What is the Major League Soccer’s Youth Development Program?
Major League Soccer charted new territory among major professional sports leagues in the United States in 2006 by launching a league-mandated youth development initiative that enables - and incentivizes - teams to acquire, outside of the annual MLS Super Draft, top young players that they and their affiliates have developed. These youth teams and systems throughout the country provide talented young players with professional aspirations a unique opportunity to pursue their dreams, while staying close to home and continuing their education.
What does the Grand Rapids affiliation with Crew Juniors mean?
Grand Rapids Crew Juniors, as an Official Crew Juniors Affiliate, was formed as a comprehensive relationship to enhance the opportunity and exposure for our youth players. GRCJ players have membership in one of the most innovative and comprehensive player development systems in the country providing outstanding instruction, exposure, opportunity and experience - every player in the organization will benefit from Crew coaching connections at every level throughout the United States.
Our players will also have opportunities to connect with Columbus Crew players and coaches, access to world class facilities such as Crew Stadium, Obetz Training facility, and the new Crew training complex.
A consistent philosophy and age appropriate curriculum throughout the network and a commitment to continuing education for all Grand Rapids Crew Juniors coaches - annual workshops, seminars, & speakers will provide significant value passed on to Grand Rapids Crew Juniors families.
Is GRCJ one of those clubs that believes in winning at any cost?
Absolutely not - we believe in sportsmanship and integrity above all and at all times. Just look at this website. You’ll see where our emphasis is – on our players.
What kinds of players gravitate to GRCJ?
Many different kinds could be short answer! In the Premier Division you will find young girls and boys with deep passion for soccer and a strong commitment to playing the fullest of their abilities. Most of our players ultimately excel in high school and collegiate soccer. Some dream of playing professionally – and several have. Our Premier Division is not for everyone – but it is right for those who want to play with and against the very best.
Our Select Division is for everyone who has an interest and a desire to play organized soccer at a slightly higher pace than recreational or AYSO soccer. Our main purpose with the Select teams is to provide a wide variety of soccer for the players who have an interest to explore and learn the game further but do not necessarily want to travel to far to do so.
Does GRCJ expect its kids to play soccer 24/7/365?
No, but in reality, many of our players in the Premier Division treat soccer as their primary sport. In addition to the Fall and Spring outdoor seasons, many of our players and teams train once per week in the winter, and some participate in indoor leagues from November to March. We encourage kids (and their parents) to find the level of involvement that’s right for them. That is why we formed Grand Rapids Crew Juniors; to provide for both the recreational and more serious soccer player within one club.
How does GRCJ differ from other clubs in the area?
GRCJ differs in four important ways: 1) our club is formed to provide for both the very talented and driven soccer player and for the more recreational player who is in it to develop further 2) our teams play at the very highest levels in youth soccer today; 3) we have the most experienced coaching staff of any club in our area, and 4) while players are our first priority, we also work hard to satisfy parents who are central to our kids’ success.
How do you work to satisfy parents?
We start with a belief that if a parent isn’t satisfied with GRCJ, then chances are their son or daughter will be unhappy too. So, we do several things. First, we work to ensure that all our coaches have first-aid certification and carry first-aid kits. We have strict codes of conduct for players, coaches and parents. We measure and monitor the satisfaction of our all our constituents. We work to keep our prices competitive and offer a good value, with transparency and advance notice on costs. And we work to run our club in a clear, transparent, open and simple manner, as free of “politics” as possible.
Is GRCJ expensive?
Our annual club fees are the same as or slightly less than those found in other clubs. But given the quality of our coaching, all the inclusions i.e. fields, winter training, summer camp, strength and agility training, top uniforms etc. we believe we’re an excellent value.
Do you provide financial assistance to families that can’t afford your fees?
Yes, we have a substantial Player Development Fund that last year helped an average of more than one player per team. It’s easy to ask for this support, and we’re working hard now to increase this fund so we can help more families.
Do GRCJ teams travel a lot?
In our Premier Division the answer is yes. To play some of the nation’s top-ranked teams, we must travel regularly. Mostly, we play in Michigan . When we go out of state, it’s usually to Indiana , Illinois and Ohio . Occasionally, we’ll travel elsewhere in the Midwest . And some of our teams may travel as far as Florida and California to play in “showcase” tournaments once or twice a year. We work to coordinate travel to keep hassle and costs down.
In our Select Division the travel is primarily within West Michigan and the boundaries of GVSA. Our teams can travel from Wayland to Traverse City to the Lakeshore. Once in a while some teams might decide to participate in tournaments in neighboring states.
What’s GRCJ’s position on Michigan ’s Olympic Development Program?
ODP is a great opportunity for Michigan ’s very best players with the skills and extra commitment to play at the highest levels. The coaching is excellent, the training is outstanding, and for those 30-40 kids in the state who are selected into the program, it’s a special opportunity to develop by playing with and against the best.
What is GRCJ’s philosophy towards coaching?
Part of GRCJ’s philosophy is to always try to improve Coaching and Player Development. Coaches coaching at the Premier level are to be expected to move players and their teams on to the next age group coach every two years (determined by Club DOC) to improve player development. A coach receiving a new team will also be part of training sessions for that age group coming up so to encourage a smooth transition with taking over of new players/squad. This is to be agreed upon between the lower age group coach, next older age group coach and the club DOC.
In the event there is no coach qualified enough to take over the younger team coming up, then a review is to take place of the current coach as to whether he/she is capable of taking that same team for a 3rd possible year. If the situation requires a review and is accepted, that coach will take the team for a third year and only a third year and then the team will be passed onto a new coach. If there is still not a coach, then the procedure will be repeated in one year increments. Communication between that current teams coach and DOC is important to agree on a coach capable and able to coach that team moving forward.