Guided U-15/16 Derby County Wolves To 24-4-4 Regular Season Record
CARSON, Calif. - Lars Richters '91, who earned first team All-Ivy recognition for the Bulldogs in 1990, has been named the U-15/16 Development Academy Coach of the Year by U.S. Soccer. Richters is the head coach of Michigan's Derby County Wolves.
He guided his team to a 24-4-4 regular season record and a berth on the U-15/16 championship match on July 17. According to U.S. Soccer, Richters has put player development at the forefront of his teams' training regimen. Richters and his staff try to view the Academy's objectives from the perspective of the players to help them get the most out of training.
"We've been lucky to have kids that have a commitment to always bring a high level, both in training and games," Richters said. "The nature of a competitive athlete is to want to win every time they step on the field. I think what we've tried to suggest to the kids is that winning is an important part of development. However, we've made it clear to them that we're not going to go into a win at all costs mentality."
Oscar Pareja, who coaches two FC Dallas Junior teams, was named the U-17/18 Coach of the Year.
"The first thing you look at when you're looking for a coach of the year is how the team plays," said Development Academy Technical Director John Hackworth. "Both Lars and Oscar exemplify professionalism, and it is reflected in each of their teams and what the players do on the field."
The Development Academy was created to enhance the player development environment for elite youth players in the United States, according to U.S. Soccer Best Practices, with specific focus on increasing the number of training sessions, decreasing the total number of games while increasing the number of quality games and maintaining the highest level of coaching, refereeing and competition available in an everyday environment.
In its second year, the Academy program has already dramatically impacted the player development process in the United States. In 2008, more than 100 players from Academy clubs were included in U.S. Youth National Teams and almost 800 graduates from the inaugural Academy class participated in college soccer the following fall. Virtually all college programs use the Academy program as a scouting vehicle and the program has received increased attention from professional scouts representing domestic and international clubs.