1. Can you update us on the growth and progress of the Academy since your arrival?
The Academy has basically doubled since Amanda Gatchel, Derek Leader, and I started here more than ten years ago. It’s been a labor of love. The content of training is more advanced because the players we’re getting are more advanced and our recruitment strategies are better. We’re growing as educators, improving our training, and learning from our experience here on what works and what doesn’t.
2. How has the level of competition changed over the years for the IMG teams?
Success breeds success. We currently are in one of best years to date, maybe our best. We have a better understanding of the competitive options out there, and we are enjoying the new format in the National League. At the same time, our players have grown to really believe in the program, and we’ve figured out the abilities of our players. There is no doubt that students experience the highest level of soccer they have ever played while attending the IMG Academy.
Competition has changed in the CDL. It is inherently better than in USA League, mostly because soccer decisions are made by coaches. The Academy League is in its infancy, but, through it we experience challenging matches. The Nike Friendlies, Dallas Cup, Sun Bowl, and Disney are all good preparation towards State Cup in the post season.
3. What do you see in the future, where do we go next?
I see us possibly growing into individual academies within the Academy, and doing our own operations in terms of full-time enrollment.
4. Is there a difference in today’s player then the earlier players?
When we played, our coaches weren’t satisfied with us. Today’s player is waiting to be told what to do; the critical thinking player isn’t there. Soccer is a game of problem solving. By attracting the better athletes, the quality of players is higher. We’re finding that the more dedicated players are seeking out the game, which is a very important characteristic for success.
5. What would you say to the general soccer population or prospective student/athlete on why IMG is a good place to attend?
This a one of a kind place. The soccer experience leaves no stone unturned. This is the place to maximize a players’ potential, via an innovative yearly plan. It’s well worth the money, given the volume and intensity of training, world class facilities, coaches and support staff. It’s no wonder we’re producing players for colleges, national teams, and professional club opportunities.