FORT WAYNE – Every year about this time, Bobby Poursanidis squints through the heat haze at gaggles of kids knee-high to the soccer balls theyre bumping around, and he tries to see the future.
It was tryout time last week for the Fort Wayne Fever Academy, and so let the crystal ball gazing begin.
Wholl be good?
Wholl be great?
Where is all of this headed?
Not for the first time, but maybe more clearly than ever, Poursanidis sees.
One of our goals when we formed the Fever was to try to create a structure like a pro structure with our coaches, try to influence getting kids into the program a lot younger, says Poursanidis, the Fever Academys director of coaching.
Were seeing that come to fruition.
Never more starkly than now. Thats because last weekend, at the Indiana Youth Soccer State Championships, the Fever made a little history.
For the first time, every Fever team – eight of them – that qualified for the state finals advanced to the championship game in its respective age group.
Four of them won titles; three advanced to the regional championships in Saginaw, Mich., beginning next Saturday.
The four state titlistz were the U12 boys, U17 boys, U18 boys and U19 boys. Two of those – the U12s and U18s – were repeat champions. The U11 boys, U15 boys, U16 boys and U17 girls all finished as runners-up, losing in the finals to, respectively, Fishers FC, Dynamo FC, Carmel United (last years state U16 champions), and Zionsville.
Among the winners, only the U12s wont advance to Saginaw, simply because there is no U12 regional. The rest will be competing for berths in the national championships.
Absolutely awesome, Poursanidis says. It was a really good weekend for us.
And he hardly needed that crystal ball to see the future. Though, as the song goes, its so bright, he might have needed shades.
Our 12s, that group is so talented. Theyre going to be something, Poursandis says. And all our other teams are really competitive.
It all begins, he says, literally at the grass roots, or at the very least not very far above them.
Its no secret, but its the secret, really: The younger you get kids, the more continuity your organization will be able to sustain from top to bottom.
Those 18s and 17s, some of these older groups, have been in this for the last six, seven years, Poursanidis says.
Weve had the older kids since they were 8, 9 years old, and to be able to build them from there only creates more success. Were excited to get them in young and build that foundation and get them to the point where, 15 years old or so, you really start to see something.
Its been an incredible opportunity for us to get these kids to come in at a young age and create a foundation. Help them set goals and kind of see the future and build on it.
Sometimes more quickly than planned.
Yeah, were not necessarily looking for results at a younger age, Poursanidis says.
But sometimes we get very fortunate and see that.
Along with a whole lot else.