It may be Chattanooga Red Wolves SC’s inaugural season, but the club is already seeking to develop the next generation of soccer talent in the region.
In April, the Red Wolves announced the addition of a youth academy focused on completing the “path to pro.”
The academy will promote the development of both boys and girls from ages 7-to-19 with the goal of preparing them to join the Dalton Red Wolves, the team’s USL League Two side, or the Lady Red Wolves, along with esteemed collegiate programs. Ideally, final stop for Academy participants will be the professional roster of the Chattanooga Red Wolves.
“To have some of these kids go on to play for the Red Wolves pro team is the end goal for us,” said Academy VP of Soccer Operations Matt Yelton.
Because of the academy’s direct affiliation to Chattanooga Red Wolves SC, youth players will be in direct contact with the club’s professional players and coaches to help mold them into players that can play at the professional level.
The academy’s close connection with the experience and expertise at the top of the club allows the youth players to learn from the very best. Chattanooga Red Wolves defender Colin Falvey is serving as head coach of the U17 boys’ team, in addition to his role as a player for the professional team.
"With the experiences and knowledge I've picked up from working with other clubs and academy's around the world and combined with my day to day involvement with the Red Wolves 1st team, I think I have all the tools needed to help these kids develop," Falvey said. "I'm very excited to play my part in building the next generation of soccer players for our club and city."
While it will serve as a path to professional play for many of its players, the academy will strive to ensure that every athlete regardless of skill level learns the game and continues to play soccer at any level.
“Whether they’re the best player in Chattanooga or they’re putting on shin guards for the first time, we’re working together to ensure that the development of that kid not only as a player but as a person is at the appropriate level,” Academy President Chad Mize said. “The most important thing is that these kids keep playing soccer.”
What makes the Red Wolves academy special is the attention given to every player across all teams. Yelton and the Red Wolves’ experienced coaching staff pride themselves on developing better players at an individual level in addition to coaching winning teams.
“We want to emphasize an individual development plan for every player,” Yelton said. “I think sometimes academies get lost focusing on team development, but we’re focusing on developing the individuals as well.”
Players in the academy will gain experience and develop skills to make them the best soccer players they can be, but the ultimate goal of the Red Wolves Academy is much more important than soccer.
“What we’re trying to do is develop better players, but also focus on the development of the whole person,” Yelton said. “We want them to be successful not only on the soccer field but also as human beings.”
Parents of academy players can rest assured that their child is getting the best instruction available from coaches who are invested in their child’s growth.
According to Joey Bird, who has three children participating in the Red Wolves Academy, she’s excited for the opportunity for her children to be involved with a professional club.
“I think the people behind the [Chattanooga Red Wolves] Academy and their driving mission and goals are big reasons why I wanted my kids to play here,” Bird said. “It’s truly about the players and their development.”
For more information about the Red Wolves Academy and how to get involved visit https://chattredwolvesyouth.demosphere-secure.com.
This is part one of a three-part series highlighting Chattanooga Red Wolves SC's goal to bring a path to professional play to the Chattanooga and North Georgia regions.