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High School Soccer Speaking Points

Posted by NSCAA on Apr 26, 2012 in Community 4 Comments

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The following information from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) is in response to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy policy that was released on February 10, 2012. The purpose of this page is to simply provide coaches, parents and players with information when making their choice and to encourage discussion.

The statement in February was preceded this past fall, when the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, which is currently comprised of 78 clubs, announced that about a third of its clubs had already moved to the 10-month schedule. At the time, the NSCAA released this statement:

The National Soccer Coaches Association of America believes that the individual right of choice is fundamental to all. By extension, the NSCAA does not believe that it is appropriate for any soccer organization to eliminate choice as the price of participation. In particular, this applies to high school-age players, some of whom are being required to forego participation at one level to participate in another. While it may not always be practical, possible or the personal choice of a young athlete to participate in multiple levels, the NSCAA believes that all coaches should respect a player’s right to choose and support their players’ choices pertaining to personal and social development in addition to their development in the sport.

The purported goal of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy is to produce players and teams capable of international glory. The goal of any youth coach is to invest in best practices to enhance the development of the whole child physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. Each goal is valid and is to be applauded. The two goals are not mutually exclusive. The discussion bypassed the high school community in developing this policy and potentially penalizes players for participation in not only high school soccer, but all other high school activities as well. Opportunities to play high school and club soccer should coexist while honoring the fundamental American value of freedom of choice.

The talking points below are designed to assist high school coaches in communication with administrators, players and parents. Please feel free to contact NSCAA High School Representatives to the Board of Directors, Kevin Sims (simskm@yahoo.com) and/or Greg Mauch (gmauch@canterburyschool.org). We also encourage coaches to join the discussion on the subject in the NSCAA Community Forums.

High School Benefits:

  • Peer & community activity heightens emotional connection and can act as a community rallying point
  • Family environment is incapable of being replicated by clubs and provides unparalleled camaraderie
  • Experiences & values to last a lifetime
  • Better players enjoy greater role & more playing time on high school team during their seasons proving critical leadership development
  • More off-the-field behavioral accountability
  • Academic focus & accountability via eligibility standards provides motivation & suits preparation for college (high school scholastic experience most closely resembles collegiate scholastic experience)
  • Intensive physical, mental & emotional demands of 10-14 week high school season accelerates player development (5+ team sessions per week / championship title pursuits / rivalries / school pride / time management / organizational skills for life)
  • Tradition
  • Activity promoting diversity & inclusion
  • Superior access to media attention & team/individual awards & honors
  • Opportunity to play in front of family, school, community & excited crowds
  • Individual player development as extension of the classroom / integral to education of the whole child
  • High school sports often the fabric of community identity & pride
  • Credibility & strength of high school community is a source for college recommendations
  • Foreign exchange students from countries lacking high school sports find American high school sports environment exhilarating
  • Nations without organized high school sports are envious of American high school experience & opportunities

High School authority & responsibility:

  • Ultimate authority over high school attendance reporting lies with the high school
  • Student grade reporting as required by the NCAA is the responsibility of the high school
  • Use of all high school affiliations (facilities, high school names as identification, letters of reference to college, etc.) is controlled by high school

What can high school coaches do?

  • Market your teams and your programs
  • Work with your school administrators & associations, so that everyone is clear on the Development Academy policies (Athletic Director, Principal, School Heads, School Boards, State Associations, National Associations)
  • Proactively approach families and invite them to engage in discussion
  • Highlight all of the benefits to your communities, schools, parents and young people
  • Share facts regarding advantages of high school sports involvement
  • Share facts regarding realities of college scholarships, professional teams, and national team inclusion
  • Make being a member of your high school team an offer that can’t be refused
  • Assist athletes choosing to play high school soccer in finding competitive youth clubs that will allow them to play both youth and high school soccer giving them additional exposure to college programs
  • Join the discussion on the subject in the NSCAA Community Forums

Research Provided by Sheldon Shealer from ESPN (4/25/12):

  • 1,119 players have joined NCAA Division I programs in the most recent signing period (80+ colleges have yet to confirm their signings)
    • 111 were transfers from another college program
    • 47 were international players coming to the U.S.
    • 961 true high school seniors moved on to college soccer
    • 495 played in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy
    • 466 are non-Academy high school seniors
    • 44 percent of all of the most recent NCAA Division I signings played in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy
  • NOTES: It is possible that some players listed as Academy players no longer play in the Academy and some listed as non-Academy now play in the Academy. The listing club is identified as the club a player represented when he committed. However, that said, these numbers should be very accurate considering every player who has dropped from the Academy has been replaced by a former non-Academy player. International players are players with no U.S. ties. International players who attend U.S. high schools and/or play for U.S. club teams are factored into the Academy vs. non-Academy lists.

Further Information and Articles:


Is there additional information that you would like to provide and have posted? Contact Kevin Sims (simskm@yahoo.com) and/or Greg Mauch (gmauch@canterburyschool.org) or let us know in the NSCAA Community Forums.

The NSCAA is committed to providing support and services to the high school game and our members. Get more information on all of the services and benefits offered at the NSCAA High School Coaches Community page. The NSCAA gives each high school member coach the opportunity to nominate and recognize one outstanding senior from their team at the conclusion of their season. The Senior Excellence Award recognizes exceptional contributions made by a senior student-athlete in their program, with the intent of honoring exceptional contributions to the team while exemplifying the finest attributes of a high school student-athlete. To nominate a senior from your team,click here.


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    • Dan Woog
    • 04/25/2012 09:54pm

    The Staples High School (Westport, Conn.) boys soccer program is sponsoring a forum – “Choices and Challenges: The Changing Face of High School Soccer” – to provide Connecticut players and parents with information on the high school/Academy debate. It’s just part of our ongoing effort to show that we, as a high school program, truly care about the development of ALL players, and ALL levels of soccer, in this country. And we want every player to reach his full potential – as a player AND a human being. We expect 200 or so attendees. Here (below) is information on the event from our website (www.StaplesSoccer.com). Feel free to distribute this far and wide! Dan Woog Head coach, Staples High School boys soccer 203-227-1755 (home) 203-984-9635 (cell) 203-341-1332 (weekday mornings) dwoog@optonline.net www.StaplesSoccer.com ----------------------------------- The final 2 panelists have been added to the May 17 forum “Choices and Challenges: The Changing Face of High School Soccer.” Mike Noonan ’79 (head coach at Clemson University; former head coach at Brown University; an All-American at Middlebury College, and former professional player indoors and in Sweden) and Brian Quinn (South Central Academy U-18 coach; head coach at the University of Bridgeport, and former Connecticut Junior Soccer Association boys ODP director) round out a superb 10-man panel. “There’s a lot of buzz all over the state about this already,” said Staples High School head coach Dan Woog. “It’s a very important topic, and we look forward to presenting and hearing many different views.” Panelists and audience members will discuss issues including what college coaches look for as they identify and recruit players the aims of the Development Academy; the goals of a high school soccer program, and the questions to consider when deciding which level of soccer is most appropriate for each individual player. Other panelists include Kevin Anderson (head coach, Columbia University); Dan Woog (head coach, Staples High School); Steve Waters (head coach, Farmington High School); Kevin Bacher (Oakwood Soccer Club U-15 pre-Academy coach); Mickey Kydes (founder, Beachside Soccer Club), Alex Cunliffe (boys director of coaching, Everton America), Steve Baumann ’70 (former UPenn and high school coach, director of inner-city program) and Matt Lamb ’07 (former college, premier and high school player). The event will be moderated by Mark Noonan ’83, former high school All-American and national champion with Duke University, former MLS executive vice president, now founder of Focal Sport marketing. For more information, email dwoog@optonline.net

    • Ron Leach
    • 04/26/2012 04:04pm

    In coaching both club and HS and trying to understand the total development of each youth player, I hate to see the Academy go to the 10 month training season. I believe the United States is trying to create the same model as much of the rest of the world, yet our educational system that include high school sports does not function in the same way. Is there a forum for the players to speak out? Understanding their concernswould help my perspective. Is three months with a different set of friends and different coaches really going take away from a world class athlete? Is not a change of venue, structure, and motivation not good for development? I would also love to hear from other professionals both inside sport and outside sport. I would love to hear from the elite basketball and baseball coaches and see why they have not chosen this path for their elite athletes. Yes, I am interested in the National Team being the best but I not sure this path is best for the athlete and in the long run would make a diffrence.

    • S. Kevin Mc Namara
    • 04/26/2012 08:12pm

    What is the difference if the academy interferes with high school soccer, ODP disrupts the state soccer tournament in New York every year without any concern for the high school experience for outstanding player that travel to ODP events. That ODP event falls on the same weekend as the New York state soccer tournament which causes the High school player to make tough decisions.

    • Jason Collinsworth
    • 05/01/2012 02:38am

    I think this is a great advantage to give what our elite players need. High School soccer is a great time in our lives, but does it give our most elite players what they need to succeed. I see a lot of comments regarding college, to play college soccer is no longer the focus. The federations goal is to develop players that are capable of turning pro and making it in europe. One of Klinsmanns stated goals is to have a US player play in the UEFA Champions League competition. High School soccer won't get players there. Players of the highest caliber need to be around other players of the same caliber. When the elite DA players go to their high school, often they are surrounded by lower level local club players that can't compete at a higher level, which leaves the elite players frustrated, to the point of wanting to quit. Personally, I want the US men to win a world cup. With our U23s not qualifying for the olympics and our U20s not qualifying for their world cup and the U17s failure in the last world cup, it shows that our system is broken. I commend the federation for realizing it has a problem and is trying to fix it. Will it work? We wont know until probably 2 or perhaps 3 WC cycles. To me, it is a lot like youth hockey. The best hockey players in the United States do not play high school soccer, they either play for high level travel teams or even semi pro teams as early of an age as 16. So why is everyone freaking out about soccer taking the same route? Last but not least, I live in Michigan, where there are only 2 academy teams. Which is about 25 players per team, which equals 100 kids. Not that big of a dent in terms of how many kids are playing HS soccer these days. Frankly, I'm sick of watching our MNT lose to Ghana and I'm sick of watching our WNT lose to Japan.