For parents of soccer club kids

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To DA or not to DA, that is the question.

Mine would DA if not for this insane no-high-school-soccer rule.
 
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Not something I have to worry about because of current age and talent level of my kids. I hate that kids aren't playing high school soccer, but I understand it. My high school coach was terrible. I wasn't going anywhere anyway, and I had fun playing with my friends that I saw every day in school, but I saw kids that could've had opportunities that were squandered by bad coaching. I did get an invitation to play from the coach of a D3 program of a school I got into. It was not a good team. I claim that as an "offer" though!

We have a few kids in town that will have to make this decision. Two are currently with Academies, and another couple have the talent but currently play in our town-based club because they play other sports and like playing with friends. Of all of the kids I can see having a shot, only 2 of them SHOULD consider DA. The way I see it:

DA:
  • You are good enough to play beyond high school at a pro level or at least D1. We have a boy and girl in our age group that fit into this possible tranche. If they want to make a run at D1 or pro, it's hard to say not to go this route. Both also have a strong love and drive for the game. The boy is all soccer, all the time. The girl seems to like basketball a close second so she'll have to decide.
  • You are good enough (and have a desire) to play beyond high school and have a crappy high school program that will stunt your growth and provide limited opportunity to be seen. Our high school girls program has had many girls play D3 over the past 5 years or so and I understand a few of them had D1 opportunities. The boys program has gotten much better recently, but has only had a few D3 players over the years.
  • You have a big ego and like the gear. We have a boy that fits into this tranche in that he may be good enough to play D3, but he and his parents believes he is better than he is. My son's team was significantly better when this kid stopped double carding with us.
Good luck with the decision! I assume this is just as much a question for your child (daughter, correct?). I think you only go this route if she has a love for the game and a desire to be the best that she can be. She also needs a laser discipline to keep up her studies and other life needs. My son would flunk out of high school with so much commitment.
 

meyers7

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We had one kid go DA from the school I coach at. He did well there, got a ride to Univ of Hartford. Glad for him, but painful seeing him in the stands at most of the HS games, knowing how much he could have helped the team. You could tell he really wanted to play with his buddies from school too. He'd stop by practice/tryouts a couple times, but we couldn't even let him do anything then.

But, we've had some other kids playing DII, DIII or NAIA. I think he's the only one DI, soooo, DA worked.
 
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Not something I have to worry about because of current age and talent level of my kids. I hate that kids aren't playing high school soccer, but I understand it. My high school coach was terrible. I wasn't going anywhere anyway, and I had fun playing with my friends that I saw every day in school, but I saw kids that could've had opportunities that were squandered by bad coaching. I did get an invitation to play from the coach of a D3 program of a school I got into. It was not a good team. I claim that as an "offer" though!

We have a few kids in town that will have to make this decision. Two are currently with Academies, and another couple have the talent but currently play in our town-based club because they play other sports and like playing with friends. Of all of the kids I can see having a shot, only 2 of them SHOULD consider DA. The way I see it:

DA:
  • You are good enough to play beyond high school at a pro level or at least D1. We have a boy and girl in our age group that fit into this possible tranche. If they want to make a run at D1 or pro, it's hard to say not to go this route. Both also have a strong love and drive for the game. The boy is all soccer, all the time. The girl seems to like basketball a close second so she'll have to decide.
  • You are good enough (and have a desire) to play beyond high school and have a crappy high school program that will stunt your growth and provide limited opportunity to be seen. Our high school girls program has had many girls play D3 over the past 5 years or so and I understand a few of them had D1 opportunities. The boys program has gotten much better recently, but has only had a few D3 players over the years.
  • You have a big ego and like the gear. We have a boy that fits into this tranche in that he may be good enough to play D3, but he and his parents believes he is better than he is. My son's team was significantly better when this kid stopped double carding with us.
Good luck with the decision! I assume this is just as much a question for your child (daughter, correct?). I think you only go this route if she has a love for the game and a desire to be the best that she can be. She also needs a laser discipline to keep up her studies and other life needs. My son would flunk out of high school with so much commitment.
Yes, it's my daughter. I really like how you broke it down.

My daughter is already at a club with a DA Academy, but they start at U14. She played up a year this year at U13 and 4 of the girls were selected for DA (the range of distance for this one club's DA is mind boggling, stretches from Ontario, Canada to Binghamton, practices via carpool are an hour away from me in Rochester). She held her own with the 4 girls selected for DA, she was just as good, though a year younger. Right now, she has an offer from a top ECNL team, so we're considering jumping ship before the inevitable (kids leaving for DA blow up next year's U13 team). So, she has the ECNL offer and also an offer from her current club's U13 team which is #1 in their region (New York state), it's better than the ECNL team across town, but I just know it will dissolve when girls jump to DA next year. This already happened to the team she played for this year (4 girls to DA, 4 girls to the ECNL team across town, 3 girls to GPS).

If it weren't for this rule, she'd be happy to stay where she is. Can she possibly play D1? She is tracking that way. BUT, our family is more than a little leery of the DA commitment. And the prospect of sending her traveling without her parents (DA travel is part of the tuition, no parents required) is loopy if you ask me.
 
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We had one kid go DA from the school I coach at. He did well there, got a ride to Univ of Hartford. Glad for him, but painful seeing him in the stands at most of the HS games, knowing how much he could have helped the team. You could tell he really wanted to play with his buddies from school too. He'd stop by practice/tryouts a couple times, but we couldn't even let him do anything then.

But, we've had some other kids playing DII, DIII or NAIA. I think he's the only one DI, soooo, DA worked.
Ugh--that will be my daughter. They have made this sports thing too hard. College showcases and high level recruitment vs. playing for your high school and with friends. Ridiculous.
 
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Yes, it's my daughter. I really like how you broke it down.

My daughter is already at a club with a DA Academy, but they start at U14. She played up a year this year at U13 and 4 of the girls were selected for DA (the range of distance for this one club's DA is mind boggling, stretches from Ontario, Canada to Binghamton, practices via carpool are an hour away from me in Rochester). She held her own with the 4 girls selected for DA, she was just as good, though a year younger. Right now, she has an offer from a top ECNL team, so we're considering jumping ship before the inevitable (kids leaving for DA blow up next year's U13 team). So, she has the ECNL offer and also an offer from her current club's U13 team which is #1 in their region (New York state), it's better than the ECNL team across town, but I just know it will dissolve when girls jump to DA next year. This already happened to the team she played for this year (4 girls to DA, 4 girls to the ECNL team across town, 3 girls to GPS).

If it weren't for this rule, she'd be happy to stay where she is. Can she possibly play D1? She is tracking that way. BUT, our family is more than a little leery of the DA commitment. And the prospect of sending her traveling without her parents (DA travel is part of the tuition, no parents required) is loopy if you ask me.
It's nice to be wanted and have options. We have similar stress at our town club level as we move to 11v11 this year. Both of my kids' teams were very strong and competitive, regularly beating lower level academy teams at tournaments. It's kind of funny to watch the parents and kids (only on the boys side) get pissed off when they get crushed by a small town team from Northern Counties Soccer Association. I find the coaches are always very respectful though. I think it will be harder to stay at that level as we dilute our small pool of players, especially if any of our top players move on and we've lost entire teams in the past. We had two teams in our flight (girls) ask about combining, but it wasn't geographically practical.

My daughter's best friend is one of the players I mentioned above. She plays at the U14 level (this fall) because she is 2005 rising 7th grader. Her coach poached the whole team (along with one other team) that he trained at a bigger academy to start his own small academy, but he's dropping the age group after this year so she'll have to find a new team for 8th grade regardless.
 

ZooCougar

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It's nice to be wanted and have options. We have similar stress at our town club level as we move to 11v11 this year. Both of my kids' teams were very strong and competitive, regularly beating lower level academy teams at tournaments. It's kind of funny to watch the parents and kids (only on the boys side) get pissed off when they get crushed by a small town team from Northern Counties Soccer Association. I find the coaches are always very respectful though. I think it will be harder to stay at that level as we dilute our small pool of players, especially if any of our top players move on and we've lost entire teams in the past. We had two teams in our flight (girls) ask about combining, but it wasn't geographically practical.

My daughter's best friend is one of the players I mentioned above. She plays at the U14 level (this fall) because she is 2005 rising 7th grader. Her coach poached the whole team (along with one other team) that he trained at a bigger academy to start his own small academy, but he's dropping the age group after this year so she'll have to find a new team for 8th grade regardless.


What is the cost of DA tuition?
 
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What is the cost of DA tuition?
If the club is subsidized, either through sponsorships or MLS, then it's the same as club soccer ($2-3k). Our club is unsponsored and costs closer to $5k.

That includes all transportation (airfare, buses), hotel & food to away games.
 

ZooCougar

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It's nice to be wanted and have options. We have similar stress at our town club level as we move to 11v11 this year. Both of my kids' teams were very strong and competitive, regularly beating lower level academy teams at tournaments. It's kind of funny to watch the parents and kids (only on the boys side) get pissed off when they get crushed by a small town team from Northern Counties Soccer Association. I find the coaches are always very respectful though. I think it will be harder to stay at that level as we dilute our small pool of players, especially if any of our top players move on and we've lost entire teams in the past. We had two teams in our flight (girls) ask about combining, but it wasn't geographically practical.

My daughter's best friend is one of the players I mentioned above. She plays at the U14 level (this fall) because she is 2005 rising 7th grader. Her coach poached the whole team (along with one other team) that he trained at a bigger academy to start his own small academy, but he's dropping the age group after this year so she'll have to find a new team for 8th grade regardless.
Parents are a big part of what has screwed up development in this country.

As long as we have system that relies on Parents paying which means they can unduly influence affairs we’ll remain hopelessly inefficient. At some point when these few elite players are recognized the costs have to be mostly covered by club, which at this point is impossible but could be accomplished by the Federation subsidies, solidarity payments and other initiatives.

20 something MLS Academies won’t cut it in a nation of 350M.
 

ZooCougar

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If the club is subsidized, either through sponsorships or MLS, then it's the same as club soccer ($2-3k). Our club is unsponsored and costs closer to $5k.

That includes all transportation (airfare, buses), hotel & food to away games.
Even 2-3k is insane. We are totally screwed until that changes.

In other countries in their sports they can identify top level talent much earlier and funnel resources into development.

Take Belgium for example. They know if a kid has the potential to race bikes professionally before he or she is 8 or 9 years old.

In America it’s like we string ourselves along throughout childhood instead of making a judgement at a younger age. The parents end up on some Quixotic quest to get their kids a D1 scholarship.
 
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I agree about the cost. We've just crossed out entire populations.

But no top coaches in my town train those poorer kids. Doesn't happen.

I always say that it's not a matter of style of play, training, etc., in the USA, but resources. Soccer doesn't have the $$ to produce top men's soccer teams.

It's as simple as that.

And then when you see some of the practices of these mercenaries, your head will spin. Some clubs are pay to play. Pay for private sessions with the coaches, and your playing time will increase over more deserving players on the same club. Disgusting.

But, I'd equally warn people about the romantic idea that some well meaning knowledgable soccer coach is lurking in poor neighborhoods and training the more athletic skilled kids. That's a myth. If these kids are getting trained properly at al, they are on scholarship at the DA clubs. Personally, I don't mind that, but I know other parents do. I brought a city kid to our team and told the coach, her parents can't pay, and they aren't even going to apply for financial aid. If you like her, you're just going to have to roster her. I will handle her transportation. He took her on because she was brilliant, and then a cluster of parents talked behind my back.
 

John

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For girls I think ECNL is still the way to go - everything I've heard has pointed towards the rollout of GDA to be a shyteshow, at least in the Northeast.

In Connecticut, Oakwood is the only GDA club, and I've heard they are not attracting the better quality players there. For CT ECNL clubs, it's either CFC and FSA. CFC especially, and to a lesser degree FSA, are getting the better quality girls vs Oakwood GDA. I don't have girls playing, but have heard CFC ECNL is much better run, and the development and college-recruiting results are better.

For boys I think it's a toss up between DA and the new boy's ECNL, but personally I think the no-HS thing is BS. In CT the boys DA clubs are Oakwood and Beachside. Beachside is currently not that great, a slide that has been years in the making. Just this week the founder/leader was demoted, and I know there's a lot of parental dissatisfaction with the club and a lot of better players have been leaving in the past 2-3 years to go to NY clubs (or get out of DA in general). Neither of my boys are good enough for DA, so it's not something I have to worry about (fortunately).
 
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ZooCougar

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I agree about the cost. We've just crossed out entire populations.

But no top coaches in my town train those poorer kids. Doesn't happen.

I always say that it's not a matter of style of play, training, etc., in the USA, but resources. Soccer doesn't have the $$ to produce top men's soccer teams.

It's as simple as that.

And then when you see some of the practices of these mercenaries, your head will spin. Some clubs are pay to play. Pay for private sessions with the coaches, and your playing time will increase over more deserving players on the same club. Disgusting.

But, I'd equally warn people about the romantic idea that some well meaning knowledgable soccer coach is lurking in poor neighborhoods and training the more athletic skilled kids. That's a myth. If these kids are getting trained properly at al, they are on scholarship at the DA clubs. Personally, I don't mind that, but I know other parents do. I brought a city kid to our team and told the coach, her parents can't pay, and they aren't even going to apply for financial aid. If you like her, you're just going to have to roster her. I will handle her transportation. He took her on because she was brilliant, and then a cluster of parents talked behind my back.
We have boatloads of money. It just ends up being used really inefficiently. US Soccer nearly has a 200M cash reserve.

The problem is so out of control nobody really knows where to start. In the example you provided, that’s the parents causing problems.

One area where we are lacking in is quality of competition. If you watch an MLS Academy team play a run of the mill DA, you will see that they are not being tested. They simply dont get the opportunity to play other top level competition often enough and it hurts development.

That’s why in some ways it is easier for a Croatia, Iceland, or even Uruguay to pump out quality. They have smaller pool to manage and they make tough decisions early.

At this point I think I am just bitching lol.
 

John

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At this point I think I am just bitching lol.
I find youth soccer, as a parent, to be utterly exasperating compared to other sports my kids have been involved in. There's always GD drama, whether it be other parents, the club in general, or bad seed kids on the teams. Always drama. And how they have connected a vacuum cleaner to my wallet. I suspect this all can be extrapolated to a national scale too.
 
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I find youth soccer, as a parent, to be utterly exasperating compared to other sports my kids have been involved in. There's always GD drama, whether it be other parents, the club in general, or bad seed kids on the teams. Always drama. And how they have connected a vacuum cleaner to my wallet. I suspect this all can be extrapolated to a national scale too.
I thought that... until my son started playing lacrosse! Holy hell! It's 10 times worse than soccer in my opinion. Forgetting the expense of the equipment, we've got kids that can barely walk straight, let alone show any stick skills, that are on academy teams that are popping up every day. Not only do they pay a couple thousand bucks for what amounts to a handful of tournaments and a dozen practices, they are buying the customized helmets and sticks to show their pride. Then they get cut when that academy is able to convince a few better players to join. Rinse, repeat. Thankfully my son saw that and quit has academy team. The top players at the real academies are passing him by, but the kids that sucked still suck.

What it comes down to is ALL youth sports now suck! Baseball is a mess in our town with competing leagues and teams poaching kids from each other.
 
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For girls I think ECNL is still the way to go - everything I've heard has pointed towards the rollout of GDA to be a shyteshow, at least in the Northeast.

In Connecticut, Oakwood is the only GDA club, and I've heard they are not attracting the better quality players there. For CT ECNL clubs, it's either CFC and FSA. CFC especially, and to a lesser degree FSA, are getting the better quality girls vs Oakwood GDA. I don't have girls playing, but have heard CFC ECNL is much better run, and the development and college-recruiting results are better.

For boys I think it's a toss up between DA and the new boy's ECNL, but personally I think the no-HS thing is BS. In CT the boys DA clubs are Oakwood and Beachside. Beachside is currently not that great, a slide that has been years in the making. Just this week the founder/leader was demoted, and I know there's a lot of parental dissatisfaction with the club and a lot of better players have been leaving in the past 2-3 years to go to NY clubs (or get out of DA in general). Neither of my boys are good enough for DA, so it's not something I have to worry about (fortunately).
I hear you.

This month though some of the top ECNLs switched in the northeast. Albertson on Long Island switched to DA for instance.

In my town, they also play in the state NPL league, and the DA teams are beating the ECNL teams regularly. We are northeast DA, state NPL, while the ECNL teams are great lakes and Tennessee.

Also, the MLS clubs are DA.

I really think that DA is going to be stronger as on the boy's side, BUT I would love ECNL boys to pressure DA enough to remove the no HS rule.
 

ZooCougar

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I find youth soccer, as a parent, to be utterly exasperating compared to other sports my kids have been involved in. There's always GD drama, whether it be other parents, the club in general, or bad seed kids on the teams. Always drama. And how they have connected a vacuum cleaner to my wallet. I suspect this all can be extrapolated to a national scale too.
It’s glorified day care. And parents have expectations when they are forking over thousands and thousands of dollars and having their weekends consumed.
 

whaler11

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I find youth soccer, as a parent, to be utterly exasperating compared to other sports my kids have been involved in. There's always GD drama, whether it be other parents, the club in general, or bad seed kids on the teams. Always drama. And how they have connected a vacuum cleaner to my wallet. I suspect this all can be extrapolated to a national scale too.
I took over as travel director for a small town club this year. I was on the officiating side for years so know the insanity of game day but yikes.

How a travel program with 135 players across all the teams can have this much drama is impressive.

There are 13k people in the town and people are willing to burn relationships over U10 rosters that might put a couple of kids on a team at Eastern some day.

My poor daughter is going to an Oakwood camp next week. Hopefully she doesn’t come home and hate the sport.
 

ZooCougar

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I hear you.

This month though some of the top ECNLs switched in the northeast. Albertson on Long Island switched to DA for instance.

In my town, they also play in the state NPL league, and the DA teams are beating the ECNL teams regularly. We are northeast DA, state NPL, while the ECNL teams are great lakes and Tennessee.

Also, the MLS clubs are DA.

I really think that DA is going to be stronger as on the boy's side, BUT I would love ECNL boys to pressure DA enough to remove the no HS rule.
I’ve read that MLS is DA but usually far superior in quality. Like some of the kids in Sporting’s Academy are getting a paycheck, which is a positive in my book.
 

John

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I’ve read that MLS is DA but usually far superior in quality. Like some of the kids in Sporting’s Academy are getting a paycheck, which is a positive in my book.
the MLS DA clubs are much much much better than the ones with no MLS affiliation (like Oakwood and Beachside in CT). I've heard rumors that they're going to start putting clubs into rigid tiers, which spells a lot of trouble for the two CT clubs. Also, I know Albertson was mentioned, but there's several clubs on the national scene that were both GDA and ECNL, but dropped GDA after this past year and are now back to being ECNL-only. GDA has A LOT of work to do to catch up.
 
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I’ve read that MLS is DA but usually far superior in quality. Like some of the kids in Sporting’s Academy are getting a paycheck, which is a positive in my book.
Our club beat the Portland Timbers in at least one age group, so I'm not sure how far superior they are. Maybe the LA teams? Honestly, I don't check on this much, but I saw the victory over the Timbers go through my Facebook feed.
 
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the MLS DA clubs are much much much better than the ones with no MLS affiliation (like Oakwood and Beachside in CT). I've heard rumors that they're going to start putting clubs into rigid tiers, which spells a lot of trouble for the two CT clubs. Also, I know Albertson was mentioned, but there's several clubs on the national scene that were both GDA and ECNL, but dropped GDA after this past year and are now back to being ECNL-only. GDA has A LOT of work to do to catch up.
Western New York Flash was both ECNL and GDA, but GDA dropped them after the women's team left town for North Carolina. Are you sure they dropped DA and not vice versa?
 

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