Northern Nevada soccer teams find success at ODP West Region Tournament | South Lake Tahoe
In only their fourth year as a separate Las Vegas entity, the Northern Nevada Olympic Development (ODP) teams found their greatest success in January at the ODP West Region Championships in Mesa, Arizona. Players from Reno-Sparks, Truckee, Elko and Tahoe contributed to the successful result.
After posting a combined record of 6-29-1 (.181 win percentage) in 2022, the ten teams in the same age groups had a combined 17-20-3 (.463) in 2023. Two teams won their respective age groups (U13 girls and U17 boys). The U13 girls defeated Utah 2-1 in their final on Monday, January 9, while the U17 boys defeated Utah 4-1 in their championship game.
Two teams from Northern Nevada placed second in their age groups (Boys Under-13 and Boys Under-16) and two other teams made it to the semifinals (Boys Under-12 and Girls Under-12).
“Despite the late start and numerous training cancellations due to the weather, our Northern Nevada teams put in an incredible effort,” said Chris DeLeon, Northern Nevada ODP first-year director, who was then the coach of the U-13 girls’ team that won the country’s only girls’ championship. “Our staff consisted of collegiate and licensed coaches who have coached or played the ODP program. We hope we have shown what can happen with more club support and athlete participation.”
In 2019, due to geographic challenges, Northern Nevada formed its own state team and Southern Nevada formed its own team. Each state team competes against other states in their respective region (Northern Nevada is part of Region IV/Region West). The three other regions are (Region I/East, Region II/South, and Region III/Midwest). The West Region consists of teams from Hawaii, Alaska, CalNorth, CalSouth, Washington, Utah, Oregon, Wyoming, New Mexico, Northern Nevada, Southern Nevada, Arizona, Idaho and Colorado.
ODP is a national identification program that provides quality coaching and provides a path for young soccer players in the United States to select regional and Olympic and national teams. The Northern Nevada players had to compete against other local football players to earn a spot on the state team.
The top performing players from the January event in Arizona will receive an invitation to Region IV/West Region Camp where they will face off against the tournament’s other top performers. At this regional event, the top players are selected for the Region IV team and begin playing against the other three regions to eventually form a national ODP team that competes internationally.
Those attending this year’s event came from several competitive youth soccer clubs in northern Nevada, although they consisted primarily of players from Battle Born FC, Sierra Surf and South Tahoe FC. DeLeon hopes all clubs in the area will support the program in the future so Northern Nevada can build on this year’s success.
“ODP provides a great opportunity for athletes who want to play more and a way to be seen by reviewers and selected for a regional team,” DeLeon said. “I’m excited to see how many of our athletes get a call for the regional pool and hopefully we get more support from clubs, coaches and athletes in the North. A big thank you to our employees, families and athletes who took a chance and believed in it.”