were proud of me and agreed with my choice. They wanted to make sure I didn’t rush into it, but I told them I knew I was going to commit for a while.”
Schroder’s commitment marks back-to-back years that City has had a Power Five recruit, after 2017 graduate Grace Brown signed with Nebraska back in February. Although a substantial amount of soccer recruiting materializes on the club circuit, the Little Hawks’ recent uptick in collegiate prospects is another sign of the program’s upward trend under coach Michael Prunty, who’s brought stability to City after years of coaching turnover.
“I know it’s exciting for our program to be able to point to our young players and anybody in Iowa City with evidence of someone who works hard, trains hard and does what you’re supposed to do,” Prunty said. “It’s nice that our program can point to Sam and others in our program who’ve moved on to the Division I level and other collegiate levels, and use them as a guide for our other players to look at.”
With two high school seasons and a bit more club play remaining, Schroder will look to continue to grow and develop as a player and leader before transitioning to the college scene.
The only downside in making an early decision?
“I have to wait,” Schroder said with a laugh.
Dargan Southard covers preps, recruiting, Iowa and UNI athletics for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.