A step in the right direction: GJ Soccer Club players try to make Olympic Development team
Many are called, few are chosen.
In reality, few players for the Grand Junction Soccer Club even get selected to play on one of the state’s prestigious Olympic Development Programs.
“It’s rare for any soccer player from Grand Junction to be nominated,” said Alex Chaffetz, the head coach for the Grand Junction Fire FC Premier ‘97 (under-13) girls team.
Chaffetz is puffing out his chest just a little more these days. Six of his club players have been selected to play on the state’s elite U-13 team.
The Colorado Olympic Development Program is the first step for players to be evaluated for U.S. national teams.
Approximately 100 players from throughout the state were nominated to try out for each age level. Nine players from Grand Junction earned tryout bids. Six survived two levels of tryouts in Denver and Golden over the past three months to earn a bid on the state’s U-13 development squad.
Courtney Coffee, a 12-year-old who tried out last year, realizes playing on the development team is a step up from playing in the state’s Premier 1 league, the best at the club level.
“Those girls are the best of the best,” said Coffee, who plays left forward.
Leah Swander, a right forward, is honored to be considered among the best in the state.
“It’s exciting,” she said. “Everyone in soccer will know you.”
Elie Borszich had among the toughest jobs at the tryouts. She’s a goalkeeper.
“There was a lot of pressure,” she said. “Being a goalkeeper, if one of the shots gets by, that could be the game.”
The tryout process was competitive, she said.
“When we all got there it was pretty much dog-eat-dog,” Borszich said.
Outside midfielder Samantha Melchor could feel the competitiveness, too.
“It was very intense,” Melchor said. “In the beginning we were put on teams. You didn’t want to talk to (your teammates).”
After a few tryout sessions, the atmosphere loosened up.
“Then you were hoping they made the team with you,” Melchor said.
Alex’s daughter Taylor, a center-midfielder, said this year’s tryouts were easier than her first attempt last year.
“I knew what to expect,” she said.
The hardest part for Taylor Chaffetz was the competition.
“They’re the toughest people in the state,” she said.
The players also needed to do something to get noticed,
“The coaches aren’t looking at you (specifically) so you’ve got to do something to impress them,” she said.
Another center-midfielder, Baseley McClaskey, liked how the tryout process was organized.
“We got there and we started playing. We didn’t have to wait around,” she said.
She also takes comfort in knowing she’s got five club teammates playing with her.
“There are people there I know,” she said, looking forward to road trips next spring when the players will carpool together.
Most every player selected for the development team eventually earns a college scholarship. They get to train with and get tips from some of the top players and coaches in the country.
And, they can call themselves the best of the best in the state’s U-13 soccer set.