The C2 to varsity group includes a couple of more players that came through the Academy, some of our long-term coaches that have been part of our internship program, and finally, some players that started in the Academy back in the day. Grace Maxwell has been C2 to varsity; she started playing a team and then made it all the way to Varsity. Sam Anderson of Golden Valley, Jasmine Finley of East View, and then Kylie Newcomb of Hawkins. Still intact up on our systems are Margaret, Courtney Mohs of Savage and Holy Angels and then Vivian Shinall.

Viv and Grace have already been documented in Great Players. Both of them struggled with being on the second team at 10 or 11, and then during LeftFoot they started that climb to C1 premier and playing at a high level to enable them to play at the varsity level.  Grace had just a lot of speed but wasn’t a very technical player and struggled as a ballplayer from C2 to C1. When she got to 13-14—again, because this age group didn’t have quality coaching or were challenged in the rates—they really struggled later on in life with the ability to have long-term coaching and talent around them as well as the technique.

Sam Anderson wasn’t really much of a last team for a long time. Honestly, she probably had about a year. When  the Andersons came through the Academy Trial, they were 13 when we were still somewhat combined and we didn’t have the Foundation Series except for Ball Striking. We looked at the Ball Striking class, and we played with all level two players. About 22 kids in the class totally got intimidated and just didn’t ever want to come back for a while.

The Andersons obviously had been part of the Academy now for several years. Sam was one of those players who hated seeing LeftFoot “close.” 

Jasmine Finley came to the Academy at about 12 and 14. Jasmine had suffered a broken leg and struggled at her rep team on the C2 team. We did a lot of work with her foot skills and aerial warfare, where she really found her niche. While she hated it, she got really good at it and really helped her teams over the years by dominating the air. She had the speed and the power and the grace in the air that really made her an asset to her team. 

Kylie Newcomb is one of those players who helped the team that Grace Maxwell played with, and then had a bunch of other last piece through the years that could yield into a pretty strong group. I want to say another player that’s not on this list, should be Ketler who came through the Academy. Grace, Kylie, Syd and Vivian came to sell off the forms. They all created a very strong team in Prairie that won 2-1 and then they all went over to Maple Grove on the play premier. Kylie was one of those players that the strikers animated, a game changer who then consistently had a good high school career.  

Billy Pannek—everyone knows BP at the Academy. He’s one of our coaches and a really huge anchor for us, if you’ve made this transition. BP came through the Academy at 10 years old. Billy really emerged at LeftFoot and through his club for having the discipline, dedication and drive. I’d say Billy really resonates with the fun passion of soccer. Usually, most athletes have a competitive drive that usually borders on angry, whereas Billy reflects the player who has a competitive drive that comes from fun. It’s contagious playing with Billy because you really have fun playing with him. He’s a fun guy to be around: He says the weirdest stupidest things, and his heart is one of those qualities that leads people. His heart leads people to more laughter and joy back in the game.

That’s one of the reasons I look at him as being an essential player that says, “Look, you could still love soccer, you don’t have to be this phenomenal star, but I am.” Billy is one of those kids on the team that makes a difference; he’s the one who makes that team better. His journey through youth soccer at 10, 11, 12—he wasn’t the best player on his team. He wasn’t the most athletic. He really slimmed out and I think we’ll see in some of his videos that he was this little pudgy thing that he was, and he was kind of slow and goofy, he always had these little sport-tech glasses on. I think we would’ve said he was one of those kids you could throw away. He was a really goofy player from 10 to 12. But watch out how he comes around, who he’s become and how he leads and his character has developed having had experience in life.

Sam Charles played soccer for Golden Valley growing up and was always on the C2 team. His club didn’t have many teams and he wasn’t interested in switching clubs so he stuck with the C2 level. When he started high school he realized he wanted to be even better than the C2 level and he wanted to play on the varsity team. He was a multi sport athlete and decided to quit club soccer so that he could focus on Lacrosse in high school. Sam used LeftFoot to keep his skills up over the winter and spring seasons and got to the varsity. He is a hard worker and is an all around athlete that wouldn’t have been at the varsity level without hours of training at the academy.

Vivian Shinall came through the Academy around 11 years old. I think she cried in her first session because of course I was asking her to keep the ball lower driven and she couldn’t, she just couldn’t. When Viv was in the Academy, she was really a lion, she relied on speed and power to do most of her game. I think she just struggled with kind of making sure that she knew that technique was kind of a pathway through to a better opportunity, but then also struggled sometimes doing it. I think for some of us technique comes naturally, and it didn’t come naturally to Viv but she consistently tried and made up for lack of technique with the passion, speed, power, drive and really the things that make us all successful later on in life. I think that’s one of the reasons that you’ve got to try again.

Lastly on this list is Courtney Mohs, nickname Moses. She is one of those players that came through with Carlos and Charlie and Andy, so she got a lot of fun, a lot of her talent and technique. I think she hated the soccer ball, I don’t know why she quit soccer at first, I remember doing her evaluation and meeting her and being like, “What are you doing here, and why are you here?” I’ll tell you though that probably one of my favorite assistant coaches ever, just because of the humor, the passion, the love of the game, the love of cast and the love of competition—Courtney is one of those players who really loves the game. She loves her teammates, she loves her crew, she loves being around people, and has just the most infectious smile. You can tell that she’s one of the players you have to have on your team, because she’ll not only win and struggle and be in the fight with you, but all of a sudden she is making a different thing; when she’s scoring a winning goal she will let you know it.

I can see that this will be a very tough vote. The whole class has earned the right to represent LeftFoot as being great spirits of this opportunity to play at a high level, but start at a level where we would have traditionally said, “You’ll never play varsity soccer.” This is one of the reasons I keep doing LeftFoot. It’s because you can see the lives that we’ve changed, you can see the lives that we’ve made an impact on.

Because LeftFoot was there, they were able to change their opportunities later on in life. So what do we have to do to keep LeftFoot available for the kids that are still playing C2 and don’t have opportunities, because they’re in the club teams and have already been positioned there?

Get in touch with a REKS House/Hall of Fame Committee member via [email protected] to reserve your seat. See you at the event later.