Behind every Jefferson Cup player is an eye-opening soccer schedule
By Amber Dunlap
RICHMOND, Va. — The Under-16 and U-17 age groups are at the critical moment in their soccer careers if they are looking to play for a university. Conversation with parents and coaches throughout the Jefferson Cup girls weekend revealed that there is often a jam-packed and non-stop schedule behind every player out on the field.
On the ZYSA 96 Girls Select, a team from Indiana, players are practicing three to four times a week and a few are even traveling 50-plus miles to attend. Talk to a player from the Charlotte SA 95 team from North Carolina or the PWSI Courage 96 Red team from Virginia and they would consider the Indiana girls lucky to have a rule that prevents club and high school soccer from occurring at the same time. The North Carolina and Virginia girls are juggling high school soccer on top of club soccer, albeit a thankfully toned-down club version in most cases.
For PWSI Courage 96 Red, there is no break. They train year-round and even during the high school season maintain a practice schedule of two to three times a week in addition to high school’s five days a week of play. Jill Turner, mom of Courage forward/midfielder Allison Turner, explained the player’s typical schedule in more detail: “They’ll do a two-hour practice after high school and then have like a an hour break and go straight to PWSI training in Woodbridge, and that’ll be for about another two hours until about 10 or 10:30 at night.”
Add one more layer to these hectic schedules, the college identification camps, and you begin to see just how committed these girls have to be to play at this level and beyond. Players will travel many hours by car to be seen by a college coach for one full day of training and turn right back around and head home within the same 24 hours for school or a club game early the next morning.
The college coaches in attendance have some idea of the grueling schedule these girls live out week after week, and for many recruiters that’s the main draw to the Jefferson Cup. They know they’ll be watching players who are committed and prepared for the collegiate level of play and the soccer/school balance that is required.