BEHIND THE BADGE FEATURE
Stay up to date with all of the latest Next Gen USA news and events by subscribing to Behind the Badge, our new bi-monthly e-newsletter!
Click here to sign up for Behind the Badge!
UP CLOSE WITH NGLA's OWN JOSH FRIEDERWITZER
Josh Friederwitzer, a rising junior at the Next Gen Leadership Academy, recently had the opportunity to represent the United States as a member of the Maccabi USA Junior National Soccer Team at the 19th Maccabiah Games in Israel. This prestigious, Olympic-style festival is held quadrennially and is the third largest sporting event in the world with more than 10,000 athletes competing across a wide range of sports.
Josh was born in New Brunswick, NJ, with his family originally hailing from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He played for Copa before joining NGLA and has now decided to commit full time to NGLA academically and athletically alike. Prior to NGLA, he attended John F. Kennedy Memorial High School in Iselin, NJ. Josh shared what motivated him to attend NGLA was “the opportunity I saw to pursue my Athletic and Academic career in an environment with like minded peers, coaches, and teachers where I can follow my dreams. NGLA provided me with all of that. Learning leadership skills every day about how I can set my own future led me from a B student in regular classes at my old public school to a straight A student in honors courses at NGLA and has increased my level of play in the beautiful game tremendously.”
Following his experiences in Israel, Josh sat down with a member of the Next Gen USA Staff to talk about his time abroad and all of the events that led up to the tournament this summer. He credits the coaches, teachers and staff at Next Gen USA and the Academy for helping him prepare for the Games, all of which he summarized as “an intense atmosphere, against some of the best competition in the world.”
How were you selected for the team?
Out of the 200 players that tried out for the team, only 20 were granted selection, 18 field players and 2 goalkeepers. I found out that I was selected for the team in mid-January, which was at the same time that I was beginning my first semester at NGLA.
What were your goals heading into the Maccabiah?
We had multiple phone calls with the coaching staff to discuss what our goals were as a team. I also used this time to set some personal goals that I wanted to accomplish leading up to and during the Maccabiah. My individual goal was to develop as a player and learn as much as I could from these talented players and coaches. As a team, we decided our goal was to win Gold for USA.
How did you prepare for the tournament? Were you motivated to play against international competition?
I felt very prepared to play my best soccer leading up to the Maccabiah and a large portion of that I can credit to my training at NGLA. By training every day with the best players and coaches I could surround myself with, I felt ready and confident to compete against the best teams in the world at the Maccabiah.
What were some of the lessons that you learned from competing in the Maccabiah?
There are many that I could speak of but two lessons or takeaways that stick out in my mind are learning to overcome others who doubt your ability to succeed. I learned that if you believe in yourself and each other as a team, there is nothing that you can’t accomplish. The second thing I realized was just how crucial the timing of my joining the NGLA was because of the characteristics our coaches for the Maccabiah wanted us to display: leadership, respect, teamwork, and hard work. I had already been instilled with these attributes and taught the importance of them so I felt like that gave me an advantage to be as ready as I could be to compete and represent our country well.
How do you see yourself now as a player and student-athlete as a result of your experiences in the Maccabiah?
I spoke with many [NCAA] Division 1 student-athletes on the Maccabi USA U-20 team since they stayed at the same facility as we did while competing. They were willing to talk to me and explain what it’s like being a collegiate student athlete and how your grades are just as important as your playing. Because of my experiences in the Maccabiah, I have become more confident and will be able to transfer that confidence into being a better teammate and leader for my team at the NGLA.
Josh's accomplishments on and off the field garnered interest and support from many of his coaches and teachers, including admiration from Samuel Gough, NGLA's Headmaster and Director of Education.
“Josh has been a true ambassador for The Next Gen Leadership Academy," said Gough, who enters his second year at the helm of the school's operations. "He personifies in his own unique way the legacy of leadership that our upperclassmen are charged to leave for our younger scholar-athletes. On top of that, Josh has demonstrated an ongoing propensity to push himself both on and off the pitch; forging strong ties with faculty and contemporaries alike, who all admire his poise, work-ethic and all-round character."
When asked about Friederwitzer's involvement and success with the Maccabi USA National Team, Gough added: "It is no surprise to me that Josh continues to gather profound personal experiences, such as his recent performance in the Maccabiah Games, because he is a young leader who wants to resist the comfort zone and embrace challenge and change. Congratulations Josh, we are all very proud of you.”
With these added experiences under his belt and added confidence heading into the new school year, the sky is the limit for what Josh and his teammates/classmates alike, can accomplish together. Soar higher, young man!
NGLA'S SOBALBARRO GARNERS REGIONAL MEDIA INTEREST
Joel Sobalbarro, a rising young prospect in the Next Gen Leadership Academy, was recently the subject of a "portrait in motion feature story" by The Philly Soccer Page. Sobalbarro, 15, hails from Trenton, N.J., and is preparing to enter his second year in the Academy under the guidance of Scott Middlemass, Technical Director, and NGLA Principal Sam Gough.
STUDENTS, FACULTY TOUR ACCELERATOR SCHOOL IN CAROLINA EXCHANGE PROGRAM
Students, faculty and coaches from Next Gen USA and the Next Gen Leadership Academy recently traveled to Durham, North Carolina to explore a new educational partnership with the Accelerator School in Raleigh, NC. The excursion to the heart of Tobacco Road encompasses several key academic, social and athletic goals of Next Gen USA's mission and that of its Academy; all of which are tied to providing youth with compassionate professionalism, inspirational learning environments and an unending pursuit of excellence as a purposeful and transformative educational institution.
According to Sam Gough, Headmaster of the Academy, the collaboration with students, teachers and members of the Accelerator School's diverse community has laid the groundwork for building a strong relationship between the schools that sets both institutions on a path of greater communication and collaboration in the years to come.
"In our ongoing pursuit of student-agency, and the provision of more profound learning experiences for our scholar-athletes, our boys must be exposed to explicit college and career pathways," said Gough. "We feel that it is imperative that our students experience new cultures, new learning environments and engage in programs and projects that hinge on their ability to collaborate, communicate and compete with like-minded and like-abled individuals."
Similar to NGLA, The Accelerator School is an elite soccer developmental environment and a 21st century blended educational experience that offers the right balance for students to pursue their soccer dreams, obtain a high quality education and maintain a healthy and balanced family life. Duke University Men's Soccer Coach and former U.S. international John Kerr is a founding member of the school and participates in a variety of ways on their Advisory Board. Coach Kerr spoke to members of the Next Gen USA and NGLA delegation about the Accelerator School's programs, partnership and focus on preparing student-athletes for entry and success in higher educational institutions around the country.
"I've known Coach Kerr for a number of years," said Kevin McCarthy, Director of Next Gen USA's College Prep program. "He is a passionate educator, coach and mentor for youth of all ages, and we're extremely fortunate to be able to take our students to North Carolina for what we believe will be an exciting three days of relationship building, educational exchange and eye-opening experiences on a top-notch university campus."
The goals of the exchange are two-fold: 1) To see and experience, first hand, a contemporary scholastic institution that offers students numerous opportunities to accelerate their learning in non-traditional classroom environments; and 2) To visit and speak with coaches and players of a collegiate soccer program.
Over the course of three days, Next Gen USA participants had a multi-faceted experience on-and-off the field that included development with and competition against high caliber players (intra school games festival), shared study time and work-habit formation/progression through collaborative lessons with NGLA & Accelerator staff, SAT test preparation. Students also had the opportunity to tour Duke University where they observed the University's soccer team in spring training sessions, and listened to Coach Kerr to discuss what he and his staff look for when recruiting high-level scholar athletes.
Next Gen USA would like to congratulate Eliot Hamil (pictured, right), a member of the Next Gen USA Select Squad, for his efforts over the past few years to emerge as a leader on and off the pitch. Just a few weeks ago, Eliot committed to play for Coach Kerr at Duke University and we are delighted for Eliot and his family.
UP CLOSE WITH COACH FELIPE
From the sands of the Copacabana to the streets of New Brunswick, the path to a professional career has its challenges and upside. Leading by example and with respect for family and faith, meet Felipe Cavalcanti dos Reis Arantes.
In Brazil, football is life. It’s also undeniable that Brazil is “o País do Futebol” (the country of football), but not everyone may be aware that Brazilians also have their own “língua do futebol”. As a result, Next Gen USA consulted Coach Felipe Arantes, our visiting soccer expert from Brazil, to learn about his life experiences, views on American soccer and some of his favorite Brazilian-Portuguese football expressions.
Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Coach Felipe was exposed to the Beautiful Game at a young age and once he started touching the ball, he couldn’t stop. Literally.
“I played for club teams in Rio and for my high school soccer program,” said Arantes, whose full name is Felipe Cavalcanti dos Reis Arantes. “I later played in college, both in the U.S. and here in Brazil, while studying for a diploma in physical education.”
During his teenage years, Felipe honed his skills on Rio’s futsal courts – often against grueling competitors many years his senior. It was there that he earned a place on AABB’s first team and played four seasons of intense futsal, one of which included a second-place finish at FIFA’s Under 16 International Football Cup.
From here, Felipe journeyed north to the United States to accept a scholarship to play soccer at Rutgers University. Over the course of two seasons, Felipe played an instrumental role in the Scarlet Knights’ rise to the top of the Big East Conference and later in the NCAA national tournament.
After completing his degree at Rutgers, Felipe headed west to Michigan where he accepted an invitation to play semi-professional soccer. After stints with Croatia and the New York Pancyprians, Felipe returned to Rio and played several seasons of futsal, beach soccer and 11-a-side footy with Carioca and Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. It was at this point that Felipe decided to devote more of his time to coaching and working with younger players. He worked as an intern for Flamengo and learned from some of the best technicians in Brazilian football. This led to coaching stints with a variety of amateur and youth Academy teams over the next decade, most notably Botafogo and now with Vasco de Gama.
“After my internship, I joined TetraBrazil and led camps across the northeast region of the U.S. for several years,” Arantes remarked about the start of his coaching career. “This helped me see the world and open the door to coaching in Argentina, Brazil, China, the U.A.E. and the U.S.”
Coach Felipe’s influence and tutelage has helped numerous youth players reach the professional ranks in Brazil and abroad. Some of his students include Vitinho (CSKA Russia), Doria (Olympique Marseille), Gilberto (Fiorentina), Sassa (Botafogo) and Gabriel (Palmeiras) – all of whom play at the highest level and credit Arantes as an inspirational coach, friend and mentor along the way.
Today, Coach Felipe is a proud parent, husband, trailblazer and program leader for Vasco de Game and Next Gen USA in a variety of ways. Earlier this winter, he returned to New Jersey to work with members of the Next Gen USA family and led a variety of training sessions for players involved in the Next Gen Leadership Academy as well as children who attend one or more Emerging Talent Center program sites as well. We asked Coach Felipe to reflect on his experiences and feelings about youth soccer here in the U.S. versus how things are done in Brazil. He made several interesting points about how players and families pursue development in the U.S. versus the traditions and methods used in Brazil.
“We still develop the players with an authentic technique and skills that all the world loves, but with all money pouring down at the Football business, players with 16 years old, can be offered salaries that go from 4 to 8 thousand dollars a month, which makes them the house hold of their families. So that´s why it has become so important in Brazil, due to financial reasons. At first all kids want to be a soccer players because they love the game but as they grow up, it becomes there one way ticket for a better life.”
Helping kids realize their dreams and make new connections is one of the primary reasons why he stays active on the touchlines of Vasco de Gama in Rio, and when visiting the U.S. as a guest coach and clinician for Next Gen USA.
“At Vasco, we are trying to build our brand in the U.S., so it’s a natural fit for us to collaborate with Next Gen USA to host their players when they train here in Brazil and play against our top teams. Over the next few months, we will work together to develop an internship program between the clubs so the best players can work with the best coaches, and increase the number of players prepared to play at the next level.”
Coach Felipe will be back in the U.S. this summer as one of Next Gen USA’s featured coaches in the 2017 International Development Festivals. Click here to learn more about program dates, venues and to register.
NEXT GEN USA EXCELS AT PDT INVITATIONAL
Next Gen USA'S College Prep Select Squad attended Real Salt Lake Academy's President's Day Tournament in Phoenix over President's Day weekend and had a fantastic experience.
Led by Head Coach Kevin McCarthy, the team participated in pre-tournament training sessions at RSL's Casa Grande complex and engaged in a variety of college recruiting workshops to plan and prepare for the path ahead. According to McCarthy, the time together played "a crucial part in preparing the boys for great outcomes in the tournament."
Over the course of the weekend, the squad highlighted the quality of their play by going undefeated for the third straight year and reaching the showcase finals. Here is a summary of their match play:
Next Gen USA (2) - Colorado Storm South Academy (1)
Next Gen USA (1) - Galaxy SC (0)
Next Gen USA (1) - Tanque Verde SC Blue (0)
Next Gen USA (0) - Mountain United FC (0): Mountain United FC defeated Next Gen USA in penalties.
PLAN AHEAD, LADS!
Next Gen USA's College Prep program immerses high school student-athletes (grades 9-12) in a competitive and challenging atmosphere that helps kick start the planning process for a powerful college application. Through a series of workshops and guided practice, student-athletes learn how to highlight personal strengths, academic and athletic talents, interests, and achievement awards, and individual quality.
Coach McCarthy is a big believer in teaching his student-athletes to "plan the work and work the plan" in all aspects of their academic and athletic endeavors. Throughout the team's participation in the PDT event, Coach McCarthy led the team through a variety of team-building and skills workshop activities that focused on the importance of establishing unity, trust and belief in one another.
Here's how one team member felt about the experience:
Dear Coach McCarthy:
Thank you very much for the phenomenal trip to Arizona! It was a special memory that I will never forget. The Real Salt Lake Academy at Casa Grande was unbelievable. Having access to those professional facilities including the locker room, the weight room, and the perfectly cut pitches made me feel like a pro at all times. I thoroughly enjoyed being coached by you and admired the style of play. I really enjoyed the trip as a whole and enjoyed bonding with the team and making new friends. I would love to be part of any future Next Gen USA opportunities as this one was special!
Well done, boys!