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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) and/or Greg Mauch (email@example.com). 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)
- 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:
- Club vs. High School conflict heats up (A view from the NSCAA)
- NFHS opposes U.S. Soccer's New 10-Month Season
- Academy's high school ban a step too far (by Paul Gardner)
- U.S. Development Academy Frequently Asked Questions
- Video: Academy Clubs Move to a 10-Month Season
- High school ban hits hard in Manhattan
- Estimated Probability of Competing in Athletics Beyond the High School Interscholastic Level
- Extended Development Academy season prompts concerns about its participants
- Soccer academy: Pay for play?
- RIP, High School Soccer?
- U.S. Soccer steals top high school talent, but some coaches say that has made prep game better
- 'Kids face tough choice' (Q&A Lorne Donaldson, Real Colorado, Part 1)
- Elite U.S. Soccer Players, Say Goodbye to High School Sports
- U.S. Soccer Federation: Academy team members not allowed to play for high schools
- Soccer players face choice between high school, elite squads
- High School Players Forced to Choose in Soccer's New Model
- Impacts of Participation in High School Extracurricular Activities on Early Adult Life Experiences: A Study of Iowa Graduates
- The Case for High School Activities from the National Federation of High Schools
- Boys soccer standouts forced to choose between school, club teams
- U.S. Soccer steals top high school talent, but some coaches say that has made prep game bet
- Soccer Forum Draws 200, Elicits Many Points of View
- Choices and Challenges: The Changing Face of High School Soccer
- Controversial club ruling puts top girls soccer players in tough position
- LATEST: VIDEO: Montville's Jeff Tryon talks about soccer season
- Boys soccer: Duo stick with Liberty for title quest
Is there additional information that you would like to provide and have posted? Contact Kevin Sims (firstname.lastname@example.org) and/or Greg Mauch (email@example.com) 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.