Rapids Academy 2009 Year in Review

COMMERCE CITY CO - With their camps and grassroots programs growing ever stronger and the Rapids youth teams providing more opportunities for player development here in Colorado 2009 was an important year for the Rapids Academy.

It was a year of many achievements for the Rapids Academy as they continued to lead the way in developing the young players of the Rocky Mountain region with the philosophy of providing guidance and an environment where each individual soccer player regardless of previous experience is guided and inspired to reach his or her full potential both on and off the field.

(Watch Brian Crookham Director of Coaching for the Rapids Academy giving an exclusive video interview recapping the 2009 Rapids Academy on the Rapids' Facebook page by clicking here).

One of the biggest achievements of the Rapids Academy in 2009 was the creation of a landmark partnership that is one of the most integrated partnerships in American youth soccer: The Rapids adidas Alliance. The Alliance teams up the Rapids with four Colorado Youth Soccer clubs (Boulder County Force Colorado Fusion Colorado Storm and Pride Soccer Club) that now share resources and encourage players to stay in their home clubs at the younger ages while still giving them access to the Rapids Development Academy when the time is appropriate.

Constant communication and scouting along with training sessions conducted in all of the Rapids adidas Alliance clubs ensures the best players are identified throughout their development. Comprising 16500 youth soccer players and their families these four Colorado youth soccer clubs work together with the Rapids Academy to identify develop and promote players to reach their highest potential. Several brand new Rapids adidas Alliance events and tournaments are already on the horizon for 2010.

The Rapids Academy's youth player development system also continued to strongly evolve in 2009. The Development Academy program concentrates on the development of the country’s top players. The Rapids' U16 and U18 Development Academy teams begin play every November and continue to July at the Academy Finals. Scouting for these teams usually starts a year out and tryouts are held in July.

As the list of Rapids Academy alumni grows several former Development Academy players have gone on to shine at the collegiate level. Former Rapids Academy player Ryan Kawulok joined University of Portland and was selected as a freshman pick for the All-West Coast Conference Team in 2008. Ryan has just completed his sophomore season and has started all 43 games for the Pilots since he arrived on campus helping them to a Sweet 16 appearance this year.

2009 Academy alumnus Brendan Roslund was invited to the US National Team Camp for the U18s last January and is now playing soccer for the University of San Francisco. Brendon was a Freshman ALL-WCC selection this year. The Academy was excited to award Brendan with their 2009 Academy Player of the Year award just before Thanksgiving and will be keeping an eye on him throughout his college career.

Other notable Rapids Academy alumni catching headlines this year were Ryan Warren who earned Freshman All-Missouri Valley Conference honors at Eastern Illinois and Metro State sophomore Steven Emory who was named the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference player of the year.

Not only are these young men players to watch out for but there are also some younger Academy players that are being noticed on the national level. Like Brendan Geno Bigelow was invited to join the US National Team Camps for the U15s and participated for a US Select team at the recent Development Academy Showcase. There were also several other players who were scouted at the Development Academy Winter Showcase earlier this month in Phoenix AZ leading to the strong possibility of other National Team call-ups from the Rapids Academy in 2010.

Six of the Rapids' youth team players took part in the 2009 Colorado state high school 3A 4A and 5A state championship games at Dick's Sporting Goods Park and all six of those players came home with state championship trophies.

The Rapids' youth teams also continued to gain recognition nationally over the course of this year. In the spring the Rapids Academy had four teams participate in Colorado Youth Soccer’s state league with teams proudly wearing the Rapids uniform in the U12 U14 U15 and U17 age groups. In the fall teams were added to include U11-U15 and U17 teams.

With an emphasis on a professional training environment individual players' improvement was the focus and team results were indicative of this priority. Congratulations to the Rapids U14 team who not only competed in CYS but also made it to the finals of the US Club Soccer National Cup in Virginia Beach this year! This is a great achievement that the Rapids Academy staff and coaches are proud of. At the conclusion of the Fall 2009 season our Rapids U12 U13 and U14 teams are currently ranked 1st in their divisions.

Several of the Rapids Academy soccer camps have also set the standard for excellence in training here in Colorado this year. Several hundred youth players took part in the 8 total camps which ran spring summer and fall at Dick's Sporting Goods Park and at satellite locations in Stapleton and Commerce City.

The Rapids Academy Camps were filled with players looking for a fun way to learn about soccer in an environment where they are "guided and inspired to reach their full potential on and off the field." The Academy Camps offer a wide selection for kids ages 8-14 to participate in. These camps range from the introductory Development Camps to more focused camps like the Striker and Goalkeeper camps.

One of the highlights of the 2009 Rapids camps season was the Rapids Striker Camp which was run by new Rapids Technical Director Paul Bravo. The all-time Rapids goalscoring leader directed the Striker Camp which proved to be an unbeatable opportunity for kids to get one-on-one scoring instruction from one of the club’s legends.

The Rapids Junior Academy program provides opportunities for players U10 and younger through an 8-week league. The dates are already set for next season which kicks off March 20 2010. Like this past season the Academy anticipates that the spring will be fun and full of excitement for the little guys and girls. These Junior Academy teams are "designed to encourage and foster growth in young players by introducing basic soccer skills". Registrations are still being taken for the spring but spots are limited.

For more information about any of the Rapids Academy youth teams camps registration information or the Rapids adidas Alliance call the Rapids Academy hotline at (303) 727-3575 or send an email to RapidsAcademy@dsgpark.com.