ODP In The Spotlight highlights players from Houma-Terrebonne Soccer Association who have furthered their soccer education by trying out and being selected for the Louisiana Olympic Development Program (ODP).
Zachary Miller is a central defender for the Blackhawks 04 Black competing in LCSL 14U Comp 1 for the 2017-18 season, coached by Chris Staszak.
HoumaSoccer.com caught up with Zachary recently and asked him to tell us about his time with Louisiana ODP in more detail...
ODP coach name: Philip Silverman
ODP age group: 2004 (U13)
Position at ODP: Central defender
Played against (results): Mississippi ODP (won 6-0), Arkansas ODP (won 4-1), Alabama ODP (lost 1-3), South Carolina ODP (won 4-0).
For how long have you been representing Louisiana at ODP?
I have been playing ODP for one year. I tried out in December of 2016. It was my first year trying out.
Why tryout for Louisiana ODP in the first place?
My Blackhawks coach, Chris Staszak, suggested that I try out. I knew about ODP because my older brother, Seth, played for the Louisiana ODP team.
Tell us a little about the tryout process for Louisiana ODP?
ODP tryouts were held at different locations throughout the state. I made it to the Baton Rouge ones. A lot of my Blackhawks team also tried out. There was a lot of kids trying out in my age group, but I did not feel that the sessions were hard for me.
Tell us why you think the Louisiana ODP coaching staff selected you.
I felt I was always ahead of the game play, which meant that I knew where the ball was going. I also felt that I was in good physical shape because I already play on a competitive team. And I also swim competatively.
What were your goals when you first joined Louisiana ODP?
That I become a starter, and make the regional pool.
Tell us a little about how you have grown and developed as a person and as a player during your time there.
I feel that I have grown into a stronger player because of ODP. I feel that, because of my coach, I know the right way to play my positions, and as a team member.
What is your most memorable individual moment from your time with Louisiana ODP?
One of the most memorable and rewarding experience with ODP was the Regional Mini Camp. It was fun and a great experience. I was very fortunate to get chosen for regional play two nights. Coach Phil also said I played hard - that was the reason I was chosen - and that I am able to see where to place and play the ball.
Describe a time that challenged you and how you worked around it.
Playing with different players at first was a challenge, but I grew into playing with them.
What lessons have you learned along the way?
One of the lessons I learned along the way, wast how hard it is to be on my own at the different camps we attended. But it made me more responsible as a person and player.
Talk us through a typical practice.
We would play rondo, then go into warmups. After that we would work on ball movement and skills, and how to function as a whole. At the end we would scrimmage older/younger ODP teams then end with a light jog.
What is the best part of Louisiana ODP?
That it is the next step up from your club team, and the competition is hard out there. The training was hard, but rewarding. I also enjoyed being on a team with players from different parts of the state.
What is the worst part?
The travel was a little rough sometimes, because we would train in Alexandria, Baton Rouge and Lafayette.
What is next for you and your own personal development?
I will be trying out again next year. It has made me want to work harder because my goal next year is to make the regional team.
What is your number one goal as a player, and how important is Louisiana ODP in helping you towards that?
My number one goal is to become known to coaches from different colleges, as they do come to watch us at our camps.
Sum Louisiana ODP up in one sentence.
It was a great experience and everyone should tryout to see where they stand on your soccer level.
What is your advice to a player from Houma-Terrebonne Soccer Association thinking about trying out for Louisiana ODP?
ODP will be hard and will challenge you to your fullest soccer potential. It can be stressful at times, but real soccer players work through that. It was definitely worth every bit of my time and hard work. I can't wait to try out again for the upcoming year.
To find out more about Louisiana ODP, click here to visit the Louisiana Soccer Association website.