BY HAILEY BROWN
The U.S Soccer Development Academy was created in 2007, following a comprehensive review of elite player development in the United States and around the world. The philosophy of the Development Academy is based on increased training, fewer total games and more meaningful games using international rules of competition.
The Development Academy (DA) has many locations, the closest to Cooper City area being the Weston DA team. They offer a girls’ academy with players ranging in age.
A few students at Cooper City High School play for the prestigious academy.
These players participate in many out-of-state tournaments and showcases where they are able to display their talent and ability to college coaches looking for their next recruits. To allow players to have their best showing, one of the many rules of the program is that a team cannot play more than three games in a two-day period without having a break in between. For example, a showcase would consist of three days. Players might have two games the first day, then a day of rest and a game on the third day or vice versa.
The philosophy of the Development Academy is based on increased training, fewer total games and more meaningful games using international rules of competition.
With there being increased practice and a strict training regiment, this academy can become very time-consuming, taking up the majority of the players’ time. Even with the amount of time that DA takes up, some players still try to play high school sports. There’s a certain appeal to wearing your school’s jersey— it’s the sort of pride that comes from representing your high school out on the field. Unfortunately, the players that are a part of the Development Academy don’t get to participate in high school soccer.
For some, the rule was easy to follow, but for others, high school soccer wasn’t worth missing. Those players waited for the travel season to end and began looking for other clubs that provided them the same level of play, while also allowing them to play high school ball. Kelly Nelson, for example, did not acknowledge the rule and continued to play high school soccer anyways.
“I didn’t think that playing high school soccer would affect me negatively in any way,” Nelson said. “That’s what high school’s all about, representing my school and helping in any way I can to get us as far as possible.”
Of the girls’ soccer college commits approached, all of them played for the Weston DA team at some point in their career. Because of that, some might wonder, why play high school soccer when you can get committed through the academy? Some players agree that sticking to travel soccer was a sacrifice they were willing to make.
“Playing in the DA is more competitive, a higher level and better training environment and helps top players be better prepared for college.”
“I think that when looking for a college to attend, missing high school [soccer] to continue DA is worth it,” former DA player Karlie Schlosser said. “You need to put yourself in the best spot for college exposure.”
Other players also argue that the rule is necessary because of how easily players can become injured. That’s not to mention the amount of stress on the body from going from practice to practice and game to game, with a very little amount of rest days.
“I do think that the rule about high school soccer within the DA is necessary and a smart rule,” current player Skylah Klein said. “I feel this way because playing in the DA is more competitive, a higher level and better training environment and helps top players be better prepared for college. It would be very difficult to do both at the same time and also would not be great for your body.”
In the end, most players— whether it be high school or DA— strive to continue playing soccer. The common goal is to always have fun and love what you do, and these players appreciate the benefits of playing in the academy, despite the rules.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Soccer Development Academy