After a much-needed break during the holidays, the Academy resumed activities in January with an exciting agenda that included a visit from U.S. National Team Legend Clint Dempsey and the first-ever Academy matches at Atrium Health Performance Park.
Find out all the details in this edition of Next Up, your monthly source for updates on Charlotte FC’s Academy.
Clint Dempsey Visits the Academy
Last month, the Academy players had the privilege of hosting CLTFC captain and midfielder Ashley Westwood, who shared his story of resilience and perseverance in reaching the pinnacle of Premier League football.
Continuing the tradition of inviting former pros to impart wisdom to the next generation, Clint Dempsey followed suit. Hailing from a small Texas town, Dempsey ascended from college soccer to the Premier League, becoming the joint all-time leading scorer for the USMNT.
“It’s a big resource to be able to hear from someone that sounds like them and has a similar background but has represented clubs at the MLS level and also represented their country in three World Cups,” said U-15 head coach Torrey Stricklin. “It’s someone they can relate to and someone that’s gone over to Europe and been successful at some big clubs in the Premier League. However, I think the thing that was probably most relatable to them is the amount of adversity he had to go through to get to those places and his mentality.”
Against all odds, Dempsey reached the highest levels of play in the world in a time where professional academies didn’t exist, and the United States was still very much a minnow on the global scale. He touched on the mentality it takes to reach the top level, demonstrating for the Academy players to not take the resources and opportunities they have today for granted.
Opportunities such as having a state-of-the-art facility and guidance from some of the top coaches in the country are huge benefits, but it still takes the same mentality today as it did for Dempsey in his playing career.
Defending the Fortress
Since the Academy’s inception, they have never had a place to call home until now. For the first time in the Academy’s history, they were able to host home matches in their own facilities and fields.
Atrium Health Performance Park has proven to be pivotal for the first team, but perhaps even more so for the Academy sides.
In their inaugural home matches, the U-15s and U-17s triumphed over Orlando…