September 25, 2012 – The Transition: Development Academy To College Soccer
The College game is much different than that of youth soccer's highest level of the US Development Academy. The development academy has proven to be a great preparation for the next level, whether it is the NCAA or even the professional ranks.
College soccer emphasizes athleticism and, most importantly, experience. Obviously, a freshman has to focus on other parts of their game, in order to replace that lack of experience necessary to truly maximize potential. Hard work and aptitude can lead to early success in a fast paced college soccer season.
It takes a truly special player to succeed early on, but Georgetown's Brandon Allen obtains that readiness to learn leading him to a very special start to the 2012 season with five goals and one assist in just five games.
The development academy holds four seasonal showcases per year, with one being the national finals. All eighty clubs from every region of the country meet in one city to participate in front of hundreds of college coaches. A great weekend could earn you a number of potential scholarship offers. Combine solid skill with a hard-work mentality on the field and in the classroom and those potential offers will come to fruition.
The speed of the game at the academy level is much slower than at the collegiate level. In order to adjust to this high paced soccer, incoming freshman should look to play simple and take advantage of their limited chances early on. As they grow into preseason and the season, they can look to make a name for themselves. Work ethic and the willingness to learn from other players and coaches is the key to success. For proof, we need to look no further than the start of the 2012 season and Georgetown's Brandon Allen, and how he has succeeded on the field.
Allen immediately points to the speed of play as something to be prepared for at the next level. He compliments the Development Academy for putting all of the best players in one environment stating, "the quality of the players at the academy level makes the speed of play very high for the youth level, and it has prepared me for that."
In speaking with Allen, I was interested to know how his older brother, a 2011 NSCAA all-American, helped form his own collegiate game. Allen spoke about attending a number of his brother's matches at Monmouth University. He was able to gain his own perspective on college soccer through his brother. Ultimately, Allen left me by suggesting to incoming freshman to be in "top shape, and to be prepared to play quick and smart." Coming into preseason there is only one thing a freshman can control and that is his fitness level.
The academy has altered recruiting methods for coaches quite drastically, and is changing where players end up. Allen a New York native stayed on the east coast, in large part, because of the accessibility of his matches for the Georgetown coaching staff.
Georgetown head coach, Brian Wiese, puts it perfectly by stating that, "recruiting is a lot more regional, for Georgetown we can highlight North Carolina up through New York." Obviously schools like Georgetown are not limited geographically with the four seasonal academy showcases helping bring the nation’s best players to one venue.
Wiese pointed out that the Development Academy is not for everyone, and there is still talent outside of the academy. Hard work is the ultimate tool to landing a youth player a college offer. Wiese commented on how Allen has been so successful early on, and also coded to all incoming freshman how to succeed early on stating, "this is true across the board; you have to come in healthy and fit. You need a little bit of luck, and a team that is set up for a freshman to play, he (Allen) had had an opportunity to play good minutes and to his credit he has been doing well with his opportunity."
In Wiese's eyes the Development Academy helped tremendously in preparing Allen for the college game. Wiese stated, “With the Redbull Academy, Allen benefitted from training in a professional environment. He has taken the opportunity and run with it."
Wiese and Allen hope the Hoyas continue to run with it.
Anthony Baumann is a member of the Providence Soccer Team and a contributing writer to College Soccer News. He can be reached at email@example.com.