Last weekend the Seattle Reign Academy participated in the San Diego Surf Cup. The Academy sent three teams to the tournament in the 2002, 2000 and 1998/1999 born age groups. This was the first ever tournament for the Reign Academy teams.
“There was a moment where we all had a little bit of a lump in our throats,” said Seattle Reign Academy technical director Tracey Kevins. “Actually seeing them in the kit for the first time made it real. For them to do as well as they did gave us a lot of pride in what we are doing, and lets us know that we are on the right track.”
The Reign Academy teams posted an overall record of 4–2–4 in the tournament. The teams allowed just three total goals in ten games, strongly reflecting the philosophy of the club in their results.
“The emphasis in the first block of the curriculum is being hard to beat and defending,” said Kevins. “Now [we] take what we’ve done with the defending, and move into a transition phase. If we can learn to be good without the ball and then be more effective just as we win it, we’ll be a real problem for teams going forward.”
The Surf Cup is a high-level youth soccer tournament that provides competition against the “best of the best.” It’s an opportunity for players to get scouted by college coaches, including some from the top division one programs in the U.S., such as UCLA and Stanford.
“Primarily one of the biggest reasons for us to do the Surf Cup is that it’s well-attended by college coaches,” said Kevins. “I’ve spent the past four days speaking with college coaches. Whether it’s setting up official visits for players or giving coaches feedback and insight on players.”
While the Reign Academy is in its early stages, the goals remain lofty. Providing a chance for players to suit up for colleges across the nation is a core part of the program.
“The end goal is college. Ultimately, yes, we would love to see them put on a Reign shirt and represent in the NWSL, but our primary focus in these early stages is to make sure they are chasing that college dream,” said Kevins.
Since tryouts this May, the Reign Academy has been training three times a week at Wallace Field at Seattle Pacific University.
“We’re very fortunate that we have that facility for ourselves, as no other team or club use it,” says Kevins. “We’ve had an opportunity to have all five teams on the field there to ensure the curriculum is being implemented by the coaches. There’s also an opportunity for me to take players aside if maybe they need a little more help while the session is going on.”
Up next is the Surf Cup for the younger division of players. Seattle Reign Academy will be sending a 2003 born squad to compete.
“It’s just really an opportunity for the players to get to know each other more,” said Kevins. “The beauty of Surf Cup is that you travel away and spend time together as a team. That [is] an important part of the weekend as well, for the girls to get to know each other on and off the field.”
The Reign Academy will have one final set of matches before the high school soccer season starts, as they head to Vancouver, BC for scrimmages against Coastal FC and West Coast FC.
“We are actually traveling five whole teams,” said Kevins. “It will be a good experience for them to play out of state and out of country against a different type of opposition.”