It is not an easy job to achieve excellence both on and off the field, and the young men of the San Jose Earthquakes Youth Academy teams are put to the test constantly - by parents, by teachers and by coaches.
From soccer to sales, the lessons being taught to these teens will forever impact their lives. “We do everything we can to ensure they leave us on a path brighter than when they joined us,” said technical director Chris Leitch.
Without a doubt, the 2013 class of college commitments is an example of that, sending 13 players off to collegiate programs in the fall. The list includes the reigning national champion Indiana Hoosiers as well as Pac-12 members Cal and Washington.
Said Cal commit Trevor Long, “I knew I had to have good grades to even be considered to attend Cal. The Quakes helped me accomplish that feat by always reminding us that soccer isn't the only important thing.”
Mentors work tirelessly to prepare teenagers for what lies ahead of them. “This is especially important in our case because some of the kids don’t have someone to invest the time in thinking about their future,” said Leitch.
It is standard for high school administrations to require a certain grade point average to be eligible to participate in interscholastic sports. The academy, although not requiring a specific GPA, remains actively involved in the players’ scholastic endeavors, and makes it a mission of theirs to help these young men become not just better soccer players, but better people as well.
“We get a lot of players that come to us already academically handicapped, so we also make sure they have a plan that includes their education,” said Leitch. “We’ve also added coaches from Stanford (to the Academy staff) to ensure we have a college point person to aid and walk the players through the recruiting process.” The academy tracks the players’ grades throughout their careers and often requests transcripts from their respective high schools to ensure the kids are on the right track.
Emilio Huerta of the 18s said, “San Diego State had a 10% admittance rate this year and I was one of them. The Academy played a huge role in that.”
Josh Totte, captain of the 16s squad, said, “There's no GPA requirement, but they do collect our report cards, so that pushes us to get good grades. The coaches constantly stress the importance of keeping your grades up, especially if you want to play in college.”
Totte has yet to formally commit to a school, but his future is extremely bright and he credits the Academy a great deal for both his scholastic and athletic development. “Overall, it's a great experience, and if you’re an elite player trying to get better and play against the best, you should definitely try to join the Academy.”
Totte’s teammates on the 16s have already committed to such quality institutions as Stanford, Wake Forest, and possibly even Yale, proving that these young men are being pushed not only on the field, but in the classroom, by coaches who care as much about their present as they do about their future.