Two future Wylie Bulldog soccer players recently got the experience of a lifetime when they were chosen to play with North Texas Soccer’s Olympic Development Teams.
Wylie 8th-grader Mason Keels and Wylie 7th-grader Bryson Delay were each chosen in their respective age groups to play on their “A” Teams, meaning they were selected as one of the top 14 players in all of North Texas in their respective age groups.
Mason said the experience has been great.
“It teaches you to pass the ball and play with your teammates,” he said. “A lot of different coaches come out to see you. The people are more focused and determined. It’s been a good experience.”
Both boys started playing soccer when they were about 3 and played recreational before turning to competitive soccer. They are teammates on ASC ’02 Premiere, a competitive soccer team from Abilene that travels to the Metroplex for games.
This past August, both boys decided to try out for North Texas Soccer’s Olympic Development Program. They were chosen to work out with other kids from across North Texas, including kids from the major soccer clubs in the Metropex.
They travel to the Dallas area to practice with the ODP group about five times in the fall and five times in the spring. Recently ODP chose two teams in each age group to represent North Texas at a regional ODP tournament. Both Bryson and Mason were picked for their age group’s top team.
They traveled to College Station in late January for the tournament, where their teams played teams from other states and from South Texas.
Because Mason and Bryson are a year apart in age, Mason plays on the ’02 team and Bryson plays on the ’03 team.
Mason said he played a variety of positions on his ODP team, but his favorite was defensive midfielder or holding midfielder.
“I got to stay back, and I like playing defense,” he said. “But every now and then, I got chances to go up.”
He said the other players on his team and the players on the other teams were amazing.
“They were all really good,” he said. “They play really fast. They were really good at passing.”
His team won one game and lost the other two games by one point each.
He said it was much different from playing on his ASC team.
“I tried to help lead the team, but I wasn’t the main person,” he said.
Bryson also played a number of positions on his team, including center midfielder, which is what he plays on his ASC team. But he liked playing right midfield best.
“It was a change,” he said. “It was something different.”
His dad, Jason, said that the players were all very good and some of them train overseas.
“Some of those boys were playing in Spain,” he said. “Every one of them was excellent.”
Bryson said he learned a lot from his experience on the ODP team.
“You have to try your best at everything,” he said. “The players are really good. They challenge you.”
Jason said the ODP program has been great for the boys because they are going against other top players.
“There’s more competition and every time you practice and play, it’s a tryout,” he said. “They can also trust their teammates. Everyone is on such a high level that you trust each other.”
In July, both boys will go to the regional camp in Alabama, where they will be evaluated for possible inclusion on the ODP Regional Team.
“That would be so cool,” Mason said. “But you have to be really good.”