SoccerWire Q&A: Duke’s Robbie Church talks Jeff Cup, recruiting, spring match vs. UVa
RICHMOND, Va. – Duke women’s head coach Robbie Church is charging hard this week. Not only is he scouting future recruits at both the Las Vegas Players Showcase and the Jefferson Cup girls showcase, he’s also leading his Blue Devils into a spring friendly against Virginia at Striker Park on Saturday at 5 p.m., the Jeff Cup’s feature NCAA exhibition this year. [Editor’s Note: This game has just been cancelled due to field conditions]
SoccerWire.com caught up with Church, who flew from Vegas to Virginia at dawn on Saturday morning to make the evening game and watch showcase matches, to chat about his hectic weekend.
SoccerWire: How’s it feel to be headed back to Richmond? What makes playing at the Jeff Cup different from other spring games?
Robbie Church: We played four years ago, but we did not play at the stadium field. We played at the [Sports Backers] stadium, away from the Jefferson Cup. A lot of the [youth] players came over from the Jefferson Cup for the game. Typically for a spring game, you get four people and a dog. At that one, we had probably 1,000. Typically it’s like a fall game.
SW: In the fall, your games are all about results. But what do you look for in these spring contests?
RC: Obviously, we have been training since we came back in January. There are eight hours of training allowed by the NCAA per week, and then 20 hours as of mid-February. It’s mainly about player development. In the fall, it’s all about the team, team training. You can have a different philosophy. We do a lot of work with speed and agility. We do a lot of work in the weight room, try to get bigger, stronger and faster and spend a lot of time on technique … And then it gives you a chance to play players in different positions, too.
SW: Will you be able to recruit while in town? What do you like about the teams here?
RC: We have. I will stay Saturday night, and the team will go back [to Durham, North Carolina]. I will recruit all Sunday. They’ve got good fields, nice teams, ECNL teams, teams in State Cups, National League teams. There is a really good mixture of teams there, and good quality teams.
SW: What else do you enjoy about the Jeff Cup?
RC: For the most part, they use a lot of different venues. It is always very well-organized, very well-run. The people are always very helpful. they make it as easy as they possibly can. It is really an established tournament and you get an early look at a lot of players.
SW: What do you look for in the players you scout here?
RC: You definitely have to be an athlete to play in the ACC. Athleticism is very important – [during the conference’s rise to prominence] it wasn’t that we got better soccer players, we got better athletes that can play soccer. The other thing that is very important is your technical ability. You have to have technical ability. Time in space is very limited in ACC. If you don’t play quick or think quick, you are going to be closed down.