News and Announcements

Zoe Swift Commits to Kentucky!

Posted by Phil Nielsen at Dec 13, 2011 4:05PM PST ( 0 Comments )

Zoe Swift from Team Chicago Academy-Botafogo has accepted a great scholarship to attend the University of Kentucky as part of Head Coach Jon Lipsitz’s 2013 recruiting class.

The Wildcats playing in the SEC finished the 2011 season with a 13-7-1 record after a first-round loss in the NCAA tournament to Washington State in a shoot-out.

Four Team Chicago Academy-Botafogo players were instrumental in the Region II 1995 ODP team’s successful performance at the ODP Inter-Regional event in Boca Raton, FL.

Over the past week teams from the four regions (Region I – Northeast, Region II – Midwest, Region III – Southeast, and Region IV West Coast) played a round-robin tournament at Florida Atlantic University in front of National Team scouts and college coaches. This is the primary event for National Team scouting.

Representing Team Chicago on the Region II team were Gianna Dal Pozzo, Meegan Johnston, Rachele Armand, and Zoey Goralski. The team went 2-1-0, winning the event in style with a 5-1 demolition of the favored Region IV team in the final game. Both Rachele Armand and Zoey Goralski recorded assists in that game. The game followed a 2-0 defeat of Region III on Tuesday where Meegan Johnston came on to score the game-winner after a great give-and-go with future Illini teammate Allison Stuckey from Cleveland, OH.

Rachele Armand anchored the central-defense – with Micaela Powers from Beaver Creek, OH – for the full 270 minutes of play in the event , and Gianna Dal Pozzo also went the full 270 minutes at the holding midfield position. Meegan Johnston provided a spark – including her game-winning goal – as a withdrawn striker, and Zoey Goralski controlled the right flank for all but 30 minutes of the event.

The team was coached by Team Chicago Elite Academy Director Phil Nielsen and Paul Fabry Director of Coaching for Iowa Rush. The next event for the team will be a National Developmental Camp in Pomono, CA February 7-12, 2012.

By Scott Nelson

While observing U7 games a few seasons ago I got into a conversation with a disgruntled parent. It turns out that this parent was constantly being told to stop coaching from the sidelines by the team’s actual coach. This parent felt justified “getting involved” from the sidelines because, he explained, the designated coach of the team “wasn’t coaching enough.”

Now, I had observed this parent’s sideline behavior several times, and had also seen him silenced by his daughter’s coach on more than one occasion. This parent’s pearls of coaching wisdom included phrases like “Go!” ”Get the ball!” “Shoot it!” “Get back!” “Hard kicks!” “Don’t Bunch!” and liberal doses of the one phrase guaranteed to make me cringe whenever I hear it: “Boot it!”

Without a hint of irony, this parent would also yell at his child to “Pay attention to the game” on the many occasions when she stopped playing to look over at him on the sidelines.

His daughter’s coach, much to this parent’s consternation, gave out none of this crucially needed guidance. Instead he would stand watching from the sidelines, giving out plenty of encouragement, praising good intentions (even when they weren’t successful!) but mostly leaving the kids to their own devices unless they needed help figuring out what to do on their restarts.

When he did intervene, he would ask his players questions instead of giving commands. “Where do you need to be?” “Where do you think they will go if they get the ball?” “Where do you think she will kick the ball?” “What shape should we be in?” Can you try and dribble instead of kicking the ball away next time?” In a season of observing this coach, I had never once heard him say “Boot it!” It was a testament to the natural ability of the kids, this parent said, that the team managed to dominate most of their games even without “real” coaching.

The truth was just the opposite. The team was playing well in part because of the lack of “traditional” youth sideline coaching. This coach and others in his club had been trained to act as facilitators, not directors. Coaches were encouraged to let the kids play and make their own decisions (both good and bad), not to micro-manage every dribble and kick.

Obviously, most of what this parent in question wanted to yell from the sidelines was just useless noise (Just once I’d love to see a little 6 year old turn to the sidelines and say “Kick the ball? During a soccer game? Dang! Never thought of that before …”) but what if it wasn’t just superfluous information and noise? Suppose these sideline coaches were actually giving out proper advice in agreement with the coach’s policies and philosophy. What could be bad about that?

I’ll answer that by comparing coaching from the sidelines to driving with a GPS. A GPS system is great for getting from point A to point B, but most of the people who use a GPS tend to pay a lot less attention to where they are going. Many people end up relying on the GPS to the point where they cannot find their way without it, even when they have been on the same route multiple times. In a similar manner, coaching from the sidelines can hinder players from developing the crucial ability to make their own decisions and think for themselves.

For drivers who do know where they are going, the GPS can be a real annoyance, cutting into the songs on the radio and interrupting conversations with the passengers to tell the driver information they already know. At worst it is a distraction that might prevent the driver from concentrating on the road.

Now imagine if your GPS could not be turned off, and that it always presumed to know where you were going without ever asking you. Let’s further suppose it didn’t appreciate you exploring a side road or detouring to that espresso stand, and got increasingly loud and angry if you failed to follow its directions. “Take the next right turn …” “When possible make a U-turn” “Recalculating route …” “When possible make a U-turn …” “Recalculating rout …” “HEY DUMMY, YOU’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!”

What would driving be like if you had a GPS like this? It would be a lot like trying to play soccer while people on the sidelines were constantly yelling at you.

Bottom line: If we want our young players to develop and have fun, we need to learn to shut up and let them drive.

(Scott Nelson has coached at every imaginable level of youth soccer from toddlers programs and recreational teams to high school, premier soccer, ODP, and two years with the USL Seattle Sounders youth teams in the Super-Y League. In recent years his focus has been on the development of very young players. Scott has been a member of Washington Youth Soccer’s instructional staff since 2004.)

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Botafogo Claim MRL Premier Division Title!

Posted by Phil Nielsen at Oct 30, 2011 4:43PM PDT ( 0 Comments )

Team Chicago Academy-Botafogo claimed the MRL Premier Division title and secured an automatic berth into the USYSA Regionals in June 2012 with 2 wins in Wixom, MI this weekend. A 4-1 win over Michigan Hawks was followed by a 2-0 win over Michigan Rush to clinch the title.

Jesse Salazar’s Team Chicago Academy-Tigers moved into second place in the IWSL U16 AB South Division after two very good performances this past weekend.

One week after beating Plainfield Legends on their home field, the Tigers confirmed their previous victory by putting on a passing show in the first half leading to two goals. The first of which was by Rachel Schneider, her first of her season, and the second by Tracey McCoy from a very difficult angle. The second half was more tense, but the shutout, started by Chauntelle Johnson, was completed by Jillian Garbars in goal.

Sunday’s game was against Eclipse, who beat the Tigers twice at the beginning of the season during the NSR Gold Cup, once in group play and the other was for the championship. The game got off on the wrong foot when Eclipse scored a wide open header on a corner kick to go ahead 1-0 less than 15 minutes into the game. Despite the rough start, the Tiges kept their composure as they quickly showed how much they have improved during the season by continuing to pass and create chances from all levels of the pitch.

The score was leveled by Nicole Gapen (the second first time scorer of the weekend) off a corner. Before the end of the half the score was 3-1 with goals from Sabrina Georgeff, assisted by Marin McElroy, and Tracey McCoy, unassisted. With Eclipse pushing up to get back into the game, the Tigers’ last goal was a team effort. It started by Stepahnie Kulczycki’s well-timed tackle and outlet pass to Sabrina Georgeff. She quickly drew two defenders and beat them both with a through-ball giving Tracey McCoy a breakaway, who calmly beat an on-rushing goalie to put the game out of reach.

In goal, Chauntelle Johnson finished the the second half of an overall solid defensive performance that Jillian Garbars started. Their job was made easier all weekend by help from a versatile group of 7 defenders: Kristen Schneider, Kelly Shugh, Lindsay Van Blaricom, Rachel Pavlinec, Mady Aubuchon, Stephanie Kulczycki, and Rachel Schneider.

The weekend’s wins move the Tigers into 2nd place in their division, 6-4-2 on the season and 4-0-1 in their last 5 games.