The EDP Foundation is excited to formally announce the winners of its annual academic scholarship program. Each recipient receives a $2,500 scholarship as a contribution to their educational expenses at an accredited college, university, trade, or technical school.
The EDP Foundation Scholarship Committee received applications from over 200 youth soccer players, each of which were painstakingly reviewed by an independent panel of judges. Applicants were narrowed down to the top boys’ and girls’ candidates and ranked using a variety of criteria, then six winners were chosen from the finalists.
The EDP Foundation Board of Directors’ is proud to introduce the following 2021 academic scholarship recipients. Below are excerpts from their essays, which help to tell how the game of soccer has positively impacted their lives.
Player at AVID Phoenix ’02 Girls
Student at Allegany High School, Cumberland, MD
Attending WVU Potomac State College, Keyser, WV
“I often see the number of young girls participating in leagues dwindle. Adults, often male coaches, tend to treat these games as the World Cup and play to crush opponents, instead of teaching skills. … When these girls do get an opportunity to play, they are often getting screamed at by the coach for doing things they may not know is wrong. As a four-year varsity soccer player, I have witnessed the drop in numbers from our own program that have resulted from the lack of numbers in the youth programs. This really bothers me because soccer is a great game for both boys and girls.”
“In order to be part of the solution, I have tried to become a mentor when I officiate games. Now whenever I referee these games, I try to encourage the little girls. Anytime I have to make a call for an illegal throw or foul, I explain to them what they did wrong and then either explain or show how they can fix it. I want to be a role model for girls to look up to and hope that they can approach me with questions about the game.”
“I want to be an ambassador for young girls promoting the game I love. Without encouragement and compassion, many young girls would quit and give up on their passions. I do not want to see that happen. This beautiful game of soccer has impacted me to be a strong female role model … so that they have someone to look up to and want to be the best they can be.”
Player at Washington United Soccer Club 02/03 Girls
Student at Cherokee High School, Marlton, NJ
Attending Kutztown University, Kutztown, PA
“In my early years of school, I was labeled as having an “immature sensory system.” I did not speak until I was almost three and had a hard time in social situations according to my parents. I was enrolled in the disabled pre-school through our district to receive speech therapy and occupational therapy. I slowly began to catch up, but I continued to receive support throughout my years of schooling. I was also diagnosed with ADHD which I have learned to adapt without medication. School wasn’t always a place of confidence for me, but there was always soccer in my life.
Soccer was always a source of confidence for me. I felt alive when I was on the soccer field. I had great coaches who made the team feel like a family, so my teammates were always my best friends. …I loved my first travel soccer team, but I always wanted to continue to grow and play at a higher level. … With each team that I have joined, I have had the opportunity to grow and to learn new things from different coaches. This also allowed me to meet and play with a lot of great girls.”
“Senior year has not been what I thought it would be—Covid-19 hit, isolation, home-schooling, no senior trip, limited school sports, prom still up in the air, …This has definitely been one of the most challenging and stressful years of my life. … I am so excited that in a few short months I will be beginning my college career playing soccer for the Golden Bears.”
Player at SAC/BA 2002 Pre-Academy
Student at Cantonsville High School, Cantonsville, MD
Attending University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, MD
“In soccer—as in life—we often rely on the rules of the game, the systems of play, as guidelines and trust that justice… it is upheld because that is the way of the game. However, four years ago, my best friend… suffered an extreme case of meningitis which has left her paralyzed from the neck down.
It felt like the rules of the game had ceased to exist. The ref had blown her whistle, ... We couldn’t understand it. …Here I stand, privileged in my able body…”
“She is now quadriplegic, and I am not. I question the justice in this. However, as our friendship continues to evolve and grow, she has taught me this truth: teammates are much more than those who are on the field with you. They are those who not only accept your love, support, and encouragement, but who also wish the same relentless pursuit of dreams for you because we only win when we are mutually uplifted.”
“By majoring in Government and Politics with a concentration in International Relations, my goal is to continue to uplift and be uplifted by future connections with teammates.... I hope to work with refugees and asylum seekers, some of whom I met at a Youth Soccer Without Borders program in Baltimore, learning with and from them about hardship, culture, and the importance of diversity.
Thanks to the world’s sport, soccer, I have been encouraged to explore and appreciate diversity in people, cultures, and backgrounds.”
Player at Future Soccer Academy
Student at Cresskill High School, Cresskill, NJ
Attending Princeton University (2022), Princeton, NJ
“….I realized that soccer was not about kicking and running after a ball, but rather a match of keen tactics. …And so, in unconventional fashion, I started applying chess to the sport. Just as in chess tournaments I anticipated my opponent’s next move, in soccer games, I stopped following the ball and started predicting the open spaces. Now, as both a soccer coach and a chess tutor, I recognize the important relationship between the two in my life and so I always preach to my players how a multi-dimensional perspective can enhance their skills, just as it did for me.”
“…My new interpretation of soccer this past summer was that it was all about confidence. … Recognizing that I owe so much of this character growth to the sport, I, along with two friends, sought to ensure that soccer and its profound effects would not be taken away from the younger kids in town during the pandemic. Therefore, we started offering free weekly soccer trainings via zoom in order to keep the kids active and build their confidence through team-building competitive exercises. In this way, soccer has not just become a mechanism for personal growth but also a bridge to community engagement.”
“My passion for soccer and its impact has manifested itself in just about every aspect of my life. I will keep growing as a player and person as I find new interpretations of the sport.”
Player at Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals '02 Boys Black
Student at Central Bucks High School South, Warrington, PA
Attending Alvernia University, Reading, PA
“As I grew older and continued to develop as a player, I became more involved in the game within my community. Apart from playing, I’ve been a USYS Grade 8/Grassroots Referee since 9th grade. I’ve also participated at my club, …as a Volunteer Coach for younger players and a TOPSoccer Buddy for kids with special needs.”
“I believe soccer has helped shape me into the person I am today. I’ve learned a lot of life lessons and a lot about myself through playing. I would describe myself as a hardworking player with a constant motivation to get better. …I think my work ethic on the field has helped me as a student in the classroom.”
“Recently, off the soccer field, I was diagnosed with a benign tumor on my third cranial nerve in my left eye, also known as a schwannoma… Luckily, medical professionals have been able to monitor … and I was able to play my senior season for my high school...”
“…I realized due to my mindset and character, I’ve been able to overcome …I learned how to get better as a player and never give up despite what any challenges I could face. I believe the lessons I learned from playing soccer developed my mindset … that no matter the challenge or circumstance I will continue to do my best and never give up.”
“As I look back, I’m extremely grateful for everything the game has brought me.”
Player at Hunterdon FC, HFC Inter
Student at Hunterdon Central High School, Flemington, NJ
Attending Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
“I cannot remember a time in my life when I was not a part of the tightly knit soccer community. …At first my involvement was one dimensional, I only belonged to the community as a player. I learned fundamental values to use off the field like teamwork, determination, and leadership.
However, as I grew older my involvement expanded. I felt that for so long… I never returned the favor. So, I began volunteering with a program that helps children with special needs play soccer among other sports.”
“To me, soccer and all the great things it brought with it were always easily accessible. I never thought about those who struggle to have the same opportunities in sports that I had. … I hope through my volunteer work I was able to share with those athletes all that I have learned through the sport.”
“In addition, I became a referee, which not only gave me a source of income, but also gave me a chance to be a role model for young kids like myself as well as provided an opportunity to develop my skills as a leader and communicator.”
“With these new responsibilities on and off the field I carried all the values soccer has instilled in me…It is now and has been my goal to use my position in my community to pass down these traits to those around me.”
Peter Gooding, EDP Foundation Board of Directors’ Chair, provides more insight on this successful EDP Foundation program:
“The Board of Directors’ and I are very pleased to see such deserving winners of these scholarships,” said Gooding.
“In awarding these outstanding student-athletes, the EDP Foundation is helping prepare these young adults for their futures. Alongside the values and character instilled from playing soccer, we strive to convince all athletes to further their education, whether that is academic or vocational,” Gooding said.
He added: “It’s incredibly important to help young people navigate the years during and immediately after high school. Their continued studies combined with participation in extra-curricular and community activities, including sports, better enables athletes to cope and thrive in these challenging developmental years as they become young adults.”
Gooding emphasized that the Foundation is “committed to encouraging youth soccer players to reach their goals and further their education beyond High School.” The ultimate goal is graduation from college or a trade school with a degree that helps propel them into the next phase of their lives.
Gooding explained, “For this mission, the EDP Foundation reaches out to its recruiting base of players in EDP Soccer tournaments and EDP Leagues. EDP Soccer and its clubs are great partners because we have multiple opportunities throughout the year to bring educators, coaches and industry professionals to educate players and their parents about extending their education plans after High School.”
The EDP Foundation wishes these scholarship recipients and all student-athletes the best of luck as they advance their academic careers.
To learn more about EDP Foundation Scholarships and other EDP Pathway to College™ programs, visit edpfoundation.org/scholarships.
About EDP and the EDP Foundation:
Elite Development Program Soccer, or EDP Soccer, manages youth soccer leagues and tournaments across NJ and the entire East Region alongside US Youth Soccer. The EDP Foundation is a non-profit organization, which strives to positively impact and enhance the development of the youth soccer community by connecting players with opportunities to further their academic careers. The organization create scholarship opportunities that support bright, passionate, and ambitious students who are seeking to improve the world in their own way.