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Boyds, Md., (10/24/19) – As part of Project “Change the Game Now”, the Washington Spirit hosted its first-ever Advanced Development Program training session at the Maryland SoccerPlex on Oct. 23.
The program invites the top players from the U17 and U19 market and introduces them to the path towards becoming a professional athlete and helps them develop their skills to get there. Players are selected based on decisions involving club directors, US Soccer scouts, college coaches and the Spirit scouting program.
The Spirit hosted 23 players at the advanced development program training. Washington Spirit Captain Andi Sullivan and forward Cali Farquharson were also in attendance. Todd Bramble, Youth National Team Network Scout, was also in attendance of the training session on behalf of U.S. Soccer.
The session began with the youth players receiving official Washington Spirit gear in the team’s locker room, and each player had their own locker that corresponded with a professional player on the Spirit.
The players then moved to a classroom session where they learned about the logistics and expectations of the program.
The Spirit coaching staff and front office welcomed the players and explained their role with the team. Washington Spirit Chief Executive Officer Larry Best started the classroom session by explaining the logistics of the program.
“Tonight is about being a pro,” Best said. “Tonight is about education on and off the field.”
Player/Opponent Analyst & Technical Development Coach Tom Torres also took time to talk to the players about the commitment it takes to become a professional.
“We invite players in at the top of their game and we want to make sure you know why you’re here,” Torres said. “Dedication, preparation, mentality, and on top of that you have to be good – you have to be good to become a professional.”
High performance Coach Michael Minthorne spoke to the players about helping them reach their highest potential, and also how the team uses analytics to track progress.
“You need to show up and play your best every single time,” Minthorne said. “In order to do that it’s not just what the coaches do or how many touches I’m getting, it’s how you are setting yourself up.”
Head Coach Richie Burke explained the strategy behind the team’s formation and some of their schemes. Burke also explained the training session plan and introduced the players to a passing module that they would go on to practice on the field.
Sullivan then wrapped up the classroom session by encouraging the young players to make the most of their opportunity and offered her assistance as someone who had been the process.
“I’m here because I want to help you guys,” Sullivan said. “If you have any questions for me, if you want any advice, or if you don’t understand what the heck Richie is talking about, that happens to me all the time so I can help you with that.”
The players then broke out into the training session that went through a similar structure of the Spirit’s weekly training sessions. The coaches led the players through passing modules, agility and dribbling drills, and 11-on-11 scrimmage sessions. Goalkeeper Coach Ian McCauldon and 2019 Spirit Reserves Coach KJ Spisak also assisted with team drills and player development.
At the end of the session Coach Burke thanked the players for their hard work and explained the importance of development in each session.
“Sometimes we can slow down our football and increase our football IQ and make better decisions,” Burke said. “We’re here as your resources, and we’re here to help you.”