High Performance Player Opportunities in the United States with Ryan Hodgson

Although some players find themselves leaving the US to further their careers, there are still so many opportunities to dream big here in the United States. Although a native to North East England, Ryan Hodgson has been helping fulfill the dreams of many across the USA, and today he features on Soccer Parenting as part of our High Performance Week.

After playing at schoolboy level for Middlesbrough alongside some current Premier League and International players, Ryan headed Stateside - first to Harris Stowe State College in St. Louis, Missouri, and then into coaching, where he is now the CEO of Pre-College Development Academy - with locations in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee.

We hope you enjoy this latest conversation as part of High Performance Week here on Soccer Parenting - interact using the comments section below! You can find the transcript below, too.


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  1. Skye Eddy says:

    Thanks to Ryan for his time with this interview. I have really enjoyed watching the evolvement of the Pre-College Development Academy and know it’s filling a big void for players – especially the late developers or those who can’t seem to find the right college fit.

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TRANSCRIPT:

Skye:
Hi everyone. Welcome back to another interview as part of our high performance week at Soccer Parenting. I am thrilled to be joined today by Ryan Hodgson. Ryan is the founder, the owner, the academy director of the Pre-College Development Academy, sort of a new program that we have in the United States, and I really wanted his voice to be a part of this week. So one, he could tell us about his program and the needs that he is serving with it. And two, just so that we can kind of have a broader conversation about this maze of youth soccer and how to navigate it and the recruiting process. So Ryan, welcome to Soccer Parenting and high performance week.

Ryan:
Thank you, Skye. Appreciate you inviting me onto it.

Skye:
Yeah, absolutely. Why don't we start with you kind of giving just a little of a background of your soccer story and how you sort of ended up at the Pre-College Development Academy and all the other work you've done.

Ryan:
Yeah, no, I appreciate it. So in the U.S. 22 years this year in June, so it's been over half of my life. So it's been a minute. Came over here originally to work on the soccer camps like a lot of the Brits with the accents do. We end up falling in love and staying in the country with soccer and with our spouses. Played collegiately for two years, and it's an unapologetic approach to what I do now, where I am the failed collegiate soccer player that came from the UK and didn't succeed in the U.S., but grateful and blessed with able to pass on my successes and failures to what we do today. I've worked in the collegiate game, in the elite youth model, in the recreational space as low down as my then seven-year-old son, which is probably the most challenging element of coaching, is coaching six and seven-year-olds rather than the 23-year-olds. And now I'm the CEO and academy director for the Pre-College Development Academy.

Skye:
Awesome. Awesome. Well, why don't we start with the youth soccer experience that parents were having alongside their children as they're trying to navigate this process. What advice or suggestions did you have for parents when it comes to navigating this maze of leagues and clubs and different training opportunities? I know that's a big, broad question, but let's start there.

Ryan:
Yeah. I mean, I think there's two sides to that coin. It's what the parents want, but it's also what the kids want and if they can marry those two wants and needs together, they'll be successful. You'll go to the average MLS NEXT game and the sidelines are absolutely quiet. You can hear a pin drop. The parents are silent, they don't coach. They don't shout for fear of reprisal that they're in an MLS NEXT academy that the coaches know what they're doing. As you go down the pyramid, the voices of the parents get louder and louder and louder, all the way to the high school level. From a parental perspective, what's their objective, putting the athletes in the game of soccer from an early age, all the way up to continuing their career, all the way post high school. What is their objective?

Ryan:
What's the kids' objective? And keeping in mind, these are kids, right. You've got a lot of parents and we're evolving now where soccer is now a generational sport. So parents now have played the game. They can now pass on their experience with kids, whereas 20 years ago, they were just learning the game and it was in the elementary stage. Now parents are becoming a lot more smarter and savvy on the game of soccer. So the kids have got to... They've got to understand what they want out of the game, whether it's simply fun, competition, travel, right? We live, and we'll touch on this, we live in a country the size of a continent. And you mentioned that four-letter word, maze, and it certainly is a maze. So it's what the parents want, it's what the kids want.

Ryan:
And if you can marry it together and there's different areas, good coaching, you don't need to travel two hours for a game or practice. And I lived in Colorado Springs and we lost some of our best players to travel two hours north to the Rapids. One of my mentors is Doug Hill, good friend of mine, Air Force Academy coach. His two boys were fantastic players. Could have made the DA back then in a heartbeat. But Doug decided to keep them in the Springs because the coaching in the Springs, which is 90% of the development, keep money play... Well, you play three or four games in a weekend, but that's every so often. When you're playing league games, you play one game a week. You want 90% of the development on the practice field. Don't judge your experience on that one match. Judge it on the length of the coaching. Does that make sense?

Skye:
Yeah, no, absolutely. We've heard similar advice from people that... What it comes down to is the quality of the coach. I had an interview the other day with Fred, from MLS NEXT. And he talked about the ability, how important it was that the coach could give good, really good guided individualized feedback to players so that they had an individual development plan. And so we're talking a little bit about the environment. Now, let's go just a little bit broader to literally this [inaudible 00:06:08], like for parents that are saying, "How important is it for my child to be in this league versus that league or with this club two hours away versus this club local?" Obviously you're saying what really matters is the coaching environment, but any other advice for parents who are literally trying to make really important... What feels like very important decisions for their children on just some things to be thinking about or perspectives to have.

Ryan:
Yeah. I mean, you're entering into a culture. Well, a culture in the... Culture is a shared set of beliefs and values, right? And we live in a country again the size of a continent. New York is different to L.A., L.A. is different to Seattle and Seattle is different to Florida. You've got the various levels of soccer. In my opinion, if you can make the highest level of soccer, go for it. But you look at some players, I are played for the national team, right? That traveled four hours of [inaudible 00:07:02]. That one play, we all know who he is, right? That traveled from four hours to Dallas for good coaching. Because there wasn't an environment there, but you've got MLS, you've got ECNL, you've got MPL. You've got U.S. Elite 64. Now you've got NPL, you've got high schools.

Ryan:
You've got USYS. It is a maze. Again, the advice is if you can make the highest level possible, go for it. Aspire to it. Right? But I was in Gatlinburg and Murfreesboro last week recruiting with Tennessee Soccer on the Smokey Mountain Cup and Meet Me in the Middle. And there was a high school team. I forget the name of the high school team, but there was four boys on there, all signed four full scholarships with D1 schools.

Ryan:
They play high school. Well, from Tennessee, they can play MLS NEXT. They can play ECNL but they chose not to play that, just to play high school because nowhere in the U.S. can you replicate a community event like a high school game. And I went on this little sort of social media post a few weeks ago. You probably saw it. I'm at the hockey tournament for our local high school. And I've never seen a sporting... I've never been to a sporting event as brilliant as that. It was 20,000 friends at a high school event. They play for their badge. They play for the community. There's so many positives with high school sports, but that maze, the parents have just got to figure out what they want to... What they want out of the experience and the players as well.

Skye:
Yeah. Yeah, it is always something that I get a lot of questions about from parents, and what it comes down to is just such an individualized decision. And so having a little bit of confidence and clarity and asking the right questions and feeling empowered to make these decisions for your child and knowing that it's their decision or your decision collectively for them. What works for your child might not work for another teammate or somebody else. And these are hard paths to navigate. Let's talk just a second about ODP, because I also get... We get a lot of questions about the value of ODP. Personally, I find it to be similar to kind of what we're talking about. In some areas it has more value than in others, but what would be your advice to parents about that?

Ryan:
I love ODP. I think we're trying to... PCDA is trying to model the ODP or trying to create the ODP model within our system. On the female side they had it perfect back in the day with the [crosstalk 00:09:39]. I mean, yeah.

Skye:
That one [crosstalk 00:09:41] came up in that.

Ryan:
I mean, what better... Again, we live in a country the size of a continent. We've got different cultures, different environments. What better models, Skye, than to take the best players out of the state and put them on one team? Then take that state team and take them to a regional event and take the best state players and put them on a regional and then put them on a national. But I think we're missing a gap in that model where I think there's a lot of players at 16, 17... Well, ODP in boys doesn't go any higher than 16 or 17 now. So, you're missing that maturation, that physical development time where you could offer an ODP model at those later ages. But when you go from the regional to national, it's a big jump.

Ryan:
We could go regional, sub-regional. I know we do the sub-regionals as well, and then we can go to the nationals, but it's the same with the youth model as well. We can create regional teams, regional leagues where you don't have to jump on a plane and go from Colorado to Seattle for a weekend or drive eight hours in the Southeast to go for one ECNL game. But I love ODP. I was down in the ODP regional camp in Orlando, at ChampionsGate, and the level was fantastic. It really was. And these kids are... There was maybe... Skye, there was probably three college coaches on the sidelines the whole weekend. And it was thinking these kids are getting overlooked, but yeah. I love ODP.

Skye:
Yeah. And I think that it also... It just depends on again, the same thing, the quality of the coaching and the environment. And so these are all things that you just need to dive into. But I know, I often say, "Let's bring back this ODP model." I think that we were really onto something then. Of course, things have evolved and changed and with so many different leagues and players having commitments to teams much more so than when I was growing up. My team didn't compete all the time. So there was plenty of time to have for ODP, but there is something about that model. So let's talk about the Pre-College Development Academy. I'm curious why you started it. Maybe we need to hear, quick though, the idea behind it or how you structured it and what need you're trying to fill or what void you were aware of that you were filling with your program.

Ryan:
Yeah, it was built off the back of a European program in the UK, where we were sending U.S.-based high school grads to the UK. And there was a dropout rate, they couldn't get admitted into the university because academics is very different in the UK than the U.S. We have a... In the U.S., we have a two-tier education system. We have high school college. In the UK, we have college... A high school, college, university. So the entry criteria to a UK university is a lot more higher than in the U.S. You needed a 1200 SAT with three SAT subject tests with a 600 or higher. They're no longer offered. Five APs with a score of three or higher, 26 ACT. During COVID, none of those tests happened. So there's a lot of kids that couldn't get into the UK. But that's just the academic side. Physically, socially, psychological, technically, tactic.

Ryan:
They're not ready to make that jump overseas. Again, they're 17, 18. They're not even ready, Skye, to go to a university in the U.S. at that age. Right? I mean, imagine. It's like in the UK. You've got a kid in London that says to his parents, "I think I want to go to Siberia for college," which is the equivalent of L.A. to Charlotte.

Skye:
Yeah.

Ryan:
Right? And not so much the culture difference, but still it's the distance that these kids are talking about. So what we did with PCDA... And it's evolving every day, Skye. I mean, literally we're learning something new about what we can do better. We're not perfect. We're far from perfect, but we're pretty good. But it's nothing new. We take 17, 18-year-old high school grads, we preserve their eligibility, but we still put them in college.

Ryan:
So if a kid comes into our academy, we can map it out and engineer where they could graduate PCDA as an academic junior, but an athletic freshman. So ask any college coach in the country what would be more attractive, a 20-year-old Skye, or an 18-year-old Skye. And we're not in the female space yet, but we will be. We're big believers in the best environment for high school girls. Right now, we're still in the collegiate game. There's a lot more programs, a lot more money available. So they should go to college. Arguably the best female soccer in the world, outside of the pro leagues in Europe, right? So we've engineered five pillars. Academics, technique, tactics, physical, psychological, and social, built off the statistics that 19% of all students graduate inside of four years at a public in-state university, 33% of students graduate inside of four years at a flagship university.

Ryan:
And a flagship university will be a university that offers a lot of doctorate programs. And then we look at the transfer rate or the [inaudible 00:15:02] rate of freshman red shirts. So rather than redshirting and not playing a competitive game for about 15, 16 months after high school, you could come into PCDA, enroll in college, play 40 plus games a year, train in a 10 month season. What that means now is we are in the space of, you've got junior college. You have PCDA, you have a four-year school. We are on the same level as a junior college. But now we can say we're a little bit advanced because we're preserving eligibility. You can go to a junior college and burn two years and get your AA degree, come to PCDA and preserve your eligibility and still get your AA degree and play over 40 games a year. So it's quite exciting.

Skye:
Yeah, absolutely. How are you preserving the eligibility? I'm sure parents are thinking... I'm wondering.

Ryan:
So the Division 1 world, you get five years to play four, right? You get a gap year. So we keep the athletes in part-time education in the fall and spring. When I say part-time, it's 11 credits in the fall, and the 11 in the spring, there's 22. Six the following, some of there's 28. Then wait 10 months. So therefore they... [inaudible 00:16:16] GCU's their gap year, but it's been a very productive gap year. The second year is a little bit tricky, whether it's Division 1 or Division 2. In Division 1, regardless of whether you enroll in full-time education, your eligibility clock immediately starts ticking. So you're going to lose a year of eligibility. With Division 2, it's the 10 semester to play eight. So we keep them less than full-time in Division 2. In Division 2, Division 3, or NEI, then we're not burning those full-time semesters.

Skye:
Yeah.

Ryan:
So it is quite unique.

Skye:
Yeah, absolutely. And what type of results are you seeing for these boys?

Ryan:
Yeah. I mean, again, we're not perfect by any stretch, but we've committed 12, half of our roster, in eight months. We're about to announce a big signee next week. We can't announce it yet. He's on his official visit this weekend. That's [inaudible 00:17:08] program. Had a couple of D2 offers out of high school, knew he was better than that. He said, "If I get these offers now, how good will I be after a year with PCDA?" And we proved it. We've got players that had zero offers out of high school, zero. An MLS academy player, no offers out of high school has signed with Fairfield University, Cal State Fullerton, Lee University in Tennessee, Newberry, South Carolina. So half of our roster in the first year has been committed already, and we'll have some returners that will come back next year.

Skye:
That's amazing. Now, I'm curious. Why are these players getting overlooked? I mean, I actually kind of... I obviously know the answer to that. I feel like my daughter fell into this category a little bit with just being a little bit of a lead developer, but what's your take on why these players were getting overlooked?

Ryan:
I love that question, Skye. I love it. If you look at a college coach, they are hired to win games ultimately, but they're also hired to develop good people, good student athletes. Right? But no athletic director in my opinion would say, "Skye, you went [inaudible 00:18:10] and 18 this year, but you're a really good developer of people, so you're going to keep your job." Right? I don't know many ADs that would fall into that category. So therefore college coaches' jobs are on the line. They're hired to win and develop. Win and develop good student athletes. When you look at a college coach and the process of them recruiting players, if they want to be competitive on the national stage, let's start with Division 1. Let's start with Marshall University in 2020 won the national championship with 55 players or 53 or 55 players on that roster.

Ryan:
You know exactly what I'm talking about. Zero American players played in that national championship game. Zero. He also made one substitute in the national championship game, in a country that revolves around revolving substitutions. Right? So what does that say about the American market? Well, we're looking at the process of recruiting. As a college coach, and I've been a college coach, they're going to look for international players first, right? Because the older, more mature, physically able to compete against 23.... You're a 22, 23-year-old, right? So you can get a 20-year-old international freshman that can now pay to go to college. Asking them... It's evolved now where back in the early days, international students couldn't afford the tuition at U.S. universities. Now there's programs in place to help these athletes come to the U.S. So college coaches are not offering a lot of money to the international...

Ryan:
So you've got an international player. Then you've got the transfer portal and good, and a good lot of the 1600 players in the transfer portal I think as of today.

Skye:
Crazy.

Ryan:
Experience collegiate players. Then you look at the JUCO model slash PCDA. Now throw us in there, right? Then you look at MLS pro the U23, then you look at MLS NEXT. Then you're looking at ECL national, ECL regional, USYS Elite National League, USYS State Regional Champions, high school. I mean, I've just rattled off 10 levels, and if you are not falling in those categories, you are not getting recruited. Plus COVID, we now have five levels of classes. You've got super seniors, seniors, junior sophomores, the 22 class coming in this fall is a five class system, which is finally on that... I mean, it makes complete sense. Finally, on that, you've got high school graduates for the last seven or eight years in their competitive clubs.

Ryan:
They've been told, Skye, that they are the top 18 players on that squad, if they have 18 players on that roster. Normally it's 16. So the one through 16. For seven or eight years, they've been told that they are numbers one through 16 or 17. They have never been told that they are numbers 18 to 36. That's new to them. It's foreign to them, it's alien. They've been recruited, where all of a sudden you recruited me, but I'm not making the travel squad and I've got to sit here? That's why those statistics with red shirt freshmen that transfer recruit their chosen spot after the first year exists.

Skye:
Yeah. So I want to talk about the transfer portal and what that is demonstrative of when it comes to the college recruiting process, which is kind of what you were diving into. But I want to first just talk about, again, why... Are you saying these players are getting overlooked because there's just too much to choose from or because they haven't figured out how to market themselves correctly because they have evolved a lot as a player in the last year recruiting? What's your take on it?

Ryan:
Yeah. I mean, you-

Skye:
Maybe it's all of those things. I don't know.

Ryan:
Well, yeah, there's a lot to unwrap there, right? So, I mean, if... College coaches, let's be honest, the top 25 are not looking outside of internationals or MLS NEXT. I mean, I was at the ECNL event in Greenville and there was a couple of Power 5 programs there, but they were there to look at one player. One player only. They never went around with a chair and looked at the games. They were there to look at one player and meet his family and move on. But they're getting overlooked... It's not for the lack of trying. I mean, there are hundreds of marketing companies out there that help these athletes, right? I mean, but I was talking to one of my friends, who's a college coach, the other day. And he said, "If I get an email, which I get 1200 emails a year from recruits, so I don't have time to go through these emails."

Ryan:
And that's why, if you look on the email address of the college coach, if it says men soccer at xyz.edu, that's not going to the head coach, that's going into an inbox. They will use that to market their camps and programs. If you can somehow find their firstname.lastname@edu, that will likely go to that head coach. But it's not for the lack of trying, it's not for the lack of exposure. It's just these kids are just not ready to play at the level and they need to just... They want to get to the top of the mountain, but they need to learn how to climb it and get there. And it will take time. You look at Matt Turner, great example. Right? At Arsenal now, sat two years at Fairfield, didn't play two games, played his final two games. Obviously he's a diamond in the rough. But how many Matt Turners guy exists where they don't play the first two years and they quit?

Skye:
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Or players that don't end up not playing collegiately because they just weren't ready yet. And I hate to see kids dropping out of the sport because what we've done is we've just said, we can all agree that the developmental process we had, so many people share this wave of the up and down nature of it and talk about the differences with growth and development and how everyone has their own journey and their own path. Matt being a perfect example.

Skye:
Other people I've interviewed historically for Soccer Parenting. Kevin Hartman played on the GV high school team, his junior year in high school, I think. Maybe even a senior year. And then he played 17 years in the MLS after walking all on to a college. So, it's just we need to have this better perspective and opportunities available. And we're asking a lot. If we all can recognize this up and down nature of it. And then we say, "Okay, but now you need to decide your junior or senior year in high school, and you need to make this decision." And we're going to assume that everyone's arrived by that point, but we know, we're positive they have not arrived and are not prepared to make that big decision.

Ryan:
Yeah, the... Yeah. Really quickly just on that, again, 17 years old, the status quo was graduate high school, find a college, graduate college, get a job, find a partner, have a... Let's slow down a little, right? We need a 17-year-old kids. I mean, my kids have got a 13-year-old daughter, a nine-year-old boy. I want them to... College will always be there. They will always be there and let them go experience the world just while they can. Because... Yeah. Anything can happen.

Skye:
Yeah, no, absolutely. There's this inherent stress that's involved with a college recruiting process. And I feel like we're asking a lot of 16, 17-year-olds. For the girls, it happens just a little bit earlier than even for the boys. How can we address that? How...

Ryan:
Yeah. It's... Again, a culture is a shared set of beliefs and values, and I think no one size fits all, right? But I think back to PC... Now, I'm biased, all right. I really am biased that I think we're in a space where it's never been approached before. It's never been evolved. College stuff has never evolved. Hasn't evolved in the last 50 years. I hope the 21st-

Skye:
And maybe if I start with the inherent stress? Is that kind of where we were?

Ryan:
Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, the stress is of how we deal with the... How the 16, 17-year-old, 18-year-old deal with... Again, the 16, 17-year-olds, we need to get, as I mentioned, just slow down the process. There's a couple of companies out there. I won't mention their names, but there's a system where you can input all of your desires and needs as a student first, right? I want to go to a big city. Okay. Metropolitan area. I want to go to a private school. I want to have a class size of 30. My budget is this. I want to play Division 2. I want a religious affiliation. You can do all that. And all of the 2000 plus colleges will now be five. That's your list.

Ryan:
And you've got to be able to choose your next destination carefully socially. I mean, we're looking at an athlete going from L.A. to New York or wherever. Wyoming or El Paso, Texas. Right? It's got to be a right. And you're going there for soccer. It's got to be a right fit socially, because God forbid, if the game is taken away from you, red shirt out of your control, injury, out of your control, you're homesick. You don't fit into the culture. You're likely not going to enjoy the game. You're not going to enjoy the area. You're not playing. So you're going to transfer.

Ryan:
So the advice for 16, 17-year-olds is... Again, we're in a space that has never been approached at before. You've got prep schools, no college reclassify student athletes, also $70,000 a year. Right? Or you've got junior college, but there's nothing in between. And I think you use the gap here. You've got a lot of VCNL on my list, clubs that will keep those players back for one more year. Go ahead and do that 100% if you can do it. If you don't have that opportunity, like a PCDA or other areas will be... Set you up for success.

Skye:
Yeah. And we're seeing all of that play out with the large numbers of athletes that are in the transfer portal. So obviously things are not working out. Incorrect decisions are being made or, players aren't willing to put the work in mentally and emotionally when they get there and have to battle because they're not used to that. I mean, there's a little bit of both sides of that. This transport portal though, is certainly demonstrative of a system that's not working. Don't you think?

Ryan:
I would agree. I'm not a fan of the transfer portal. I think it stems... The high numbers in the transfer portal. Yes, we have graduate students in the transfer portal that have used... Have graduated with their bachelors in their current college doesn't offer graduate programs. So yes, transfer and those college coaches will help those guys or girls move on. But I think the transfer portal is a system, especially in soccer where...

Ryan:
I call it the Velcro patch model. The grass is greener. You take your patch off and stick another one on. And it's just, if this club isn't working, you're not getting playing time, you're not getting what you need, well, we'll go to another club. And we'll go to another club, and we'll go to another club. Well, you go to a college, if it's not working, I'm going to go to another college.

Ryan:
I'm going to go to another college, and I'm going to go another college, just... We had a sports psych session with our academy couple of weeks ago, and we brought up Mike Newton at Clemson with what he asks every single recruit. "What have you done today to impact somebody else positively or recently?" And if the kids are floundering over that answer, they move on because they want good people. They don't want just somebody chasing the soccer dream. Right?

Ryan:
They want good people that will impact the program immediately, whether they play or whether they don't play. But I think the... You're right, Skye. The transfer portal, it does serve a purpose but I think it is the graveyard of collegiate players. Last thing on that. If you think about it, one of my friends woke up one morning and one of his best players was in the transfer portal. Didn't tell him.

Ryan:
Well, okay. And on the flip side, if you've got a player that is not a good team player that is [inaudible 00:30:33] to the team, if they're into the transfer portal and I call you, Skye, and I say, "Hey, Skye, Johnny's in the transfer. Can you tell me about it?" "Well, he was a disaster with my program." "That's all I need to know. Thank you."

Skye:
Yeah.

Ryan:
The recommendations are not going to... They're not going to be there for a lot of the players, so we'll see how it plays out. I'm not a fan of it. Case and point, I know we can go on forever, case and point St. Peter's basketball. America's team, this Cinderella story of March madness, right? Four of the five players. Did you notice four of the five starting players have entered the transfer portal?

Skye:
Wow.

Ryan:
Yep. So an elite 18, right? American Cinderella story. You've got, what's his name? Doug Edert, I think was getting all these commercials with Buffalo Wild Wings. And now he's got that. And now we wants to enter to the transfer portal for senior year, for his final year. Is he good enough to actually go and make a UNC? I mean maybe, maybe not. The dynamics in any team event help you succeed. Not just talent along wins games. Everything else will help you get there, and I think St. Peter's epitomized everything with getting to that level. And you'll see these guys, maybe they'll flounder and not make a better team. But that, again, that just... It's an example of that, how the transfer portal shouldn't shouldn't exist.

Skye:
Yeah. And I think the broader conversation there is kind of where we started, is how to help [inaudible 00:32:10] parents navigate this maze. And I think what it really comes down to, what we're distilling in a lot of these conversations during high performance week, is that what it comes down to is the environment and a variety of reasons or a variety of factors play into the environment for athletes. But yeah, no, I hate to hear that those players are thinking of transferring. It feels like they're not seeing the forest with the trees.

Ryan:
Exactly.

Skye:
With that. As we're wrapping up here, any last-minute advice to parents who have players that have these high performance dreams just based on all of your experiences?

Ryan:
Yeah. I mean, so, again, it's probably another time for a deeper conversation, but the parents, they really have to look at five critical areas of the student athlete. The academics. We have athletes in our academy that graduated high school with over a 4.0 GPA. So the perception is, well, he wasn't ready to go to a four-year school. Well, actually he turned down some pretty strong academic offers to come into the academy. But on the lower end as well, right? So, but when you look at the five key areas, academics, are they... Technically, are they ready? Tactically, are they ready? Socially, are they ready? Physically, are they ready? If they're not checking a lot of those boxes, they're not ready. And what we do a pretty good job of our exit strategy is... And some athletes take advantage of it.

Ryan:
And some athletes don't, some athletes, again, were not perfect, will just think PCDA is a magic potion, is a silver bullet. And it is far from it. They've still got a lot of work to do. And you've got the guys that are moving on that have done all of the homework and others that don't. And I just think it stems from the younger ages where they've got to take a little bit more responsibility. But from a parental perspective, you've got to look at what level are you able to play? Are you playing meaningful minutes? Are you training or do you have good coaching? Are you traveling far? All of those things I think are helpful in making these parents navigate that maze.

Skye:
Yeah. Yeah. Thank you so much for your time today. I think... Is this the first time you've been on Soccer Parenting that I've interviewed you?

Ryan:
It's the first time you've ever invited me.

Skye:
I mean, you and I chat so often, I'm thinking surely Ryan's been on the platform before. But we're so grateful for your voice and for your experience and for sharing it with us today. Really, thanks so much, Ryan, for being here.

Ryan:
Thank you, Skye. I appreciate it.