Category Archives: Recruiting

Seventeen-year-old American Jacob Labovitz navigates Europe in search of a pro soccer career

[READ THIS ARTICLE IN THE WASHINGTON POST]

His scoring barrage spurred local dominance, helping Langley capture its first soccer state championship last spring. His motivation, as it turns out, drew sustenance from a more global vision: Jacob Labovitz wanted to thrive in Europe.

Labovitz explored the idea with his family as a 16-year-old sophomore last winter, just weeks before he spearheaded a 20-win season that granted the Saxons soccer supremacy. The precocious striker had heard about Marbella United FC, an American-run soccer academy in southern Spain that competes in premier amateur league play and participates in professional tours around Europe. He wanted to take a risk. He wanted to get better.

“Pretty much all of my life, just watching everyone on TV in Europe, it’s just very appealing,” Labovitz said. “If you want to go pro, that’s the way to go.”

And off Labovitz went last summer, equipped with a student visa that granted him temporary stay in Spain. He was set for daily training and online classes at Marbella United, an extension of the US Soccer Academy LLC established by Richmond Kickers founder Bobby Lennon.

Continue reading Seventeen-year-old American Jacob Labovitz navigates Europe in search of a pro soccer career

Heritage striker and recent Maryland commit Giovanni Vasquez is no joke

[READ ARTICLE IN THE WASHINGTON POST]

Heritage soccer Coach Betsy Munson didn’t know what to believe. On April 1, her best player, Giovanni Vasquez, told her he had just committed to play for the University of Maryland. Then he said, “I’m just kidding. April Fools.” And then: “But no, really, I did commit to Maryland.”

Flummoxed by the goal-scoring jokester, Munson felt compelled to investigate the matter.

“I talked to our assistant AD and was like, ‘Gio said he committed but I don’t know if he’s joking,’” she recalled. “And he was like, ‘Ah, it’s just an April Fools joke.’”

Still not convinced, Munson sought out the one true roadmap to any teenager’s life these days: his Twitter page. Continue reading Heritage striker and recent Maryland commit Giovanni Vasquez is no joke

National Signing Day 2016: Woodbridge DL Kyree Campbell signs with North Carolina

[READ ARTICLE IN THE WASHINGTON POST]

Everybody wanted a piece of Kyree Campbell during his recruiting process. Woodbridge’s brawny 6-foot-5, 314-pound defensive lineman received over 40 Football Bowl Subdivision offers, the overtures stretching from Alabama to Ohio State, from Auburn to Notre Dame.

But no school remained more loyal to Campbell than North Carolina. Head Coach Larry Fedora personally visited the prized lineman nearly a dozen times, and the Tar Heels proved more active on social media than a teenager on vacation. “I literally hear from UNC on Twitter twice a day,” Campbell said last February.

Campbell rewarded North Carolina’s persistence with his verbal commitment last August, and he affirmed his own loyalty by officially signing with the Tar Heels on Wednesday morning at Woodbridge Senior High. Continue reading National Signing Day 2016: Woodbridge DL Kyree Campbell signs with North Carolina

Hylton lineman Silas Dzansi wastes no time committing to Virginia Tech football

[READ ARTICLE IN THE WASHINGTON POST]

Everything about Silas Dzansi’s young football career to this point has been about speed. At 6-foot-6, 260 pounds, the burly Hylton lineman runs the 40-yard dash in a nimble 4.9 seconds. A basketball player with little interest in football his freshman year, he took only two seasons to develop into a college prospect. And when Virginia Tech dealt him a scholarship offer on Monday, he took almost no time to make his college decision.

Previously a Delaware State commit at defensive end, Dzansi flipped his commitment Monday when Virginia Tech offensive line Coach Vance Vice visited the Woodbridge school to make an official offer. Nine days ahead of National Signing Day, the Hokies became the only FBS school to extend Dzansi an offer. Aside from Delaware State, the raw prospect had talked to coaches from Temple, Rhode Island, Virginia State, Virginia Union, Hampton and Shepherd.

“I grew up with Virginia Tech,” said Dzansi, the Hokies’ 19th commitment in the Class of 2016. “They were the first college football team I ever watched. Virginia Tech is my dream school. I’ve always wanted to go there. I love the atmosphere, the coaches.” Continue reading Hylton lineman Silas Dzansi wastes no time committing to Virginia Tech football

Standout point guard James West IV transfers back to Freedom-Woodbridge

[READ ARTICLE IN THE WASHINGTON POST]

Fortunes change from year to year, but perhaps no high school basketball team in the area has undergone a reversal as dramatic as the Freedom-Woodbridge boys this season. The Eagles graduated 13 seniors from the 2014-15 squad that marched all the way to the Virginia 5A state semifinals, leaving this year’s group with a 2-5 record entering 2016. Each of those losses came by at least 25 points last month.

On Monday Freedom experienced another major change of fortune. James West IV, a standout point guard who transferred from Freedom to Christ School (N.C.) last summer, transferred back to Freedom this week. He enrolled in the school Monday and played his first game back with the Eagles Tuesday night against Forest Park.

“I’m looking to come in and hopefully put up big points for Freedom, and hopefully we can get more wins,” West IV, the son of Freedom Coach James West, said before the contest. “I’m just excited to be back.” Continue reading Standout point guard James West IV transfers back to Freedom-Woodbridge

Keaton Simmons drives Stonewall Jackson boys’ basketball to 9-1 start

[READ ARTICLE IN THE WASHINGTON POST]

Losing can affect teams in various ways, depending on its regularity. One loss can galvanize a team and make it stronger. A couple losses here and there can keep a team humble and teach it to get better. Persistent losing, though, can deflate a locker room, sapping the air out of players’ lungs and extinguishing hope.

Stonewall Jackson senior Keaton Simmons knows that dejection all too well. Now considered one the most lethal point guards in Virginia, Simmons endured a 7-14 campaign during his first season on the varsity squad as a sophomore, then guided his team to an 11-11 mark that ended with a demoralizing loss to Fairfax in the opening round of the 6A North region tournament last season.

One year later, Simmons and company feel an entirely different energy in the Stonewall locker room. The Raiders are 9-1, fresh off an unbeaten showing at the L.C. Bird Holiday Hoops tournament in Richmond. A win over Battlefield Tuesday would equal their best start in program history.

“Everybody’s more energetic now,” Simmons said. “We’re winning, and we’re trying to keep that energy going and not lose focus.” Continue reading Keaton Simmons drives Stonewall Jackson boys’ basketball to 9-1 start