MERRILLVILLE | When Vangel Nacovski sought to continue his soccer career in college, he was on his own.
"I was the first one in my family who ever went to college," Nacovski said. "So there really wasn't anyone with experience to help guide me."
Nacovski had his share of suitors. As a four-year varsity star for the Merrillville Pirates, Nacovski had just set an Indiana state high school record in goals scored (162) that still stands today.
"I originally wanted to go to Indiana University, but it came down to how much we could get (for a scholarship) and how much my family could afford," said Nacovski, who ended up going to Indiana University-Purdue Unversity Indianapolis.
"I don't regret going there ... it was a great experience for me," said Nacovski, who was inducted into the IUPUI Athletic Hall of Fame last year. "But if I had someone knowledgeable assisting me during the process, things may have been different."
As director of the Millennium Soccer Association, Nacovski has helped more than 40 MSA players continue their careers in college over the past four years. So far this year, 16 graduating seniors from the club have signed on to play in college next fall.
They include Crown Point graduates Spase Dorsuleski (Wabash College), Carmelo Morales (Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne) and Tod Oram (Manchester University); Valparaiso graduates Andrew Fletcher (IUPUI), Caleb Neal (Wabash College), Georginna Jarratt and Kristina Veljovic (both Trine University); Chesterton graduates Jonathan Blake (Drake University) and John Ward (Valparaiso University); Lowell graduates Stojan Krsteski and Noah Newcomb (both Wabash College); Griffith graduate Yadira Castellanos (St. Mary's College); Wheeler graduate Cameron Foor (Purdue Calumet); Andrean graduate Michael Gore (Wabash College); T.F. South graduate Ray Kobus (Wabash); and Morgan Township graduate Ryan Reynolds (Cornerstone University).
"We try to do everything we can to get our players noticed," Nacovski said. "We even organized our own college combines, and visit schools with them when we can.
"What I tell players is to make out a list of at least five different colleges they would like to play for. I also suggest they should include different levels ... some D-1, some D-2 ... NAIA ... you never know what may end up being an ideal fit for you."
The club is capping a successful spring season. Its U17 "Black" boys team won the Midwest Region League title when it claimed the First Division West Red Division with a 4-1-1 record.
"Like in European professional leagues, they're being promoted to the MRL Premiere League next spring," Nacovski said.
The MSA U15 boys team just won an Indiana Cup, giving the club its sixth state championship.
The MSA U18 boys team finished runners-up at the Indiana Cup, but still qualified for the US Youth Region II Championships, to take place June 20-25 in Dayton, Ohio.