Soccer is royalty in Rockdale County and the future kings and queens of the sport were fitted for their crown this past week as the Rockdale Youth Soccer Association (RYSA) held open tryouts for under 9 through under 13-year-old boys and girls seeking to join its youth academy.
Tryouts, which began on Tuesday, May 26 and concluded on Friday, May 29, featured a host players gathered at RYSA’s headquarters working on the basic fundamentals of dribbling, passing, heading and defense in preparation for the organization’s academy, which includes competition throughout the metro area.
"We have academy evaluations going on where we evaluate all the kids," said RYSA director of coaching Rafe Mauran. "There might be a few who we recommend that they play recreation soccer for another year. For the most part, these kids will be in the academy next year and train twice a week. They are a little bit more dedicated than your average eight-year-old soccer player."
Throughout the past week, players participated in a variety of drills under the careful watch of coaches and various volunteer supporters. The adults at tryouts study the youngsters every move and provide positive feedback to help them improve on the field.
"So far we’ve had a good number of talented players come out. The kids have a lot of the basic work already set in them. What we’re doing is help them develop and get better as players and young men," said Keion Yearwood. "We work a lot on controlling the ball because that’s something they have to develop at an early age in order to do the harder things down the line. They need to have the technical background first."
Upon completion of this week’s workouts, the coaching staff and executive body at RYSA evaluated each player’s skill set during Friday’s final cut to determine which players would advance to the academy and who needed to play in recreational soccer leagues this summer.
The final decisions were tough, but RYSA officials are confident that the organization will continue to thrive with its new crop of academy participants. These individuals stand tall as the future of the program and the next stars who’ll dominate the sport in eight to 10 years at the high school level.
"The academy numbers turned out really well this year," said Casey Black, RYSA club president. "We have new coaches out and our new director of coaching (Mauran) is here and he’s brought some life to the association. The young academy players are the future of the program. With the numbers where they’re at, it’s going to continue to grow and make our association stronger."