Dan Woog Quoted In NY Times Story On High School/Academy Soccer

US Soccer’s recent decision to move to a 10-month Development Academy season — effectively forcing players on those teams to choose between their club and high school teams — has been a topic of controversy throughout the nation.

The move could affect 80 players in Connecticut — those who play on South Central and Oakwood’s U-18 and U-16 teams — as well as those on Academy teams in neighboring states, like the Red Bulls, Cosmos and Revolution.

Tomorrow’s New York Times sports section carries a story that examines both sides of the question. It includes comments from Staples head coach Dan Woog, who recalled a story following the 2010 FCIAC championship match:

(A) group of players showed up at a diner afterward with their championship medals around their necks.

Suddenly, the other customers in the diner — the majority of them Westport residents — stood up and spontaneously gave the players a standing ovation. The players beamed.

“They’re going to remember that the rest of their lives,” Woog said. “They felt like kings. That’s not going to happen in the academy.”

Woog added: “We should be in the business of letting kids be kids. Not forcing them into thinking they’re going to be playing for Arsenal or Manchester United two years from now.”

To read the entire Times article, click here.

The Staples boys soccer program is planning a panel this spring that will include high school representatives, Academy officials, college coaches and current players, to present all sides of the issue to high school-age and younger players and parents throughout Fairfield County.

One of the great things about high school soccer is the chance for players to represent their school and town in championship games in front of huge crowds filled with friends, classmates, teachers, and fans of all ages.

13 responses to “Dan Woog Quoted In NY Times Story On High School/Academy Soccer

  1. Academy is making a BIG mistake.

  2. Let kids be kids, for God’s sake.

  3. Some of the things I accomplished in high school I would NEVER be able to accomplish at the Academy.
    I believe you should be able to play for your high school one season and the academy the next.

    Having an entire town and state backed behind your school is a pretty cool thing to have. You won’t get that feeling at the academy.

    Anyone who tells you the academy is the right thing to do, clearly has never experienced the feelings thats associate themselves with a winning high school program.

  4. Greg–if they had a Like button on this site, I would have clicked it re your comments.

  5. In my opinion, there is merit on both sides of this debate and only a fully informed INDIVIDUAL can make the decision that best meets their INDIVIDUAL circumstances and objectives. Academy isn’t right for everyone but is right for some just like college soccer isn’t right for everyone but is right for some. I, for one, love that players have these options provided they have all the facts they need to make an INFORMED decision based on an INDIVIDUAL assesment of the situation. It is all about the maturation of soccer in this country. MLS didn’t kill college soccer (although it did dilute it a bit) and Academies are not going to kill high school soccer (although it will dilute it a bit).

  6. As the parent of a U16 Academy player, I have to agree with Mark Noonan. The NY Times article touched on the basic issues but it was really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the entire “Academy vs. High School” conversation. No one would expect someone who is not involved with the Academy to understand the intricacies of the decision these young men will be making. My personal view is that the Academy is providing all that has been advertised and that it has already opened doors for my son that otherwise may not have been there. On the other hand, his association with the Staples Soccer program has been invaluable in shaping him as a student athlete and teammate……..it’s also been one of the best experiences of his life. He may have a very tough decision to make if he qualifies for the academy next year. If Staples Soccer is truly a “family” then the players, coaches, parents and alumni that make up that family should understand the difficulty of their decision and fully support these young men regardless of what they decide to do.

  7. Mark and Larry–I still don’t comprehend why this has boiled down to an either/or situation; that is, why a player is forced to choose? Why does the academy development program have to be year-round?

    And while obviously there are certain benefits for a superior player to train and play with other superior players in an academy program, it still seems to me that a high school team can also be beneficial to a player’s development, if for no reason other than the fact that he might be given a more dominant playmaking role and/or scoring role on that high school team (and thus be able to broaden his skills and field vision in that situation).

  8. Fred,

    The development academy season is actually ten-months long and not year-round.

    I wish the two (high school and academy club) could co-exist as well and in some cases they will. Those who receive a soccer scholarship at private high schools will usually be allowed to play for both their high school team and for the academy club team. In Connecticut, players attending CIAC high schools are forced to choose because they are not allowed to practice and play for their club soccer team during the high school season. For most 9th and 10th grade players who reside in states that allow players to practice and play with their academy club team during the high school season, they will most likely be able to play both for their high school and for the academy club teams (at least for now). However, 11th and 12th grade public school players on US development academy teams will most likely have to forgo high school ball altogether.

    US soccer acknowledges all the wonderful aspects of high school soccer programs like Staples offer and how players have benefited from the coaching.

    The primary reason US Soccer gives for this change to the development academy is to increase training time with the academy clubs by about 50 to 60 training sessions a year. The number of club games being played is not expected to increase but the games will be more spread out over the course of the year which they also see as a benefit. Lastly, US soccer cites the fact that academy club rules are more closely aligned to FIFA than high school rules.

    I have not seen anything that conveys why the academy club season cannot run from November to August at least in the Northeastern part of the US; High school players may not have had to choose in such a scenario.

    There are also other club options, like Beachside and Everton, that do not force a player to choose between playing for their club and playing for their high school as these clubs are not part of the Development Academy at least not yet.

  9. Fred,
    It’s important to have this dialogue if those interested want to have an informed opinion so I’m glad you are asking the questions and that others, like Tim F., have valuable information to share.

    The Academy had to make this rule in order to maximize the benefits of a USSF development program that is instrumental in improving the US national team. Tim makes a good point in that CIAC (as well as other state’s interscholastic athletic programs) has been very rigid about not allowing High School players to even practice with their club or Academy teams during the HS season without substantial penalties to the player and his HS team. This ruling by CIAC may have had a hand in this recent decision by the USSF. Another point is that this decision has been in the making for over three years, it wasn’t an overnight ruling.

    Adding the Fall season to the development program is adding precious months in good weather for training and competition. Other countries have been employing a 10 month season for decades. If you were running the US program wouldn’t you want to maximize the season in order to compete? The good news is that it may be helping. Late last year the U17 Men’s National team tied France, beat Turkey (last year’s winner) and then beat Brazil in the finals to win the Nike International Friendly in Bradenton, Florida. Here’s the link: http://www.ussoccer.com/News/U-17-MNT/2011/12/U17-MNT-Defeats-Brazil-to-Win-Nike-International-Friendlies.aspx?print=true

    My son was at the friendly with his South Central Academy team when their teammate, Tyler Turner, who is also captain of the U-17 MNT, scored the go ahead goal against Brazil then ran to the sideline and leaped over the barrier and into the arms of his South Central teammates like Eddie Vedder in a mosh pit. I watched this on TV from home and felt very proud for all of those boys.

    This is also not necessarily about superior players playing each other, I’m sure quite a few Staples Soccer players would make the roster if they wanted to make the commitment. They are still “kids being kids” having fun playing soccer. It is just that the Academy program takes a completely different approach than that taken in most high school programs. There is an established continuity in the training, coaching, refereeing, style of play and even formations on the field. Believe it or not, switching between high school soccer and Academy soccer can be a very difficult thing for most kids to do. That being said, it makes sense for the Academy to establish this protocol for those that want to be a part of the development program in order to maximize their specific training.

    It brings us back to what Mark Noonan said…… it’s an individual decision based on each player’s assessment of what they want to do with their soccer career. There are pros and cons to both options, we just have to help them to stay informed and respect whatever choice they make.

  10. Thanks for the additional information. Many years ago, I played on what might have been the first U-19 Connecticut state select team sponsored by the CJSA–sort of an early precursor to the development team concept. So, from a personal perspective, I can appreciate what the USSF is trying to ultimately accomplish. And, I am glad I never had to face the kind of difficult decision ahead for some local players. I am also glad I had the wonderful experience and opportunity of playing high school soccer at Staples.

  11. Similar to Larry my son also plays in the Academy structure, however thankfully he is a senior and therefore will not be forced into making this difficult decision which has been enforced upon them. I totally agree with all the points raised above and can fully appreciate both sides of the equation. My son enjoyed playing for Staples and still enjoys the challenges that the Academy brings.

    From my point of view I have a real difficulty in understanding why both programs require to operate mutually exclusive during the 3-month season that is operated under the auspices of the interscholastic athletics soccer program. I know the CIAC rules forbid boys to train or represent their clubs during the High School season , I am not certain about the new US Soccer rules. However what I am certain about is with some dialog and respect from both parties that a structure that would mutually benefit all could be achieved and would alleviate these guys from making such a difficult decision.

    I understand that other CIAC sports are not governed by the same exclusivity rules. In swimming (and I do realize this is less team oriented and more of an individual sport) the rules allows for club swimmers to vary their practice sessions between their club swim teams and the school team sessions and to participate in both school and club swim meets during the High School season – albeit the number of club meets is restricted.

    I see no reason why the Academy training sessions could not be restricted to 2 weekly sessions (possibly 1 mid-week and 1 on weekends) and with few High School games being arranged for weekends why 4-5 club games could not be slotted into this 3-month window. I know that burn-out may be a potential issue but this is where the large squad structures that are operated by both the Academies and the school programs comes into there own and would perhaps allow other players more game time during the season.

    Hopefully some sence will prevail and both sides can get around a table to discuss options.

  12. Dan…Im enjoying your commentary and coverage of these contemporary issues facing the development of US soccer…I also enjoyed your piece on Giorgio and the Cosmos in Westport….if your memory serves you correctly Im sure you will remember playing teams from North Haven during the summers of the late 80s early 90s….great days…the Westport/Staples players will always be remembered in my mind as the class of players I played with the 1970s State Select Teams

    Mike LeGates

    • THANKS, Mike. Much appreciated! Of course I remember those great North Haven teams — and your dad Ray. He was one of the pioneers of youth soccer in Connecticut, and a fantastic guy!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s