DISA U15 Gators on the move
Daniel Island residents can often see youth soccer players proudly sporting Daniel Island Soccer Academy (DISA) gear all over town. The local soccer club has been training and developing players for the community since 2006 when it began with just one team. Over Thanksgiving break, the club’s U15 Gators took their DISA gear off the island - and all the way to Disney World to compete.
The team and their families packed bags and headed to the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida. Coming off of a first place finish in their state-wide league (6 wins, 1 loss and 2 ties) the girls were excited to battle it out with some highly ranked teams from other states at the Disney Soccer Showcase. The Showcase is designed to be an opportunity for top club players to be seen by college coaches that are looking for prospective student athletes.
Andrew Kirk has been the head coach of the team since the 2016-17 season. According to Kirk, the Showcase and its three matches were a new experience for the girls.
“You want your team and players to be ready and exposed to challenges that they can overcome by pushing their limits,” he said. “That is what competitors do - they compete. The Disney tourney was a perfect blend of that for our team - we were challenged physically, mentally, and tactically by all of our opposition and we pushed our limits. The Disney Showcase was a great experience…These players won’t forget it for some time - and some, never.”
A core group of these young ladies, who are now in eighth and ninth grades, started playing together on the U10 Gators in the third and fourth grades. Some players have come and gone over the years; however, the team has always found a way to compete and often against clubs that draw from a much larger pool of players. The Gators are now the oldest, intact female team that the club has and are paving the way for younger girls in the DISA program. For the 2018-2019 season, DISA has 35 female athletes playing for its four girls’ teams, ranging from U10-U15.
The Gators are competing in one last tournament in 2018. This past weekend, they traveled upstate to Greenville to compete in the President’s Medal Cup. They captured a win in their first match before rain forced the tournament officials to reschedule the remainder of the games for the following weekend, December 8-9. This is the third year in a row the Gators have qualified for the State Cup and they enter the competition as the #1 seed in their bracket.
Erik Cobb, director of Daniel Island Soccer Academy, said this is the goal of all the club’s eligible teams.
“We have always had at least one team each year participate in State Cup in all leagues, PMSL and Challenge, and have had several teams attend regional tournaments. We are extremely proud of this group for qualifying yet again for the State Cup. This group came into the season with a very determined attitude and have continued to do so all year. Watching the progression from where this core group started and seeing where they are now has been an absolute pleasure.”
The Gators’ Coach Kirk added, “What’s special to me about this team is their heart. The work ethic of the players is second to none I have had the pleasure of being around. The level that this team is capable of competing at only grows day by day and we have girls new to the sport! Grit and determination! Competing at State is our goal each year and we have done it each and every time. Maybe this year will be the one we hammer it all the way to the back of the net.”
The winner of the State Cup tournament will advance to regionals being held in Texas in June.