CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – There were a few great quotes and notes that didn’t quite make the final cut of the written and video features about the Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy that we published on Monday morning.
Here are a few of those quotes and anecdotes:
Real Salt Lake General Manager Garth Lagerwey:
On what RSL wants to get out of the RSL-AZ Academy, beyond simply developing professional players:
“I think the goal here, especially within a residential setting, is not only to create good soccer players but to create good people. We’re proud of the fact that we’re beginning to sign professional soccer prospects out of the academy but we’re also sending far more kids to college. These are kids sometimes of limited means where the opportunity to go to college can be potentially life changing. I know our partner [Grande Sports Academy Owner] Ron Burks has been instrumental in laying the foundation for that as one of the core values of the academy, and I think that those twin objectives are not only compatible but mutually beneficial for us.”
On where he sees the RSL-AZ Academy in 5-10 years:
“Ideally we’ll have identified every soccer prospect in Utah and Arizona from the age of 12 or 13 and have had them here for five years of growth, development, coaching and skill enhancing. Hopefully we do it in such a way that instead of players that need to go to the minor leagues or train with the first team for a year or two [before playing for RSL], we’re coming down here and saying, ‘We think this guy is better than somebody on our team and we’re going to sign him tomorrow.’”
On what it would mean to have a RSL-AZ graduate emerge with the Claret-and-Cobalt first team:
“I think it’d be huge. I think it’d be the validation of everything we believe in down here and it’d be a validation of all the money we’ve spent down here – and it’s been a significant investment that we’ve made. I think that that’s going to be important not just for a kid or recruiting kids to the academy, but I think it’d be tremendous for our fans to see a truly homegrown player with a local connection, the kind of local boy who grows up in the academy and plays for the first team. I don’t think there is a more powerful image that you can send the Salt Lake community and fan base in terms of us being a long term part of the social fabric.”
On if developing Home Grown players through the Academy is more important to a small market team like RSL than a bigger market team like L.A. or New York:
“Absolutely, absolutely. That has to be the foundation of what we do. We have to be a reflection of our community and we have to play in a way that comports with the values of our community, and I think developing players locally is a big part of that.”
Real Salt Lake-Arizona U-18 midfielder Haeden Turner
He didn’t quite make it into the final draft, but RSL-AZ U-18 player Haeden Turner was a huge help in the reporting of the written story on the academy. The injured midfielder was very gracious with his time on two separate (unplanned) occasions.
A Canadian who came to Casa Grande in August 2011 after spending the previous two years at then-English Premier League club Bolton Wanderers, Turner said he loves the RSL-AZ Academy and really appreciates its emphasis on both education and soccer, something he didn’t really experience while in England.