Internationals SC Girls’ Program Hits the Main Stage
Internationals SC girls’ program has seen young players make their way through the ranks and onto the national scene in recent months. With many players receiving youth national team call-ups, ISC remains dedicated to developing players with full focus on their future whether it is on or off the pitch.
ISC Director of Coaching Keri Sarver explains that the goal is to develop players as a total package and teach them that soccer could be a life-love thing that can still be part of their lives after their playing careers.
Based out of Northern Ohio, Internationals SC was originally established in 1976 as an outlet for players who graduated from college and still had a desire to continue to play competitively. The youth program was launched in 1985 with the club now paving the way to the next level for talented youth players in the region.
Today, the ISC boys’ program has partnered with Arsenal FC in the past year. Although this partnership has not been included for its girls, plans for the future are certainly on the table as the clubs continue to work together.
ISC Girls’ Director of Coaching Keri Sarver was first involved with the club 28 years ago and has seen the growth and transition of the club over the years.
Sarver attended the University of Maryland and went on to play professionally in the former Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA). She transitioned to a full-time coach and director 8 years ago.
Sarver also serves on the U.S. Youth National Team coaching staff, primarily with the U18 Women’s National Team. She runs national training center events and scouts for certain age groups in the region.
“I have a pretty good handle on what the level is,” said Sarver. “This helps me to identify players within the club that have the qualities we are looking for.”
She explains that although she has the ability to open the door for players to make it to the next level, she can only push them so far in their career.
“Part of that is a blessing,” said Sarver. “Players that are really committed and dedicated, I can help open the door for them, but at the end of the day it’s their talent and drive that is going to keep them there.”
ISC Player Recognition
Over the past few months current and former ISC players have made it into the national team spotlight.
Three players were recently called up to the U.S. U18 WNT training camp in September held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California. Former goalkeeper Gabrielle Kouzelos, defender Olivia Petit and midfielder Sydney Dawson were among the 26 players chosen for the event.
Kouzelos notes that the training at ISC helped her compete at her highest level, but did not necessarily just include on-field guidance.
“The training environment provided me with a level of competition that is so high, it pushes you to become better and to perform at a high level,” said Kouzelos. “Not only did they help me with soccer, but they are the biggest support system that I have.”
Furthermore, Kouzelos explains that the opportunities provided by the ISC coaching staff does not grant you guaranteed success. Like all aspects in life, the ability to push yourself to the next level comes from within.
“The coaches come prepared, it’s then up to you to make sure your mind and body are prepared to execute what they have in store for you. The intensity is high and the competition is fun but can be taxing. You have to be willing to put in a full hour and a half plus of work,” said Kouzelos.
At the U20 level, ISC alumna Emily Ogle is among 21 players who will represent the United States at the 2016 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup held in Papua New Guinea. The U.S. kicked off the tournament on November 14th with a scoreless draw versus France.
Ogle is red-shirting her junior year at Penn State in order to participate in the event.
Remaining Focused on the Future
At ISC, Sarver explains that President and Founder Zdravko Popovic is the foundation and driving force of the club with him still coaching ECNL today. With his knowledge reaching all aspects of the game – coaching, club management, refereeing – Sarver explains that Popovic, who was her youth coach, is one of the main reasons she began coaching.
As soccer has grown in the United States, Sarver notes that the need to adapt to the most recent trends in coaching development has also remained a focus within the club.
Due to the game now requiring more commitment, she explains that ISC has transitioned over the years with the increase in amount of training, specialization of practices as well as developing a more professional environment.
She also points out that at ISC the goal is to develop young athletes as a total package by stressing the importance of academics just as much as the athletic side.
Furthermore, as ISC’s older players begin to make the next step in their playing career, the club remains dedicated to teaching them the importance of passing characteristics onto their younger peers.
“Part of what we do to keep our club connected is invite our younger kids to watch the ECNL level games and training,” said Sarver. “Older players also come out to training camps and just to play sometimes in order for our youth to see how they move off the ball, communicate as well as to demonstrate skills.”
Sarver goes on to explain that at ISC they have taken the approach that soccer can be a life-love thing that even after their playing careers are over they can continue.
“We expose them to other ways they can get involved with the club and game in general. Referees, coaches or administrators when their playing careers are over, an avenue that can get them exposed to that,” said Sarver.
Internationals SC has used the club’s dedication of its employees to develop a program that is designed to see results with the passion aimed at all aspects of player growth.
Along with the dedication of these players, the club remains top notch for future players to begin their career with more news surely to come.
Photo Credit: Internationals SC