LIJSL Player Development Program tryouts are on the horizon and some long-standing players shared their thoughts on what the program has meant to them.
Four teammates – Liz, Moira, Paige, and Olivia – from the U17 girls PDP team’s comments are below:
I joined PDP my freshman year of high school. This is a very exciting and nervous time, most students go to a new school and have to get used to it. Luckily for me I stayed at Kellenberg and just transferred from the middle school to the high school, but still making new friends was hard.
Coming to PDP never made me nervous, only excited. I got to see my three best friends: Liv, Moira, and Paige. We all made the first year of high school easier for each other.
On the college tour, I met some of my other closest friends. They were on the guys team: CJ, Jon and James. I am forever grateful for PDP because it brought me six amazing friends.
The girls and I have done so many things together, tournaments with PDP, going to Disney and Hershey together, and hanging out almost every weekend since freshman year. Even through we are from different towns and high schools they are my best friends.
When I think about my time in the Long Island Junior PDP program I think back at all the training sessions, tournaments, trips, and friendships I had. These were all the reasons I kept on coming back.
The coaching that I received in the program is fantastic. I learned so much and it has unquestionably made me a better player for it. Learning in the context of an environment that always stresses hard work and improvement was great. It’s what I wanted.
But of course, the best times were on the many trips up and down the east coast from Rhode Island to Pennsylvania to visit colleges and taking part in training sessions from college coaches. I was able to see first hand what it would be like to be a college player. Staying with my teammates in the college dorms and visiting the schools was a highlight for me. But, of course, the biggest highlight was traveling to England and not only training over there but playing against some great teams. Seeing and learning about things I’ve only read or saw pictures of was by far one of the best trips I’ve ever had. Doing these things with teammates I now call my best friends was also priceless.
Without PDP, I wouldn’t have met three of my greatest friends, visited countless colleges (which helped me decide what type I wanted to go to), gone to England, become a better player, or move on to play college soccer. It truly was the experience I was looking for and would highly recommend it.
When I joined PDP in the fall of 2014, I was just looking for some extra training and practice time. What I ended up with four years later was excellent training, life-long friendships, and lasting memories. It’s also where I met three of my best friends: Olivia, Moira, and Liz.
That year I was 13 and in 8th grade. The culminating trip that year was to England – my entire family went including my parents and my two younger sisters. We met amazing people, got to see some incredible sites, and played soccer against local British clubs.
The four of us bonded instantly and started hanging out and planning sleepovers. Our parents became friends and hung out at practices and summer tournaments. We are also guest players on Moira’s club team. Last year we traveled to Disney, and this year we are headed to Hershey Park with her team.
Graduation is fast approaching and I have been very emotional lately. We are all going in different directions for college – I’ll be headed to Sacred Heart University Honors College to pursue a degree in Biology/Pre-med. I still want to play soccer and hope to join my new school’s club team.
But I know one thing is certain, I’ll never forget my four years with PDP including the training, summer tournaments, the trip to England, college tours and of course the extraordinary bond I created with these girls who I am proud to call my best friends.
They say that one person can make a difference, but many people can have a lasting impact. Being a part of the LIJSL PDP program has had a lasting impact on me.
It has helped me grow as a player and a person. I have been in the program for six years and have learned many skills and made many friendships. The team has become my family and I am so happy to have the friendships I have made.
This program has let me increase my skills as a player, not only by gaining ball skills but by teaching the importance of team work and communication. Everyone knows something that I don’t and by increasing the communication amongst players it makes it easier for us to play. This is something gained by being in the PDP program. The team comes from different parts of the island and we are not used to being with each other in school or club sports. We have to learned different ways of communicating and because of this the team became stronger.
In the last few years I have played with the 2001 team and the girls on this team have become my best friends. We don’t see each other every day because we are in different towns and schools, but we look forward to seeing each other during our weekly practices. We also were able to come closer when we went on the college tours and the England Trip. We learned how to spend all day and all night together. This is a skill that will help us and now we are better prepared for when we go to college. We will be accustomed to spending long periods of time with others our own age that aren’t our family.
With each year came a new coach for that age division. The coaches I have worked with have shown many new skills and shaped me into the player that I am. They inspired us, encouraged us, and motivated us. And what they did that truly shaped us into better players was letting us know what we were doing wrong. They treated us like we were already in college and talked to us like adults. Sometimes this bothered us, but in the end it showed us what we were doing wrong and most of us became better because of this.
If it was not for the PDP program I might not be attending Caldwell University and playing soccer for the University. I gained the opportunity to meet the coach and take a tour of the campus through the college tour that PDP offers in the summer. On the tours that I went on we visited more than 25 colleges, it let us get the feeling of what type of campus we were suited for and then narrow down the colleges we would apply to. Most students are not able to see this many colleges before applying, the college tours helped me know exactly what type of college I wanted to go to. It also gave us opportunities to meet college coaches, college players, and play on the actual college fields. These opportunities led me to reaching the dream of being asked to be part of a college soccer team.
Lastly, I would like to say how much PDP had an impact on my entire family. Going away with other families and spending time with them has let us all form lasting friendships. Not only do I spend time with these players off the field but so do our parents who have become friends. PDP has been a great experience and many memories have been formed that will last a lifetime!