The selection process for the soccer teams with the 2014 Kansas Olympic Development Program is almost complete.
Mark Sheldon, the Kansas State Youth Soccer Association’s director of coaching, is in charge of the statewide program. “We will have a firm list by the end of the month,” he said of the state soccer teams.
The Olympic development program is different from the club program. The ODP teams are picked by birth year.
“Players interested in the next cycle of ODP state teams (2015) can register and attend an open tryout,” Sheldon said. “For the next cycle, tryouts in this area will be Saturday, July 19, at the Overland Park Soccer Complex.”
After the tryouts, 24 to 30 players are asked to be in the State Pool of each birth year.
“The Pool players participate in various events or in games, usually in the winter months,” Sheldon said. “Before the spring season begins, we start the process of selecting and inviting players to the final State team in each group.”
Once the 2014 teams are announced later this month, there will be a mini-camp to train and prepare before heading to Rockford, Ill., for the Region II ODP Showcase tournament, according to Sheldon.
The oldest birth year this year is 1996 and youngest is 2002. It will be 1997 and 2003 next year.
There are four regions with Kansas in Region II. The players selected at the Region II ODP Showcase tournament will move on.
“If the players are talented enough and fortunate enough to be selected to the Region II OPD team, they attend a National ODP event where national team coaches/scouts identify and select for our Youth National Team programs,” Sheldon said.
Four factors are used in picking the state ODP teams:
“First and foremost, players have to possess technique,” Sheldon said. “Then we look for players who possess a tactical understanding of the game.
“We look for players who possess minimal physical qualities to perform and execute at faster levels of play, and finally we look for players who possess psychological qualities that every coach wants in their players like work ethic, mental toughness and teamwork.”
Sheldon has been in his present position with the Kansas State Youth Soccer Association since 2008. Before that, he coached soccer at Shawnee Mission West and Olathe Northwest high schools.
“My current role as Director of Coaching has me doing a little bit of everything related to the growth, promotion and development of the sport of soccer,” he said. “However, the main areas of focus are to provide coaching education courses and clinics to better educate our youth coaches throughout the state . . . so players enjoy their experiences and coaches can further develop and enhance their abilities.
“I also oversee the ODP programming to promote our elite players for regional and national team selections, and I also run player development camps and clinics.”
There have been several Johnson County soccer players who have advanced to national teams and then to college and professional careers.
Among them are Matt Besler with Sporting KC, Nick Besler (Notre Dame), Scott Vermillion (Virginia/Wizards), Will John (St. Louis and currently playing in Europe), Jon Kempin (Sporting KC, now on loan to Energy FC in Oklahoma City), Frances Silva (FC Kansas City) and current player Dorian Bailey of Mission who was on the US U-17 Women’s National Team in the World Cup qualifying process. She is a senior at St. Teresa’s Academy and has signed with North Carolina.