The first month of the UDA at NMSU Men's Soccer Academy is officially in the books!
Coach Tahlon Drake welcomed UDA players out on the pitch and began a journey of what we hope becomes a "model" program for men's collegiate soccer around the USA.
Whilst August 17th was our first "official" day of training with our full squad, players have been training as early as the first week of August when they arrived into the program from around the country. The players capped off the month with a Maroon & White scrimmage on Thursday as El Paso Locomotive (USL) Coach, Bob Bigney, reviewed the session.
El Paso (USL) Locomotive Coach
The Locomotive's are one of the many partnership opportunities available within the UDA Academies, as they continue to gain a foothold in the US Collegiate Soccer market both here and in the United Kingdom.
Coach Bigney was impressed with both the number of players UDA brought into the program and with their overall level of play. Bigney stated, "there are a number of players the Locomotive would possibly be interested in inviting down" for training opportunities with their squad in the near future.
Classes officially kicked off on August 19th with a mix of in-person and online delivery. So far, NMSU has done a wonderful job with keeping the University and its students as safe as possible during these unusual times.
The UDA at NMSU office on the NMSU campus is again open on a limited basis. UDA Liaison Officer, Alexis Mendoza has been working with all of the incoming student-athletes to ensure a smooth transition into University life.
Coach Drake has set the boys up on an "early morning" training schedule during the week that includes sessions for our three GK's with Coach Kris Vaudrey. The training schedule includes two mornings (Monday and Wednesday at 6:30a) as well as Strength and Conditioning twice weekly (Tuesday and Thursday at 6:00a) with Coach Siddeeq Shabazz.
Shabazz is a former NFL player from the Las Cruces area that competed at NMSU. Coach Shabazz is currently finishing up his PhD at NMSU in sports science and has enjoyed working with a different type of "football" player. His early focus has been on speed and agility as well as "correct form" as it relates to increasing a player's running technique.
Coach Drake has proven to be a valuable asset to the UDA at NMSU program in his short time as Head Coach and Director of Soccer. His knowledge of working with young men, both on and off the field, has been a shining light for the program. He continues to work to evaluate players and is getting to know each student-athlete on a personal level to ensure their success both on and off the field.
For now, the UDA at NMSU squad will have to work through the confines of COVID restrictions and continue to train and play mostly amongst themselves. New Mexico health guidelines continue to restrict "out-of-state" travel as well as "large gatherings" which is the category a soccer match would be deemed. Hopefully, if all goes well after the Labor day weekend, those restrictions will be eased and we can compete against outside competition. As UDA is a year round academy, each player will play a minimum of 25 games. UDA is expected to start its UPLS season in March with selected games scheduled prior to that date once COVID restrictions are lifted for competitive games.