Infinity youth soccer program building character, not just players

<strong>LOGAN–</strong> In the world of sports, individual talent and accomplishment is often the ultimate measure of success.

For Infinity Soccer, the ultimate goal is instilling that talent in players – both on and off the field.

“I’m way more passionate about the youth development because that’s where you change lives,” Infinity Program Director Jeff Ginn said. “That’s where you mold young kids to understand discipline, structure, punctuality – all those things that you need to be a successful citizen as you get older.”

In 2008, Ginn teamed-up with Sherri Dever and co-founded the Infinity program, a non-profit club soccer organization in Cache Valley. Ginn is the Technical Director, while Dever is the u15-u18 Director of Coaching &amp; College Liaison.

The club is made-up of 29 teams and more than 40 coaches.

Since the program began four years ago, hundreds of kids from ages two to 19 have passed through Infinity – many of which have gone on to play soccer at the collegiate level.

Ginn and Dever said their number one priority is the kids.

“Developing players at a young age like this, we teach them correct habits, we teach them good techniques, which is really going to help them when they’re older, when they’re in high school and at the college level,” Dever said.

By way of athletics, Infinity is a feeder program into the Olympic Development program (ODP) at the national level. Most of the kids within Infinity started out at a recreational level, progressing to a competitive level before joining the Infinity club program.

At the club level, players can receive recognition at the state level of the ODP and compete in regional competitions. Every club in the region takes 18-22 of its best players to a regional camp, and regional coaches take the best players from camp on to the national camp and compete in a national tournament – the pool of players the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams draw from.

Infinity is currently represented by 18 players at the ODP level, and by 55 girls on the three Cache Valley high school teams – Logan, Mountain Crest and Sky View – as well as Box Elder and Preston, while the boys are represented by nine at those same schools.

However, while Infinity has had its share of players go on to compete at the collegiate level, Ginn said the program’s purpose is to help the kids to grow and develop.

“I’m as competitive as you get, but when it comes to developing young players, the focus is individual development and team results second,” Ginn said. “Our whole focus is we want them to number one fall in love with the game, and number two, understand (the game) technically – and that their individual ability is what makes them an asset to whatever team they play on.”

In the four years since they started Infinity, Ginn and Dever have seen numerous success stories working with the youth. One example is a boy who plays with the U11 team. Ginn said the young man started out on a city team and struggled with his teammates and abilities.

Eventually, he chose to join Infinity even though the he knew he wasn’t prepared in regards to the technical aspects of the club. However, his passion for soccer drove him, and under the Infinity program, Ginn said he saw him transform athletically and socially.

“He wanted to get in an environment that was supportive,” Ginn said. “He has blossomed into one of the most confident players in that age group. Not just on the soccer field, but socially he’s gone from being awkward socially to very confident socially. That to me is the best example.”

Ginn provided another example of success.

“On my U12 team, one of our top three players was on our select team, the B-team for three years. In the last year, with the same training and a more comfortable environment, she started raising her level,” Ginn said.  “All of the sudden we brought her up to the premier team and she’s accepted that challenge day in and day out. She’s just slowly climbed up from being one of those ones that came off the bench to you never want to take her out.”

One of the rules Infinity lives by is 10,000 hours to mastery. Ginn said he believes it takes that many hours of curriculum training in the proper environment to master a skill. As kids improve, coaches will move that player up to the next team to increase experience and provide a more difficult challenge.

On the flip side, Ginn said that if a player is struggling the program will move the player down a level to “rebuild their psyche and get them more confident so they can contribute back on their original team that’s a little bit more demanding.”

Off the field, Dever said the reward of working with the youth is more emotional.

“A lot of the players I used to coach that are graduated from high school, to this day if I see them they always come up and give me a big hug,” Dever said. “It’s just like it’s my own son or my own daughter. They matter to you.”

Infinity heads into its fifth year this fall, and additional registration and tryout information can be found at <a href=”http://www.inifinitysc.org./”>www.inifinitysc.org.</a>

<em>-curtislundstrom@gmail.com</em>

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