SCIS Pudong class of 2019 senior, Victor Veloso, has made SCIS history by being the first student to be offered a spot in a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II athletics program. Following in the footsteps of fellow SCIS graduate, Simon Wu (SCIS PD ’18), Victor is the second student-athlete in a row at SCIS to be signed by a divisionally ranked NCAA soccer team in the United States.
Upon graduation, Victor is set to travel to California, United States and join Notre Dame de Namur’s Soccer Team, the Argonauts.
Thanks for being here Victor. So, how are you feeling right now?
Victor: I’m feeling pretty good. After all the effort and reaching out to as many schools as I could to introduce myself as an international player, I’m feeling good about signing with a good DII school, and to be given the next step in my life.
How many schools did you reach out to in total?
Victor: I sent out 947 emails, not to 947 schools but I had to introduce myself many times to each school to prove that I am a good fit for them so I tried to talk to as many schools as I could.
Wow, that’s a lot of e-mails! And so, in the end, you decided to sign with Notre Dame de Namur University?
Victor: Yes, it’s a really good DII school and they reached out to me very fast. They were very straight to the point, let me know everything I had to do to be part of the team and to be part of the university. They accepted me and came up with a scholarship offer through the video I sent them, which was a little surprising for me and coach Vic. Every other school I contacted wanted me to travel to their school so they could see me play.
Have you visited the campus before?
Victor: No, not Notre Dame. I’ve visited California before in Monterrey and San Diego to visit some schools there. The weather is just like in Brazil and so I hope I will feel at home there.
How long have you been playing soccer?
Victor: I’ve been playing since I was a kid, but not solely focusing on soccer alone. Around eight or nine years old, I started focusing my attention on soccer. I played in youth academies and sports teams in the hope that it would take me to a better place. When I moved to Shanghai, I started playing with the school here at SCIS and I also join a local club in the city, playing alongside adults.
Victor: In Brazil, before coming to Shanghai, I was in a business school which helped me see the many different options I could choose to go for because I took 21 different subjects, more than a regular school. So, I’d like to focus on either Business or something that is related to sports in a way, just in case the whole sports thing doesn’t work out
Looking back, what would you say was the most challenging part of the whole process?
Victor: Having to introduce myself to universities as an international player was really hard because the only things they could see was my resume and video. A video is really easy to make and to make yourself look good and so it was difficult to prove myself to these universities and convince them that I would be a good fit for their program.
Knowing that would you have done anything differently?
Victor: I would. If I had the chance, I would have come one year earlier to Shanghai and to the international world, as it has helped me a lot to learn about universities. In Brazil, I was trying to focus my attention on the next step but the team I was playing with did not help me as much as SCIS helped me. Coming here earlier would have helped me, even more, to focus on my goals and develop more as a person.
You brought up SCIS as playing a role in the application process, how much did SCIS help?
Victor: First of all, SCIS introduced me to how the whole application process was like. They helped with setting up an account with the NCAA clearinghouse to be eligible as a student-athlete. They helped prepare me with how I should be approaching universities. Also, having Simon (SCIS Pudong Class of 2018) doing the same thing I’m doing right now and playing at the college level helped me see what I should and shouldn’t be doing.
Victor: My advice would be to start as soon as possible because time will be a challenge for you for whatever you hope to reach. Don’t give up, as an international student looking to study abroad, most of the universities are going to be talking to you but sometimes you might not receive the right responses or offers. So, don’t give up, try to keep going, give your maximum effort and reach out to as many schools as possible!
Frank Volpe (Upper School Principal at SCIS Pudong): From an academic perspective, I’ve witnessed the growth in you over the time you’ve been here, with Soccer as a driver, how did it impact your academics in the classroom?
Victor: Coming from Brazil, with the English I had, SCIS was a bit challenging to start with, especially getting good grades and being together with everyone. So, the first months were a bit of a struggle, but as soon as I made up my mind to follow the university path I decided to focus more and to give everything I could. So, I tried my best to be better inside and outside of school, in sports and in life. SCIS helped me develop my English skills, which are much better today than they were before.
Garret Newell (Varsity Soccer Coach at SCIS Pudong) What position are you hoping to play?
Victor: As I reached out to the school, I told them the positions I play here: right-winger (forward) or a left-back (defender) because of my left foot, and also a right midfielder. I would prefer to play in my original position, as a forward, but I’m willing to play anywhere they ask me to play.
Victor Caban (Athletic Director at SCIS Pudong): You mentioned camps and 900+ e-mails, can you give us an approximate number of how many schools you contacted and how many sports camps you attended?
Victor: The camps I went to were mainly to know about the schools, I didn’t focus on just “I want to go to that school, so I’m going to that camp for that” I wanted to know about the application process, how the athletes were and how the world was there. I went to three camps in Chicago, Pennsylvania, and California. It helped me a lot to get a better understanding of how the university world works and to see as many schools as I could because other schools were visiting the camps. I was able to talk to a lot of coaches and understand better what it is they are excepting from the players.
Victor: Of course. That helped me a lot as well as I was able to see the level of opponents, I would be facing at the college level. Soccer is a physical sport and at that level, it is much more physical than the places I used to play, both here and back in Brazil, so I had to step up and change my game up a little bit but I’m willing to do everything I need to.
Dad: What are you looking for in your life for the future?
Victor: Since I was in Brazil, I was looking to go pro and follow my dream of playing at a professional level and that’s what I’m trying to do by going to Notre Dame. Since I came to Shanghai it was not possible to play for me to play in the youth academies for the actual teams here because of the way it is set up in China. My goal now is to try and do everything I can to play professionally, but if that doesn’t work out, I will try to stay as close as possible to the sport I like and get everything I can from it.
Dad, how do you feel about Victor going to play university-level soccer on a scholarship?
Dad: Today is a special day, a grateful day, the first official day for him but not the first for him to be following his dream. I think he is on the way to do everything that he needs to do and he’s looking for the right thing. SCIS gave him a lot of support and I think he will be a great player and student at university.
Frank Volpe: What was it like supporting Victor over the last ten years as he was pursuing his dream?
Dad: Victor was also looking at sports, he started playing tennis at a young age and then he jumped to football, and so he’s always been looking to make sports be a part of his life. But we must balance that because I don’t know about the future so he must make sure to get a good degree out of university so he has to have options in the future. Nowadays the world is so open to go anywhere and do anything, there are lots of professional options available. At home, I’ve always spoken to Victor and his brother about sports and that it is a wonderful north to follow but, besides that, they must also look for a professional career to follow that could work alongside football, for example.