TRAVEL ACADEMY: About and Philosophy


The VYS Academy is for the players who are selected at tryouts to represent VYS soccer club in Travel Soccer.  It is a competitive soccer environment for players with a desire to develop their soccer abilities and love for the game.  Boys and girls ready to play competitive soccer, want to learn new skills, be challenged, and with the necessary commitment will benefit from playing in the Travel Academies.

Youth Academy programs have emerged as the 21st century alternative to the frustrating shortfalls in soccer development displayed by most pre-teens. This void is heavily influenced by coaching quality, the youth soccer environment, and the unhealthy pressures to win at critical periods in the development process.

The Youth Academy model seeks to improve individual player development, satisfaction and retention, and build a less-pressured youth soccer environment for coaches, adult spectators, and match officials.

While teams are important, the Academy’s focus is on developing players--not necessarily teams. We recognize that everyone develops at a different pace and this approach allows players to challenge themselves at the level that is right for them at any given moment.

Because of this approach, there are more eyes on individuals who continue to improve and develop, and as such, players will move between teams based on their performance and commitment level.  


Nurture a love, passion and respect for the game.  Beyond the game, we want our young players to gain valuable life lesson/skills that will benefit throughout their life such as; teamwork, responsibility, resilience, respect, leadership, ambition, work ethic, communication, adaptability, and discipline. 

U9 / U10 Academies - Program Change
2015/16 Season

richard gunneyFirst off, on behalf of myself, Catherine Keightley and the VYS Board of Directors, we thank you those of you who completed the U9/U10 Travel Survey circulated three weeks ago. We had an overwhelming response, and received nearly 200 surveys. The information gathered was very helpful in providing candid feedback regarding the strengths of our current U9/U10 training model and some areas for improvement.  This survey was part of a larger evaluation process that the technical staff and Travel Committee initiated six months ago prior to my arrival.

More specifically, the technical staff and the Travel Committee have been evaluating the travel program as a whole, including the current training model used in the U9/U10 Academies.  This evaluation process involved examining the training models used at peer clubs in the Washington Metropolitan Area, speaking with current and former VYS parents and players about their experiences, and examining the current best practices outlined by not only U.S. Soccer but also the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).

After synthesizing the information obtained during the evaluation described above, in conjunction with the mission and vision of the Club and my commitment to develop and maintain a robust technical program, we have decided to implement the following changes for the U9/U10 age groups beginning next year:

Beginning in the 2015-2016 season, the U9/U10 Academies will have the same coaching format that is currently used in the U11-U14 Academies and will no longer rely upon the hybrid trainer-coach model currently used. The overwhelming response from every source of input in the review of the travel program was that consistency is needed between the day to day training sessions and the weekend league games. By moving to this format we will accomplish this goal.

  • This means that each team will have a Head Coach and an Assistant Coach which is identical to the coaching format used in the older Academies. 
  • Moving forward, the Head Coaches will be paid staff coaches, and the Assistant Coaches will be qualified parent volunteers who have applied to be a part of the travel coaching staff.
  • We will no longer refer to any coach as a "parent coach" but instead to their role on the team (i.e. Head Coach or Assistant Coach). The fact that a coach, at either the Head Coach or Assistant Coach position, is a parent is inconsequential. What is the driving force for our program moving forward is that the coaches we have in place with our teams are of the highest quality.
  • All Head and Assistant Coaches will be supported to work in line with the VYS vision and mission of the Club, with a clear philosophy and coaching curriculum. This change will help us provide a more uniform experience across all age groups and teams, while still allowing our highly qualified parents to work with, train and coach our players.
  • The changes to the coaching model at the U9/U10 age group will result in a nominal increase in overall cost since Head Coaches will be responsible for not only attending training sessions, but also games and tournaments. The cost for the U9/U10 teams will be set forth in greater detail on the tryout sheet for each age group which will be released prior to tryouts beginning.

In addition to the above, the technical staff, the Travel Committee and I are continuing to evaluate other components of the travel program. The NSCAA, our peer clubs in the area and the responses from our own members highlight the value of providing an additional component to our current travel program offerings that would address several issues, including cost, sport specialization and time commitment. However, at this point, I need further time to conduct a thorough evaluation of the club before striving to raise standards even further.

Just like all of you, I am a firm believer in our Club's community based vision and mission. Myself, and the entire technical staff, are committed to raising the level of quality that our players experience in our travel program and this change in coaching format, combined with the implementation of a comprehensive coaching curriculum, are two significant steps in achieving that goal.

Kind regards,

Richard Gunney
Technical Director

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