Located in Northern California, just east of the Greater Bay area, sits the city of Livermore. Known best for its beautiful wine country and the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Livermore has been slowly building a strong reputation in another impressive area: youth soccer. Having been one of the founding Bay Area clubs, Livermore Fusion Soccer Club is entering its 40th year in existence and, like a fine wine, continues to improve with age.
Formerly known as Livermore Youth Soccer League, Fusion’s longstanding presence in the area has established them as a leader in player development and youth club culture; they have sent many of their players to higher development programs like the US Club Soccer Player Development Program or the US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program for many years.
What sets Fusion apart from other clubs though, is its commitment to and focus on development and education. Fusion doesn’t just use these terms as buzzwords, they believe in development and education as pillars of growth for their players, both on and off the field, to a degree that sets them apart from all other clubs and truly makes them a leader in the industry.
When speaking of youth programs, the term “development” is used quite often, even when no real development is taking place. From our local youth clubs, to Major League Soccer, to the Men’s and Women’s National Teams, the term “development” has been used as a recruiting tool and even, at times, as a marketing ploy. At Livermore Fusion, however, the word development takes on a different connotation. It is a core pillar for Fusion.
“At Livermore Fusion we take a different tack on the term ‘development’, particularly with respect to preparing our players for college,” said Ben Graham, Director of Coaching for Livermore Fusion. “We take a different approach to developing players than many other clubs. We lead with the players’ educational passion. Our focus is on preparing players to go to college at whatever school fits them best, both from an educational standpoint as well as a personal one. We want our players to attend a school where they can thrive. From there, we look to find a way for them to play soccer at that school.”
Ensuring the message is clear, Fusion hires coaches with the same belief-system, some coaches coming from college programs. The recent addition of coaches such as Tracy Hamm of San Francisco State University, Paul Sapsford of Las Positas College, and Matt Wolf from Dominican University, exemplify this commitment.
As stated by Coach Hamm, “The approach that Fusion has towards player development will help fuel the overall level of talent and commitment from a club-wide perspective. They are doing things right – academics should be a priority first and foremost. When a specific college can offer both an academic and athletic fit, that is the best case scenario for both the university and the student-athlete; it will ensure they are consistently challenged and pushed to develop in both areas.”
In addition to the college-level staff, Fusion also seeks coaches from a professional background, such as the latest addition to the Fusion SC staff, Coach David Bingham. David provides Fusion players with another unique perspective, having recently gone through the college process himself before becoming the starting goal keeper for the San Jose Earthquakes.
The decisions he had to make, and the paths he eventually chose, were huge difference makers for him and for where he is today; this first-hand experience in invaluable to the Fusion players, as they navigate the same future decisions that he did. Players benefit exponentially from his shared experiences, as he explains why he choose Cal Berkeley for his college education and his next step in soccer education.
Supporting further their commitment to development and education, Livermore Fusion is also leading the line in college preparatory development for its players by partnering with renowned college education company, iSoccerPath. iSoccerPath is the premier education and evaluation company for families of prospective college soccer student athletes.
This strategic partnership between Livermore and iSoccerPath is the first of its kind; through this union, iSoccerPath will offer its Family Education Packages to all Livermore Fusion NPL (National Premier League) teams and families, thus ensuring that every college eligible player of high school age at Livermore Fusion SC has access to the tools needed to help them gain admission into college and then, to earn a roster spot at whichever school the player attends.
“Livermore Fusion SC has come a long way in the last five years, especially in the area of educating and developing talented players to play at the top-level and now in the National Premier Leagues. Recently we added a great program called the ‘College Mentorship Program.’ That program is available to every player at Livermore Fusion SC,” explained Graham.
“The program is in place to support and educate our players in their journey to selecting the right college. Adding the component of iSoccerPath to our NPL teams now brings further value, education, support and success for those players who want to become collegiate student-athletes. We are very excited and proud of what we can now offer these players, and look forward to placing even more players in the college of their dreams.”
iSoccerPath will be working directly with Fusion players and their families to enhance and increase the chances of getting a roster spot in a college soccer program. “Our goal is to have the Livermore Fusion Soccer players and their families at the forefront of the process of becoming a collegiate student athlete. Livermore Fusion and iSoccerPath together will give the players the best opportunity to reach their goals of playing soccer at the next level,” says Jeff Jaye, Managing Director of iSoccerPath.
“Working with Ben Graham, the Fusion Board, and the excellent Fusion staff coaches to help build their college placement program is a great honor for iSoccerPath, and we are excited to increase college commitments for the club. No club has ever taken this bold step and made this type of commitment to its families to give each player the added value of what iSoccerPath offers as a whole. It is a groundbreaking change in club culture, and we at iSoccerPath are extremely excited and honored to be involved in this with Livermore Fusion. We are very proud of this new venture, and hope this focus that Fusion has on development and education will spread to other clubs and their families.”
Clubs interested in college panel nights or the iSoccerPath club package can visit www.collegesoccerpanels.com for additional information.