Becoming Professional Soccer Players
Trained at San Diego based Albion Youth Soccer Club, Ari Lassiter and Courtney Strode are living the dream of being professional soccer players. Noah Gins is committed to helping players realize their potential and their dreams.
Albion SC is one of America’s top premier youth soccer clubs and has a proven record of player development. This Southern California youth soccer club has won numerous national championship victories and developed many US Youth Soccer national-level ODP players.
Always looking to provide the premier training for youth soccer players, the Southern California club partnered with the famed Arsenal FC, the legendary English Premier League (EPL) professional soccer club. Working together, Albion SC and Arsenal FC have an elite youth academy in San Diego to help identify and train elite players.
“In our effort to help players find the professional route, we have established one of the most dynamic professional partnerships in the US,” said Gins. “We anticipate getting youth players in Albion the opportunity to realize their potential through this professional platform.”
This partnership is just an example of the why Albion SC produces such talented players that move on to be successful. They are dedicated to helping many of its players transition successfully to collegiate soccer and secure funding. So far this year, San Diego-based Albion SC’s players have received $1.5 million in college scholarships and financial aid. The total of these funds reflects the value of the 4-year scholarships offered to the players and are based on academics and financial aid as well as athletic ability.
But what about the player who hungers to play the game on a professional level? Players who chose to opt out of the traditional American path of youth club to college and then the possibility of a professional contract are rare. This is a more popular path in Europe where youth players apprentice at a very young age at a pro club in an effort to secure a spot on the pro team. At Albion SC, players can chose to follow the path that is right for them and if they want to try to become a professional after playing club soccer, Albion SC Technical Director Noah Gins and his coaching staff are able to help.
One such successful youth-turned-professional player is Courtney Strode.
An amazing athlete and high focused soccer player, Courtney Strode tested tennis, surfing, dancing hip hop as well as acting before she picked up soccer at the age of ten years old and found her passion. This summer Strode turns 17 years old. While most girls at this age are looking forward to college, Strode is packing her bags to begin a different adventure – becoming a professional soccer player.
American-born Strode will be moving to Sweden and joining Linköping FC. “It is the next step in my development,” Strode says.
Strode impressed coaches at the first ever Women’s Pro Soccer Combine in San Diego, CA through PSC Soccer Academy, then traveled to Sweden for the Linköping FC trials. Strode chose to opt out of a college scholarship and is training/trialing in Sweden. Strode accomplished this all with the help of her youth soccer club, Albion SC.
“We are very proud of what Courtney Strode has accomplished and we were very happy to help her make the connections necessary to follow her dream,” said Gins.
“Courtney is the product of Albion SC and more importantly, a player that has fully immersed herself in the game of soccer. Courtney is a true professional on and off the field and has always had one major dream and that is to be the 1st female from Albion SC to play professional soccer in Europe.” said Noah Kooiman, Director of Advancement at Albion SC and coach for the Gu15 & Gu16 teams. Kooiman was the 2011 Cal South Coach of the Year.
Strode reached for the stars and with the help of her coaches, landed exactly where she wanted to be. An ambitious young girl with a passion for soccer. Strode also created her own YouTube video:
Another great example of the a player who knew what he wanted and was determined to become a professional soccer player at a young age is Ariel Lassiter. Son of the famous former pro player Roy Lassiter, whose record of scoring goals in the MLS has not be beat, only match Chris Wondolowski of the San Jose Earthquakes in the 2012 season and Bradley Wright-Phillips (BWP) of the New York Red Bulls last season.
Young Ari Lassiter’s success playing professionally also in Sweden for GAIS football club based in Gothenburg is widely respected. Wanting to return back to the USA, Lassiter has since signed with LA Galaxy II.
Ari Lassiter is an Albion SC home grown player whose father often thanks Gins for developing his son. “Noah Gins was a great coach for Ariel and really pushed him to see how far he could go,” said Lassiter.
Gins is proud of Ariel Lassiter’s accomplishments and determination. Gins, who trained Ariel Lassiter for several years said, “Ariel came to Albion SC and when he was 13 years old and immediately I knew he was a very special player. Ariel had an understanding of the game that was years ahead of his age. Ariel is he is pure instinct around the goal and is one of the best finishers in the country in his age group,” said Gins.
“I’m very happy to have been signed by the LA Galaxy, and that I’ll be on the team trying to reach MLS,” said Lassiter. “Getting to the first team is a process, and I’m still very young. I’m 20 years old and I have a lot to learn.”
Lassiter will be on the Galaxy II roster, playing games and training with the team. “LA Galaxy are trying to help me to get to the first team as quickly as possible and I feel I’m ready, but I have to show that,” said Lassiter.
Since then, Lassiter was also called up to the Costa Rican U-23 Men’s National Team and represented his country in the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic in Bradenton, FL last month from February 18th through the 28th.
“Working with Gins helped Ariel become the player he is today. Coming to Albion was a good move for Ariel. I had been trained Ariel from the age of two years old until I released him to Noah. I always wanted him to just enjoy the game,” said Roy Lassiter.
With players being accepted at prestigious universities and colleges such as Yale, Harvard, UCLA, Seattle University, UC Irvine, Santa Clara, Cal Poly, Boston University and Arizona State University, Albion SC is clearly committed to helping every player with the desire, ability, and motivation to play college soccer. Yet, if a player wants to reach for the stars earlier and has the talent and dedication to make it happen, Albion SC can provide the training and assistance to make it happen.