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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    It’s a club thing

    unior defender Kaity Heath, left, stops the ball with her left foot in a Sept. 22 2-0 loss to Portland. Heath joined junior defender Claire Bodiya on a national championship club team, the Sereno Golden Eagles, back in 2003, prior to coming to Arizona.
    unior defender Kaity Heath, left, stops the ball with her left foot in a Sept. 22 2-0 loss to Portland. Heath joined junior defender Claire Bodiya on a national championship club team, the Sereno Golden Eagles, back in 2003, prior to coming to Arizona.

    For many children in the United States, soccer has become an inevitable part of childhood.

    Gone are the local pickup games and kick the rock, and in are organized youth soccer leagues. This is where most college players pick up the skills that will carry them into their careers on college soccer teams.

    Division I soccer players all come from prestigious club backgrounds where they committed to long practices and training sessions from the tender age of 12, and Arizona’s soccer players are no exception.

    “”It pushed me so much and benefited me,”” junior defender Claire Bodiya said about her time with Phoenix’s Sereno 86 Golden Eagles. “”For me, I wasn’t naturally skilled. It gives you more time to work on your skills and strengthen your weaknesses.””

    Junior defender Kaity Heath also comes from Sereno, a premier club that won the national championship in 2003.

    Heath said that playing in a high-stakes club atmosphere made for a better transition from club to college soccer.

    She and Bodiya played together on the Golden Eagles since they were in seventh grade. They always planned on going into the same college program together, originally setting their sights on Washington State before deciding on Arizona.

    “”I liked (playing with Heath) a lot,”” Bodiya said. “”We could play together and knew … each other’s tendencies. It’s like having one less person to worry about.””

    “”””(Club soccer) helped tremendously. I was the most prepared I had ever been for anything. I loved my club a ton, (and) they knew exactly what to teach.””

    Claire Bodiya,
    junior defender

    These club teams have stringent practice schedules and elaborate training sessions, but Heath believes the atmosphere of her intense club experience helped to shape her ability to be successful once she got to Arizona.

    “”Our coach did not treat us like we were girls,”” Heath said. “”We were treated like women.””

    Heath said being on a club team helped her learn how to balance school and soccer from an early age. This skill has helped her be successful on the collegiate stage as well.

    “”It’s definitely one of the most important things, to have a good base,”” Heath said. “”If you’re not used to (intense training), you will struggle a lot.””

    Bodiya said she owes all her success to the Sereno program, as without it she does not think she could have ever achieved all that she has with Arizona.

    These elite club teams provide intense training, as well as a unique precursor to college soccer, with a high level of competition and intense training not found in local recreation leagues.

    “”(Club soccer) helped tremendously,”” Bodiya said. “”I was the most prepared I had ever been for anything. I loved my club a ton, (and) they knew exactly what to teach.””

    Although the caliber of players the women faced was sometimes similar, the college game is still quite different.

    “”You get to spend a lot more time with your club team,”” Bodiya said. “”In college it’s a new team every year, but the game is much more physical and mental in college.””

    Junior Brianna Caceres said that without her head coach, Christy Miller from So-Cal United, she would never have been as mentally prepared for the college game.

    “”The earlier you start, the better to fix things that need to be fixed and to become more prepared for D-I,”” she said.

    There has been criticism of club teams, however, directed often at the over-intense focus on youth sports. Critics ask if it’s ever a bad idea to start girls so young in these intense club teams.

    “”It’s good to start young because it’s a fun sport, (but) you just don’t want to get burned out,”” Bodiya said. “”I’ve seen it happen. If they don’t love the game and don’t learn to enjoy other things in life, kids will get burned out.””

    Caceres said that personally she loves the game and that starting to be serious at a pretty young age helped her to organize herself and sharpen her time management skills.

    “”I feel (club teams) give you more of a confidence level,”” Caceres said.

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