Just one day prior to the NWSL Draft (we'll have a live blog for all that action), Seattle Reign FC announced the launch of the Seattle Reign Academy, a partnership with Seattle United that will develop elite-level female youth soccer players in the Seattle region.
Reign Coach Laura Harvey will officially serve as the Academy's Executive Director.
"I am deeply passionate about youth player development and expect to build the Academy program in a manner that reflects my beliefs about how to develop world-class players on and off the pitch," said Harvey.
Harvey will be supported by a Technical Committee that includes Jason Farrell, Seattle United's Director of Coaching— Girls; Reign Assistant Coach Sam Laity; and the Academy's Technical Director, who will lead the day-to-day operations. Reign FC is currently evaluating candidates for this role and expect to fill it within the next 30 days.
Harvey noted that, after three seasons focused on building a world-class squad, the Reign are now "in a position to confidently engage more deeply with the community, and specifically, to use our unique position to influence the development of female soccer players in the Northwest."
This is not the first Academy within the NWSL. Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, Washington Spirit, and Western NY Flash also have Academy teams. This is, however, a significant step for the Reign, a team that lacked a strong reserve system with the folding of the W-League, which included the Seattle Sounders Women. With the launch of an Academy, they now have the ability to oversee and develop young talent in the region.
The Academy will hold tryouts in the Spring and plans to field teams for 13-18 year-old young women, beginning in the 2016/17 season. The goal is to have these Academy teams play in the highest-level competition for these age groups. There is a lot of strong soccer talent in the Seattle region, and while the Academy kicks off with a Seattle United partnership, the Reign hope to forge partnerships with additional clubs in the Seattle area over the coming months.
As part of the partnership, Reign coaching staff will provide curriculum support and coach education for Seattle United players and coaches. Laura Harvey imparting her wisdom on more local soccer coaches is one idea I can fully get behind.