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Archive for September 2, 2017

Sept. 2, 2017 — A preview of the future of high school sports?

This morning, in Somerset, N.J., hard by the banks of the Weston Canal that used to transport goods to the Atlantic Ocean, a girls’ soccer game will be played.

But instead of any of the local high schools taking part, the two teams are the U-14 teams representing Sky Blue-Players Development Academy and F.C. Virginia, two of the 69 teams in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.

The Development Academy is an 11-month league which trains players who are committed to improving their soccer in an environment which eases transition to a potential youth national team.

A matchday between two clubs is not just one game, but four, as the clubs’ U-14, U-15, U-16, and U-18 sides will play games all day at one site.

This is the inaugural season of the girls’ Development Academy; the boys have had their own league for a decade. But the girls’ DA will have some immediate effects on the high-school athletic scene.

Of course, it will be interesting to see which young soccer phenoms will ditch their high school teams to play DA ball exclusively. It’s notable that, although there are currently 69 clubs in the DA, there are some large swaths of the country that do not have a team.

Note that the season for the Development Academy is 10 months: a good soccer player who happens to play three sports for their school won’t be able to play, say, basketball or lacrosse or softball with her schoolmates.

Ultimately, it will be notable to see what happens after the first year, with players deciding that the DA is not for them and rejoining their school teams in not only soccer, but other athletic pursuits at their old high schools.

I think, depending on the athletic culture of their particular states, the Development Academy will affect certain athletic teams more than other.

But as this site has prophesied, I think the national governing bodies of sport are looking to get more involved in high-level player development as the NCAA doubles down on football and men’s basketball.

Which means that it’s not going to be very long before you start seeing an all-day matchday between, say, XCalibur and the W.C. Eagles in field hockey, or Hero’s and the Yellowjackets in girls’ lacrosse.

How long do you think it will take for this to happen? Five years? Ten?