Published: February 16, 2012
TOLEDO, OHIO – The atmosphere at the University of Toledo’s Fetterman Athletic Center last weekend was a bit surreal.
Inside the colossal indoor training facility, which hosted the latest ECNL Premier Development Program event, there were a handful of watching parents, about 25 players at a time and a near silence save for some communication from the players. Outside it was way below freezing, with a chilling wind to go with it, but inside the spacious venue the air was only a bit cool, as the place is heated by geothermal wells meaning no massive air compressor providing an unwanted deluge of white noise. The fine folks from Nike Sparq Training blared techno music through the place on the 2nd day. I thought that was not only unwelcome but also god-awful, but the players I asked afterward all seemed to either enjoy it or not notice it (the latter group are REALLY focused, or need to get their hearing checked, the former group, well I guess I shouldn’t harp on preferences as it just makes me look that much older).
But in the one-day quiet and one-day loud atmosphere, the ever-present eyes of watching coaches provided a constant reminder of the importance for these players to show well; particularly the group of younger players who mostly have not made commitments to colleges yet.
Along with those college coaches, U.S. Soccer’s Keri Sarver, part of the U18 WNT staff and a member of the national scouting network being built by USSF Youth Technical Director Jillian Ellis, was carefully scrutinizing every kick of the ball on the weekend. Sarver explained why the format of the event is a good one for her to evaluate potential national team prospects.
Like Sarver, approximately 35 college coaches were on hand, watching carefully. Ohio State head coach Lori Walker, who doubled as one of the team coaches for the event, said the event setup works for her as she continues in recruiting mode. We also learned something about her appreciation for the frigid outdoor climes present in Ohio that day.
Iowa coach Ron Rainey echoed his colleagues’ comments, and also shared with us some insights on the recruiting process.
I’d like to again thank Lavers and Michigan Hawks coach Doug Landefeld for their work in accommodating my coverage of the event this weekend.