Columbus Crew's inaugural Pre-Academy programming is expected to commence this spring, following last year's tryouts which featured 284 participating trialists as the Club continues to open the door and unite players in local and surrounding communities.
Tryouts for the Pre-Academy program featured players from a number of local Clubs around the Central Ohio area, including but not limited to Sporting Columbus, Columbus East FC, Ohio Premier, and Club Ohio.
Notably, following Open and Nomination-Only Tryouts held last fall, the Club was able to establish a connection with 40 additional clubs that were without a representative on one of the Academy teams. Additionally, of those 40 clubs, 12 are now represented in the inaugural pool of selected Pre-Academy players.
Of the 284 total trialists, 64 players were selected and will now have the opportunity to participate in the official Pre-Academy programming at the Boys’ Under-9/10 and U-11/12 levels.
The Pre-Academy – which was unveiled last Fall – is designed to meet once a week and serves as supplemental training for players who are in other clubs or in unstructured environments. Ultimately, the program provides a potential path for players into the Crew Academy. The Crew's current First Team roster features five players who are Crew Academy products: midfielder Sebastian Berhalter, defender Aboubacar Keita, midfielder Aidan Morris, midfielder Isaiah Parente, and goalkeeper Matt Lampson.
Prior to the program's rollout, Academy Director Kelvin Jones said he and his staff always knew the Club needed to move away from the previously established "pay-to-play" model, and that the Pre-Academy's role isn't to establish exclusivity, but to open a two-way channel of communication between the Crew and local clubs.
"At the end of the day, the program isn't just about getting eyes and developing the kids, but also about giving clubs a look into what we do. So as we roll out the program, the idea is also about giving club directors access and visibility into the program, as well, to see what we do," Jones said.
"That way, it's not just the kids who are going back to their clubs with new material and insight, but also the coaches and directors as well."
The announcement of the program has proved fruitful and was met with immediate interest from a diverse set of neighborhoods and communities, as over 120 kids signed up within the first 48 hours of the announcement. Of the 284 trialists, a majority were born in 2010 while nearly 23 percent of those surveyed said they spoke a language other than English at home.
Weekly Pre-Academy training sessions are set to begin in March. Going forward, the Club expects to hold Pre-Academy tryouts on an annual basis before the official start of the Academy season. Currently, the 2021 Pre-Academy tryout sessions are expected to be held in late summer or early fall ahead of the 2022 season.
Coaches, Club Directors, and community members can nominate a player by filling out this form.