Sixteen players from the Tennessee Soccer Club (TSC) have been selected to the 2017 Boys’ Olympic Development Program (ODP) for Region III. In youth soccer, teams are comprised of players according to their birth year. Those selected, according to birth year, are:
2001 – Will Turner*, Cameron Carroll*, Preston Price*
2002 – Jonathan Martinez*, Quin Kunath, Carson Anderson, Francisco DeSantiago
2003- Jonathan Preston*, Jake Lowe*, Landon Robbins*, Eli Stein*, Ricky Ybarra*
2004 – Evan Shoemaker, Kaleb Donaldson, Dylan Kiener, Forrest Wells
Tryouts were recently held at the University of Alabama. Elite soccer players representing 11 states, including Texas, Florida and North Carolina were among those competing for a slot in the prestigious ODP Region III training pool.
“It is an opportunity to play with and against some of the best players in our region and improve my development as a player,” says Stein, a rising freshman at Martin Luther King Magnet School. “I’m looking forward to playing soccer at the next level as we start international trips — and national coaches might start scouting us.”
United States Youth Soccer has 3 million members and is the largest member association in the United States Soccer Federation. Annually, each state holds tryouts and selects an ODP team. The state teams within the region then compete against each other while being observed by youth soccer coaches. The coaches then formulate a list — or pool — of players that exemplify the elite players in each region. There are four regions in the United States.
This year, the Region III pool for each age ranged from 60-80 players. The groups were further narrowed to a ‘holdover pool’ of approximately 40 players who were selected to train intently as a team. Holdover pools begin forming for players at age 13.
Ybarra, a rising freshman at Brentwood High School says, “Being named to the region pool was a huge opportunity for me as a player to get better and to get exposure to playing at the next level.” He adds, “I was very excited since I had not made it the year before. This means that the hard work to get here is paying off, and I’m looking forward to playing great individuals and teams from other countries and other regions to further improve my skills.”
The players selected for the holdover pools will receive a higher level of training to help them compete as a team at both youth soccer inter-regional tournaments and international tours. Team rosters for inter-regional play and international matches will be announced later this year.
“Jonathan has played for TSC since its founding in 2012. He has matured as a player through team practice, internal club leagues, the club’s partnership with D-1 and Feyenoord Academy in the Netherlands,” says Casey Preston, Jonathan’s mother.
“Through the TSSA’s ODP program and subsequent identification at the Region III trials last year, he has had the opportunity to travel abroad and experience different cultures and types of soccer. I’m excited that Jonathan and his teammates were named as Region III holdovers this year and I look forward to seeing them play internationally as they are gracious representatives of Tennessee and TSC,” she adds.
‘It’s an honor to be part of the Region III pool along with so many other talented players,” says Robbins, a rising 8th grader at Grassland Middle School. “I am excited for the opportunities that this could potentially lead to in the future.”
“It’s always a wonderful achievement to be successful. This year at regionals, we were fortunate enough to have seven teams continue past group play, and have two teams win regional championships,” says Stuart Brown, Executive Director of TSC. “Having so many of our players qualify for the ODP program just adds to what a tremendous year these kids and our organization has had – it’s the icing on the cake.”
During his two years as TSC Executive Director, Stuart Brown has implemented programs focusing on fitness, player development, internal leagues, optional skills sessions and competitive team matches outside of Tennessee. This progressive training is one reason that Tennessee is a rising state in youth soccer. Brown also serves as the 2003 boys’ team coach.
*Denotes selected for holdover pool.