Rice soccer coach Brian Lee is a believer in the Transfer Portal. Despite others’ conflicting opinions, Lee views it as a tool for the Owls to stockpile talent.
The Transfer Portal is almost a taboo subject in the world of collegiate athletics. Depending on your vantage point, it’s either a brilliant or tortuous invention.
For the most part, coaches are reticent to endorse it. There’s no denying the ease of access to other schools that it provides makes retaining their own student athletes more challenging. But it also opens up doors for coaches to improve their teams. Beauty, it seems, is in the eye of the beholder.
Rice soccer head coach Brian Lee likes what he sees. “I think it’s a very good thing for women’s soccer,” he said, adding a quick caveat that “it’s very different for every sport.”
So why does it work for women’s soccer? Lee’s contention is two-fold. First, the sport is at the forefront of high school recruiting. Players make their commitments as highschool sophomores, three years before they’ll ever step foot on a college field.
A lot can happen in three years. That’s especially for athletes who were 16 at the time of their decision and nearing 20 when college arrives.
Beyond the time component, the academic prestige of Rice University is a differentiator as well.
Lee believes that, in general, players’ priorities and reasons for choosing a college the second time around “are way smarter and for the right reasons.” That why he believes the developmental growth combined with all Rice has to offer makes the Transfer Portal a competitive advantage for the Owls.
Last fall Rice soccer went into the portal to snag Boston College transfer Mijke Roelfsema, who picked Rice over dozens of other scholarship offers. This offseason Rice landed LSU transfer Ashton Smith who also selected Rice over more than 50 competing schools.
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“It’s certainly a really good tool for Rice soccer, because short-term, we’re going to be very attractive to kids on the portal as we try to improve our talent level,” Lee said, taking the best from both worlds. The Transfer Portal serves as an intermediary as he continues to lay the groundwork for the future, one that he believes will be aided by talented players hoping to find their way to Rice.