Archive for the ‘South Dakota Soccer’ Category

Just returned Sunday evening from the 2013 ODP Region 2 Camp.  I had the privilege of coaching the ’98 Dakota Boy’s team again this year.  As I mentioned last year, it’s always hard being a Dakotas team and showing up at Region Camp with only half the team ever even meeting one another.  This year we had eight players from the Dakotas, and we picked up seven composite players from Wisconsin and Illinois.  The boys enjoyed playing with each other, and it was a positive experience for the most part, but the soccer was lacking.

Fortunately we had two players that made the holdover pool of 36!  Very proud of these two guys, especially since I’ve been coaching them for a couple of years and it’s nice to see them reaping some rewards for their efforts.  And most importantly, I hope the experience of training with the best 36 players from Region Camp makes them a better player and shows them what the next level will be like.

Proud of the effort the whole team gave at camp, and for coming together and having moments of quality soccer.

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Recently our state has gone through a few milestones in growing the beautiful game, and we’ve taken a few setbacks.

In 2012 the South Dakota school activities association became the last state to to finally implement a sanctioned season for high school soccer.  It’s been an issue I’ve watched closely since I came to the state five years ago.  It was a big step for the state activities association to sanction the sport three years ago, however it has caused a momentary break in the progress of soccer in the state.  Only a third of the high school club programs switched over to school sponsored programs, leaving the state high school teams divided into two leagues, and three classifications.  The state is divided on which school districts are willing to finance the future of high school soccer.  At a time when more communities are sponsoring and supporting the sport of soccer the state is at risk of losing half of their high school teams once club sponsored teams are not allowed to compete in the fall season.

The development of collegiate soccer has been a roller coaster itself.  The state has seen a number of college programs started and closed over the years.  National American University discontinued men’s and women’s soccer after the 2001 season, and Huron University closed, taking the men’s and women’s soccer programs to Dakota Wesleyan University in 2005.  In 2012 the state of South Dakota saw SD Mines and Technology introduce men’s soccer bringing the total of men’s soccer programs back to five.

Then the sad turn of events at the University of Sioux Falls saw that number drop back down to four, while the number of women’s teams maintained at eight.  It’s been an up and down battle for soccer, and the trend for collegiate programs is simply keeping steady, never really gaining ground, but not losing ground either.

The state has also seen a Premier Development League franchise come and go.  The Spitfire had a good run for their first two seasons qualifying for the national final four, but were forced to close after seven years in the USL.

It’s hard to see growth in the youth game when there are such limited opportunities for players at the senior levels.  But a lot of it comes down to a lack of support from school administrations and the soccer community.