News and Announcements

Maddie Pokora Commits to Toledo!

Posted by Team Chicago Soccer Club at Aug 19, 2013 5:24PM PDT ( 0 Comments )

Team Chicago Academy-Internacional defender Maddie Pokora has accepted a scholarship offer to continue her soccer career at the University of Toledo. Pokora plays her prep soccer for Head Coach Julie Bergstrom at Waubonsie Valley H.S.

Pokora will be part of Rockets Head Coach Brad Evans’ 2015 recruiting class. Toledo is a perennial standout program in the NCAA Division I Mid-American Conference.


Team Chicago Academy-Santos winger Lilly Butler has accepted a scholarship offer to continue her soccer career at Western Illinois University. Lilly has been part of back-to-back IHSA State Championship teams at Naperville North H.S.

The Leathernecks participate in the NCAA Division I Summit League, and Lilly will be part of Head Coach Ted Flogaites’ 2014 recruiting class.

The Ride Home: Not a Teachable Moment

By John O’Sullivan

Numerous researchers have asked athletes of all ages and abilities what was their least favorite sports moment, and their answer was nearly unanimous: after the game and the conversation on the ride home.

Emotions are high, disappointment, frustration, and exhaustion are heightened for both player and parent, yet many parents choose this moment to confront their child about a play, criticize them for having a poor game, and chastise their child, their teammates, their coach, and their opponents. There could not be a less teachable moment in your child’s sporting life than the ride home.

One of the biggest problems on the ride home is that a simple question from you, often meant to encourage your own child, can be construed as an attack on a teammate or coach by your child. Our kids do not need us to question their actions or those of their teammates or coaches in the emotional moments after games.

A simple comment such as “Why does Jenny get all the shots?” may be meant to imply that you think she is a good shooter who should also take shots, but it is interpreted by your daughter as meaning “Jenny is a ball hog!” Questions such as “Why does Billy always play goalie?” or “Why does your team always play zone?” can just as easily undermine the coach’s authority and again cause confusion and uncertainty for your child.

Many children have indicated that parental actions and conversations after games made them feel as though their value and worth was tied to their athletic performance and the wins and losses of their team. Ask yourself whether you are quieter after a hard loss, or happier and more buoyant after a big win. Do you tend to criticize and dissect your child’s performance after a loss but overlook many of the same mistakes because she won? If you see that you are doing this, even though your intentions may be well-meaning, your child’s perceptions of your words and actions can be quite detrimental to her performance and to your relationship.

Parents need to be a source of confidence and comfort in all situations, such as when your child has played well in a loss, when your child has played poorly, and especially when your child has played very little or not at all. Even then, it is critically important that you do not bring the game up for them, as uninvited conversations may cause resentment.

Give kids the time and space to digest the game and recover physically and emotionally from a match. When your child is ready to bring the game up and talk about it, be a quiet and reflective listener, and make sure she can see the big picture and not just the outcome of a single event. Help her work through the game, and facilitate her growth and education by guiding her toward her own answers. Kids learn a lot when they realize things such as “we had a bad week of practice and coach told us this was coming.” If you need to say something, tell them how much you enjoy watching them play.

The only exception to the above “ride home” rule is when your child engages in behavior that you would not accept at home, such as spitting, cursing, assaulting an opponent, or disrespecting a coach or authority figure. In these cases you should initiate the conversation, not as a parent to an athlete, but as a parent to a child. Even then you must be careful and considerate of the emotions of the match and choose your words wisely. Deal with the issue and then put it to bed; do not use it as a segue to a discussion of the entire game.

(John O’Sullivan is the author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High-Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to our Kids,” from which this was excerpted. His book is available on Kindle and paperback. John O’Sullivan’s blogs at


Claire Hensley – a midfielder on Team Chicago Academy-Cruzeiro – just came back from playing in the world’s biggest youth tournament Dana Cup in Denmark. Here is her account of the trip:

Last week I got back from the trip of a lifetime. I was able to play soccer in the Dana Cup in Denmark with a Hawaiian team that I guest played with on vacation last year.

Our first few days of the trip were spent in Germany, in a rural town about an hour outside of Hamburg, where the team practiced in preparation for the Cup. Exhibition games with German teams were arranged and we were able to get in extra practices. While in Germany I stayed with a German host family along with two of my teammates. Although the only food I had there was bread, butter, and salami, the experience was amazing.

Our last friendly in Germany was against SC Waren ’09 in their stadium, complete with walkouts and national anthems. They even bought a big Hawaiian state flag for our team. Afterward, we all gave them little gifts from Hawaii to show our appreciation. Following the match, our motor coach took us to tour Schwerin Castle, which was beautiful.

After our brief time in Germany, the team and I piled into the bus and headed off to Denmark. Dana Cup is held in a small town in the far Northwestern part of Denmark called Hjorring. It’s right on the North Sea, and a ferry ride away from Norway and Sweden – so we were really far north! We arrived at the school where we were staying and had a mini pizza party to get to know the three Danish guest players who were playing with us for the tournament. Our ‘home’ for the week was a classroom in a school with tables along the walls for our suitcases and 13 mattresses on the floor for the players and our chaperone.

Our second day in Denmark was great. The whole team walked into town where we rode a little train just for us up the cobblestone streets to the Mayor’s office. There, the team and I performed the Hula for him and two other teams who had traveled a great distance for the tournament; a boys team from Honduras and a girls team from Peru. The team from Honduras lit a large torch, kind of like they have at the Olympics, in the middle of the town with the Mayor, which was really cool. Afterward, we split up for lunch and some shopping before meeting back at our dorm for an afternoon practice.

That evening was the opening ceremony. When we arrived there, it was breathtaking to see all the different countries chanting and proudly raising their flags. We walked by country in a parade winding through the streets and then into Hjorring Stadium. There were 950 boys and girls teams in this tournament, so you can imagine the crowd. Walking into the stadium felt so surreal – we kind of felt like little super stars, with everyone taking pictures and waving. After the ceremony the team had a little more free time, and we went around taking pictures with teams from all over the world. We returned to the dorms happy and loud.

When we woke up the next morning we headed straight to breakfast. I was not looking forward to anymore bread and salami – thank goodness for Nutella. Following breakfast, we caught the bus to our first pool game. We played Baerum SK from Norway and won 4-0. We struck in the first minute of the game, and I had an assist. Right after the game, we had a quick snack of fruit and headed to our second match of the day versus Voss FBK. We won that match 5-0, again striking very quickly in the first half. I scored and had an assist in that game.

Following dinner at the dining hall and a good night’s rest we had our third and final pool play match the next day versus Kvinesdal IL, also from Norway. Our team came away with a 4-0 victory, earning us a bye for the first round of knock-out games in the “A” playoff bracket. In the round of 16, we played a very physical team from Hinna FB. We came away with a 2-1 victory, although we lost our center back in the last minutes of the game to a concussion. After the match, we took a picture with our opponent, as we had done after every match, and rode the bus home with a Saudi Arabian team who blasted music throughout the bus. Everyone started singing when “Treasure” by Bruno Mars came on.

Our Quarterfinal match was the next day, and our center back, Bri, was still out with the concussion, so we had no subs. We lost a hard fought game 0-1 on a deflection that caused an own goal. It was a tough loss to take. The team regrouped following the game and had a little free time. For me this meant “Yes! I can finally eat some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream!”. We enjoyed hanging out with our new friends back at the dorms, and the fireworks show that night before boarding the bus in the morning for Copenhagen.

After a 5 hour motor coach ride, we arrived in Copenhagen. Our hotel was right on Copenhagen Harbor, and after checking in, we all jumped right in. We had dinner at the mall next door, and a little more swimming before curfew. The next morning we took a canal cruise to take in the sights of Copenhagen. We also saw the changing of the guards at the palace, then off for lunch and more shopping. Our last day we spent hanging out together and more swimming in the harbor. I woke at 3:30AM to say goodbye to my teammates before their VERY long trip home to Honolulu.

My trip and playing opportunity in the Dana Cup was so rewarding. I’m thankful to the Honolulu Bulls for asking me to play, and of course to Phil for letting me go.

Well, today is the day we head back – back to the land of the free, the land of the brave, the land of the greasy food and poor style… Leaving Europe and all of its magnificent beauty behind.

It was a rough morning because we had to be on our bus by 3:30am, our curfew last night was 10pm. But let’s be honest, none of us were in bed until around 1:30, leaving us zombiefied for this rather hectic day of travel.

We arrived at the Copenhagen airport before the sun and had to say our very heartfelt goodbyes to King Philip. Tears were shed; not only because we had to leave the Mark of Den, but because we had to leave the ever-so-happy Phil. We all realized that the next time we would see him would be at the gates of Hell.. Aka, 2 a Days, or, Phil’s paradise. This warm and fuzzy side of Phil we had seen for the past 10 days was something to cherish. We’ll forever remember the happy times we shared, and the next time we want to curse him on the field, we’ll just dig up these memories and try to manage a smile. <3

But on a real note, we learned some very important lessons on the trip. The most important Danish term that Hannah and I (Gabby) learned was “udsalg” that translates to “sale” in English. And you best believe there were some excellent sales in Copenhagen. CHA-CHING (Sorry, Dad). We also learned that you always have to be alert on the streets because they are crawling with men. We’re not talking like “red-zone,” be on the lookout for creepers, we’re saying keep an eye out for the thousands of Calvin Klein model lookalikes. It’s safe to say that finding a boyfriend in the States is highly unlikely after this trip, as our standards have been set rather high (Phil knows).
We also learned not to take ice water, air conditioning, real cereal, and soft toilet paper for granted. (S/O to Momma D for always buying Charmin Ultra).

All in all, the trip was an amazing experience. Who wouldn’t want to spend 10 days in Europe with 15 of their best friends? (It’s getting cheesy now). But really, Santos is the best. We couldn’t ask for a better group of girls to call teammates. From the sightseeing to the shopping, to the soccer and interacting with the Danish girls, there was never a dull moment. The soccer was awesome to watch, and celebrating first place was something none of us will ever forget. Nothing makes a championship game more dramatic than a penalty shootout followed by a celebratory dog pile. We could go on for days, but we’ll save it.

Thank you to all the parents that accompanied us on the trip, even though sometimes we were taking care of you guys… You were super, nonetheless. And, thanks to Phil, Father Goose, for taking us under your Danish wing. We are eternally grateful (read in the Alien voices from Toy Story).

See you all at 2 a Days… Try to remember what we all look like smiling.