Seattle Reign Academy will be heading to their first national event for Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) this weekend, participating in the ECNL Texas Showcase. This is the first of five showcases that take place during the ECNL season, with the next in Phoenix this April.
“The purpose of the Texas Showcase is to put our players in front of a lot college coaches that come from around the country,” said Reign Academy technical director Tracey Kevins. “We’ve already had a great deal of interest in our players so it’s an opportunity now…to get more and more of those players committed.”
The tournament comes on the heels of the Academy’s first National Signing Day, in which five players signed their national letters of intent, and the first two weekends of ECNL play. While the Academy earned six wins across all five age groups, the focus for Kevins isn’t on the standings.
“The biggest thing for us is our style of play and our education with the players. We aren’t interested in the win-loss column,” said Kevins. “Speaking to a college coach this weekend, they said they go out to watch a game and watch an individual player and often leave the game without knowing the score.”
Kevins and company are building that style of play through the Academy curriculum, which works through different facets of the game in trainings and matches. The current lesson Academy teams are playing out on the field is transition.
“What we are looking to see out of the teams is what we do just as we lose the ball and what we do just as we win the ball,” said Kevins. “If we’ve just won it, what can we do to be dangerous. If we’ve just lost it, how do we make ourselves more compact and difficult to break down.”
The goals for the Academy remain the same, despite changes in the coaching staff. Former head coach of the Academy’s U17 and U18/U19 teams, Vanessa Valentine, will be joining Oregon State’s women’s soccer team as an assistant coach.
“Just as we develop players we want to develop coaches,” said Kevins. “We are really pleased Vanessa has gone on to an amazing opportunity.”
Reign FC assistant coach, Sam Laity, will take over as coach of the U17 and U18/U19 teams this weekend and will see them through the rest of the ECNL season. He will also be taking on an extra responsibility as a mentor to former Reign FC player Steph Cox, as she looks to continue her coaching career.
“Steph is a young, up and coming, female coach. One of the things we want to do in our program is promote good, young, female coaches,” said Kevins. “Long term, Steph will aspire to take over and manage teams, and what we want to do is get her into that position.”