The following email was sent to US Youth Soccer ODP East Region coaches and staff from the parent of a player. Following a year of traveling with US Youth Soccer ODP, this player received a unique opportunity to talk about her experiences with her entire middle school.
Our daughter, Maya, is a goalkeeper for the US Youth Soccer ODP East Region 2004 Girls. This is Maya’s third year participating in US Youth Soccer ODP, and she had the wonderful good fortune to play for the East Region in Boca Raton, Phoenix and Iceland over these last several months. We’re reaching out to share with you an experience Maya had that illustrates just how incredibly meaningful and impactful this program has been for her.
Maya attends a large public middle school and was delighted to be invited by the school administration to speak to the student body about her ODP adventures this year. Maya is the only student to have been asked to present at one of their versions of monthly TED Talks. Typically, these talks are given by adult professionals who come in to speak about their professions, research, current events and the like. Over the course of the day, Maya gave her 30-minute presentation, entitled “What the Olympic Development Program Taught Me,” four times to students from each of the grades, 5-8.
Maya had a very clear vision for her talk and what messages she wanted to convey when she sat down to put the presentation together. She poured through the journals that she kept during events and pulled out quotes, anecdotes and lessons learned that she thought applied to everyone… athlete or not. If you [ODP coaches] felt a disturbance in the force on a recent Monday, chances are that it was because Maya was channeling each of you at some point in her talk! We thought that [you coaches] might like to know that what you say and what you model for these kids absolutely sinks in.
The training and playing experience that Maya has gained on the pitch through ODP is beyond compare. She continues to improve in all aspects of her game as a result. That aside, the impact of her ODP experiences on her personal growth and development off the field can’t be understated, as it is so clearly and positively helping to inform the kind of person that Maya is growing up to be. It has also made the world a smaller, friendlier place for her thanks to ODP friendships that cross state lines in every direction. Her phone lights up dozens of times a day with Snapchats from her East Region teammates (and even from her Icelandic counterparts!). It’s always gratifying to see the ODP girls embrace after a hard-fought game when they run into each other in tournaments, too.
Mike and I wanted to share this with you all to let you know how deeply grateful we are to the ODP coaches and staff for all that you do for our crazy kid, as well as for all the other passionate young players out there. We know your commitment to it takes you away from your families often, and there’s no doubt that there have been some cold and rainy days when you found yourselves re-thinking how you’d like to be spending your time! I can tell you for sure that our daughter and our family couldn’t be more appreciative. We don’t know where this game will ultimately take Maya, but she is learning, growing and enjoying the journey every day, as are so many others in this program.
Mike and Sam