I recently spent time with a high level girls soccer team who joined the girls’ DA in the inaugural 2017 season. This team is full of NCAA D1 commits, and even a few US Soccer National Team selectees. The girls began their high school years in the ECNL (Elite Clubs National League).
A top-level club coach offers insight into DA vs High School soccer
I asked the coach how the girls seem to feel about having to miss their junior and senior seasons of high school soccer.
“The girls have handled it really well. US Soccer and the DA came in and made sure the girls and the families understood that sacrificing high school soccer would be worth it, and they’ve all bought in.”
“The boys’ DA has been around for a long time, and you’ll see players leave the DA during their senior year to play that one senior season of high school soccer, but that’s not happening on the girls’ side. I thought the girls would have a harder time missing high school soccer. A lot of people did. But the girls have all seemed to buy into the system. I think as the years go on and the DA keeps improving, even more players will not worry about missing playing for their high schools.”
The coach then added something very interesting when he said,
“Honestly, it’s the parents who miss high school soccer more than the players.”
Later that day, I spoke with a girl who is in the middle of her senior year. I asked her how she feels about not being able to play high school soccer. Her high school consistently fields a very strong girls’ soccer team. She stopped to think for a bit, and said, “Yeah, I miss it. But I don’t miss it as much as I thought I would. The level of training and the level of the games we play with DA is not even close to high school. I understand why the DA doesn’t want players leaving for a few months to go play high school soccer.”
Question to parents: “Do you miss high school soccer?”
Her parents were nearby, so I asked them, “Do you miss high school soccer?”
Their answer was emphatic and instant, “YES! High school soccer is so fun. We really miss it. In a perfect world, she’d be able to do both, but we understand. High school soccer is really fun, though.”
The players response compared to the parents’ response, combined with the coach’s insight, made me stop and think.
The players don’t seem to miss high school soccer as much as the parents do. Is it because the parents grew up in a world where high school sports were a rite of passage, and they don’t want their kids to miss out on such a wonderful experience? Possibly. Is it because the parents of high-level soccer players love seeing their usual mid-level players become super stars on their high school teams? Perhaps.
Whatever the reason may be, the coach may be absolutely correct when he said that it’s really the parents who are the driving force in the DA vs High School battle.