When did you first begin playing soccer and when did you know it was something you would want to do in college?
I have been playing Soccer since I was in first grade. Because I lived in Barcelona, Spain, every little kid has a passion to play soccer and become great at the sport. Every lunch break I would play with friends and have fun together. Playing soccer in college was something I wanted to do when I began playing competitive soccer in San Francisco. My mentality was always: ‘What’s next?’. I have had the goal to play college soccer since I was in 7th grade.
How has the San Francisco Elite Academy shaped you into the player and student athlete you are today?
San Francisco Elite Academy has shaped me into the person I wanted to become has helped me throughout my time here playing soccer in San Francisco. It has taught me to be disciplined, committed, respectful, and eager to learn more. SFEA has helped me have an open mentality off and on the pitch. I have learned that if I wanted to become a college athlete, I would have to set my priorities straight. School and soccer have been and are my number one priorities.
Choosing a college is daunting and finding one to also play soccer can make it even more so. Please share a few thoughts on your college-selection/recruiting process and how you came to the conclusion your school was right for you?
I wanted a school that would really help me grow as an individual and as an athlete. Though there are a lot of colleges with a soccer program, there are less who have a very rigorous academic curriculum as well. I wanted to be able to challenge myself both academically and athletically in the learning environment that was right for me. Being able to visit and have contact with students was very important to me. Colby College made me feel as if I was at home.
When did you begin working on your college recruiting and what did you do first?
I started my college recruiting process at the beginning/middle of my Junior year of High School. The first thing I did was create a highlight tape of the past season. I wanted to show coaches who I was before I personally met them. I began sending personalized emails with the highlight tape to coaches that were attending college showcases that I was interested in as well as coaches who were attending College ID Camps. I wanted them to informally know who I was before they saw me on the field and have some sense of familiarity with me.
What key words of advice would you give fellow SFEA players who are just beginning the college recruiting (or finding a college soccer play opportunity) process?
Something that helped me a lot was to really be clear with what I wanted for my future. You always want to ask yourself ‘what is next?’. There comes a lot of responsibility and hard work by committing to play college soccer as well as at any soccer club. The dedication has to come from one's own interest, not others pushing to do what they would like you to do. It has to be one’s passion.
Please share what you are most excited about when it comes to attending your college--from student life to academics/areas of study as well as college play?
I am excited to have a fresh start and be able to pursue both my academic and athletic passion. I am aware of the responsibility I have now and I cannot wait to set on the soccer field with my new soccer team. I also can’t wait to meet new people from all over the country. I want to major in computer science as well as have a double minor, one in math and another in philosophy. I am dedicated and want to pursue this passion. Being able to do all of this while playing soccer is a blessing.
Is there anyone you would like to specifically thank for helping you on your journey from youth player to elite prospect to college-level soccer?
I would like to thank a lot of people but specifically my parents, who have driven me everywhere for practices and games so I wouldn’t be late and stay committed to the team. I would like to thank Po Bronson who saw the love for the game that I had and became my mentor off and on the pitch. Lastly, I would like to thank both Mauricio Diaz de Leon and Paddy Coyne. Both of these coaches helped me become the player I am today and were there for me off and on the soccer field.
Tomorrow, Thursday February 7th, NorCal will be conducting the playoff draw for the finals of the 2018-2019 State Cup for U14-U19 Boys and Girls. The San Francisco Elite Academy has all of its 10 age-group teams (across genders) still in the competition, and eight of those teams (U19B, U17B, U16B, U19G, U17G, U16G, U15G, and U14G) will be playing in the final 32, the State Division, the highest division of State Cup play. Our U15B and U14B teams are in the Premier division or second group of 32 teams.
Congratulations to all of our teams on pushing into the elite bracket and good luck in the matches ahead!
The draw can be followed live on NorCal's Youtube page. And you cam read more about the draw on the NorCal website.
As the premier destination for the city’s top soccer players, the San Francisco Elite Academy is proud of its many high school boys and girls players. On the boys’ side of our program, over the next week, a large number of SFEA players and coaches will face one another in high stakes games for the San Francisco high school, boys’ winter soccer playing season.
On Friday 1/19, at 3.30pm at Paul Goode Field, University High School will host Lick-Wilmerding and the match will host some 15 SFEA players and two SFEA coaches. University’s varsity team features 7 SF Elite Academy boys players--Nico Petry Mitchell, Luke Bronson, Henry Gorelik, Zeke Ume-Ukeje, Max Edelstein, Owen Flanagan, and Nicolas Galleno. On the Lick side, there are also 7 players from the SF Elite Academy--Nathan Logam, Will Roos, Harrison Gable, Max Beldner, Wyatt Young, Zeke Ruben-Moore, Ruben Rathje and Alex Koh-Bell.
It’s not just players going head to head. Chris Flanagan, SFEA’s Director of Soccer Operations and U19 coach, is the assistant coach at University. And Lick is led by Barry McCabe, SFEA’s Director of Athletic development and injury prevention.
The following Wednesday, on 1/24 at Kezar Stadium at 7pm, the intense sporting rivalry between Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep and St. Ignatius Prep continues when the teams meet in soccer. Beyond Sacred Heart longtime head coach, Jeff Wilson, SFEA’s Technical Director for Girls as well as head coach of two SFEA teams (2003 Boys and 2003 Girls), there will be some 16 SFEA players seeking honors in this annual rivalry match. SFEA players at Sacred Heart include Theo Malliaras, Parker Whitcomb, Ian Eadie, Luke Belber, Alec Perliss, Dash Biesemeyer, Eli Streiker-Hirt, Ellis Brenneman and Alex Bonnville; and, on the St. Ignatius side of the field Alex Bailey, Nick Brown, Kol Van Giesen, Chris Miglio, Armando Malton, Eric Connell and Reid Pollino will feature.
If you’re a fan of San Francisco youth soccer don’t miss these two rivalry high school matches and the chance to see some great winter soccer.
The San Francisco Elite Academy sent 7 teams to this year's premier national showcase, the Surf College Cup Showcase, and several made a statement about the quality of their team, players and coaches with terrific performances.
Leading the way was the 2001 Boys, which recently qualified for the spring NPL Champions League. The 2001 Boys won two matches and tied one at Surf, meaning they finished first in their group of six teams. During the showcase, seven different players claimed goals and the 2001 boys scored 9 goals over their three matches. Also, doing well in San Diego were the 99/00 Boys and 2002 Girls. Both teams finished third in their groups. The 99/00 boys went 1-1-1 to finish third among six teams, and the 2002 Girls went 2-1 to finish third among eight teams.
Best of all, each of SFEA's seven participating teams (99/00, 01, and 02 Boys, and 01, 02, 03, 04 Girls) got to play in a pristine playing setting that included over 500 participating college coaches. College coaches were regular fixtures along the sidelines of SFEA games and were introduced to SFEA players with team rosters with player information. Congratulations to all our SFEA teams for what was yet another good year at Surf College Cup.
What do you feel makes a great soccer coach?
The best coaches possess a clear vision and understand their values, and they work tirelessly, through consistent and clear communication, to make sure their players understand them as well. Top coaches should also be students of the game. If coaches are not demanding of themselves to always get better, how can they ask the same from their players?
How would you describe your soccer and/or player development philosophy?
I put a premium on developing soccer awareness through training activities that favor learning through what is often described as “open” or “random” activities. This means learning by playing the game itself with all its ever-changing variables. And then I supplement that play with specific, carefully considered conditions that bring out the needed technique and tactics to support discovery among the players. In this regard, I’m a bit of a soccer session junkie; I’m always studying, dreaming up, or constructing activities to deliver the kind of soccer game moments I want my players to experience over and over and learn from in their own unique way.
Yet there’s more to development and a piece that is often overlooked: Coaches need to demand that their players be accountable for part of the development equation, too. The idea that a player can turn up two or three times a week for training and become a top player is ridiculous. Players must be passionate students of the game, spending off days getting touches however possible or training for strength and conditioning or watching a match or video to understand (and visualize) how the best players and teams operate on the field.
Why are you excited to work with players at the SF Elite Academy?
In my professional life, I’ve always emphasized surrounding myself with people that I felt were better than me in terms of experience and know how. I want to be pushed, and I love learning and getting better. Working at the SF Elite Academy has allowed me to do just that as I’m on staff with some of the finest soccer coaches around. It’s literally a dream come true.
Who was/is your favorite soccer player and why?
Zinedine Zidane. He had it all--mastery of technique, power, and gall--and he won it all and did so when the lights were brightest, whether it was for club or country. I was fortunate enough to have been in Paris when France won the World Cup in 1998, and after the final I will never forget the projected, laser image of Zidane on the Arc di Triomphe or the surreal street celebrations that ensued. In 2006, I happened to see Zidane’s quarterfinal performance against Brazil on an airplane headrest TV while on a flight to the east coast. I don’t think I moved an inch for two hours; I knew I was watching perfection and one of the greatest soccer performances of all time. If Zidane took a bad touch in the whole game I don’t remember it, and he carried his whole French team to a win against some of the most talented soccer players and one of the best teams in the world.
Who is your favorite soccer coach and why?
Over the years, this has changed with styles and systems that go in and out of vogue but it would probably be Carlo Ancelotti, regardless of his recent abrupt dismissal from Bayern Munich. This is a coach who has won the Champions League with three different teams, and the pedigrees of the clubs he’s led--AC Milan, Juventus, PSG, Real Madrid, Chelsea, and Bayern Munich--are incredible and the titans of the game. He’s won Ligue 1, the EPL, the Bundesliga and Serie A. Beyond the many deserved accolades, Ancelotti is also recognized for his tactical versatility and working his ideas about systems of play around the strengths of his players while giving them room to operate creatively, too. And, importantly, Carlo Ancelotti is one of the true gentlemen of the game in an era where these type of managers are harder to come by.
What's been your favorite moment as a soccer coach?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have been around special moments and memorable wins. While I was coaching with Evolution FC in the 2014-15 State Cup, State Division semifinal, my U12 team played in a horrible rainstorm up in Napa but beat our rival from the Barcelona Academy (now DeAnza South) 2-0 with timely goals and a reserve keeper to earn a trip to the final. That same tournament we also beat a Mill Valley team in the quarterfinal that had outplayed us even though we held an early 1-0 lead. When they finally equalized with minutes left and were still relishing their chances in extra time, we immediately answered when a guest player from a younger team somehow beat two defenders and the keeper to get a winner in the final seconds. He told me later his younger team had lost their State Cup run on penalties, and there was “no way he was going to let that happen again.” That player is now a freshman at UHS where I'm the assistant varsity coach and I really look forward to working with him again. You can do anything with determination like that.
But, honestly, it’s not the big matches I recall the most; it’s those where my team simply takes it to another level and earn a glimpse of their collective potential. There's plenty of examples but I’d probably just pick a tournament game from what I think was the year before the State Cup mentioned above. It wasn’t for a trophy but just one of those games when everything came together. The boys were playing a very good San Juan Lightning team that hadn’t lost more than one game in over a year and we'd just completed a sort of lousy, low-energy warm-up. And then the boys went out and won 7-0. Nothing could go wrong. Players were combining and ripping through their opponent like they were not even there. Every shot seemed to bend ridiculously and rifle into the net. I recall turning to the guys on the bench and apologizing about not knowing when I could get them into the match because, as I put it, we were watching “pure magic” on the field. As a coach, those are exactly the moments you’re always chasing after.
The SF Elite Academy
Our mission is to provide an elite level program for soccer players in San Francisco.