Development Academy- Counting the Cost

Please remember- I’m not an expert by any means!  Please do your own research.

We are inching closer the inaugural season of the Development Academy for Girls and a few of the new teams are beginning to form.  If you’re interested in my past posts, please start here. Let’s review some of the things that we know about being on an Academy team (at least as it stands right now- things keep changing!)…

  • There will be Academy teams at 04, 03, 01 and 99.  The 04 age group was just added in January.  Now there is talk that next year every age group will have a team.
  • The Academy season will run August through June with a break at Christmas time.
  • Academy teams will practice 3-4 days/weekly.  Some clubs have said there will be three team practices and one film/independent training day.
  • Academy teams only participate in approved games and events.  They may only play in Tournaments that have an Academy bracket.
  • No re-entry (once a player is subbed out she may not return)
  • Full-time Academy players are not allowed to play with any other team (Guesting, ODP, High School soccer)
  • The DA2 League that was publicized earlier is not necessarily happening and the second teams (or third teams at the ECNL clubs) now seem to be now branded “reserve”  and will play in existing leagues.
  • Several Academy clubs (Pats and Galaxy) have announced that they are fully funded and others will be subsidized to some extent.  But the fees for some clubs will be the same or higher than in years past.

I titled this post “Counting the Cost” not really having to do with money, although that is a factor as well with some clubs having full funding and others charging $3000.  I think the true cost that many people are starting to discover is the limitations on where/what/when the girls can play.

Many parents really love to see their kids playing every weekend and as much as possible.  Girls love to guest with all different teams, do multiple private sessions and more in addition to training/playing with their own teams.  I totally get it- tournaments are fun for parents and it’s always great to see your kid play, especially when he/she is a high-level player.  The high school sidelines are also full of people who take a great deal of pride at their freshman playing on Varsity and seeing her name in the local paper.  Please don’t misunderstand me- I don’t think any of this is bad or wrong!  If the girls are having fun, it can provide wonderful memories and great times for girls and parents alike.  When I look back on the last 9 years some of my favorite memories are from soccer tournaments and some of my favorite people I’ve met through soccer.

I’m just curious how some parents and girls will deal with the highly restrictive nature of playing for an Academy team.  Is it possible that some girls (and parents) would be much happier playing ECNL, ODP, high school soccer and other sports, multiple tournaments and guesting with friends? Realistically, how does an eighth grader (like LSG) know what they are giving up when they haven’t even started high school yet?  As for the parents- it could be a very different experience when all the “extras” are taken away and the focus is on development through four days of practice rather than playing every weekend.

Who knows what the right decision is?  The good thing is that there are so many great choices.  It just depends on the kiddo, the coach and what’s right for your family.   

I wish I knew some boys that were in the Development Academy so that I could get their feedback, but unfortunately, I don’t!  Anyone out there who can comment on an Academy experience?