Big-time programs coming here to seek talent at soccer camp - Albuquerque Journal

Big-time programs coming here to seek talent at soccer camp

What do the men’s soccer programs at Georgetown, the University of Washington and Notre Dame have in common?

If you answered that all three are competing this weekend at the College Cup in Cary, North Carolina, you are correct, but receive only partial credit.

In large part through the efforts of Hoyas coach Brian Wiese, who played his high school soccer at Albuquerque Academy, coaches from those three Division I powers competing in the national semifinals on Friday will be in Albuquerque next month for an elite boys-only camp.

It is scheduled Jan. 7-9, with the final two days at Academy and the first day possibly at another location. The enrollment fee is $495, and players have until Jan. 3 to register at riseidcamps.com. Organizers are capping the total of entrants at 120.

“If the talent is there,” Wiese said in a telephone interview with the Journal on Wednesday as his team arrived by bus to North Carolina, “we want to find it.”

Wiese said the camp would offer New Mexico boys a rare chance to be thoroughly evaluated by some of the sport’s elite programs.

“The trick to recruiting in general is familiarity and exposure,” said Wiese. His brother Andrew is the girls coach at Academy and is handling much of the local planning. “The geography of New Mexico, it feels very much like an island, and there are not a lot of major D-1 programs near it.”

Jamie Clark, the head coach at Washington, is a former assistant coach of the now-defunct men’s program at the University of New Mexico.

Notre Dame has two assistant coaches in Mike Graczyk – a former MLS player from La Cueva who once was UNM’s associate head coach – and Jeff Rowland (La Cueva) who played for the Lobos. Rowland has a dozen years as a D-1 coach.

Wiese said rather than having players foot the bill to travel, in this instance, it is the coaches who are coming to them.

“The recruiting challenge for top players is, who sees them? You have to fall in love with the player, and in order to fall in love with the player, you have to see them,” Wiese said.

With that in mind, the genesis of this camp was created.

Wiese, as an example, said there was a player in New Mexico that Georgetown was “really interested in,” who had to spend considerable money to travel to Washington this summer. Wiese is not permitted to name any player he is recruiting.

While UNM’s women’s program has landed a couple of handfuls of New Mexico girls, the boys no longer have that option.

“It hit me in the face that this generation of New Mexican soccer players, they don’t have UNM to fall back on,” Wiese said.

“Where do all the boys go now? We have to do something to help that pool of kids. If there are kids who are good enough, let’s see if we can get coaches in front of them.”

Wiese said he expects coaches from American University, the University of Pennsylvania and Penn State to also be in attendance at the camp next month. It will be open to any high-school age player.

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