Written by Plainview-Old Bethpage Herald Staff Thursday, 12 September 2013 00:00
The Long Island Regional Development School, hosted and sponsored by the Plainview-based Long Island Junior Soccer League, has provided fully funded, high-end training to Long Island’s most talented soccer players for the past three years.
And now three members of the Long Island RDS are heading to the Red Bulls Academy, the region’s only soccer academy with links to a professional Major League Soccer team.
The three members of the Long Island RDS to make the successful transition to the academy were Thriston Briscoe (HBC Allstars), Bethpage resident Nick Kellarakos (HBC Venom), and Kevin Alvarado (NHP Leopards). Despite all coming through the same program to academy prominence, each took a slightly different path.
Briscoe, from North Babylon, was an RDS original and was successful in his first tryout for the RDS in the fall of 2010 as a 9-year-old. Already incredibly athletic for his age, Briscoe showed the pace, power, and desire to succeed within soccer. He went on to participate in the RDS for the next three years, earning selection to the Red Bulls Showcase Tournament teams each year. The opportunity to play with Red Bulls showcase tournament teams opened further doors, as he was identified as one of the top 2,000 players in the region, and invited to participate in training sessions with the U.S. National pool for the region.
“When I went to my first RDS try out, I was nervous,” Briscoe said. “But then I started playing, showing off my skill, and scoring goals. My RDS coach taught me how to play striker, and he is one of the main reasons I am good at soccer.
When I saw the email (notifying acceptance into the team) I was so excited, because I had always dreamed of playing for Red Bulls.”
Like Briscoe, Alvarado, of Queens Village, had participated in the RDS since its inception. Unlike Briscoe, however, Alvarado’s game was not about raw strength and power. Instead, he demonstrated a technical proficiency, speed of play, and a creative mind that allowed him to excel within his age group, despite being one of the smaller players. Alvarado also benefited from his pedigree – his brother, Carlos, was one of the two Long Island RDS players selected for the academy 1999 team the previous year.
“When I made it into the RDS I was so happy to be able to show the coaches what I was able to do,” he said. “Every Tuesday night I would get done with my homework early so I could be ready to go to RDS training. When the 1999 team coach saw me playing with my brother, he asked me to join the team. I was shocked, but thrilled.”
Kellarakos’ story is one that many players should find inspirational, as it is a reassuring case study for so many players who are not successful in their first try out for the program. Kellarakos attended try outs for the 2010, and 2011 programs, and like the majority of the 500 applicants each year, was not successful. He would not take no for an answer though, and not only continued to participate in the RDS via the open-registration summer camp in Long Island, but made the long trip to New Jersey each week to participate in the RDS there (as the program is not fully funded outside of Long Island, the number of applicants is considerably smaller, and therefore the chances of acceptance much higher). His determination and persistence paid off. Despite not being part of the Long Island 2,000 boys group, he was still identified as a potential candidate for the Academy, and the pieces fell into place from there.
“I did the RDS summer camps after I tried out for the seasonal training and was placed as an alternate” Kellarakos said. “I would like to thank my family. They convinced me to try out when I wasn’t sure I wanted to. They believed in me, and I did it for them. Eventually, hard work does pay off!”
The Long Island Regional Development School features 18 weeks of cost-free supplementary training, all on Tuesday evenings, at a range of central Long Island locations.