Soccer Academy FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is The St. James Soccer Academy?
The St. James Soccer Academy is the preeminent educational and performance resource center for youth soccer players in the United States. The goal is to make youth soccer player development a measurable and educationally-meaningful experience for the child and his/her family, with a deliberate focus on “learning by doing” and holistic training, mentorship and competition.
Who leads the academy?
All St. James Soccer Academy programs and team activities will be led by Karen Kelser, Academy Director, along with support from Bruce Murray, Director of Player Development & Parent Engagement, in collaboration with Douglas Homer, Director of The St. James Center for Soccer Excellence. Together, the team has over 70 years of coaching and playing expertise, curriculum development, program management and executive leadership in sport, youth development and education.
What is the academy's philosophy and approach to player development?
The St. James Soccer Academy utilizes long-term athlete development principles as its framework for educational programming, team formation and training, and support for each child and his/her family. These principles can be used as a foundation on which to make existing systems more successful and training more consistent. Used by almost all national governing bodies of sport, the Long-Term Athlete Development model (LTAD) is one of the most successful in the world.

At The St. James, we value practice and proper training above all else. Building a great training foundation is the key to creating a successful pathway to competition. Athletes get more opportunity to play, develop a true love and passion for sport and are better prepared to excel. These are the hallmarks of successful athlete development.

The stages of LTAD can vary a bit, but the overall approach is consistent. Below, we have laid out these stages of development:
What is the academy's mission and educational philosophy?
The Academy’s mission is to create “best-in-class” soccer environment for players of all ages, interests and abilities.

The Academy vision pertains to the importance of inspiring growth in a child and curating positive experiences that reinforce the purpose of learning by doing. The St. James Soccer Academy is child-centered, holistic in purpose and application, and scaled across all curricular platforms that offers each student-athlete age-appropriate instruction.

At the core of the Academy is the Latin maxim principle, Non Scholae Sed Vitae Discimus, which translates to “we learn not for school, but for life.” This permeates across all aspects of the teaching, coaching, mentoring and support our Technical team provides to all Academy participants and their families.
What are the benefits of playing in The St. James Soccer Academy?
There are many benefits of playing for The St. James Soccer Academy. These benefits include:
Age-appropriate instruction
Personalized pathways for each child to follow beyond high school into college and beyond
Consistent, high level learning & training environment
Access to & use of world class facilities
Integrated sport science methods & technologies to advance player development
Cross-collaboration among experts in futsal, soccer, health, medicine, wellness, athletic performance, nutrition and sports psychology
Guided discovery & evaluation process for parents & players in 8-week cycles
Emphasis on learning, competing & reflecting on skill mastery & tactical understanding
Schedule designed to improve periodization and help reduce the risk of injury
College exposure at first class events, matches, and training
Matches regularly attended by us soccer scouts and professional club coaches
What are some of the other value-added benefits that The St. James soccer academy has compared to other clubs?
GPS monitoring for all players to improve player monitoring and injury prevention
All games videotaped and analyzed for players
School-year Futsal training & competition
International team training & exposure opportunities with academy club partners
Character and leadership development activities to help further develop student-athletes for success in higher education, professional sports and workforce opportunities.
What is the academy’s educational values that coaches, trainers, student-athletes and parents will be held to?
Experience the game – actively participate
Apply what you learn
Reflect on what you learned
Champion your own curiosity for more
Compete for life
How will coaches, student-athletes and teams be measured & held accountable for their efforts and actions?
All academy student-athletes and their parents, along with members of The St. James soccer academy technical staff, will adhere to the following standards of learning:
Defined educational curriculum with clearly defined aims, objectives and outcome measures
Align player development curriculum with mission, vision, goals and educational philosophy
Long-term player development process for every student-athlete
Principled programming coupled with child development theorem and pedagogies
Define the teaching method for technical staff, parents and student-athletes
Centralized curriculum – accessible to all members of the technical staff and management team
Deliberate instruction – teach the content, encourage creativity, problem-solving and discussion
Focus on the educational needs of student-athletes
Defined player competencies
Continuous evaluation of human performance and the assets we have in place to deliver a “best-in-class” soccer environment for players of all ages, interests and abilities
What kind of curricula will The St. James academy use to support all student-athletes, teams and families participating in the academy?
The St. James Soccer Academy, along with The St. James Center for Soccer Excellence, conforms with the U.S. Soccer Federation’s player development initiatives to inspire and educate youth soccer players to engage in soccer activities that are fun, comprehensive and aligned with a long-term pathway to soccer excellence. As such, instruction will focus on the following curricular themes:
Offer educational environments that provide opportunities for student-athletes to develop technical ability
Provide educational environments that challenge student-athletes to engage in activities that develop physical faculties
Stimulate self-reflection, purpose and focus in all aspects of the student-athlete experience
Define and demand personal and small-group responsibility
Empower student-athletes to make real-time, autonomous game decisions
Encourage student-athletes to adapt to the demands of the game
Support the long-term developmental needs & desires of emerging student-athletes
What age groups will the academy form teams?
The St. James Soccer Academy will form teams in the following age groups for play and competition in leagues, tournaments and special events during the 2019-20 school year:
Age Groups
Number of Teams
Age Group:10U (2010-2011)
No. of Teams:1 Boys, 1 Girls
Age Group:12U (2008-2009)
No. of Teams:1 Boys, 1 Girls
Age Group:14U (2006-2007)
No. of Teams:1 Boys, 1 Girls
Age Group:16U (2004-2005)
No. of Teams:1 Boys, 1 Girls
Academy teams will be formed in accordance with US Youth Soccer’s birth year matrix for the 2019-20 soccer year.
What is The St. James Center for Soccer Excellence?
From our Emerging Talent Center to Intensive Player Development Program, The St. James Center for Soccer Excellence delivers best in class soccer and futsal education training programs, skill development and team competition, and performance resources for youth soccer players in the greater Washington, DC metropolitan area.
Each component of The St. James Center for Soccer Excellence is designed to help youth players become competent, capable student-athletes on and off the pitch. An emphasis on long-term development, combined with a personalized and structured off-field athletic training regimen provided by in-house exercise science and performance specialists, makes the St. James Center for Soccer Excellence the “center of the soccer universe” for players of all ages, abilities and interests.
Emerging Talent Center (“ETC”) – Learn to Play & Discover programming
Center for Soccer Excellence (“CSE”) Camps, Clinics and Leagues – Play & Participate Opportunities
Intensive Player Development Program (“IDP”) – Train to Learn, Train to Compete
Player Identification & Regional Training Center – Excel Opportunities
Individual Training & Leadership Development Programming
The St. James Soccer Academy – Advanced Player & Team Developmental Pathways
High Performance Strength, Conditioning, Fitness & Wellness Instruction
Tournaments & Special Events
What is the developmental pathway for a youth player in The St. James Soccer Academy?
Emerging Talent Center
The St. James Pre-Academy
The St. James Academy
College & University Teams
Professional Club & League Partners
US Soccer National Teams
What is The St. James Soccer Academy’s rationale on long-term player development and pathways forward for student-athletes?
The St. James Soccer Academy, along with support from The St. James Center for Soccer Excellence, utilizes a Long-Term Player Development Pathway (“LTPDP”) model that encourages a student-athlete-centered approach in all aspects of the educational experience.

Through a proprietary curriculum and access to in-house experts and resources, student-athletes who follow the LTPDP will see an increase in their cognitive skills, including psychomotor and psychosocial aptitudes. Moreover, student-athletes who actively engage in athletic and academic enrichment activities will gain valuable competitive experience, ample opportunity to reflect on their progress and development, and the freedom to apply what they learn in individual and group settings towards personal and professional goals and interests beyond secondary school.

The St. James Center for Soccer Excellence’s LTPDP model aims to develop the entire student-athlete by covering soccer-specific components of technical, tactical, physical and psychological areas, whilst intertwining the components of personal, lifestyle, parental, educative and competitive experiences. By combining inter-disciplinary performance exercise science expertise with world-class instruction and mentoring, the LTPDP will assist student-athletes and their parent/guardian grasp the importance of:
Making soccer enjoyable for the student-athlete and his/her family
Defining a long-term pathway of engagement and opportunity for each student-athlete
Foster the athletic talent and personal development of exceptional young student-athletes who play the Beautiful Game
Attract and retain players of all standards within all levels of the Academy and Center for Soccer Excellence
Implement educational activities for the appropriate skill and age levels based on bio-banding
Align individual athletic talent and personal development of each participant in relation to their skills, interests, goals and passion
How impactful will The St. James Soccer Academy be on a student-athlete’s interest and prospect of playing in college?
The U.S. Soccer Development Academy has already shown it is the “go to” event for college coaches. Here are some of the benefits of The St. James Soccer Academy programming with respect to college recruiting:
U.S. Soccer development academy national showcase events scheduled when colleges can attend
The ability for academy teams to attend other college showcase events outside of these 3 events
Match to rest ratio allowing for quality matches for colleges to see players at their best
Are academy student-athletes permitted to play other sports during the school year?
Yes. The St. James Soccer Academy encourages its own student-athletes to play other sports during the school year.