Director Kevin Hartman on Closing The Galaxy Girls Program
Southern California has always been recognized as a hotbed of elite youth soccer and it is always unfortunate when a youth soccer program closes but somehow the sadness is deeper when the announcement of a prestigious program shuts during the already uncertainty of the pandemic.
“We have come to the conclusion that there is not a current structure available to maintain the Academy as it previously existed.”
The Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the soccer world immensely — from the professional as well as amateur and youth seasons being suspended and canceled to prominent national as well as international youth soccer tournaments postponed, the soccer landscape is marred around the globe.
Last month, the closing of programs and clubs began. The U.S. Soccer Development Academy abrupt shutdown on April 15. While U.S. Soccer Federation blamed the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and financial issues as reasons for the demise of the national program, the youth market as caught by surprise.
Most recently, the LA Galaxy Girls Academy announced it was shutting down as a result of the DA’s demise. The closure of the Federation’s elite player development program continues to impact the youth soccer landscape and unfortunately, its impact is far from over. While it is always disappointing to see any youth soccer club close, when it is a professional MLS club closing a fully-funded youth program, it seems to have a deeper negative effect.
The DA’s demise has given birth to the new Girls Academy League (GA) and has been a boon to the ECNL and many of the former DA clubs have found new homes since the closure of the DA, but neither organization attracted the LA Galaxy Girls Academy.
Launched in 2017, the LA Galaxy Girls Academy teams were successful domestically and abroad. Last June, the Galaxy’ Girls U14’s defeated Olympique Lyonnais to win Spain’s Angeles Football Cup.
The director of the LA Galaxy Girls Academy is former goalkeeper Kevin Hartman — a champion in front of the net who earned international recognition during his 17 seasons playing professional soccer. SoccerToday reached out to Hartman on why the the doors were permanently shut on this successful youth soccer program.
SoccerToday Interview with Kevin Hartman on Closing the Galaxy Girls Academy:
Diane Scavuzzo: Why did the LA Galaxy Girls Academy close?
Kevin Hartman: Our decision was predicated by U.S. Soccer’s move away from the Development Academy.
The access to a league that promised elite competition between the top clubs and players, formalized standards, and scouting by U.S. Soccer staff was the basis for our academy.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why couldn’t the LA Galaxy Girls Academy join the ECNL or the new Girls Academy League (GA)?
Kevin Hartman: We have come to the conclusion that there is not a current structure available to maintain the Academy as it previously existed.
As U.S. Soccer made the decision to close the DA, the pathway for our players changed dramatically.
The pathway that had existed before was gone.
The decision to close the academy was thought of at all levels of the organization, and we simply did not see another league as currently constructed as an equivalent structure for us to pursue.
Diane Scavuzzo: What was the most difficult part of this decision to shut down the LA Galaxy Girls Academy?
Kevin Hartman: It was a difficult decision because of the hard work put into the academy for years, and because it was an integral part of the LA Galaxy organization.
I’m aware that ending the program changes the course of our players.
No one wants to deliver this kind of news that impacts players in this way, so it’s difficult. We spent weeks thinking this through, and after thinking through every option, and once it was evident the academy could no longer function as it had, we wanted to let the players and the families know as soon as possible so that they could make decisions that were best for them.
Diane Scavuzzo: With the closure of the Galaxy Girls Academy, 80 + girls needed to find new clubs. What advice can you share with the former LA Galaxy Girls Academy families?
Kevin Hartman: Because every athlete’s situation differs, my advice for athletes is to contact us individually so that we can work with them. We’re happy to work with our families.
The players who played for our academy are among the best soccer players in the region and the country. Any coach that can recruit them would be lucky.
While this turn of events is unfair, I sincerely hope each player can draw strength from the disappointment and work that much harder on their game.
Diane Scavuzzo: After years of building this youth soccer academy, what are you most proud of?
Kevin Hartman: I’m particularly proud of the fact that our teams played with a real identity. When someone watched our teams, it was evident by the way that we played which club they were with.
Our players were technical with a good understanding of their positional responsibilities.
Above all, the players were strong physically and mentally. They were prepared for whatever faced them.
I’ll be forever grateful and humbled to have worked with each of these players.
Diane Scavuzzo: I know many parents were surprised, but I am sure this was tough on your staff as well.
Kevin Hartman: I was honestly very really appreciative of the amount of support that our staff received for their hard work.