Brothers advance in soccerPublished 9:03pm Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Thirteen-year-old Jalen Hollins of Suffolk continues his high-level success in the Virginia Youth Soccer Association’s Olympic Development Program, and this year he has some brotherly company.
His older brother Jordan, 16, tried out for the program several years ago and did not make it to the state level like his brother first did last year. This time, however, both made it, and Jalen has even reached a regional level composed of players from multiple states.
Though the brothers are in separate age groups, their state training sessions are back-to-back, and Jalen has enjoyed having his brother involved this time, as each has helped push the other.
For Jordan, it was a relief to be deemed worthy of the state level by the evaluating coaches, who look for good on-field decision-making.
“I didn’t think I could make it,” he said.
It has been three years since his first attempt, in which he made it no further than the district level, composed of soccer players from a sub-section of Virginia. Seeing his brother succeed last year had a urged him on.
“I was happy for him, and it also motivated me, because I saw that he could do it,” Jordan said, but he still needed encouragement to try again.
“I think I had a lot more confidence, because my brother and my dad told me that I could make it,” he said.
Jalen said, “When my brother first tried out, he wasn’t as good as he was now. We thought he’d have a better chance of trying out now.”
Jordan said he started working out, getting bigger, stronger and faster, and he practiced his dribbling skills.
“I just got better every year,” he said.
Continual improvement is a must, as Jalen attests having now logged time at the regional level.
“It’s tough,” he said. “It’s a lot harder than just regular club play, like, it’s a lot more fast-paced, more (skilled) — things like that,” he said.
Jalen was part of a group of 350 players last year and made the cut down to 70, which is the Region I level. He could even have the opportunity to play internationally.
His goals remain the same as they were last year. He hopes his involvement in the Olympic Development Program will allow him to be seen by college coaches for scholarships and possibly even open up the possibility to play professionally. Jordan has similar goals now.
The state training sessions require the brothers and their parents, Glenn and Sharon Hollins, to travel to Richmond nearly every weekend until midway through March.
Both Hollins boys started playing soccer when they were 4, and both have played with the Suffolk Youth Athletic Association for much of their careers. Glenn Hollins credits Suffolk coaches with helping put his boys in a position to get this far.
After all the training and practice, “It seems like it’s paying off,” he said.
As the boys continue to compete in the ODP, watchful coaches will continue to evaluate to determine if they should advance in the program. Jordan said he is not letting that fact pressure him.
“It’s not something I really think about,” he said. “I feel like if I just play how I play, I can make it pretty far.”