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.
Assistant Coach for UDA at NMSU, Alexis Mendoza, was recently asked about the upcoming start of the program.
Mendoza said, “recruitment has gone really well, students are coming from all over the country, from Florida on the East Coast to Colorado in the West. There is not one specific state that is better represented than others, although we have a good number of students from Texas.”
Mendoza spoke about the development model that he and Head Coach Tahlon Drake will implement, “our goal is the total development of students on and off the field. While we want to win, the first goal is the development and experience the players will have that come into the academy. We can guarantee that all players will play across our game schedule and not just sit on a bench as they might at collegiate programs. Players are not coming into a program to merely train and not get significant playing time until their senior year. Our ultimate goal is to develop players to reach their potential and take them to a level up to and beyond the UPSL.”
Mendoza added, “I played in the traditional collegiate system and while I was lucky enough to play early and often in my college career it was a very limited experience. This program will change the way development can occur for the American player at the collegiate level. We need to understand that players everywhere in the world play year round - we will do that at NMSU."
Mendoza indicated that he is excited about the facilities, “NMSU is a division one athletic school and our students will have access to excellent facilities, including a pool, recreational areas, as well as what is being built, an outstanding soccer facility.”
Mendoza concluded, “we are committed to the total development of the students we work with- not just on the field, but we want to create a family here at UDA as we help students develop into better people. Both Coach Drake and myself are very excited to get started next month."
Why The UDA Dream Maker Program?
Part of UDA’s vision is to provide a pathway to a successful and productive career that enhances the lives of people. We believe the Dream Maker Program is one way to reach this vision.
Just as we know that talent in sports is crucial for success; “people” talent in companies is critical for their success. Companies win with the right people on board and employees win when they have a career that fits their skills and talents.
The two synergies work together to create a productive and fulfilling life for the company and the employee.
What Is The Dream Maker Program And How Does It Work?
The Dream Maker Program puts people at its core. Its foundation is the cultivation of purposeful relationships that last a lifetime, within the UDA family, across our students, families, alumni, and selected companies.
We connect students early in their university experience to prospective employers seeking talented people through the development of a professional portfolio.
Students will begin to build a portfolio at the start of their enrollment into the UDA family. UDA will provide guidance on how to craft an effective portfolio as students develop, search, connect, and build a relationship with prospective employers prior to graduation.
UDA will reach out to companies who are selected to be part of the Dream Maker Program and match the degree qualifications, skills, and knowledge of our students. Companies are selected for their values, mission, and the culture of their organization. There are no costs to students or prospective companies.
The Dream Maker program will create a lifetime of connections through the UDA alumni network and partner companies.
Application to the Dream Maker Program will be open prior to the start of the academic year for UDA students and prospective companies.
Tahlon Drake, UDA@NMSU Director of Soccer and Alexis Mendoza, UDA@NMSU Assistant Coach have been busy putting together the inaugural roster for the 2020/21 UDA@NMSU Men’s Soccer Academy.
The opportunity to study, train and play in a year-round football academy has led to nearly 20 students/athletes from around the U.S. to commit to the UDA@NMSU Academy. With a mix of incoming Freshmen and Transfer students, UDA@NMSU looks to boast a strong first-year group both in the classroom and on the pitch.
The following is the most recent roster for the 2020/21 season set to begin August 15th when student/athletes arrive in Las Cruces:
Drake played his youth soccer in the Dallas area and played for Ed Puskarich and the Texas Spurs. At the collegiate level he competed at Hendrix College in Conway Arkansas before moving on the UC-Santa Barbara. Drake eventually earned his degree from the University of North Texas in Denton.
Professionally, Tahlon spent the better part of 2004 and 2005 in Europe while playing for FCM Onesti in Romania and then RSC Anderlecht in Belgium before playing with the LA Blues in 2005-2006. He returned to the professional game in 2015 as a player/coach with the newly formed Liverpool FC America as they entered the NPSL in the Dallas area.
As a USSF National B licensed coach, Drake also became heavily involved in the Dallas area Club Soccer arena the past 13 years with coaching stints at Milan FC, Liverpool FC America (NPSL), Liverpool FC American (youth club), Texas Spurs (UPSL), Sting SC and Titans FC.
Drake is married (Joanna), has two children and will relocate to the Las Cruces area in July.
Mal Saville, UDA’s visiting “coach liaison officer” in the UK, will be attending the national signing day and recruitment event at New Mexico State, March 27th -29th.
In addition to attending this event Mal will be visiting the region and the New Mexico Campus to meet the surrounding soccer communities to outline his role at the NMSU program and give insight into his work as a professional scout.
Mal’s work, as a professional scout, has spanned over thirty years with clubs from across the football league pyramid, including, Leyton Orient, Walsall, Cambridge United and Brentford. Mal presently works for premier league team, Aston Villa FC and spends most weekends and weeknights scouting their upcoming opposition as he visits grounds such as the Etihad, Anfield and Old Trafford to name a few.
Mal Saville, professional scout at Aston Villa FC and UDA Visiting coach liaison officer in the UK will visit during UDA’s national signing day at NMSU, March 27-th to 29th
Mal, at the event will speak about what is needed, and give insight to what it takes, to make a professional player from the perspective of the clubs he has worked with. He will focus on what is referred to as the A,B, L of players and explain that the scouting of players goes way beyond the tactical and technical ability of players.
In addition to Mal’s insight into what it takes to play at the top level, he will outline how the visiting coach program will work and what type of coaches UDA students at the New Mexico program can expect to see in the program.
UDA staff Coach Reilly and Coach Haley conducted the final UDA recruitment event for 2019 at Lakewood Ranch on December 20th -22nd. Thankfully,the weather cooperated with warmer days at the Premier Sports Complex than the previous year.
Lakewood Ranch, FL 2019 at Sports Premier Campus.
The event attracted prospects from all over the country, including Georgia, The Carolinas and Florida. Similar to the previous events in Phoenix this past November, the event included informative presentations for the UDA academy programs at both the University of Chester and New Mexico State University.
Excellent Turn Out For the New Mexico State Recruitment Event. Next One at NMSU is set for Friday, February 7th to Sunday, February 9th.
Director of recruitment Coach Reilly, stated, “The events in Phoenix and Florida showed that prospects understood the types of opportunities and pathways UDA offers for their families which combines their academic and soccer aspirations. UDA will be making offers to students based on both areas of their respective needs and development.”
Presentations were made for the UDA Programs at Univ of Chester and NMSU
Reilly added, “Most of our offers for the 2020 class at the University of Chester have been made. The main focus is now on the class of 2021 for the University of Chester program. This recruitment will begin in Dallas, March 13-15th.”
Denver Recruitment Event in November. The next Denver event will take place in April.
Reilly added further, “The recruitment is ongoing for the New Mexico State University program through the spring. While we have made several offers for this program we will still continue to offer opportunities for enrollment as we move into the Spring.”
LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KTSM) – In the fall of 2020 NMSU will have a self-funded men’s soccer team. It will be the first of its kind program in the United States.
University Degrees Abroad also known as the UDA is partnering with NMSU to bring a men’s soccer team to the campus.
“There’s so much talent down here that goes unserved without the program at the university,” said Will Hanson a Senior at Mayfield High School. “So this is a good step towards it, still giving the players the opportunity to study at a university level.”
UDA’s philosophy is changing lives through education. They hope to draw students to NMSU not only to play soccer but to get a degree as well. It is catching the attention of high school seniors from around the country.
“I want to do sports medicine to become an athletic trainer something so that if I don’t go anywhere in soccer, like the pros then I’d like to still be around sports and stuff like that,” said Maximillian Patton a High School Senior Las Vegas Nevada.
Recruiters from UDA were at NMSU on Saturday recruiting players for the fall of 2020 and they say it will be a year-round program.
“We're not governed by the NCAA so we can have an extended season,” said Jeff Thompson the National Director for UDA. “Really, we play from August through May so it’s all about development and giving all the players an opportunity to play.”
UDA has a program already at the University of Chester in England. UDA is working with NMSU to make it so that players from NMSU can transfer to Chester and vice versa.
UDA is recruiting locally, nationally and internationally for players. They said NMSU was the perfect choice for the first program in America do to the large soccer community, the need for a university team and the beautiful weather year-round.
For more upcoming training sessions you can visit https://www.udaus.org/.
Courtesy of KTSM.
by: Shelby Kapp
New Mexico State University and University Degrees Abroad have agreed to establish a
developmental men’s soccer program at the university and to begin recruiting local, state,
regional and international players to take part. NMSU will be home to the first UDA soccer
program in the U.S.
“I’m excited to have UDA become part of our Aggie Community,” said NMSU Vice President
for Student Success Renay Scott. “Having developmental soccer on campus will enhance Aggie Life while allowing participants be part of a supportive community where we all want to see them succeed in their goals. This is a win-win for everyone.”
For years, UDA has operated a year-round developmental soccer academy in England. Their
mission is to provide student athletes with an internationally recognized university degree, a
developmental soccer experience and opportunity for multiple pathways in their chosen career within a fully integrated university experience.
As part of the agreement, UDA will establish a European-style academy with a professional
coaching environment on the NMSU campus. All program participants will be full-time, degree-seeking students at either NMSU or Doña Ana Community College.
“When we made the decision to bring our academy concept to the U.S., we had a number of
qualifiers we felt were paramount to our success – especially as we look to offer a different
option to the current men’s collegiate soccer model in this country,” said Jeff Thompson, director of graduate recruitment for University Degrees Abroad. “Most importantly, NMSU offers student-athletes a fully integrated university experience and a full range of internationally recognized academic programs. Additionally, Las Cruces and the surrounding area provide a perfect environment for the delivery of a year-round play, access to quality competition and a lot of local, state and regional soccer talent to recruit into our program.”
NMSU will facilitate the admissions process, in conjunction with a UDA liaison, for participants in the program. All UDA recruits are subject to NMSU’s standard admissions procedures and standards. UDA will work to recruit 18-25 new participants each year, with a goal of having at least 50 participants by the third year of the program.
WRITER: Justin Bannister, 575-646-5981, email@example.com
CONTACT: Jeff Thompson, 575-644-5764, firstname.lastname@example.org
The regional recruitment events for UDA at NMSU program, will kick off beginning Nov. 3rd in Denver, Colorado. Further events will take place in Dallas, Texas, Nov. 30th, and Las Cruces, New Mexico Dec. 7th to round out the fall recruitment.
Prospects can also attend one of the national recruitment events for UDA programs at Rose Mofford, Phoenix, Az Nov. 22nd- 24th and at Lakewood Ranch, Fl. Dec. 20th 22nd.
Regional recruitment events will be scheduled for the spring at various locations in the western states to be announced later this fall.
The events are intended to give prospects an insight into the program with training sessions, small, and full sided games as well as a presentation of the full program at NMSU.
Each event begins at 9am and ends at 4.00pm. Enrollment is limited.
Why the UDA program at NMSU?
The UDA program at NMSU offers the opportunity for those students wanting to stay in the USA while continuing their soccer development during the critical years of 18-20, without sacrificing their undergraduate education.
The UDA academy will mirror the UDA program in Chester, England for player development with a year round training and playing. The pathway at NMSU will also allow students to move into the UDA Academy in Chester, stay at NMSU, or move into scholarship positions at a U.S. collegiate program.
Coach Reilly, who will oversee the soccer operations at NMSU stated, “We know some students are not quite ready at some levels, they may need an extra year of development, sometimes in the classroom and sometimes on the field. Rather than sit on a collegiate bench because with no opportunity until junior or even senior year students can work on their game while earning academic credits. They may if they so choose, move into our UDA University of Chester program, collegiate soccer or stay at NMSU until graduation."
Students interested in attending a regional recruitment event should contact Director of Recruitment, Coach Reilly at 614 421 8084