Showcasing their soccer skills
The Lititz Youth Soccer Club hosted the Lititz Summer Showcase last weekend and gave high school student athletes from the U.S. and Canada a chance to show their skills to college coaches.
Mike Logan, who has guided the tournament since its beginning, explained that, “(We have) 180 teams from nine years old to nineteen years old.”
“We figure we have about eight or nine thousand people (attending) because we have three to four thousand players. It depends on how many guest they bring. They (may) bring Mom, Dad, the Grandparents and brothers and sisters. The format is that everyone gets at least three games so Saturday, they play two. Sunday morning or Sunday early, you play one and if you advance into the playoffs, you play one more.”
NCAA rules prohibits direct contact by the coaches with the younger players but they can scout anyone.
“They can watch anytime (but) they can’t approach kids until their summer after their junior year, so here they can really only approach the seniors,” said Logan. “Everyone else, they have to leave alone and work through their club coaches, their parents and that type of thing because they are not allowed to interact with them yet.
“There are a lot of college coaches sitting along the sidelines watching the kids. We just had the Penn State Harrisburg ask where a Lititz girl was playing, which was Abbie Bomberger. She’s here on field 11 and the Harrisburg coach asked to go watch her play. He came in and asked where she is so that’s a connection there.”
Bomberger, an LYSC homegrown athlete, had been scouted since last year’s tournament and has continued to garner attention.
“I saw that she talked which is big for me,” said Penn State Harrisburg Coach Adam Clay. “She communicates. That’s one of the traits that catches my attention. She talked, (was) composed and passed the ball well.”
The Fire Eagles U17 team dominated their opponent in the 12:30 game. Clay hoped to see Bomberger perform in an evenly-matched game and the tournament three-game minimum increased his chances to do so. As it happened, the Eagles, along with their male counterparts, made it into the championship game in the U17 category. Bomberger scored the Eagles’ lone goal in the 2-1 lost. The boys team lost 1-0.
“I am thinking I need to follow up with her,” said Clay. “I am hoping she will play a little more competitive team tomorrow so I can see what she is like when the speed is a little bit harder and a little more physical to see how she reacts to that.”
Bomberger, a senior who wants to major in Biology, does not have definitive plans for soccer past the club level.
“I have not decided if I want to play in college,” said Bomberger. “I want to play intramural (games) but I’m not sure (about intercollegiate soccer). I don’t want to play at (Division I)”
“It’s pretty cool (to be scouted),” she said. “It’s flattering but it is nerve-wracking also.”
Her teammate Kelly Hunt knows she wants to take soccer with her into her college career.
“I am going into my sophomore year and I want to go on and play college soccer at D2 or D3,” said Hunt. “I can get college coaches to see me here.”
While rules prohibit direct contact, she did give scouts a reason to watch her when she scored during the 12:30 game.
“I was taking a corner (kick) and it was a curve and it went in. I was trying to get to my teammates.”
Like Bomberger and Hunt, Charles Colbert and Danny Kline are LYSC members and like Hunt, they know they want to play soccer in college. Colbert, after a year’s experience of being scouted, felt more composed in front of the coaches. The tournament includes a set of exhibition games on Friday for the better (and older) players. Colbert played in the game as well as the Fire Eagles’ games.
“I feel that last year I had some nerves going into the game,” Colbert said. “This year, I was calm and I thought I played a lot better. Last year, I was nervous and my passes were not that great. This year, I communicated more and talked with everyone, even though we don’t each other. We ended up winning the game. I did not (score) but I created a couple of good (chances).”
Colbert hopes his skills can help him defray some of the cost of college.
“I don’t think I can get a full ride but I think I can get something,” he said. “I want to go into the medical field. I haven’t decided what. I could be a doctor-a pediatrician.”
Kline played in the Friday showcase game as well.
“It is really good to get in front of all the coaches and let them get their eye on you, in case they want to contact you,” explained Kline. “It’s really helpful in terms of being noticed.”
Of course, the Showcase’s value to college coaches is the quantity of players from many states and provinces. John DiPasquale brought his Under 16 team from Grimsby, Ontario.
“It’s a showcase so some of the (girls) can get their education down here,” said the Coach. “I thought that would be a great idea for the kids.”
He also felt the competition and the different style of play justified the trip.
“The style of soccer is a little different (here),” he said. “The coaching is excellent and it is more physical. The referees let the kids play a little more and I like that. It toughens the kids up. Whenever we leave (Canada) and come down to the States, we come back a better team.”
He felt having his players see another style of play helped illustrate ideas he liked to incorporate in their play.
“This Keystone team (from Allentown) is really good,” said DiPasquale. “I love the way that team played and it is similar to what I want our team to play. It’s always nice to be able to say, ‘That’s how it’s done,’ as opposed to me just saying it. I can tell a thousand times and they can see on TV but that is the best teacher to see it here.”