What started as a few soccer clubs combining in Colorado to form Colorado Rush has grown into the largest youth soccer club in the world. Alaska Rush, including programs in both Anchorage and Fairbanks, is a part of “Rush Nation” that includes Rush teams from Hawaii to Florida and Haiti to Liberia. Though a small part of the large Rush family, Alaska Rush players make up a big part of National Rush Select teams, a program for the top Rush players in each age to train and play with top Rush players from all teams.
The National Rush Select process starts at U12 when all U12 Rush teams gather for RushFest in Colorado for a week of games against other Rush teams, training from other Rush state coaches, evaluation by National Rush Select staff, and incredible fun for hundreds of players with workshops, team events, and crazy social parties. From that event Rush Select coaches decide who they want to keep note of for future opportunities.
Players identified at RushFest or through their club’s technical director (often as players on their state ODP team) join 50 to 60 players of their own age group and gender at Rush Select Camp in Casa Grande, Ariz. The event provides an exceptional experience for intense training, games, and further evaluations. This year Alaska had nearly 30 players attend ages U12-U16 attend camps over a two-week period in November.
From this camp players may be called up at any time through the year for first- or second-team Rush Select opportunities with the top 30 to 40 players from camp. So far this year 10 Alaska Rush players were called to join the Rush Select second team at the Desert Classic Tournament in Phoenix in early February.
“It was great to get together with players I knew from select camp,” said Brady Rufner, a part of the ’04 boys team that made it to the championship game beating the No. 1 Arizona team. “At both camp and this tournament I roomed with players from Hawaii, Virginia and Cancun.”
A week later five Alaska Rush players joined Rush Select to compete in the top flight of the prestigious President’s Day Tournament, also in Phoenix. Eli Ulvi, Alaska Rush technical director, coached one of the teams winning the championship.
To top it off a number of Alaskans join the top tier of Rush Select on tours to Italy, Spain, and Sweden this March and April to experience professional European soccer and compete against top quality international clubs. The list of Alaskans this year joining Rush Select Euro tours is the largest ever with Vaughn Simpson (Fairbanks Rush) with 2002 boys, Holly Makar with 2002 girls, Dewin Vazquez and Sasha DeVassie for 2004 boys, and Samantha Sees for 2004 girls.
— Dan Rufner, Alaska Rush