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Expanding the Pool: U.S. Paralympic Soccer National Team Holding Biggest Ever Camp in Chula Vista


CHICAGO (Feb. 19, 2009) - The U.S. Paralympic Soccer National Team is conducting a training camp in Chula Vista, Calif., as the team seeks to expand its player pool ahead of the CPISRA World Championship later this year. With 20 players currently in camp, head coach Jay Hoffman is excited to oversee the biggest-ever camp for the team.

"Camp is going well," said Hoffman, speaking from the U.S. Olympic Training Center. "This is the largest camp ever and it's exciting because we have built a pool where we have good competition in the roster for spots, which is always good for the players."

"Since the last cycle, we really have tried to get out and find a lot of young players so that we can start rebuilding for 2012 and 2016, so this camp is rather exciting in that sense."

While Hoffman has a cadre of Paralympic team veterans in the camp, which concludes on Feb. 22, many particiapants are young players with prospects for the future.

"We've tried to use this camp to show these young guys that there is something here,” said Hoffman. “In the next two or three years hopefully a few of these guys can be in the roster of 12 for 2012 or 2016."

The biennial CPISRA World Championship for Paralympic soccer is slated to be held later this year, the primary competition for Paralympic soccer teams is the Paralympic Games, the next edition of which will be held following the Olympic Games in London. The USA's best performance in the Paralympics came in 1996, when the team barely missed out on a bronze medal.

Many of the young players taking part in this month's camp are getting their first taste of national team action, an experience that Hoffman hopes the players can learn from.

"[Being in a national team camp] is an adjustment. The good news is that we have a great group of older players, guys who have been very supportive of the young guys. They show them the ropes, make sure they're hanging in there and when you look at senior players, these are the type of things that you want from them. It's a sign of leadership from these guys and, as a coach, you have to like that."

The senior players on the Paralympic team have been around for awhile, remaining with the program often for many years. Hoffman spoke about the pride that those players have knowing that they've played a vital part in the program as it has moved along.

"Josh McKinney, Tommy Latsch, some guys who have been with us for along time, have gone from being the youngest on the team at one time to being the oldest on the team, and they're excited to know that we're trying to build something here," he said.

As the team moves forward planning for the World Championship, veterans and younger players alike stand to benefit down the road from the increased number of players coming into camps like this one.

"It's creating competition and that's what you want," said Hoffman. "You want to put your players in a position where there's a constant progression and guys are improving.

"This camp was designed to put players we've identified in the mix so we can see where they are and also take a good look at these young guys. It gives guys a chance to compete and keeps them involved, whether it's for a tournament six months from now, eight months from now, or a year away."

To be eligible for Paralympic soccer, athletes must be ambulatory and have a diagnosis of non-progressive brain damage that is associated with motor control dysfunction such as Cerebral Palsy, traumatic brain injury or stroke. More information about eligibility and the classification of athletes is available at usparalympics.org.

Click here for ussoccer.com's full photo gallery from training camp

U.S. PARALYMPIC SOCCER NATIONAL TEAM TRAINING CAMP ROSTER

U.S. Olympic Training Center, Chula Vista, Calif.
Feb. 15-22, 2009
Name Pos. Birthdate Hometown
Ahrens, Chris D 01/31/84 La Mesa, Calif.
Ballou, Adam F 05/29/92 Virginia Beach, Va.
Boarman, Bryce D 09/29/90 Colorado Springs, Colo.
Chavez, Joe GK 02/12/90 Bonita, Calif.
Creasey, Nick M 01/09/91 Richmond, Va.
Cruz-Allen, Gabe F 03/22/88 Guilderland, N.Y.
Dornbusch, Alex F 09/06/88 Lexington, Ky.
Hansbrough, Greg M 10/12/83 Poplar Bluff, Mo.
Howard, Charlie F 06/16/94 Washington, D.C.
Johnson, Keith GK 07/02/80 Houston
Jones, Chad M 05/25/92 Virginia Beach, Va.
Knudsen, Ferris M 01/19/96 St. Louis
Latsch, Tommy M 01/07/85 Cleveland
Layne, Jasper F 06/08/93 Troy, N.Y.
Matsey, Sean D 04/26/89 Pittsburgh
McKinney, Josh M 01/18/79 Cary, N.C.
Morales, Moises M 08/27/93 Chula Vista, Calif.
Nyman, Alek D 04/24/92 Centennial, Colo.
Penn, Tyler M 11/01/90 Manchester, N.H.
Robinson, Nick F 02/10/91 Cleveland
Vazquez, Marthell F 04/08/87 Long Beach, Calif.

U.S. PARALYMPIC SOCCER NATIONAL TEAM STAFF
Head Coach Jay Hoffman (Virginia Beach, Va.)
Assistant Coach Mike Haas (Aurora, Colo.)
Assistant Coach Rene Miramontes (San Diego)
Assistant Coach Phil Wheddon (Syracuse, N.Y.)
Trainer Vinny Comiskey (Chula Vista, Calif.)
Team Coordinator Dana Schoenwetter (Denver)
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