|Becoming a 'Soccer Star'|
Introducing our blogger:
Darren Shaw started his football development with Chelsea BC, captained his school team Eastbank Academy for five years as well as representing Glasgow Schools Select at senior level. Spells with St Johnstone and Hamilton Accies came about before 2011/12 brought Central Regional Cup success with Vale of Clyde. A successful trial resulted in Shaw being offered a scholarship by Young Harris College, Georgia, where he will now ply his trade for
the next four years. The Glasweigan keeps YFS up to date with life over the pond...
Entry 7 |12th June 2012
It's now been over a month since I arrived back home in Scotland and in between enjoying the warm summer weather and catching up with family and friends I have been kept busy working for a building company in Glasgow by day and spending my evenings in the local gym or playing 5 a sides with friends.
I'm also pleased to report that the necessary paperwork for my transfer to Colorado School Of Mines is now virtually complete and I have already started the official training programme sent to me by the Head Coach of CSOM, in preparation for my arrival on campus in early August.
The aim of the programme is to encourage all players to report back to campus fully prepared for the technical and physical demands of playing football at a high level. I am required to send back an updated log containing the workouts and any footballing activities I participate in to allow the coaching staff to track my progress. Many different exercises for strength and conditioning have been provided along with cardio workouts and football drills to maintain/improve my skills.
The new season can't come quickly enough as far as I'm concerned and with a little luck CSOM will offer a serious challenge to NCAA Division II Champions and Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference ( RMAC ) winners, Fort Lewis for both titles this season.
Entry 6 |17th April 2012
It seems like only yesterday I was buzzing to get on the plane and begin another chapter of my life. I’d spend so much time imagining what it would be like, how well I would do and what the future held for me when I finally arrived in the USA back in August of 2011. Now that I approach the last few weeks of my “ freshman” year, I have been fully satisfied by my 1st year experience. Some things weren’t quite how I imagined, whilst other things surpassed my expectations.
For example, the standard of football is much higher than I thought it would be and the demands of being a student and an athlete are more difficult than I had anticipated. However, a new chapter beckons as my final few weeks at Young Harris College come to a close, as I prepare for my transfer to Colorado School of Mines. I’d like to take this chance to thank everyone concerned for the opportunity given to me at the college and also my team mates/friends for helping me have such a great time during my stay in Georgia.
All in all it has been a great end to my last semester at Young Harris College and I will be sad when I leave in 3 weeks time. Hopefully I'll get the chance to come back and visit everyone in the near future.
In other news, a baseball movie called “Trouble With The Curve” starring Clint Eastwood , John Goodman and Justin Timberlake is filming several scenes on our campus. I have applied to become an extra so keep an eye out for me in the background! It has brought a lot of excitement around the campus, with everyone trying to catch a glimpse of the cast members off set which hasn't been easy! The college actually closed our gym for an hour or so to allow Clint Eastwood to train in private today and perhaps, unsurprisingly his security seems determined to prevent fans from getting close enough for a photo opportunity with the movie legend!
Finally, several of my friends from back home have decided to try and obtain a scholarship following my own success Stateside and thought it would be something they would also enjoy. They came to me with questions regarding the whole scholarship process, which I was more than happy to help with. If anyone else should have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. If you think playing and studying in the States could be an option for you or someone you know, send me an email and I’ll be happy to help with any queries you may have.
Entry 5 | 7th March 2012
As we approach the mid-point of this semester (already!), I have been happy with the course of events. Classes are going well, and football training has been tough but very rewarding. This semesters’ focus has been aimed at improving our physical attributes in addition to becoming better players on the ball with tons of possession, crossing and finishing and small sided games.
Training has been very competitive with all the players competing for a position in the starting 11 next season. This has made for some enjoyable training sessions. We have also been doing a lot of work off field too, which will hopefully help make us better all-round athletes as well as improving us as football players.
Myself and several team mates have been doing a lot of stuff on our own as we try to get fitter and faster by doing a workout program called “Insanity” (pictured, right) which really works your core muscles and cardio endurance. On top of that, we have been lifting weights in an effort to increase our upper body strength which is another vital asset in the modern day game.
Previously, I have stated that there may have been a possibility of transferring colleges. I have been flattered by the level of interest ranging across many different states such as California, Montana, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Oaklahoma, South Carolina, Minnesota and many more. However, my destination will be a University in the mountains of Colorado. I am delighted to be moving to one of the best engineering schools in the country where I will strive to become either a mechanical or chemical engineer.
Colorado School of Mines has a very successful athletics program and has had a consistently strong “soccer” team. Last season they were ranked No. 1 in the nation for 5 weeks and beat the National Champions ( of that year) to win their conference (named RMAC), followed by another decent season where the team who knocked them out claimed their 2nd National Championship in 3 years. Fort Lewis College, the current holders of the NCAA div II Championship, will be our main competitors as we try and reach the National tournament. But this excites me as I will be playing against the best players in the country at this level, which will hopefully make me a better player. Fort Lewis, Metro State and Regis University are all tough opponents in the RMAC conference but we are confident that we have the ability to overcome them and go for glory ourselves.
I chose to join CSM due to their very high standard football program but also for their impressive engineering degree. Academics are also very important to me and that is why I am delighted to have the chance to combine great athletics with excellent academics. So I will begin my journey with CSM this August and hopefully it will lead to much success on and off the field.
When I return home to Scotland in May , I am hoping to get some training with a professional club to help me prepare for next season. It’s important to me that I come back out to America fully prepared as I strive to become one of the best players in one of the most competitive Conference's in the United States.
Entry 4 | 30th January 2012
I am now back in Young Harris after a well earned 4 week Christmas break in Scotland, and as much as I enjoyed being home with my family and friends in Glasgow I can't say I will miss the rain and stormy weather we had in my home city over the festive season!
When you are away for a long period of time you never realise how important the little things are like home made macaroni and cheese or a cold glass bottle of Irn Bru but still it's good to be back in Young Harris as I look forward to trying to get even better grades and improve on my physical attributes – mainly speed and strength – and generally improving my all round football ability.
We now enter the “off-season” which becomes a time aimed at improving as players and gearing up for our next season. We are doing 6.30am gym workouts before class 3 times a week and also training 3 times a week too. We will only have a half dozen or so challenge games at the end of the semester but I am still really looking forward to them.
As I have previously said , I will be moving on from Young Harris next season and was fortunate enough to receive offers from colleges all over America when the season ended. The standard of soccer my new college plays in will be an important factor in my final decision but the quality of my education is also vitally important to me and it is crucial that I get a degree that will increase my career options when I graduate in 3 years time.
While I am really excited about the possibilities of what team I will be with next season , I will be working my hardest to get in the best physical shape of my life and improve overall as a player to help me make a good impression whenever and wherever I get the chance to play for my new side and also to give me the best chance possible of playing in the SPL or a league of a similar standard at some point in my future career.
Entry 3 | 5th December 2011
Some time to relax
Things have been less hectic since our Regular Season ended on October 30th but this has given me more time to concentrate on my studies as training is now only 2 times a week as opposed to 5 times a week as we head towards our month long winter break. The players themselves also organise 5 a side matches just about every day which is always taken quite seriously and can be quite competitive! After classes myself and most of the other players also spend a lot of our spare time in the gym working on our conditioning, although I have personally focussed a lot of my energy on working on my upper body strength which has improved greatly since I arrived on campus back in August.
This has been a fantastic year for our college soccer squad in our first season as part of NCAA Division 2 and something all 850 students as well as the coaches and the rest of the Young Harris faculty can look back on with pride. Our record for the season has improved from 2-10-3 last season to a far more respectable 10-6-1 for this season. I am also pleased to say that I started in all 17 of our Regular Season games this season and was one of only 2 players in our 28 man squad to have done so. As the youngest player in the squad this is probably my proudest personal achievement as part of the Young Harris Mountain Lions squad.
I have enjoyed every minute of my time at Young Harris and the experience of living and playing football in a new country has been amazing despite the hard work and the challenge of combining studies with training as well as matches but it will be great to be home for my 18th birthday in December and spend Christmas with my family and friends.
I have much to discuss with my parents when I get home as I have been fortunate enough to receive a number of attractive offers to play my football elsewhere next season but that will keep for now and I am basically just looking forward to putting my feet up and relaxing in my old surroundings.
With all 17 of my competitive games for YHC as well our 3-1 pre season win over Berry College on DVD I will also be spending some of the time going over the games to edit the footage in order to create an hour long DVD for posterity and for future distribution purposes.
">Click here to have a look at Darren's video
Entry 2 | 1st November 2011
An update from America
Recently Darren's team has continued to improve with some eye catching victories over SCAD Savanannah & Carson Newman's, 6-1 & 5-0 respectively. The fact that both of these teams are ranked considerably higher than the Young Harris Mountain Lions, & very rarely suffer defeats of this magnitude - makes these results all the more impressive.
Darren himself has proved to be a pillar of strength at the heart of their defence, playing in all 16 of their regular season games. The Young Harris Mountain Lions continue to improve, scoring over 3 times as many goals as in the previous season, combined with a defence that has doubled it's clean sheet tally & conceded fewer goals all round.
At the age of just 17 Darren has adapted excellently to life & football in the states, & we would like to wish him all the best with his studies, and of course, the rest of his footballing adventure.
Entry 1 | 2nd October 2011
Off to a flyer
Hi, my name is Darren Shaw; I have just recently flown out to Georgia, USA to enrol at an American College as a student-athlete. Young Harris College has been my new home for the last month and shall continue to be over a 4 year period as I strive to obtain my Bachelor’s Degree in Biology, to improve my footballing ability, athleticism and to become a better person in general.
I have joined up with the Young Harris Mountain Lions’ Soccer team as we look to make an impact in our new league – NCAA Division 2. Since it is our provisional year we can’t win the league as of yet, but we can upset the rankings of teams who can win it. That’s exactly what we done in our first game of the Regular Season, by hammering Lincoln Memorial University – a team predicted to finish 3rd in their conference this year – with an outstanding 6-1 victory. Previous to this game, we had two pre-season games both of which we won 3-1. During this early period, I have noticed some substantial differences – and some similarities – between the Scottish game and the one I am currently involved in.
Well first of all, one of the major differences is the heat. The heat has a major effect on the players, especially the British nationals amongst the team! But it is a great pleasure to train and play in such great weather, and it definitely helps to improve your fitness during pre-season training. But the weather isn’t something we can do much about in Scotland. However, since my time here what is apparent is the emphasis on playing good, attacking football. It’s about ball retention, moving it quickly and attacking the opposing team with nice football. In Scotland we’re not focused enough on keeping the ball, or just general ball skills. Having played at pro-youth for most of my youth years, I have definitely seen my fair share of “kick and rush” games that don’t do anything for either team’s progress. Technical play should definitely be the aim of pro-youth games; not results.
Athleticism is a key at the collegiate level. Good fitness is a must. Teams have a lot of pace all over the field along with strength. But it is far from disproportional to technique. Prior to coming here I was under the impression that Americans would be very athletic but few would have footballing ability to match their athleticism. But I was wrong. So far in my short time here, most players are good on the ball. Obviously some are better than others, but all teams I have encountered have played some really decent football. But what I really like about my team is how much we are encouraged to play football, and how good we are at actually doing it. We have played some really great football which shows in our results as we create chance after chance. However, there have been times the physical battle has to be won before you can play the pretty football.
In our most recent game – 3-2 victory over Shorter College – we tried to play the football we had in previous games. But our opponents were trying to prevent that from happening by pressing high and tackling hard. The game turned into a battle between both teams, some bad tackles put in by both sides, but we still tried to play the football and cut open our opponents. Our late winner reinforced our great start to the season and hopefully it is sign of more to come.