The EDP Foundation is proud 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 a record number of applications from over 320 youth soccer players, each of which were painstakingly reviewed by a 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 would like to congratulate the 2022 academic scholarship recipients. The following excerpts from their essays provide insight into how club and high school soccer have helped to shape their personal character, provide life lessons, and build leadership skills.
Player at Sporting CT 2004 Boys
Student at Orville Platt High School, Meridien, CT
Attending University of Connecticut (Honors Program), Mansfield, CT
“...the Platt High School Panthers look like a strong soccer team. With our foreign-sounding names and medley of skin tones, we epitomize the global game. But the image lasts only until the first whistle blows; our four-year record is 5-50. Learning how to lead on a team that almost always loses has been one of the most impactful challenges that I have faced.“
“With my club teams, I have played all along the East coast, under the shadow of Epcot Center and beneath the lights of Gillette Stadium. But the games that challenged me the most were played on the field behind my school, in a faded jersey with peeling numbers. The qualities needed here—sustained commitment, composure, and solidarity—have helped me develop characteristics that I will carry forward after my final whistle.“
“In the movie version of my life, these attributes would have helped our team make an unlikely run to the state championship and win on a last-minute goal. In real life, my final match was a draw to our cross-town rival after ten years of straight defeats. While this small achievement will undoubtedly be forgotten, the ways that soccer has shaped me will remain.“
Player at Maryland Rush DFC United 2003
Student at St. Mary’s High School, Annapolis, MD
Attending Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA
“...Soccer has taught me to be humble, hard-working, and service-minded. In Kindergarten, my parents wanted me to develop a mission statement, so with their help I came up with one. It was simple at first, but then grew over the years from my time on the soccer field. It reads: Be kind, play fair, say please, thank you, and I am sorry. Love God, myself, others, and the earth. Do my best every day and treat others with compassion. Have courage, and lead by example. Create peace and unify.”
“...I have taught countless elementary and middle-school children the game of soccer... one of my first leadership roles in soccer when I volunteered to be an instructor for underprivileged children at our local community center.”
“Ivis Dominguez ... my sponsored friend in Honduras, was struggling... He was going to a neurologist to have his asthma medication changed, and his mother was having surgery. I have never met Ivis, but we have exchanged letters and photos over the last 8 years. That afternoon, through my service as an instructor, I felt like I was playing soccer with Ivis, and I was helping him relax from his struggles...”
“Through my instruction, I learned that soccer was not just about performance skills and resilience, it was about humility, diligence, and service... playing the game of soccer taught me the importance of establishing relationships and working well with others to accomplish a common goal.”
Player at Smithtown Kickers/Slammers Bayern ‘04
Student at Smithtown High School West, Smithtown, NY
Attending Villanova University, Villanova, PA
“While athletically talented players are necessary to produce a championship team, a strong, positive culture, good sportsmanship, compassion, and unity among teammates are equally important.”
“A perfect example of how the heart of a team builds character ...Patrick Kinane, as he battled cancer in his senior year of high school. United in the common goal of boosting Pat’s spirits, the team dedicated every shot, pass, and save to Pat and, in the process, ended up undefeated in their regular season.”
“...his disease had progressed... I founded the Smithtown West Boys Soccer Alumni game in the fall of 2019... to unite Pat and his fellow alumni players... for a game against me and the other current Varsity players... At our inaugural game, the stadium was packed, and 57 alumni and current players joined on the field wearing the “Pat Strong” stickers that I created for their jerseys... alumni spanning eight years shared stories of their time playing games on the field. Unfortunately, Pat passed away seven months after the game... (In 2021) the $4,000 I raised hosting the event will be used for a scholarship in his name.”
“Being a member of soccer teams has taught me what it means to “rally.” Teammates not only rally on the field to come back from a deficit but, with compassion, we rally around each other to provide strength and support in times of need. That lesson of compassion created the foundation of my empathetic character and is present in everything I do.”
Player at Keystone FC UWS Women
Student at Cumberland Valley High School, Mechanicsburg, PA
Attending Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA
“The most invaluable lessons in life stem from overcoming adversity, and it is at the darkest point in life that individual growth begins to develop. My immense passion and desire for soccer, unfortunately, acted as the catalyst for the hardest moment in my life; in hindsight, this moment became one of the most valuable moments as it taught me invaluable lessons... While playing indoor soccer, I crashed headfirst directly into a concrete wall. Suddenly at that moment, my life felt unstable and uncertain...”
“...the moment my injury occurred, for the first time, soccer had harmed me. While I had serious physical injuries—an epidural hematoma, a skull fracture, and a concussion—ultimately, the trauma I faced stemmed from the fear of potentially losing a part of myself. I had never faced something that had posed such a serious threat to the essence of my character. However, through my fear I began to understand on a deeper level the importance of strength and overcoming adversity.”
“Soccer, indirectly through this injury, demonstrated to me how valuable overcoming adversity is. This experience taught me how to be resilient in the face of immense fear. I was able to develop as a person in terms of my determination and strength. I now apply these characteristics throughout all aspects in my life whether it be challenges in school, at work, or in my social life; the lessons I learned from soccer allow me to prosper and overcome any issues that might occur.”
Player at Nirvana FC Courage
Student at Washingtonville High School, Washingtonville, NY
Attending University of Maryland, College Park, MD
“Playing soccer has done a lot for me. For starters, it taught me the value of dedication and hard work.”
“Soccer also taught me what it means to be a true teammate: uplifting and encouraging, but also steadfast in performing your job to the best of your ability. I liked varsity soccer a lot for that reason. Once you got your spot, you knew exactly what you had to do to keep it. Defense? You better be staying after to practice long balls. Striker? You better be able to survive with the ball at your feet on the dribble. Center mid? You better know how to constantly move, and constantly redistribute the ball. If not, you’d be leaving your teammates in the dust.”
“But being a teammate is much more than just doing your job, it’s also about friendship and bonds. I guess I never really realized that until this year, during varsity season. I was coming back from an ACL injury and had been out for just under a year, and when I was finally cleared, I texted my teammates right away. Later, two of the girls told me that they’d cried right then and there in the middle of class when they read my text. That’s when I truly knew being a teammate was more than just what happened on the field.”
Player at Coppermine Soccer Club Girls 2003 Premier North Composite
Student at Towson High School, Towson, MD
Attending Lafayette College, Easton, PA
“When I was in elementary school, I was extremely shy and introverted and had only previously participated in individual sports. Deciding to join a team sport like soccer was initially an overwhelming thought, and not one I was excited to experience. ... However, over the seasons I became more comfortable in the environment and with my teammates, allowing me to climb out of my shell. The accepting atmosphere of each soccer program encouraged my increased sociability. My teammates, both current and past, are some of my closest friends,... It was those same teammates who inspired me to accept leadership roles in several captain and referee positions ...”
“Having a varsity soccer experience as early as my freshman year offered several role models, so when I was selected as captain, I knew what needed to be done to lead effectively. I never would have thought I would hold any leadership positions because I didn’t think I had the ability to, but after learning more about myself through the sport, I discovered my capacity to lead.”
“I was a soccer referee for four years, which provided me with the opportunity to work with a variety of people. Learning to conduct myself with players, coaches, spectators, and other referees was an invaluable experience that taught me worlds about responsibility, effective communication, and respect. I truly believe that, without the game of soccer, I never would have gained the same skills...”
Peter Gooding, EDP Foundation Board of Directors’ Chair, discussed the reach and growth of this EDP Foundation program:
“The Scholarship Committee and I were incredible impressed with the quality of applicants contending for this year's scholarships. It has been much more difficult than ever to select from so many strong candidates,” said Gooding.
“While reviewing and reading about these impressive student-athletes, the EDP Foundation marveled at how deep the values and character instilled from playing soccer runs. The game itself, coaches, and their teammates have dramatically impacted and positively shaped their lives,” Gooding said.
“When students strive to create more personal experiences while participating in extra-curricular activities, such as sports, they reach beyond the field into their communities. They touch lives of those around them and connect more personally. The team aspects of soccer instill volunteerism and giving back to soccer and the community at large. These values are emblematic of what the EDP Foundation represents,” said Gooding.
He added: “It’s incredibly important to the EDP Foundation to track how this inspirational program has grown. This year we collected a record number of applications from a wide geographic area.” Submissions came in from 13 states, including CT, CA, DC, DE, FL, MA, MD, ME, NJ, NH, NY, PA, VA and even Ontario.
Gooding pointed out that the Foundation's primary focus is its “commitment to encouraging youth soccer players to aspire to achieve their goals and further their education beyond High School—Whether that means graduation from college, a trade school, or other accredited institution, the goal is a degree that helps them get a head start and succeed on a professional level.”
Gooding explained, “By helping to educate young people on their options and determine a path to follow after high school, the EDP Foundation aligns incredibly well with club development programs. There are many ways for EDP Soccer's club partners to work with us to supplement their existing efforts—to reinforce the importance of academics and striving for excellence outside of soccer.”
“To further its mission, the EDP Foundation embraces EDP Soccer and its clubs as ideal partners. We offer multiple opportunities throughout the year to bring clubs, coaches and soccer professionals together to educate players and their parents about extending their education,” Gooding concluded.
The EDP Foundation wishes these scholarship recipients and all student-athletes the best of luck as they pursue their future academic goals.
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.