A Week in the life of an
ODP Player at Camp
As summer drew near and the last ODP Spring Season Training Sessions approached, I could feel the excitement in the air. As an ODP Team manager, I had experienced this before; the increased email inquiries, more phone calls than usual, early morning text messages.
What was going on? First-year ODP players and parents were filled with questions as camp selection drew near:
- "How many players are selected?"
- "When will we be notified?"
- "If I don't get selected, does it mean that I do not get to be in ODP anymore?"
- "What are the selection critieria?"
- "Is it ok that my daughter missed a training session?"
Having a child in the Olympic Development Program, and having been through the process last year, I could relate. The thought of not being selected for camp can be upsetting to some players and parents. Within NTX ODP, these soccer players are the best players from all of the North Texas Select Club Teams. These players are accustomed to being "the best" on their teams.
In ODP, they are playing with other "best" players, as their peers. It's an awesome group in which to belong! To not be selected for something is highly unusual. For some of these players, this may be the first time that this could happen to them. It's natural for some worry/anxiety to set in, and for mom and dad to want to protect their children from this perceived heartache.
It's okay. Not being selected or making mistakes is part of the ODP process; it's part of the psychological aspect of the game. How a player chooses to deal with this, however, is the important lesson. Does he quit and admit defeat? Or, does he look for the key takeaways, apply them, and come out stronger to win next time?
Although mature veteran ODP players have learned over the years how to juggle their select club team schedules with school and ODP, they still get excited and sometimes nervous when waiting for their ODP Camp invitation letters to arrive. Parents of the older players say that their questions center mainly around timing of the camp, as well as about which coaches and players will be attending. The older ODP players are beginning to look at colleges, to line up scholarships, and to make commitments to colleges. Their parents would like to ensure that their players go to the camps/events that provide them with the best visibility to these opportunities.
The weeks after camp invitations had been received were busy ones for all involved. Players were taking extra skills and conditioning classes to prepare, while Team Managers partnered with the NTSSA Admin to ensure that everyone was registered, that all questions were answered, all forms were collected, and all camp participants knew exactly where to meet for departure, what to bring and what to expect.
The Impact Camp Has on a Player's Soccer Experience
Players across all age groups agree that camp has opened their eyes to what it takes to play at the regional and national level. Evaluations provided by the Regional Coaches, although scary at first, are valuable and, when taken to heart, will enable them to grow and take their development to the next level.
Many players had the opportunity to play at different positions, and although at first were feeling nervous about doing so, were very thankful for the opportunity. The players came away having learned many new skills. Many players also appreciated learning how the psychological elements impacted their game, and how they could control and influence their own performance through positive thoughts and behavior. Here are what several of those who attended this year's camps had to say:
NTXODP First-Year Player
Camp made me realize there is a lot of training that goes into soccer, and that the game is more than just being physical.
NTXODP Girls Player
Camp has been a great opportunity to improve my skills and tactical knowledge of the game. The instructors were very knowledgeable and good motivators. I really enjoyed meeting new soccer friends and having increased competition to play against. My parents say they are pleased with the value of training provided for the cost paid.
NTXODP Boys Player
Camp has made me want to compete more and work harder to be able to get to the Regional Pool next year.
At Camp, she learned that she has to work hard and perform well. The camp coaches don't know her and she had to work to create the favorable impression she wanted to leave them with. This was a very good exercise for her, in part because it brought back into focus her personal soccer goals and the level of commitment she needs to achieve them.
NTXODP Team Manager & Chaperone
Camp reinforces the teamwork mentality and the idea that we must support each other. When our team is feeling well, happy and healthy — both physically and mentally — we function at our best; we all win. When one of us isn't feeling quite right, we ALL feel it; it shows in our results.
Camp Fun - Friends
One thing remains consistent, when speaking with both first-year and veteran ODP players, the majority of camp participants were excited to be selected for camp, felt that camp was a lot of fun, and valued the opportunity to meet new teammates and compete in games against players from other States. In addition to enjoying the high level of competitive soccer at camp, ODP players placed a high value on the social aspects of camp; being with and making friends. ODP players enjoyed traveling together, which provided them with the opportunity to forge new relationships, time to talk, catch up and build relationships within their own team. Players enjoyed trading t-shirts, which provided them with opportunities to mix and mingle with ODP Players from the other States, as well as the time to get to know them. North Texas Players came to appreciate the market value of our brightly colored t-shirts!