Timing is Everything- Girls Development Academy

Please remember- I’m not an expert by any means.  Do your own research to make sure you’re informed!

The time has come- the US Development Academy for Girls (aka the Girls Development Academy or DA) is ready to launch and starting tryouts.  Last year the soccer girls were shaken up by the birth year change and now it’s time for the Academy to make its mark.  If you want to catch up, you can read my posts US Development Academy for Girls, Development Academy Clubs Announced, and Development Academy- An Update.  

Here’s where we stand right now (as far as I understand… but seems like it’s always changing!)

  • There will be Academy teams at 04, 03, 01 and 99.  The 04 age group was just added in January.
  • The Academy season will run August through June with a break at Christmas time
  • Academy teams will practice 3-4 days/weekly
  • Full time Academy players are not allowed to play with any other team (Guesting, ODP, High School)
  • No re-entry (once a player is subbed out she may not return)
  • Several Academy clubs (Pats and Galaxy) have announced that they are fully funded and many others will be subsidized to some extent.

The newest announcement (besides the addition of the 04 age group) is the creation of the DA2 League for the second teams.  Here’s an explanation directly from an email Beach FC sent out.  Just FYI I can’t find any information on club websites about the DA2- proceed with caution.  Update: 2/23/17 I took out the information just in case it isn’t correct.  Things keep changing every week!

 Although exciting, it’s a little sad with the announcement of the DA and the DA2 that ECNL will be different here in So Cal.  Of course ECNL has its issues, but overall I think it’s a very well organized league that is specifically geared towards girls with powerful and inspiring social media and outstanding national showcases.  Most girls are not going to be playing professionally or on the National Team and so exposure to college coaches is of great importance.  I think ECNL has really embraced that reality while encouraging girls to reach for their dreams.  It remains to be seen how the DA will compare.
Some questions about timing come with how ECNL (Elite Clubs National League) and the DA are going to fit together this transition year- especially in areas rich with clubs in both leagues.  ECNL rules state that players on ECNL rosters are not allowed to play/tryout/talk to other ECNL clubs until May 1st.  The second half of the ECNL season doesn’t even start until the end of March, but non-ECNL DA clubs have already started having tryouts and ECNL girls are of course free to attend those.  Are girls going to wait to get offers from their current clubs and then start to investigate other options?  How are the 2017-2018 ECNL coaches going to fill their teams?  Will they leave room for current ECNL girls who don’t make an academy team or will they hedge their bets and fill their teams now with non-ECNL girls?
Interestingly, in Northern California, it sounds like ECNL clubs are remaining ECNL only and dropping the DA opportunity.  DeAnza Force and Mustang Soccer, two of the first 25 member clubs announced as a part of the DA, both now only list ECNL teams for girls on their websites.  After seeing that, I started poking around some more cross-referencing the ECNL and DA lists and didn’t see any information or mention of Girls DA on several other club sites ( Colorado Rush, Real Colorado, Seattle Reign, Solar SC, Lonestar, Texas Rush, Weston SC, Concord Fire, Eclipse Select)  Of course their websites might just be out of date or incomplete, but it seems kinda odd.  Maybe the DA isn’t such a big deal in some other parts of the country?  Here’s an article about how Match Fit Academy declined a DA bid. There’s also the rumor that ECNL will drop DA/ECNL clubs who can’t prove that they will be able to field two elite teams, but I can’t find any concrete information on that.  I’m also wondering if more ECNL only clubs will be added.
Aside from all this, there’s definitely a lot to be excited about the Girls Development Academy and it’s nice to see some excellent clubs in Southern California that probably should have been a part of ECNL now be included in the DA.  Only time will tell how this all plays out…
What are your daughters thinking/hoping/dreaming?
P.S. How many more times could I possibly write ECNL in this post?  Sorry! haha

P.P.S. If you are in So Cal and aren’t reading the socalsoccer.com forum, you should check in out.  Here’s some good reading…