The trials were two days of competition, including individual drills, 1-on-1 situations and 7-on-7 competitions. The players received evaluations at the end of the second day. Jack was the highest rated U15 linebacker at his trial, but he was also the smallest.
We found out a few weeks later that he was selected and would go to Austin, TX for a week to train at the University of Texas and play in games against other USA players and Team Sweden. Obviously, we were very proud of Jack … he’s been working his butt off this spring lifting weights and running and it paid off.
Once he got to Austin, there was another try out/evaluation session to place the players on teams. Team Red and Team White would include the most experienced players and the Blue team would include the slightly younger and somewhat less experienced players. Jack had a great workout session and found out that he would be playing on the Red team.
While we were thrilled and proud that he was selected for one of the top teams, we were a bit dismayed at the size of the players he would be responsible for stopping.
In the national team paperwork and at the tryouts, USA Football emphasized that the U15 team is for players who will be entering 8th and 9th grades in the autumn who are under 15-years-old … I’m not sure everyone got that message, particularly the kid from Oklahoma who drove himself to Austin.
I’d say most of the players on the Red and White teams were 15 and
big HUGE. For comparison, Jack is about 5’6″ and 145 lbs., will be 14 at the end of the month. Lately, we’ve been saying how big and beastly Jack looks and last week we were shocked to see that he looked like a hobbit or a Shetland pony among Clydesdales next to the rest of the Red and White teams.
However, despite all that, it was an amazing week of football for Jack. The basic schedule was 2 1/2 hour practice sessions in the mornings and evenings and a classroom/film session in the middle of the day. There were six linebackers on the Red team who worked with the same coach all week. Jack played the weak side linebacker.
The coaches were amazing. They coached every kid, on every rep. Jack got so much time on the field, playing with and against some of the best players in the country. His coach paid attention to everything Jack did and offered praise and/or corrections on each play. They put in some very complicated defenses and learned a lot of very high level technique.
In the photos, Jack is #36 when they have their game uniforms on (red). In their practice uniforms, he is #43 (white). All the linebackers are either #43 or #53 in their practice jerseys — so look carefully. In fact, you often have to look carefully to find him in the photos. If you see him in one shot, and then in the next shot he disappears into a group of behemoths, that usually means he made the tackle!
Click here for photos from the week (flash gallery)
Click here for photos from the week (non-flash gallery)