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Head Coach Shane Schmidt explains his opinion on the Developmental Academy

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Head Coach Shane Schmidt explains his opinion on the Developmental Academy

Manahil Nadeem

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Editors Note: In the October issue, Coach Shane Schmidt was quoted incorrectly. Below are the correct versions of his quotes.  

What is your opinion on the Developmental Academy (DA)?

I guess my opinion is that I don’t quite understand it. I mean, I do understand that they play at a higher level of soccer. It was created a little over 10 years ago to makes us, as a country, more competitive and to put us at a higher level at the international level. I guess I don’t understand how we still haven’t qualified for the last two Olympics and the 2018 World Cup even with the DA in place. I’m sure there are lots of other extenuating circumstances that go into the fact, but still 10 years ago when U.S soccer came out and created the developmental academy program it was for this sole purpose. It just doesn’t seem like the goal is being reached. 

I hear an awful lot of people on the DA soccer side that if kids want to play college soccer, they need to go to the academy. To me, that’s a farce because there are so many players that play high school soccer for us that end up playing college soccer at all different levels. I’ve got guys that play Division I, Division II, Division II. A college coach is going to find a player no matter what level they are playing at.

A lot of students and soccer players, in general, have this preconceived notion that if you join the DA academy, then you will get more attention from college coaches. Do you feel that this is true?

I mean I can’t necessarily say that is a false statement, but the majority of the guys that play high school soccer also play high-level club soccer so they are going to all the different showcases.There are a ton of college coaches at these showcases and they are the same college coaches that are going to the DA’s thing. They aren’t going to neglect a player just because they aren’t playing in the developmental academy. Even when I go to the local showcases, I see a lot of guys that I know that are college coaches. So, I don’t necessarily think that college coaches aren’t showing up to these other places.

What do you think goes through a student’s mind when they decide to quit a high school soccer team and instead join the DA?

I’ve talked to lots of parents and players that have decided to stay and play high school soccer, as well as leave and go play in the Development Academy. I can’t fault anybody thinking that the DA is going to create a path for them to get to where they want to get to. It would be interesting to see what the first group of players that had to make a choice between playing and not playing (high school soccer) thinks of their choice. People make choices for what they think is in their best interest and I can’t as a teacher, as a coach, as a parent ever fault that.

What do you think a high school soccer team has that a DA team doesn’t have?

In a high school team, you get to play with players you wouldn’t usually get to play with.  You also get put into a different role in a high school program as opposed to even a regular club program. I read a big article on Christian Pulsic, who is arguably the best player for the U.S, and how his parents didn’t allow him to play in the DA program because they wanted him to have to play a different role growing up and be that leader that the team rallied around. It allows you to play with your friends. Normally, you don’t get to play with people who you hang out with on a daily basis.

I guess when I look back to when I was in high school and on all the different levels that I played soccer on, which included club teams and national teams, some of my most fond memories was playing soccer on a high school team. When I went on and did all those other things like play soccer on a different club team or the national team, I did that on my own and it was really cool, but I didn’t have my friends around.

What do you think a DA program has that a high school team doesn’t have

I think what the DA does is that they recruit better players, so they probably play at a higher level of soccer. They also have it so unlike our season where we start in the beginning of August and end in the end of October, theirs is kinda spread out. I guess I am in a world where we could possibly coexist. I don’t exactly understand how our three months out of a year would take away from the DA. As far as the soccer side goes, it’s (the DA) not a bad thing. I’ve never said that. I just hope the return on this investment exists and it works out for people who want to do it.

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