A Coach’s Feedback On Balancing High School Soccer & The US Soccer Development Academy – Why Does It Have To Be A Choice?
Brandon Quaranta, Director of Coaching for Baltimore Celtic SC and McDonogh High School Varsity Boys Soccer Head Coach, shares his thoughts on the overlapping world of High School and Academy. This is a debate — or discussion — which flairs up and makes everyone question what is really best for America’s elite youth soccer players …. And, whose decision should it be?
Diane Scavuzzo: The Soccer Debate: High School Soccer vs U.S. Development Academy – What are youth soccer players asked to give up when they are identified to play in the the Academy?
Brandon Quaranta: Many talented youth soccer players are having the decision of playing for their high school programs — and all that come with this decision — taken out of their hands.
I do not believe this is an anti-academy or anti-high school debate, but rather a discussion about personal choice. As a long soccer coach, I contradict the notion that any entity should make the determination for individual players that ten weeks of high school soccer is detrimental to their development. I believe this is dismissing the quality of all high school soccer coaches and the soccer programs that exist all across the USA. More importantly, I believe in allowing each player to determine their own path in our game.
I have personally seen the benefits of high school soccer with our Baltimore Celtic players. If managed properly, the high school soccer experience can help youth soccer players grow, both on and off the field. Especially in the areas of leadership and sense of community, where high school soccer makes a strong, positive impact.
Diane Scavuzzo: Does US Soccer’s decision not to allow Development Academy players to play soccer in high school really impact a lot of kids? After all, Academy teams are required to train a minimum of four days per week and rest one day per week during the Academy season. Do these players even have time for high school soccer?
Brandon Quaranta: I cannot speak for every area of the country, but I know it affects a good number of players in the Baltimore/Washington region. Most players in this area thoroughly enjoy high school soccer and do not want to give it up. These youth players clearly identify the benefits and choose to play for their schools.
The waivers and signing periods presented by the US Soccer Development Academy are not sufficient to grant all of these players the opportunity to play.
Therefore, some are allowed to do both and others are forced to choose. It puts players, coaches, and clubs in a really difficult position.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why is this a big issue?
Brandon Quaranta: I am a Baltimore area High School coach and the Director of Coaching for a youth soccer club. I have also coached in the US Soccer Development Academy in the past, and saw the difficulties firsthand in managing both properly.
Rules have been put in place to force these two entities in direct opposition of one another and I don’t believe this is necessary or beneficial for our youth players. Academy and High School soccer coexisted in the beginning and I believe they can again.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is a better solution?
Brandon Quaranta: A better solution starts with trust and accountability. US Soccer needs to allow each club to run their own program, in accordance with what is the best for their families.
This will differ with many regions, and certainly present itself in various forms depending on each youth soccer club’s particular goals. If a soccer club can effectively operate and develop their youth soccer players within the stated mission of the league, they should be allowed to continue to participate. Those clubs who fall short of the development model should be removed from the league.
There are a lot of terrific club directors and coaches in this country that can be trusted to create and implement a program best suited for their players. I think they should be encouraged and supported to do that. For some that will include high school soccer, and for others it will not.
In the end, the final decision on what club fits best should lie solely with the player and his family.
Photo Credit: Carey Schumacher
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