The Reign Academy has officially wrapped up the first half of their inaugural U.S. Girls’ Development Academy season. The Academy has faced strong clubs week in and week out, and Reign Academy technical director Kim Calkins is excited with how the teams have grown and competed.

“The continued growth and positive results from players and teams this past fall are indicative of a focus in training including player, team, and coach development,” said Kim Calkins. “The Academy has high standards and goals and we won’t rest until they are met and exceeded. I am confident we are a standing on a solid foundation of youth and professional club support, philosophy, and we’re on the right path to achieving excellence.”

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To close out 2018, the Reign Academy will head to Florida for the first U.S. Development Academy showcase. The Winter Showcase gives the Academy an opportunity to face new competition outside of the squads they usually play in their DA region. It’s also a critical opportunity for players to be seen by both college coaches and U.S. youth national team coaches.

“Culminating the 2017 year with the inaugural DA showcase in Florida will be an exciting experience for the teams to showcase and compete against top clubs and teams from across the nation,” said Calkins.

The showcase is the final set of matches for the Academy in 2017. Once it’s complete, Calkins and her staff will begin to look forward to the rapidly approaching new year. One major change set to occur with the arrival of 2018 will be new Seattle Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski fully stepping into his role as executive director of the Reign Academy.

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“Vlatko has already made it a priority to visit Academy training and will step right into a technical leadership role with players and staff,” said Calkins. “We look forward to the impact of his work with Seattle Reign FC and the Reign Academy.”

Andonovski has an extensive coaching history in youth soccer, including teams in the Olympic Development Program, Elite Clubs National League, and Girls Development Academy teams.

“I’m very excited for the chance to work with the Reign Academy. I was always involved with youth soccer in Kansas City and have almost 20 years of experience now,” said Andonovski at the time of his hiring. “I’ve spent time at every level with almost every age group. I’m excited to get involved with the Reign Academy.”

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The importance of getting to interact with the first team is not lost upon Reign Academy players and staff. It is a unique opportunity that not all Academy teams have across the DA.

“The first team is our model and these young Academy women are incredibly fortunate,” said Calkins. “They have direct access and daily opportunities to learn on and off the field from professionals.”

As preparation for 2018 continues to unfold, Calkins and her staff are excited to see how their teams will grow across all levels of the Reign Academy in the next year.

“The US Soccer Development Academy influences each club to have a clear purpose and soccer philosophy to grow the individual player, the team as a collective, and the Academy as a whole,” said Calkins. “As we move into 2018, the Reign Academy, Academy 2, and Pre-Academy will keep striving to teach and empower the balance of competition and development with each individual youth player we have the privilege to coach. The Academy staff and players are motivated for the next chapter in 2018.”