College students everywhere: the struggle really is real.
For Young Players Who Want to Succeed at The Next Level
Whose choice is it? The parent? The player? There are a number of reasons that a kid may sit out of high school soccer, and to be completely honest; It is a huge mistake. High school soccer is the final piece in the puzzle that takes a player from above average or elite, to college ready by the end of their senior year. Every year thousands of talented athletes don't play for their high schools. Why though?
The biggest culprit is the United States Development Academy. The academy programs are teams that are believed to be the elite of the elite, exclusively for the nations top players. Sounds pretty enticing if you're a high level player, huh? Well let's look a little closer.
Before advancing any further, in no way is this an attack on the USDA because for some players, the academy system will suit them better than any other system. This is to inform and to aid those who may be at the crossroads of: Academy? or High school?
To get a better understanding of what exactly the DA includes are three high school age groups in which clubs compete. Within those three age groups are a total of 73 clubs across the U.S. and a few in Canada. Of those 73, only 21 clubs are affiliated with a Major League Soccer club. If the DA is all about producing elite players, then why are there so many clubs with no "professional" affiliation? Aside from playing against quality opposition, what are the "other clubs" who aren't affiliated with MLS squads getting out of playing in the DA? Playing at one of the academies affiliated with a a pro club makes sense if it is something that you want to do for a living, but to lose your chance to play with your school mates just so you can play for one of the "other" academies doesn't make the most sense. What happens after you graduate from one of the non-affiliate academies? Sure, college is probably an enticing option, but the kids you've been playing against for the past for years on the affiliate academies are probably signing deals with their respective clubs.
The next issue lies in the restrictions put on players after signing for an academy. Players are pretty limited in terms of what they can and can't do physically outside of academy practice. The Development Academy believes that fewer, more meaningful games and no outside activity/competition is the best way to develop the next generation of U.S. soccer. Hmmmmmm.
I get that you don't want to overwork players or exhaust them, or burn them out and possibly even push a kid to the point that he or she is no longer interested, but after life in the academy, you move on to college. The college game is much different from any academy game or schedule. Unlike the academy system that protects players from not having to play too many matches, the NCAA does not care how many games you play in any period, as long as you play all of your scheduled games. Right off the bat, you will have played more games in your freshman year of college in a 2 month span than you had played in 6 months at the academy. High school soccer on the other hand takes after the college model of grueling weeks that can see a team play as many as three games in seven days. Sounds like another benefit of playing high school ball.
The other strange idea the DA has of "no outside activity/competition" is unbelievable as it is forcing ATHLETES to choose one or the other, and guess what... Soccer has one of the lowest number of athletic scholarships at the D2 and D1 level so more times than not, parents are pushing their kids down a different path when they have to pick on or the other. Decisions like that are decisions that could change the course of a players entire future, which is why high school soccer could be one of, if not the most important component of polishing off and preparing a soon to be college soccer player.
High school soccer is a completely different sport than club soccer, recreational soccer, and academy soccer. I'm not even sure if it should be called soccer, but that's exactly why it is so important.
For starters, high school soccer is the last time you will be playing soccer with limited to no expectations. Unless you're attending a private school thats recruiting top level players each year, or you attend one of the few perennial national powerhouses then you usually play at your local high school where you grew up. High school soccer fields are where some kids dream of being from the day they first see one, and that is fine because they know thats where the end of the road is, but for the few who will play after high school, it is merely a stepping stone, but a necessary one.
This may be news to you, it may be known to you, but playing in a club soccer game or an academy soccer game is completely different from a classic high school game. High school games have the element of real rivalry, real recognition, real emotion, and the chance to write your name in your own schools history books. These are all things that could help not only the kids who will stop playing after the last game of their senior year, but also the kids who will go on to play in the NCAA.
There is another glaring difference between the high school game and the club/academy game which is the style of play. The style of play in most clubs and academies is "possession, possession, possession, low-risk, pass the ball, keep the ball, don't make a mistake" thats fine in club soccer and in DA games but I promise it won't work in most high school soccer leagues. Why though?
High school soccer is PHYSICAL. High school soccer has this crazy ability to match a pre-pubescent, 115lb, freshman, against a 6'2", 200lb defender. This forces a player to think one of two ways. 1.) Wow, I can't wait to hit puberty. OR 2.) Okay, its time to get creative. By forcing young players to embrace their creativity at a young age, by the time they are seniors, they will have had the experience and knowledge to get themselves out of unfamiliar situations which is something that the college game will throw in their face on day 1 of pre-season.
The college game looks more like the high school game more times than not, so use high school soccer as a transition game, a way to familiarize yourself with a more physical match where athleticism is sometimes more important than skill, and passes are launched from your defensive third up into the attacking third. Use high school soccer as a tool to help you be better at the next level, there's no such thing as too much experience.
In no way am I trying to discourage anyone from playing for one of the USDA teams, but I don't think that spending all 4 of your high school years in the DA is a great idea for a majority of players. High school soccer is important. School pride is important. The everlasting memories with your friends are important. As cliche as it may sound, I played in some of the most memorable games in my life during my high school career. So before you think that the academy is where you want to play or where you think your kid should play. Think about their future.
Today in the U.S. there are more than 6,000 U.S. soccer clubs ranging from recreation level to elite travel teams that put just as many kids in college and in some cases more than most of the academies.
High school soccer is a brilliant resource, now go ahead and use it as your final preparation before you take it to the next level.
December is around the corner, are you ready?
As they tend to say, its the most wonderful time of the year! People have begun to compile their Christmas to-do lists in anticipation for the season of sugarplums and gingerbread.
The history of the Christmas to-do lists goes back hundreds of years, almost as old as the holiday itself, however, people tend to fall out of this habit as they get older. This is unfortunate, as the theme of Christmas tradition can add bundles of the spirit of joy to your families.
Below are some of the most things someone should have on their Christmas to-do lists!
Gingerbread, gingersnap, sugar cookies, snickerdoodles, it doesn't matter! Baking some sort of Christmas dessert cookies should definitely be on your lists.
Walking into a dimly lit room, fire place on, and a holiday scent in the air is one of the best feelings in the world. Yankee Candle Company, Kringle Candle Company, Home Goods, and Bath & Body Works all have a wide variety of candles spanning over many seasonal settings.
This is one thing I have yet to do, but it is one of the first items on my to-do list. For many people they may think, "There are no ice rinks around me, I live in (insert hot Southern State)." But fear not! You may be surprised by a simple Google search to see an ice rink relatively close to you.
You may have to drive a little bit, but it's worth it! Being able to see the snow in all of it's glory can make your winter experience ten-times as fun! Be sure to wear proper footwear though - cold, wet feet are no fun.
One of my best memories around Christmas time is being able to decorate the tree with my parents and brothers. There is just something so nice about being able to create something together and as festive as the Christmas tree to give you that warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
It is important to remember that Christmas is also about giving, not just receiving. Taking time to give back to your community can really make you appreciate your own blessings in life. Not only that, serving the disadvantaged and bringing some joy into their lives is just another way to spread the Christmas spirit.
Novelty shops are great because unlike other stores, these are just for fun! It is unwinding to go shopping to look at fun little crafts and toys. Who know's maybe you'll find the perfect Christmas gift for someone there?
You will have the most fun at a Christmas parade, I promise you. Going with friends and family is a sure way to hype you all up for the coming holiday season! Get some Christmas sweaters, ugly hats, and just roll with it!
This truly is one of the best times of the year, and it is up to us to make the most of it. Although all of these listed activities are sure ways to make your holidays bright, there is always something more important: Spending time with your family and loved ones. Yes, the holidays are about the Christmas spirit, the caroling, the sleigh rides, and the fruitcake. But more importantly, they are about the time of year when we can all come together, love one another, and get ready for the New Year. Remember this and have a great holiday season!
The transitional months of fall can cause some fashion headaches as you try to figure out what clothing to keep in your closet. With limited amount of college living space and the ever-unpredictable Nebraska weather, sometimes it’s difficult to know what should be taking up that precious closet space as you transition into winter. As you pack away those tanks and shorts for the chilly months ahead, get your closet ready with a few Fall must-haves.
1.The classic long-sleeve chambray shirt: The possibilities and versatility are endless. If the temperature starts to dip, pair it with your favorite pair of pants and a beanie and you’re ready to go! A little warm? Pull out a pair of printed shorts, tie up your top to create a waistline, roll the sleeves, and you’re set! (Pair chambray with a printed pant, black leggings, or jeans with a different wash for a comfortable, yet put-together look!)
2. A medium weight jacket: Fall often can be frustrating when the weather is not quite warm enough to go without a jacket, but not cold enough for a coat. To combat, keep a medium weight jacket in your closet that you can throw on for those chilly evenings. My suggestion? Pick a great casual jacket with a hood and defined waistline.
3. Ankle boots: The perfect shoe for the transitioning months. Riding boots are great, but sometimes they can feel too bulky on a warmer day. Keep your toes comfortably warm and stylish during the fall months with an ankle boot instead. Walking to class? Keep the heel to a minimum for extra comfort.
4. Light: Medium-weight sweater. It’s not cold enough to throw on your full-out winter sweaters yet, but you’re going to need an option that offers a bit more warmth than your average t-shirt.
5. Dark wash jeans: You’ve probably already had a few pair of jeans in your closet, but if you haven’t, a pair of dark wash jeans is the addition you should make. As the days get cooler, dark wash jeans offer a great transition into the winter months.
6. Scarf/Hat: Let’s be honest, we live in Nebraska and that means we never know when we might have an impromptu snowstorm. To make sure you’re not caught off guard, keep at least one warm scarf or hat with you. Plus, you can always use a beanie to hide second day hair!
Fall weather is here, and with these staple items you will be ready for whatever weather Nebraska decides to stir up!
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When I was a kid I always went to my grandparents house whenever we celebrated any sort of holiday. We were a decently sized family and it was always a blessing to be in their house and surrounded by love during the holiday season. However, that all changed when my grandfather passed away and my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. The family then began to drift apart and life went on, and we ended up all celebrating our own holidays with other family members.
When everyone else is talking about how their whole family is getting together for Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter I think back to when I was little, but my memories are very limited from those days. I cannot relate to my friends that come from big families or the ones who have traditions where they go to their families house. The simple fact is that my life and my family is not like that.
However, I do not envy them or wish that my life was different. I did have those kind of holidays when I was younger, and I did enjoy them, but honestly, I love the way we celebrate holidays now. Spending it with friends who invite our small family over to their house to celebrate with their families adds a little extra to our holiday season. We enjoy the fellowship and the love that we feel from these people even though they aren't technically our family.
We also respect the fact that they would like to celebrate with strictly their family, especially if they do not get to see each other very often, whether they be separated by distance or simply scheduling conflicts. The holidays are a time for people to come together and spend time with people they normally don't get to spend time with. We do the same, just a little different from everyone else. With college, work and social lives, I don't get to see my family a lot. It's a blessing to be able to spend time with just them because we are such a close knit family.
I am so thankful for my family and the amazing people that I have in my life. I am blessed to have the family and support system that I do. I know that no matter how small or how big, my family will always be here for me and I wouldn't trade my family holidays for anything at all.
1. Brittany Morgan, National Writer's Society
2. Radhi, SUNY Stony Brook
3. Kristen Haddox, Penn State University
4. Jennifer Kustanovich, SUNY Stony Brook
5. Clare Regelbrugge, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign