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Global Jun 26, 2012

FASA college camp gives high schoolers new recruiting tool

By Scott Wyant

Fredericksburg, Va. – For most high school athletes, earning a college scholarship is a huge goal.

The Fredericksburg Area Soccer Association (FASA) makes it a point to help its players turn those goals into achievements. In recent years the club has been able to help players catch on at schools all over the country, including East Carolina, Campbell, West Virginia and multiple other NCAA Division I programs.

The organization has also sent players to NCAA Division II and III as well as NAIA schools. However, club executives and coaches continued to wonder: What more can we do to give our players a better chance to play at the collegiate level?

Last week the club held its first annual FASA Girls Collegiate Soccer Camp, featuring sessions run by different college coaches each day from George Mason, Longwood, Marshall, Maryland, Richmond, Towson, William & Mary and Youngstown State.

The event – which was open to FASA members as well as those from other clubs – allowed players an extra chance to get noticed by Division I coaches, but perhaps more importantly, gain access to important information about the recruiting process and how different programs operate.

Longwood assistant coach Steve Brdarski said he was very pleased with how FASA set up the first-year event.

“You have to have the organizational setup,” Brdarski said. “Because it’s like anything in soccer, when someone starts to grab a good idea it’s really easy to make a good idea into a bad idea. If too many people are doing it then it looks like you’re just doing it for show. Here, I think they really care about the kids.”

Each day the club brought in a coach or two to run a training session with two different player groups. FASA provided the use of two soccer fields at Dixon Park in Fredericksburg, with movable goals to allow each coach to run their sessions how they wished.

The club also gave the visiting coaches a binder full of player bios along with their corresponding jersey numbers, allowing for quick reference to the players.

FASA’s advance planning, led by club general manager and college prep director Pete Cinalli, allowed the coaches to just worry about their sessions with the players.

“It was hard to describe how perfect it was,” said Cinalli. “The kids were ready. The prep we did allowed the coaches walk on the field and have everything they needed.”

The groups ranged from rising freshman players to high school graduates that had yet to sign with a school.

Over the week the girls had the chance to receive instruction from top-level assistant coaches from all over the area. Cinalli believes the players don’t yet realize how special the event was.

“To have eight Division I coaches there, I don’t even think they realize how neat that was,” Cinalli said. “For our kids and our club, it gave us amazing exposure to have those coaches from the ACC and all the big conferences come in.”

The camp also hit on important aspects of recruiting. Each day the camp took a break for lunch, heading inside to take a break from the Virginia heat. After lunch the college coaches would answer any and all questions from the players and FASA administration.

Like Brdarski, Richmond assistant coach Peter Nash credited the success of the camp to the FASA organization as a whole.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with the FASA team and I’ve grown to respect Pete Cinalli,” Nash said. “I was excited to have the opportunity to come look at the kids.

“I only know of two clubs in Virginia doing something like this.”

The coaches pronounced themselves very satisfied at the effort the players were providing, even as temperatures ranged well into the upper 90s.

“When I’m hot just watching, it can really easily go south,” Brdarski said. “When you see these young girls just getting after it, they want to be better and it inspires you.”

Cinalli said he’s gotten positive response from all the coaches that attended, as well as those that couldn’t make it.

“It’s a big statement about our organization and the creditability we have,” Cinalli said, “and even more so when all of them said, ‘This is great, please bring me back [in future years].’”

FASA hopes to continue the event and make it an annual occasion. The only change Cinalli is considering: breaking up the camp over two weeks, so the players don’t wear down as much and different schools could attend.