photo courtesy of YSC Academy and Nick Szwerdszarf
Wake Forest. South Florida. Dartmouth. Penn. And so on.
Those schools and more will feature 2017 graduates from the Philadelphia Union-affiliated YSC Academy.
The school held an event last Friday to celebrate these decisions and announcements. Of course, where on the soccer field they’ll play is up to their new coaches, but here’s the list:
- Freddy Gil — University of South Florida — Left back
- Manny Perez — California Polytechnic Institute, San Luis Obispo — center midfielder
- Aaron Schwartz – Dartmouth University – Goalkeeper
- Dawson McCartney – Dartmouth University – Central attacking midfielder
- Max Sakiewicz – University of Delaware – Defensive midfielder
- Mark McKenzie – Wake Forest University – Center back
- Justin McMaster – Wake Forest University – Left midfielder/left wing
- Kalil ElMedkhar – University of Kentucky – Winger
- Brandon Golden – Fordham University – Left back
- Josue Monge – University of South Florida – Center midfielder
- Omar Ayala – Duquesne University – Defensive midfielder
- R. C. Williams – University of Pennsylvania – Right back
- Juan Pablo Infante – Gettysburg College – Striker
- Freeman Dwamena – California Polytechnic Institute, San Luis Obispo – Center back
The school recreates the spectacle of national signing day as:
- It honors its seniors,
- it encourages its underclassmen,
- and it showcases its own success.
Most significantly, this celebration of the YSC Academy senior class illustrates once again how Richie Graham’s project is preparing its students to succeed beyond both high school and soccer, regardless of whether they make the pros.
All 18 members of the senior class are due to graduate from high school, and 78 percent of them plan to go to college immediately after finishing the YSC Academy. (But that rate could actually be 94 percent, as three more intend to go at some point, with two simply not yet deciding their future plans and a third eligible for another year with the academy’s U-18 team.) The exception is Matt Real, who has already signed a professional contract with Bethlehem Steel FC.
As soccer eligibility is based on the calendar year while academia uses September through May, the two do not mesh perfectly. Hence YSC Academy is actually grades 8 through 12+, although it presents as a four-year high school.
The academy seeks to treat the students as more than just players. For example, last November, Union head coach Jim Curtin showed his innate decency when he disparaged other soccer academies that discard their soccer rejects like pieces of meat, giving them no alternative in case soccer did not pan out. YSC Academy, he pointed out, does not do that.