Coach Brad · Coaching · Development · Leadership · Pathway to the Pros · Success · Youth Sports

Alphabet Youth Soccer Soup – Let’s Travel

Individuals live two and half hours from an ECNL program which is the perceived way to get into college for girls.

The local club offers a coach with a USSF “B” license, United Soccer Coaches Premier Diploma, 12 years of directorship which has seen said coach place over 100 players in college programming and another coach that has a USSF “C” license, United Soccer Coaches Premier Diploma, and tons of positive relationships with local families within the soccer organization. These coaches are working directly with all of the girls in the 13U through 19U age group.

With all this being said, 10 girls who grew up playing in the organization ride in a 2.5 hour carpool to participate with a different club. That becomes 5 or more hours in the car for a 1.5 hour training session or a ninety minute “home” game.

I know I don’t have the answers but this seems like a huge expectation for possibly participating in college.

Instead of the 5 plus hours on the road it would take out of the day for the training session or going to a home game, would things like studying, working, and hanging out with family and friends be a preferred childhood. Local training and game play would open up these options and remove the sacrifices that many of these families believe they have to make to assist their children.

Quite possibly the players lost trust with the local club and now believe the only way for their child to gain a college scholarship is to participate farther away. Each family has their own right to make this decision as they believe it would be for the betterment of their family and that is perfectly fine. I just have a few questions with this concept of player development that is happening all over America.

  • Would the ECNL or other sanctioning organizations prefer and promote players traveling 5 hours on the road for the betterment of the player? It is hard for me to believe that they would say that is for the best of the player.
  • With numerous players traveling 2.5 hours one way for one age group, where did all the players go in that age group that were originally affiliated with that club? Farther away to something better?
  • Training and game play at 2.5 hours one way with multiple days of training each week definitely changes family dynamics. Does the club the players travel to and the sanctioning league support these family adjustments for the elusive college scholarship?
  • Is the “old club” supposed to provide a local training option for these players that left them and are ow playing for the other club 2.5 hours away?
  • I was a college coach 15 years ago and I know things have changed but back then we only went to showcase events and watched video to recruit, not league games. I would love to hear from current college coaches to know if this travel to the higher level league is what players should be expected to do in their youth to have a better opportunity to play in college. Do college coaches attend ECNL league games?
  • In this COVID-19 environment we find ourselves in now is it prudent for a club 2.5 hours away to have families traveling for training and game play or would it be healthier for all to stay more local?

In conversations with some college coaches, the major aspects they deem to be the most important are:

  • Is the player good enough to compete?
  • Is the player a high character individual?
  • Does the player add value to our program?

Once the recruiting phase is complete, is the college coach concerned with what club they came from or are they more concerned with bringing players into the collegiate team culture. If the local club can create an environment that allows these three points of emphasis for a collegiate team, would it not make sense to stay local?

I am all for players training and playing at the highest level possible. Maybe the one percent player and family should make this drive but all of these players? Is the 2.5 hour one way ride what should happen for this? A true question should be what is the best way for the player to become the best they can be…I do not believe it is that much time driving to training and games.

I am unsure but would love to hear from others on what the best practice in this scenario would be. College coaches, club coaches, high school coaches, parents, players – PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHAT I AM MISSING!!!

Empowering athletes, families, coaches, and organizations to create opportunities for lifetime success.

Coach Brad

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One thought on “Alphabet Youth Soccer Soup – Let’s Travel

  1. I have lots to say on this topic. I will limit my response to what I believe is the most important consideration: what does your child want? I believe playing in the ECNL provided the following advantages: (1) competing for your spot at every practice – smaller markets don’t have the numbers to create that challenge and give you that edge; (2) exposure to lots of different coaches at the club and college level – they became known outside of the Savannah bubble; (3) most – certainly not all – games were faster and more competitive; (4) they learned invaluable lessons on integrating with players on an existing team which helped with the transition to being an incoming D1 athlete, which is no easy feat. I constantly reminded my girls that we traveled (4 hours each way) because it was what they wanted, and if that changed to let me know because I would rather be fishing!! Did they give up a lot of “just being a kid” – ABSOLUTELY. But it was their choice and (I think) if you asked them they would tell you they have no regrets. It is definitely not for everyone, nor is it the only entrée to a college career. It is also important to note, however, that they would never have had the opportunity to be a starter on that ECNL team but for the training they had at home. Their ECNL coach acknowledged that he had no hand in their development, but he did play a big role in their college placement. Would love to chat more on the subject over beer and brats!

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