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Why isn't Texas producing members of the Women's World Cup? Pixel
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Why isn't Texas producing members of the Women's World Cup?

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Why isn't Texas producing members of the Women's World Cup? Empty Why isn't Texas producing members of the Women's World Cup?

Post by Tiki-taka on 25/06/15, 03:37 pm

Quick Summary: it's the parent's fault:

Why isn't Texas producing members of the Women's World Cup team?


Staff Writer

Published: 07 June 2015 11:11 PM

Updated: 07 June 2015 11:11 PM

On Monday, 23 women will represent the U.S. as they begin their quest for the World Cup. Six hail from California. Four come from New Jersey. Two each are natives of Arizona, Georgia and Missouri.

Zero are from the state of Texas.

It wasn’t always like this. Tracey Bates (now Tracey Leone), an Ursuline Academy graduate, was a midfielder on the 1991 team. Carla Overbeck, who grew up in Richardson, played in three World Cups (1991, 1995, 1999) and served as a U.S. captain in her final two.

But in what will be four World Cups since the U.S. won the 1999 title, no Texan has made the U.S. team.

“It kind of baffles my mind,” said Chris Stricker, who spent 18 years as Coppell’s head coach before retiring this year and has been a coach for various youth club teams.

Texas ranks second among states in girls’ participation in high school soccer, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Yet 22 different states have produced a U.S. Women’s World Cup player since Texas was last represented 16 years ago.

In an odd way, an increased talent pool might be part of the Texas drought.

Growth in participation in Texas has led to an increase in club teams and leagues to meet demand. In a population-dense and soccer-loving area like North Texas, the setup creates problems, according to Randy Waldrum. An Irving native, Waldrum is coach of the Houston Dash of the professional National Women’s Soccer League and a former college coach at Notre Dame, Baylor and the University of Tulsa.

The first problem: Competition becomes diluted as the best players spread out over multiple teams. Dallas-area teams captured six of the first nine girls under-19 national titles from 1980 to 1988. They’ve won three times since then.

The second: Players can and do move from team to team in search of one that wins.

“The parents pay to be with the clubs. Because of that there’s no patience with what we as coaches refer to as player development,” Waldrum said. “They want to win, they want to win right now, and if they don’t win they leave.

“We shouldn’t have our under-11 coach in North Texas under such immense pressure that they just have to win games at under-11, and that’s what happening.”

The pressure leads coaches to take the easy route, cutting the skilled but physically less mature players in favor of bigger and stronger ones, Waldrum said. This leads to the coaches playing a more direct game that’s ill-suited for higher levels.

“I think there’s a big skill gap in North Texas at some of the higher levels because they’re so focused on winning,” Stricker said. “Instead of teaching them how to play the game the right way, they’re just banging it. They’re kicking long balls, they’re running after it and their girls are faster.”

There’s hope for 2019. Bates, Stricker and Waldrum agree that the raw talent is still in North Texas. Plano’s Abby Smith is a goalkeeper for U-23 women’s national team, while Sachse’s Jordan Harr plays midfield for the U-20 national team.

But to consistently produce top talent, Waldrum said, North Texas parents need to become more educated on finding and sticking with good coaches instead of focusing on winning.

“It’s been going that way for the last 15 years in North Texas, and it’s hard to stop this snowball effect,” Waldrum said. “I think all the coaches would probably will tell you, ‘Yeah, I’d like to play better, I’d like to have better quality of games, but you know what, I have to win or I lose my job,’ or, ‘I have to win or I lose my top kids.’

“It’s really disappointing because we’ve got enough players in North Texas to do it. We’ve got enough quality.”
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