News and Announcements

Team Chicago Academy-Botafogo defeated Chicago Inter Homer Glen 2-0 and Oakbrook SC 4-0 to advance to the IYSA U16 State Cup semi-final. Meegan Johnston had 3 of the goals and Hope D’Addario, Dana Miller, and Dani Pitaro each got one goal. Megan Geldernick and Kiley Dunning combined for the shutouts.

Botafogo now faces a re-match of last year’s semi-final against Eclipse Select ECNL next Saturday, June 18th at Noon at Sportscore II in Rockford. At the same time and location Team Chicago Academy-Jaguars will face Chicago Fire Juniors North in the U12 semi-final.

Team Chicago Academy-ManU beat USSA 3-0 on a Kaela Leskovar hattrick assisted by Anna McClowry and Rachel Pavlinic, but fell by the same score to the defending State Cup champions Sockers in the quarter-final.

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Methods for maximizing flexibility!

Posted by Phil Nielsen at Jun 7, 2011 7:51AM PDT ( 0 Comments )

We tend to think of young athletes as naturally flexible but in truth athletes of all ages can improve performance for sports by maximizing flexibility. In very simplistic terms, think of your muscles and tendons as elastic structures like rubber bands.

A stretchy rubber band is generally capable of greater motion and power than a cold, stiff rubber band. You want your muscles and tendons to be as long and flexible as possible, which usually leads to better strength, power, speed, agility, and even lower injury rates.

But there is considerable debate about what the “best” and safest method is to improve flexibility for young athletes. Back in the 1960s and 1970s we started every practice session with a series of stretch-and-hold moves (called “static stretches”), and then went on to activities involving movement. But over the past several years the pendulum has moved the other way. It’s now known that “flexibility” is much better and safer through exercises done with movement, called “dynamic stretching.” We also know that it’s harmful to stretch a cold muscle.

Here are some general guidelines for dynamic stretching that can be useful in most sports and age groups:

1. Start with a 3-5 minute easy jog. The purpose of this part of your activity is to get the body warmed up and reduce risk of injury. As I said above, don’t move to stretches without doing a warm-up first.

Depending on the sport and your environment you could also do a line-to-line jog, a lateral shuttle run, and backward running.

1. Move next into dynamic stretching. There are many, many different types of dynamic stretches. Coaches of different sports will have their favorites for their sport, so what is outlined here is a very general guideline:

A. Straight-leg marching — for hamstrings and glutes.
B. Butt-kicks — for quadriceps.
C. Forward shuffle with hip rotation — for groin/adductors.
D. Scorpion cross-over stretch lying on your back — for lower back and hip abductors.
E. Handwalks — for shoulders, core abdominals.

If you’d like to see some photos of a simple version of dynamic stretching for adults take a look at the Core Performance website. The folks at Core Performance refer to this phase as Movement Preparation and you can get a good idea of the types of movements we’re talking about above. (I have no relationship with Core Performance, I just really like what they do.) For soccer players, I highly recommend the Santa Monica Sports Medicine PEP program.

And finally, old-fashioned static (stretch and hold position) stretches can be done as part of the cool-down after activity.

Static stretches haven’t disappeared completely, they just come at the end of the training session rather than right at the beginning. There are literally hundreds of ways to do static stretching, and many sport-specific stretches. Here’s a bare minimum of stretches that target most of the muscle groups. For each of these you want the kids to hold for about 30 seconds and do 2 or 3 repetitions of each stretch.

1. Upper-body stretches
A. Across body shoulder stretch
B. Triceps back-scratcher stretch
C. Lower back stretch
i. Rocking on all fours
D. Lower body stretches
i. Calf/Achilles stretch
ii. Quadriceps stretch — standing
iii. Figure four hamstring stretch
iv. Inner thigh/adductor stretch
v. Hip flexor stretch

Right now you might be saying “this would be a lot better with pictures and more detailed descriptions …” And you’re right! So I encourage you to take a look at Core Performance and the PEP program.

(Dev K. Mishra is the creator of the injury management program for coaches. He is an orthopedic surgeon in private practice in Burlingame, Calif. He is a member of the team physician pool with the U.S. Soccer Federation and has served as team physician at the University of California, Berkeley. This article first appeared on

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Internacional beat Galaxy 2-0 in MRL!

Posted by Phil Nielsen at May 21, 2011 12:31PM PDT ( 0 Comments )

Team Chicago Academy-Internacional beat Galaxy 2-0 to finish 2nd or 3rd in the MRL First Division. With the win Internacional finished 6 points ahead of Galaxy in the standings.

It was a very disciplined performance by Internacional that laid the foundation for the win. Great individual & team defense was coupled with moments of great soccer, and a triumphant return to the team by Sam O’Brien. In her first game back after starring at West Aurora H.S. this Spring, Sam notched both goals in less than 2 minutes halfway through the first half.

Miranda Lambert and Tori Adomshick got the assists, and Hannah Parrish made a great save early in the game to preserve the shutout.

I’m sure anyone who’s raised an adolescent or teenager can attest to the idea that teenagers don’t get as much sleep as they need.

For the adolescent or teenager a number of outside influences take place: more demands on time for homework, socializing, sports, music, or any number of other activities. Let’s take a look below at some reasons why sleep patterns change, what the proper amount of sleep is, and how it can affect sports performance.

Why sleep patterns change in a teenager
Each of us — no matter how old — has an internal clock that follows roughly a 24-hour cycle. The internal cycle has a wide range of effects on many different body functions such as body temperature, release of hormones (human growth hormone is released in larger amounts during sleep than wakefulness), and amount of sleep required.

In younger children the normal body clock would have them fall asleep around 8 or 9 each night and wake up in the morning when they’ve had enough sleep. But in puberty the surge in different hormones produced by the body changes all of that and it becomes very difficult to feel sleepy often until after 11pm. Throw in the required time on Facebook and you can see where all of this leads.

How much sleep does a teenager need and how many teens actually get that?
Most sleep researchers tell us that the typical teenager should have 9 hours of sleep per night. Right now many of you are saying to yourselves “get real, that’s impossible” for most teenagers.

As the father of two teenage boys I’d have to agree. Several studies of teens have shown that about 90% get less than 9 hours of sleep per night and unfortunately 10% said they typically get less than 6 hours per night. The definition of “sleep deprivation” in teens is not completely clear but generally means that the teen is consistently getting less than 8 hours of sleep per night.

How sleep deprivation affects school and athletic performance
Anyone who’s sleepy can be awfully moody but there are many negative consequences beyond that. Being tired during class will obviously make it more difficult to concentrate or even stay awake during class, and there is evidence that being sleep deprived leads to poorer school performance. And most tragically a sleep deprived teen driving a car can lead to disastrous consequences.

In a test of reaction times at Stanford University, people who were tired because of disrupted sleep performed about as poorly as subjects who were legally drunk. The study is the first to show severe impairment in people who have only mild to moderate sleep disturbances. This was an older group of people but it’s easy to see that it could be true for teenagers too. Would you like to face a high and tight fastball when you can’t react?

As for sports performance, research by Dr. Cheri Mah at the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic has shown that members of Stanford’s women’s tennis team, men’s and women’s swimming teams, and men’s basketball team improved performance by increasing sleep times.

Some practical tips for sleep and sports performance in teenagers …
There are many good reasons for teenagers to get more sleep than they do, but once again reality can get in the way of a good plan. So do the best you can to get as close as you can to 9 hours of sleep for your teen.

At the very least there are special situations when you’ll want to pay special attention to “sleep preparation” for performance. Do you have an important tournament or championship game coming up? How about a national team tryout? A college identification camp where you’ll be traveling east through several time zones? Here are some simple tips:

  • Increase your sleep time several weeks before a major event.
  • Make sleep as much of a priority as technical skill, fitness, and nutrition.
  • Go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day.
  • Turn lights off at night; use bright lights in the morning.
  • When traveling from west to east for competitions try to get out to your new time zone several days in advance to acclimate to the new time zone and avoid jet lag.

(Dev K. Mishra is the creator of the injury management program for coaches. He is an orthopedic surgeon in private practice in Burlingame, Calif. He is a member of the team physician pool with the U.S. Soccer Federation and has served as team physician at the University of California, Berkeley. This article first appeared on

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Jaguars advance to the State Cup Semi-Final!

Posted by Phil Nielsen at May 17, 2011 8:22AM PDT ( 0 Comments )

Team Chicago Academy-Jaguars, coached by Joe Moreau and Peter Lambert, defeated Crystal Lake (1-0), Plainfield Legends (3-1) and GLSA (2-0) May 14-15th in Rockford to secure a Semi-Final berth in the U12 Girls IYSA State Cup.

Maddie Lambert and Jasmine Ruiz each had two goals on the weekend, and Rachel Erdman and Ally Sheen also tallied a goal. Megan Keefer earned two shutouts in net.

The Jaguars will face Chicago Fire Juniors North in the Semi-Final on Saturday, June 18th at Noon at Sportscore 2 in Rockford.