Eastern Massachusetts Girl's Soccer Coaches Association

Eastern Massachusetts Girls Soccer Coaches Association © 2015-2019

EMGSCA Response to the US Soccer Development Academy

The mission of the Eastern Massachusetts Girls’ Soccer Coaches Association is the promotion and well-being of high school girls’ soccer in Massachusetts.  We consider the well-being of the student-athlete to include physical wellness, academic achievement, emotional developmental and support, along with enhancing life and social skills.

The EMGSCA would like to make it clear that the path to playing collegiate soccer will not lie exclusively with the Development Academy. 

High school soccer, along with other club divisions, provides the majority of student-athletes opportunities to develop into collegiate players and be seen and recruited by college coaches. Clubs that participate in leagues such as the NPL and ECNL will continue to provide top tier competition and their respective teams will still attend top national showcase tournaments.

High school athletics allow for opportunities to grow athletically, academically, emotionally, and socially.  High school student-athletes are more well-rounded and successful than their non-athlete counterparts, and multi-sport athletes are healthier and stronger than their specialized peers. It has been shown that high school athletics allow the student-athlete to maximize their academic, emotional and social development and still compete at the highest levels that the sport of soccer has to offer. (nfhs.org)

The EMGSCA Board
Greg Rowe, EMGSCA President
Sue Hendee, Vice-President and Wilmington Coach, EMGSCA Hall of Fame
Carl Tarabelli, Treasurer and Needham Coach, 2016 MIAA Coach of the Year
Mark Poirier, Secretary and Dartmouth Coach
Sharon Chapman, All-Star Game Coordinator and  Stoneham Coach
Michael White, Public Relations and Billerica Coach
Chris Scanlon, EMGSCA Hall of Fame


June 1, 2017

Additional Arguments and Citations

Although we appreciate the US National Team's desire to field the strongest collection of female soccer players possible, we continue to believe as an organization that multiple paths toward  this goal is in the best interest of the vast majority of individual soccer players.  

Clearly the Women's National Team has been successful without the one size fits all approach that is being suggested by the National Team leadership.  In addition, through informal surveys and discussions with college and club coaches, we have concluded that the current crop of elite junior and senior high school girls soccer players have overwhelmingly decided to remain with their high school teams as opposed to participating exclusively in the USDA.

In fact, a case may be made that the DA is more the focus of the National Team player pools at the expense of high school and college participation. The long term stated goal of the DA is for potential National Team candidates to forgo soccer at both the high school and collegiate levels and participate only in the Academy.

The physical wellness benefits for student-athletes are known, from promoting healthy lifestyles and habits to fighting obesity.  This can be achieved through both school sponsored sports as well as private for-profit clubs and organizations, and, of course, the elite level national team participation.

High school student-athletes achieve more in and out of the classroom.  We received 155 Eastern Mass All-Star nominations in 2016, and over 67% of the student-athletes had grade point averages above 3.75.  Our student-athletes participated in a number of community service opportunities, which allowed them to give back to the community, find new leadership experiences, and form team bonds off the field.  EMGSCA high school programs participated in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk and Coaches versus Cancer Games, as well as Unified Sports, Special Olympics, Think Taylor Concussion Awareness, Komen’s Pink Out Games, Scholarship and Memorial 5K runs; raising money for Cystic Fibrosis, ALS, local hospitals and medical treatment centers; service learning like Gifts to Give, the Dwelling Place soup kitchen, and children’s programs on and off the fields.  High school sports allow students to grow, lead and impact their communities, on and off the field.

Questions Parents and Player’s should be asking the USDA:

Isn’t there another method to cull the very small percentage of the most elite while allowing the 99.99% of the high school aged girls the benefits of high school athletics?

Given my daughter does not have aspirations to play for the US national team and her goal is to play in college and does not wish to forgo her 4 year high school athletic experience, why would she consider her invitation to play for the DA?

Physical Wellness

Young people grow by learning the values of healthy competition, teamwork, goal setting, respect and hard work. The educational experiences of all participants are enhanced through these values, as everyone strives to be their best as individuals, students, teammates, and members of the community, rather than just as athletes. When the importance of these values is not stressed, the future of each young person is negatively affected. (miaa.net)

A study using the Arizona Youth Survey data showed that Native American students who reported a high level of availability in their school to be involved in extracurricular activities “were less likely to use substances, to be drunk or high at school, to ride/drive when the driver was under the influence, and to sell drugs.” (Moilanen et al., 2014). (nfhs.org)

In a specific examination of high school youth and suicide risk using national data from the CDC’s YRBS, sports participation was significantly associated with reduced risk of feeling hopeless and suicide behaviors. (Taliaferro et al., 2008). (nfhs.org)

Playing multiple sports as a kid helped [Former USWNT player Leslie] Osborne excel and reach an elite level of soccer. She was able to build muscle strength and skills from basketball and tennis that aided her soccer abilities. She also reaped the benefits of playing both individual and team sports, because the different mentalities taught her how to optimize performance. She also attributes a lack of injury during her youth sports days to playing multiple sports, as she was less subject to overuse injury…Anecdotally, she shares that 19 out of 20 players on the US National Team during her tenure reported having played multiple sports until their senior year of high school. (positivecoaching.org)

Lauren Holiday also played varsity basketball. In the same USA Today article, Holiday added this: “Having that variety is an awesome thing and I would encourage any young athlete or parent not to restrict themselves. Doing different things develops different parts of your body. It can help prevent injuries and definitely help prevent burnout.” (Halloran, americansoccernow.com)

Academic Achievement Benefits

Studies of American corporations have shown that almost 95% of high ranking executives participated in educational athletics. These executives were the same student-athletes whose personal development improved their team. They were the teams whose positive example improved their school. It was their school whose culture improved their community. There is a logical connection. (miaa.net)

Academic focus & accountability via eligibility standards provides motivation & suits preparation for college (high school scholastic experience most closely resembles collegiate scholastic experience) (Winkler, nscaa.com)

Activities Support the Academic Mission of Schools. They are not a diversion, but rather an extension of a good educational program. Students who participate in activity programs tend to have higher grade-point averages, better attendance records, lower dropout rates and fewer discipline problems than students generally. (nfhs.org)

A study looking at social adjustment in making the transition from middle school (8th grade) to high school (9th grade) found involvement in sports helped students with friendships during the transition. The authors wrote, “Continuous involvement in sports and initiation of academic activities was associated with having more friendships.” (Bohnert et al., 2013). (nfhs.org)

A survey study of Life Skill Development in Ontario High School Sport concluded that parents, coaches, and student-athletes all perceive high school sport as positive and is a context where life skills are developed, that student-athletes score higher on most developmental assets than students who are not in high school sports, and that student-athletes appear to be more engaged and enjoy school more as a result of participating in high school sport. (Williamson et al., 2013). (nfhs.org)

A more recent study of the NELS data showed that participation in organized activities during high school is positively associated with post secondary educational attainment, voting, volunteering, and occupational factors 2 and 8 years after high school (while controlling for several demographic, achievement, individual and family factors). More positive associations with outcomes were found for those who participated in organized activities two or more years during high school vs. those who participated only one year. More associations between school-sponsored vs. community-sponsored activities were found 8 years after high school, in particular these were the occupational outcomes of full-time employment and income. One possible explanation put forth by the authors was “that school-sponsored activities, relative to community-sponsored activities, offer developmental supports and opportunities that are more relevant for later occupational success.” (Gardner et al., 2008).

[Celtics Coach Brad Stevens]: The benefits of remaining a multiple-sport athlete include stoking passion for play and competition that keeps kids hooked on sports, so they maintain healthy lifestyles and take all the personal growth and development opportunities available through sports. Stevens also appreciates the diversity of experience a multi-sport athlete gains by having a wider variety of teammates. (positivecoach.org)

Individual player development as extension of the classroom / integral to education of the whole child (Winkler, nscaa.com)

Emotional Development and Support

Inherent in educational athletics are self-confidence, and the building and development of higher aspirations. (miaa.net)

Interscholastic athletics also promote values and teach life skills such as service, respect, integrity, leadership, perseverance, teamwork and friendship. Inherent in this experience are the values of sacrifice, cooperation, overcoming defeat, and facing adversity. (miaa.net)

Extracurricular activities stand out from other aspects of adolescents’ lives at school because they provide opportunities to “develop initiative and allow youth to learn emotional competencies and develop new social skills.” These activities allow “youth to form new connections with peers and acquire social capital.” (Darling et al., 2005).(nfhs.org)

Girls and women who play sports have higher levels of confidence and self-esteem and lower levels of depression. (womenssportsfoundation.org)

Girls and women who play sports have a more positive body image and experience higher states of psychological well-being than girls and women who do not play sports. (womenssportsfoundation.org)

Social and Life Skills

Peer & community activity heightens emotional connection and can act as a community rallying point (Winkler, nscaa.com)

Family environment is incapable of being replicated by clubs and provides unparalleled camaraderie (Winkler, nscaa.com)

Better players enjoy greater role & more playing time on high school team during their seasons proving critical leadership development (Winkler, nscaa.com)

The responsibility associated with this privilege can help the student-athlete maintain proper perspective throughout his or her educational journey, and should constantly remind each of what is truly important in life … More importantly, we win through life if we help to develop socially successful and responsible individuals and teams. (miaa.net)

A study of nearly 140,000 Kansas high school students, examining data from the Kansas High School Athletic Association and the Kansas State Department of Education, …led authors to say that although pay-to-play “may seem like a reasonable alternative to eliminating sport programs altogether, it discriminates against students who do not have the financial means to pay for membership on a high school sports team.” (Lumpkin & Favor, 2012). (nfhs.org)

A study of model high school coaches and their athletes found that these coaches taught life skills, their student athletes learned the skills and were able transfer them to other areas of their lives. The study found that these coaches “had specific strategies to coach life skills”, which in addition to modeling behavior included “peer evaluations, taking advantage of teachable moments, and volunteer work,” as well as teaching “student-athletes how to transfer life skills.” (Camiré et al., 2012). (nfhs.org)

School extracurricular activities provide many of the leadership opportunities for high school students.  (Rouse, 2012) (nfhs.org)

[Former USWNT Player] Kristine Lilly prefers that players experience representing their high school and enjoying all the camaraderie with fellow students that entails. Also, as a parent, Kristine just philosophically disagrees with families feeling forced to make such a choice. (positivecoaching.org)

High school girls who play sports are less likely to be involved in an unintended pregnancy; more likely to get better grades in school and more likely to graduate than girls who do not play sports. (womenssportsfoundation.org)

Activity promoting diversity & inclusion (Winkler, nscaa.com)


Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association


National Federation of High Schools


Positive Coaching Alliance




Women’s Sports Foundation






Greg Winkler, http://www.nscaa.com/web/Membership/What_is_Great_About_High_School_Soccer.aspx?WebsiteKey=e40c4438-1bc4-4e91-af69-4b2d65ff2f63

American Soccer Now

John D Halloran, http://americansoccernow.com/articles/ussf-s-girl-s-development-academy-has-it-all-wrong

FC Stars of Mass

Statement/Pyramid: http://www.starsofma.org/USSDA/index_E.html?1490011092