The U.S. Soccer Girls Development Academy, which kicks off its first season in September, has named its first five Technical Advisors, who are charged with developing scouting networks and evaluating and aiding DA clubs in their region.
All five of the women appointed hold a U.S. Soccer ‘A’ or UEFA 'A' license
“This is the next step in creating a better pathway for girls to navigate the club environment in this country,” Girls Development Academy director Miriam Hickey said. “We were able to acquire the most passionate and qualified individuals to fill these roles. These new Technical Advisors bring outstanding knowledge of the game in the U.S. and internationally. With a deep understanding of the standards required at the club, collegiate and professional level, the TAs will provide invaluable insight into preparing our elite young athletes for the highest levels.”
The TAs will develop scouting networks comprised of U.S. Soccer scouts and collegiate coaches to help identify elite talent. The TAs will provide scouting reports and player data to the Director of Talent to identify players to be invited to Training Centers and the youth national team camps.
At least three more TAs will be hired.
Church has worked as an assistant at Gonzaga University and Florida State University. She has served as the Technical Director for the United Soccer Alliance and the Jacksonville Armada FC Youth, and has been an ODP and U.S. Soccer Training Center staff member.
Katie Cole (Frontier Division)
After playing four years at the University of Texas, Cole’s coaching career began as an assistant coach at the University of Louisville. She founded youth club AZ Fury in 2004 and served as the Arizona club’s Director of Coaching before joining Sereno SC, and has served as an Arizona ODP director.
Diane Drake (Atlantic Division)
Her two decades of college coaching included stints at Georgetown and George Mason. A public-school teacher in Fairfax County, Virginia, she has been part of the technical staff of the McLean Youth Soccer Association. She has also served on the NSCAA board of directors. She played at the University of Dayton and for the Raleigh Wings in the USISL.
Marieke Laurens-van Tienhoven (Southwest Division)
A Netherlands native now living in New Jersey, Tienhoven has worked with coaches and players of the Dutch women’s national team program and served as an assistant coach for the Netherland’s U-15 national team. She has been head coach of ODP Region 1 teams and a member of the Super-Y League National Scouting Staff.
Zahra Lechak (Northwest Division)
Lechak played at the University of Connecticut, where she earned degrees in molecular cell biology and chemistry. She has been a head coach and course instructor for the Washington Youth Soccer Association, an ODP staff member, and was 2013 U.S. Youth Soccer National Girls Competitive Coach of the Year. She also served as an assistant coach for the Seattle Sounders women’s team and helped found Seattle United FC and served as its assistant Director of Coaching.
Girls DA adds two clubs
Sky Blue-NYSC and Placer United Soccer Club will be part of the U.S. Soccer Girls Development Academy that kicks off its inaugural season Sept. 2.
The NWSL’s Sky Blue FC and New York Soccer Club (NYSC) recently announced a partnership and will compete in the Northeast Division. Northern California Placer United will compete in the Northwest Division.
"We are proud and honored to partner with Sky Blue FC to form what will be the leading development program for girls in the Southern New York and Connecticut marketplace," said NYSC chairman Stephan Feldgoise.
• DA clubs will compete in four age groups: (U-14 (2004/2005), U-15
(2003), U-16/17 (2002/2001), and U-18/19 (2000/1999).
• The DA’s seven regions are regions: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Mid-America, Frontier, Northwest, Southwest.
• A total of 69 clubs join the Girls DA for its inaugural season.
• The DA expects 6,400 players to compete in the inaugural season.
• DA clubs will provide full scholarships to 1,544 players.
This is the first and only set of competent well establish personnel I have seen the USDA employed at any age group. I have heard through the grapevine that coach Marieke is extremely good and a better coach than all youth coaches including the sorry ass excuse for men coaches. This group of individuals can and will prove the difference between which organization is better ECNL or USDA. I hope ECNL comes out on top just to break the monopoly that USSF is trying to establish.
NOT SO FAST
A recent Sunday saw two 15 year-old girls tear ACL’s. For each it was their second such injury.
As a specialty, Pediatric Sports Medicine dates only to 1975. It is now one of the fastest growing medical fields, with treatment for broken arms and sprained ankles being overtaken by a wave of serious soft tissue injuries. The epidemic, for that is what it has become, is driven by a toxic mix of overtraining, early specialization in a single sport, diminished free time play, downsizing of Physical Education programs in schools, inadequate provisions for rest and recovery and the failure of youth sports organizations to provide meaningful injury prevention programs.
Consider knees. Female college athletes, especially those who played soccer or basketball used to have a near monopoly on ACL and meniscus tears. Such injuries now are not uncommon in girls as young as 12, are widespread by 16. The boys are catching up. In many instances (notably among people who are neither suffering the injury, financing its repair or dealing with a caged beast for 4-6 months), these injuries are considered as just a “cost of doing business.”
The response of U.S. Soccer to this: a new Girls Developmental Academy (D.A.) program for girls that will have these teen athletes training 4-5 times a week, 10 months a year.
Where do we invest in orthopedic surgery futures?
All the evidence points to a significant increase in such injuries with the training regimen planned for D.A. teams. In addition, this program plans to adopt FIFA substitution rules (3 subs, no re-entry). This will further multiply the risk factors by asking athletes to play full-out for 90 minutes when they are still a decade away from the average age of peak performance. (The alternative, learning to play with less than your full effort to conserve energy, is almost equally foolish.)
The D.A. model comes with a number of other practices that should have athletes and their parents asking serious questions. First among them are the restrictions placed on the athletes. High school soccer is forbidden, as are activities such as ODP, “without written permission from the Development Academy staff.” Statements from D.A. leadership that these girls can opt out of the DA during the HS season appear less than forthright and one local club has said it’s not happening there. (The logistical difficulties aside, it is certainly NOT allowed in the boys’ programs here – any player who wants to retain the option of playing with her school should be certain up front that this choice will truly exist and be honored at her club.)
Those kinds of restrictions might be justified ...
Read the full essay at https://andagain.websitetoolbox.com/post/girls-d-a-not-so-fast-8497903.
This is an eye opener but somehow I am not surprise.. But instead of talking about getting it why don't we talk about preventing or limiting it.. personally I think clubs are getting away with murder and some lawsuits needs to happen to ensure that guidelines are followed.
According to you all lawyers are the equivalent of pimps and drug dealers. Now you want them to file lawsuits to help? Can we sue our way out of ACL injuries?
I made the references to pimps and drug dealers but it's all in context to the subject matter. The ACL is relatively new but once a recommendation is made and if clubs are not following they can be sue. In addition it can be made state law if someone can prove it. This is no different than any conditions or practice that endangers a kids. And if ther is one thing that can easily pass legislation are kids, school, veterans and cops in the subject. Youth soccer took out heading the ball because of possible lawsuits for concussions, football has mandatory defilibrator in some states. Bottom like is we are dealing with kids and a serious injury that if things can be done to stop it should be. Right now clubs don't care about ACL so maybe a genuine lawsuit against the club and US soccer will save a child or two. So I am guessing this is something you oppose also ??
Do I oppose bankrupting soccer teams because some players might tear their ACL? Yes of course I oppose it. One of my girls tore her ACL and it never crossed my mind to sue anyone because injuries happen. She had it repaired and was back playing the following season. It's unfortunate this injury occurs as often as it goes but I don't see why anyone should be sued because of it. What is it you think people should be doing exactly?
Girl are more likely to get an ACl njury then guys because they have the ability to over extend their joints. Great for swimming, but bad for our game.
The Pep program was developed in or around 2004 to help prevent these injuries in women. It's a long post I will see if this takes it.
The PEP Program is a highly specific 15-minute training session that
replaces the traditional warm-up. It was developed by a team of
physicians, physical therapists, athletic trainers and coaches, and has
funding support from the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles
(AAF). The program's main focus is educating players on strategies to
avoid injury and includes specific exercises targeting problems as
identified in previous research studies.
The goals of the program are to:
1) Avoid vulnerable positions
2) Increase flexibility
3) Increase strength
4) Include plyometric exercises into the training program
5) Increase proprioception though agilities
The entire program can be found at
and only requires that you
document any need injuries that occur on your team. The will send you a
video tape which is essential to show the proper way to do the
exercises. I would also strongly recommend you contact a local PT to
come out and demonstrate the exercises using the proper technique.
Optimally the program should be performed at least 2-3 times per week
during the season.
Some of the exercises and drills we already did in our warmup, but PEP
does require we do them in with far better form and attention to detail
than we previously did. Whether it will actually work for us is still
unknown but it is based on documented studies and at the very least has
given our team an appreciation of proper technique and strengthening of
the leg muscles.
The exercises are on their webpage but here is an example of one that I
like. However, this is only one of many exercises out of many, so you
need to look at the entire program.
Bridging with Hip extension Purpose: Increase hip and trunk strength and
improve balance Instruction: Lying on your back with knees bent, place
both feet on top of soccer ball. Lift hips off the ground so that your
shoulders, hips, and knees are in a straight line. Slowly lift one foot
off the ball and straighten the knee without dipping the hip down.
Return foot back to the ball and repeat on the opposite leg. Repeat 30
times and rest.
B. Ball toss with abdominal toss (buddy) Purpose: Increase
abdominal/trunk strength Instruction: Lie on your back with hips and
knees bent. Have your partner toss a soccer ball to you. Catch the ball
and bring your arms overhead. Now, catapult yourself by bringing arms
back toward your center as your perform an abdominal crunch and toss the
ball to your partner. Wait for your partner to toss the ball again and
repeat exercise 30 times.
Fatigue will reduce the athletes ability to effectively achieve the
programs goals. Item 1 was clearly violated because I was tired.
Item 2 was an issue because it was the start of the day. Item 3
fatigue does effectively reduce strength. Item 5 coordination
(proprioception) was comprimised by the fatigue.
I can clearly remember just before the turn not having the energy to
bend my knees to begin the process of unweighting my skis, had I been
either fresh or properly warmed-up, i would probably not be making
>The goals of the program are to:
>1) Avoid vulnerable positions
>2) Increase flexibility
>3) Increase strength
>4) Include plyometric exercises into the training program
>5) Increase proprioception though agilities
ACL history of injuries and the reporting of such a high prevalence of injuries being incurred by female athletes, goes way back at least to the 1980's, and covered widely into the close of the 20th and into the 21'st centuries as Mr. Deverese implies above. As a patient of US Soccer knee specialist, Dr. Bert Mandelbaum, and the father of a former youth futbolista, Dr. Bert, treated my daughter and provided her with some of the very exercises mentioned above. It, the high incidence of females suffering ACL tear isn't new, rather the rather meteoric increase/rise of female futbolistas, does in fact and deed changed the coaching methods, and better implemented by female coaches than some macho-oriented "coaches."