06
Jun
11

follow up to the interview with Tony Meola on travel soccer teams…

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1 Response to “follow up to the interview with Tony Meola on travel soccer teams…”


  1. June 6, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    Tony Meola on the show this past week discussed how some travel soccer programs are infringing significantly on high school programs. I didn’t realize how big a deal this was but sure enough, an article came out…check it out.

    Copyright 2011 The Columbus Dispatch
    All Rights Reserved

    The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

    June 2, 2011 Thursday

    SECTION: SPORTS; Pg. 1C

    HEADLINE: CREW ACADEMY ; Juniors may have to skip playing in high school;

    BYLINE: Shawn Mitchell, THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

    When parents of Crew Soccer Academy players were informed last week that their sons might be asked to give up high-school sports to concentrate on club soccer, reaction was mixed.

    “My jaw hit the floor,” said one father, who did not want to be identified because of potential backlash for his son.

    “I realize you have to have the kids develop at a higher level but adding two months to the soccer season is not going to get our country to the World Cup final any sooner.”

    The U.S. Soccer Federation might beg to differ..

    The sport’s national governing body created Development Academy League in 2007 in an effort to unify the top youth clubs and players and make sure the best of the best refine their skills in academy settings similar to those in Europe.

    The goal is to develop more and better talent in a country that has never advanced beyond a quarterfinal in a modern World Cup and whose pro league, Major League Soccer, is considered middling.

    Seventy-eight teams split into 10 geographic regions compete in the league at the Under-18 and Under-16 levels, including those from the Crew and most other MLS teams.

    The Great Lakes region in which the Crew plays begins a 23-game season in late November after the conclusion of the Ohio high-school season, breaks for the holidays and plays through June with postseason games in July.

    The region recently voted to oppose expanding the schedule to include the fall, but regions in southern California, Texas and the Pacific Northwest are already operating on an almost year-round schedule that mostly precludes their players from playing high-school sports.

    Crew players will be able to play high-school soccer this fall, but Crew Juniors executive director Andrew Arthurs said U.S. Soccer might mandate that academy teams expand their schedules to 10 months and play in the autumn..

    That would prohibit academy players from participating in high-school soccer and other sports, robbing them of some of the simple but memorable parts of teenage athletics: Letter jackets, playing in front of friends and family and hearing their names announced on stadium PA systems.

    “I understand that you need to find the better players and keep them playing at a high level all the time but there is room for both (club and high school),” said Gahanna boys soccer coach Dwayne Marshall.

    “If you take these players out of high-school sports, you take the community out of it and you lose that support. High-school fans wouldn’t be able to see the best players like they can in football and basketball and in the long run that hurts the game.”

    Arthurs won nine district and two state championships while coaching at Westerville North.

    “From a pure soccer perspective it’s the right thing to do for sure,” Arthurs said of all-soccer, all-the-time.

    “But what comes with playing high-school sports is so meaningful and valuable. The federation isn’t saying that high-school athletics don’t have a place in American culture and education, but for these top-level kids the federation is saying these are some things that have to happen.”

    Skipping high-school competition to concentrate on club sports isn’t unusual in tennis or gymnastics, but Crew players continue to play high-school soccer partly because club soccer for their age group breaks and defers to high school in the fall.

    The exceptions are a few central Ohioans who have been invited to live and play at the U.S. Soccer Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla., including newest Crew pro Aaron Horton.

    Horton, 19, was signed by the Crew last month under the MLS homegrown player rule that allows teams to develop and keep local talent.

    The former Crew Academy player spent his sophomore year in Bradenton but came home and played for Olentangy Orange his junior and senior seasons.

    “It seems like everyone is focused on one sport anyway and has year-round training,” Horton said. “High-school soccer was fun but if you’re trying to play at the next level the academy is the way. It’s a sacrifice you have to make.”

    Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer isn’t so sure.

    The multi-sport standout from Wilson, N.C., was named his town’s “athlete of the decade” by the local newspaper last year.

    Hesmer played football, soccer, basketball and baseball in high school and was recruited to play football at Wake Forest.

    “I’m sure no one wants to force a kid to quit playing other sports but in order to make it a pro environment that’s what you have to do,” Hesmer said.

    “That’s the sacrifice you make if you want to be a great soccer player, but the chances of that happening are slim. I wouldn’t want to take away something a kid has done with his friends for years and have him abandon his school, his town and his friends.”

    smitchell@dispatch.com


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