Friday, October 1, 2010

ODP Major contributor to U-17 Residency Program

The U.S. Soccer Under-17 Residency Program recently named 40 players selected to participate in the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The 40 players represent some of the nation's finest, and in addition to their skills, determination and motivation to succeed, also share affiliation with US Youth Soccer, the nation's largest youth sports organization and home to elite programs such as the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series, US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (US Youth Soccer ODP) and US Youth Soccer National League.

Of the 40 players named, 19 return from last year's residency program, 17 of which had been members of US Youth Soccer ODP. Just as those who entered the program last fall, the majority of this year's new additions, 12 of 21, also have the common thread of player development through US Youth Soccer ODP. Three of the 21 newcomers include Luis Martir, who was at Chivas de Guadalajara in Mexico, Mobi Fehr, who was at J-League club Tokyo Verdy and Danny Zaid, who has been playing at Futeca Camp Elite, a Guatemalan soccer academy.

The residency players live on campus at the IMG Academy and train daily under the guidance of Wilmer Cabrera and assistant coaches Paul Caffrey, Gerson Echeverry, Paul Grafer and Erik Imler. Cabrera and Caffrey were former US Youth Soccer ODP coaches for Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association, Echeverry is a former US Youth Soccer ODP Region I coach and Imler was a member of the North Carolina US Youth Soccer ODP staff.

"The majority of the players coming through to the national teams have experience playing at high levels around the country. Players in programs such as US Youth Soccer ODP are familiar with the standards required to compete at the highest level and when they come through to the national team they have an idea about what it will take for them and for our national teams to be successful," said U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team head coach Wilmer Cabrera when asked what makes US Youth Soccer ODP a valuable program for players seeking advancement through the youth levels, specifically those seeking to be a part of the national team.

US Youth Soccer ODP is offered in every state, thus casting a wide net to find players capable of playing at the next level.

Cabrera added, "Competing on a national level is essential for players looking to reach the next level. Players who can test themselves against opposition on a state-wide or region-wide basis give themselves the best opportunity to improve and gain exposure, whether they ultimately go on to play college soccer, professional or with the national teams somewhere down the road."

All players were born in 1994 or 1995 and are eligible for 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico.

"Our organization is known for the best youth soccer in the country and our member clubs and coaches are to be commended for their efforts in developing the future of American soccer," said John Sutter, president of US Youth Soccer. "Our elite-level programs, such as US Youth Soccer ODP, US Youth Soccer National Championship Series and US Youth Soccer National League, continue to provide the highest level of development and visibility to our players across the country and assist to better prepare our national teams for competition."

The US Youth Soccer ODP was formed in 1977 to identify a pool of players in each age group from which a national team will be selected for international competition; to provide high-level training to benefit and enhance the development of players at all levels; and, through the use of carefully selected and licensed coaches, develop a mechanism for the exchange of ideas and curriculum to improve all levels of coaching.

US Youth Soccer ODP is the original Olympic development program. US Youth Soccer ODP is the only elite player development program that can claim members of Major League Soccer and Women's Professional Soccer, as well as a majority of current and past national and youth team members, as alumni. US Youth Soccer ODP exists in every State Association and offers collegiate and national team staff coaches the opportunity to see the nation's elite players in the most competitive of environments. In addition to training and tactics, US Youth Soccer ODP also offers competitions such as regional and national championships as well as participation in international tournaments. US Youth Soccer ODP continues to lead the way for elite player identification and development in the United States.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

College Scholarships - 2

In this issue's "In My Opinion" section, Frank Pace contributes an article about the college recruiting process - the good, the bad and the ugly. Meanwhile, NSCAA President Al Albert dedicates his column to the everlasting contributions of collegiate soccer to the sport in this country. He suggests that college soccer has been a positive force in this country in spite of the perception that college soccer actually retards soccer's overall growth in America.
With reference to a four-part New York Times series by Bill Pennington about Division I athletics, my contribution to the discussion is a pragmatic look at the dream held by many young American players of earning a collegiate soccer scholarship.
More and more players (and parents) believe it is worth investing several thousands of dollars a year on select dubs, uniforms, showcase tournaments, elite camps, recruitment services and even private trainers to improve the odds of landing a soccer scholarship.
A recent survey of parents at the Jarosi Tournament in Columbus, Ohio, revealed that more than 60 percent of parents view soccer at a "select" level as a means to a college athletic scholarship.
The father of a local U-12 player recently removed his son from a private school the child had attended for eight years. The father plans to use the money he will save on tuition to pay for private trainers for his son with a goal of improving the chances of receiving a soccer scholarship.
Advertisements for elite clubs, camps and recruiting services give the impression that signing on with them will increase chances for a scholarship. They seem to suggest that scholarships are there for the taking. Aflyer from an elite club in Ohio, for instance, makes the claim that 80 percent of the club's players receive soccer scholarships.
College recruiting services routinely advertise that their service will improve a player's chance of securing a college soccer scholarship. Alan Yost of the recruiting service NCSA said, "Every high school player who signs on with us expects a scholarship offer...every player!"
A look at the facts paints a far different picture of soccer scholarships. Critics say that select clubs often inflate the number of players who receive scholarships. Many coaches throw away the information from recruiting services, preferring instead to use their own resources and go to many tournaments to watch players. Personal trainers

have offered no data on the number of scholarship athletes they work with. So why do parents buy into the "scholarship sales pitch?"
While there is nothing wrong with using soccer to help a high school player get into one of the best schools - and perhaps get a scholarship - everyone involved should be realistic about the situation.
A study in 1996 determined the following facts for the high school age soccer players:
• There were 8,182 boys and 6,500 girls soccer programs.
• There were more than 283,700 boys and 209,000 girls playing high school soccer.
• There were 51,066 boys and 37,620 girls who were seniors, played soccer and graduated.
• There were 721 college programs for boys and 736 for girls.
• There were 4,326 spots available on college teams for boys; and there were 4416 spots available for the girls.
• There were playing opportunities for fewer than 8 percent of graduating seniors.
• There were 433 scholarships for boys and 806 for girls.
• Less than 1 percent of the graduating boys and around 2 percent of the girls received soccer scholarships.
How's that for a dose of reality? But the good news is that in 2008 the situation is much better, right? Not really.
There are more scholarships available for both men and women. But there are many more players playing the game in high school.
In Pennington's New York Times series, he discussed the scholarship situation for all NCAA sports. According to him, "Excluding the glamour sports of football and basketball, the average NCAA athletic scholarship is nowhere near full tuition, amounting to $8,707. In sports like baseball and track and field, the number is routinely as low as $2,000. Even when football and basketball are included, the average is only $10,409. Tuition and room and board

for NCAA institutions often cost between $20,000
and $50,000."
While the data compiled by the NCAA for the 2003-2004 academic year dealt with all sports, let's focus on men's and women's soccer. The article determined the following:
• Only about 2 percent of all NCAA Division I athletes receive a scholarship.
• There is no such thing as a four-year scholarship. All scholarships are renewable annually.
• There were 330,044 boys and 270,273 girls playing high school soccer.
• There were 2,357 scholarships for boys and 3,964 for girls.
• Those scholarships were awarded to 6,047 boys and 9,310 girls.
• The average award was $8,533 for boys and $8,404 for girls - that means the men's scholarship covered only 39 percent of costs and the women's scholarships covered only 43 percent of costs.
• Only 1.8 percent of high school soccer playing boys received a soccer scholarship; only 3.4 percent of the women received a soccer scholarship.
In the NYT series, Pennington quotes NCAA President Myles Brand as saying, "The youth culture is overly aggressive and while the opportunity for an athletic scholarship is not trivial, it's easy for the opportunity to be exaggerated by parents and advisors. That can skew behavior and, based on numbers, lead to unrealistic expectations."
The statistics above suggest that there is one

Soccer Journal • May-June 2008
NCAA scholarship for every 145 men who played soccer in college. Joe Taylor, a scholarship soccer player from Villanova, said, "It is a huge dogfight to get whatever you can. Everyone is scrambling. There are so many good players, nobody understands how few get to keep playing after high school! If I had to do it over again, I would have skipped a practice every now and then to go to a concert or a movie with my friends. I missed out on a lot of things because of soccer. I wish I could have some of that time back."
It is important that parents and coaches know these statistics and realize how difficult it is to receive a soccer scholarship. Although getting a soccer scholarship is a long shot, there is some good news. Being a good soccer player may give an athlete an edge when colleges award academic scholarships and need-based aid. In fact, there is much more money available to soccer players for academic excellence than athletic prowess. An increased focus on academics will pay greater dividends than soccer excellence in the long run - it may also pay off on the short run.
A recent study by the College Board Association of Princeton, N.J., determined that independent colleges in the United States award more than $10 billion in financial aid each year. This includes awards from institutional funds for scholarships, fellowships and trainee stipends. Add state and federal financial aid funding and there is in excess of $50 billion available for academic and need-based aid each year.
The numbers say that soccer scholarships are relatively scarce. Should your
players stop cracking shots and spend Saturdays cracking the books in a library
instead? Of course not. We know that soccer is a great game. It has an important
place in the lives of your players, whether or not there is a soccer scholarship in
the future. Everyone involved with soccer should just keep the scholarship issue
in perspective. Your players should be playing for fun, fitness and the challenge
of the game. If your players (and parents) are playing only to earn a soccer
scholarship - maybe they should spend more time in the library!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

College Scholarships - 1

The elusive college scholarship
Please read the following article on the pursuit of scholarships from the NY Times. As an interesting note, the soccer player in the article who went to Villanova was also recruited by me when I was at Georgetown - mostly based on his play at a summer camp I ran, but I remember the game he is talking about in the article. Interestingly, we only had 1.5 scholarships available in the entire prgram at the time, so were not able to offer him what Villanova was able to do. So even if you are a scholarship level player, you never know what will turn the tide for a coach. Sometimes lack of an offer is not lack of interest - just lack of resources.

Also - read the question and answer from the last blog on recruiting. Very good question regarding goalkeepers in it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Important questions for college coaches in the recruiting process

Following is part of an article by Avi Stopper about the college recruiting process. I want to add that I think it is important to ask the coach where he feels you may be within your first 2 years should you join his/her program. If there doesn't seem to be much chance in the first 2 years, then it is not a good soccer option.
The Question College Hopefuls Must Ask
By Avi Stopper

Wilbur Avataria is a good soccer player. He's been in touch with a dozen or so college coaches, visited a handful of those schools, and scored a stunning goal at Dallas Cup. Recruiting is moving along pretty well for him. But there's one glaring exception: he has no idea how serious any of these coaches are about having him on their teams.

Yes, he's sent them a profile, a copy of his transcript, and a video. He's visited their campuses, watched practices, and stayed with players. And he's gotten the coaches to see him play. It really seems like he's actually being recruited. (He text messaged his teammate the other day: "omg! it's happening!!! ttyl")

The problem? Despite the strides he's made, his status is still largely unclear. For all he knows, there could be 50 other players in the exact same position - and in fact, there probably are. College coaches maintain massive databases that contain up to 1,000 players. Gradually, coaches pick up information about the players in their database and then try to make well-reasoned judgments about who's right for their team.

Some players like Wilbur do everything right - they provide coaches with transcripts, schedules, videos, recommendations, etc. - but then fail to ask The Question: "Where do I stand?" The answer to this question is the only thing that really matters in recruiting.
Doing the legwork to get to a college coach to know enough about you to make a well-reasoned judgment is essential. But once this has been accomplished, you must ask the college coach for an honest assessment.
Before you go practice on your little brother, remember that The Question isn't meant to be an interrogation. You don't want to back the college coach into a corner with aggressive questioning. No less, the coach has the responsibility to provide you with an honest answer.

Here are four responses you might hear:

1. Join Us! In the best case scenario, the coach will tell you that he'd really like you to come play for his team.
2. Uh, Sorry. There's always the possibility that you'll hear something like, "We don't feel like you're a good fit for our team." Ouch. It may sting, but getting this sort of honest response, painful as it may be, is actually a good thing. It lets you focus on the schools that are interested.

3. More Info Needed. Another response you may hear is, "We need to see you play more before we make a decision." This is great because it helps you plan your next steps.
4. Ambiguous Blah. You may also get an ambiguous response along the lines of, "We think you can contribute." Don't be afraid to ask a follow-up question like, "What exactly does that mean?" The coach may still not be forthcoming, which is why it's essential for you to communicate with coaches at multiple schools.

The best player-college coach relationships are built on honesty and respect. By being forthright about your interest and asking the coach to do the same, you're setting the right precedent.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Soccer aspects of the College Decision Process...

Athletics/Soccer – Obviously you may be interested in playing soccer in college if you are reading this. Do your homework on the programs at the schools. Some key issues you need to solve are:
• The coach – this is the adult you will have the most contact with during your time in school. Does the coach look out for you beyond the soccer field?
• The chances of playing within your first 2 years. I always felt that if a player didn’t have a good chance within the first 2 years, then I wouldn’t recruit him.
• The facilities – type of field (practice and game), locker room, training room, weight room, etc.
• The division, conference, style of play. MANY PLAYERS go for the limelight programs and never get the experience they would have had at a “lower” level. If the coach is not recruiting you (truly recruiting you), then know that your chances are very slim of getting the experience you would like to have out of college soccer.
• What other options are there at the school if you do not make the varsity team (due to funding – hardly any schools have JV programs anymore). They may have club teams and intramurals, however.
• Graduation rates and transfer rates. This is the best indication if players are enjoying their experience).

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The College Decision Process - part 1

Georgetown – 22 years – Advice for contacting coaches for recruiting..
Part 1

Above all else – the student-athlete must be the one to contact the coach first. There is always a “yellow flag” that goes up when the parent calls or e-mails first. I am sure you can think of some of things a coach may conclude:

The player is not really interested – just the parent.
The parent does everything for the player.
The player does not have good interpersonal habits, so the parent is covering.

A player making the first contact is much more impressive. We will be coaching and mentoring the player, not the parents (or not supposed to mentoring the parents). You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Almost no matter what, that is best done by the player. Common excuses are that “I am calling for my son because he is in school and can’t call you from there. By the time he is home, you probably wouldn’t be in the office.”

Obviously, if the player tries to call after school, then he may find the coach is in the office. We don’t work 9-5s – much more than that. We all have voice mail – even if you just leave a message that I am trying to contact you and will call back is better than the call from someone other than you. If you leave your number and ask the coach to call you back, then you are also finding out how interested they may be in you and/or how professional they are.

Remember NCAA rules prohibit a coach from calling you until after July 1st prior to your senior year of HS. So if you are calling before that and leave a message, then you will not (or should not) receive a call back.

After the initial call it would not be improper for a parent to touch base. However, if it now becomes just the parent, then the same conclusions as above may apply. Parents are an important part of the process and can affect things. Obviously a parent should do all he/she can to allow the process to work for the student-athlete. Too much or none at all could spell out certain cautions in the mind of the coach.

Remember that we recruit players whom we feel will help our programs on and off the field and, obviously, fit into the academic profile of the school.

To find out more information on NCAA rules for the College Bound student-athlete you can go the following site:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Leaving MD ODP

A couple of people have posted/e-mailed me about MD ODP this year. Here is an e-mail that was supposed to have been sent to all ODP players from this past year. If you did not receive it, then my apologies.
To 2008 MD ODP players and families:

I wanted to let you know that after 4 great years with MD ODP I will be stepping down to put more time into some other ventures that I am involved with. My experience with the ODP has been awesome. This year was such a banner year with over 40 players being selected to call back camp - by far a record and by far the number one goal of the program - to place as many deserving players to the next level as possible. I can honestly say that judging by the quality of players who did not get selected to call back camp, Maryland is in excellent shape talent and depth wise.

I want to thank my staff who has been totally dedicated to the players in our program. The improvement in each team has been noticeable and will benefit the players in many ways outside of ODP with their club and school teams. I want to thank the Team Managers. You have done a wonderful job organizing things and that doesn't go unnoticed. Finally I want to thank Jen Pagliaro who has ultimately run the program from the administrative side of things. You can be sure that the success on the field correlates to the professionalism and organization off the field that Jen directed.

I do not know yet who the next ODP director will be or whom will be on the staff. I do want to say that the benefits of the ODP program are tremendous regardless of who is coaching. For the 91s reading this I thank you for your dedication to ODP. For the other ages, I urge you to try out again this year and continue to represent Maryland as one of the best states in the country. I will remain the Assistant Head coach for Region 1 ODP and will see many of you in the regional events.

Thanks for everything,