A page dedicated to TSF Academy's history and success stories shared by players and coaches.
TSF Fire (2011)
TSF Academy is celebrating the 15th and 10th year anniversary of two of its most successful girls’ teams US Club Soccer National Cup Championship triumphs.
The Club want to not only remember these two amazing feats but more importantly to recognize the young ladies who wore our club colors with pride and have since moved on to become successful women in different fields of business.
Here are the recollections of 4 TSF Alumni, but first an introduction from our General Manager and the Head Coach of both those teams, The Wildcats and The Fire - Mark White
In 2011, Five years after winning the US Club Soccer National Cup in Raleigh NC, the TSF Academy U16 Fire Girls team replicated that feat, this time in Idaho.
Pencils….. I had introduced these a couple of years previously to another TSF Team (Lynx) that I was coaching, and had seen the impact it had on the players. I felt the Fire were another group that would benefit from the bonding experience they brought. Basically, I gave each player a single pencil each. I asked them to snap it in half, which of course they all did with ease. I then gave them 18 pencils, held together with a rubber band. I told them each pencil represented them and their team-mates. I asked them to try and snap them. They could not. I told them that individually they could be broken, but as a team they were unbreakable. The players took their pencils to Idaho. When they won the Championship they held them high!
TSF Academy has been my one and only club team throughout my entire soccer career - which is very rare for players these days. From U11 through and beyond U23, my TSF experience has helped shape my athletic, professional, and personal life. Everything from my talented coaches and teammates to the countless practice sessions, games and tournaments has influenced who I am today and left me with numerous lessons, memories and unforgettable experiences that will last a lifetime.
The height of my TSF career was being a part of a team that would eventually travel to Idaho and win the US Club National Cup. John Saunders held a crucial role in our foot skill development and early knowledge of the game. He helped us visualize what our potential could amount to, if only we remained dedicated and committed to improving. As we started to become victorious in leagues, and at tournaments we were turned over to Mark White who took us to the next level. Mark was the catalyst that turned us from a talented group of players to a matured National Championship worthy team. His coaching pushed us to reach our max potential: He recruited the right players - further improving our roster, trained us in multiple formations - making us more versatile and better equipped to face our opponents, and all in all - taught us how to play, train, rest and recover as proper players should.
Not only were we winning a majority of the time we stepped onto the pitch, but we were having a hell of a time doing so. We all grew so close, as did our families, despite living in different areas and going to different high schools. With every tough game, win or loss, we built strong bonds and made unforgettable memories. I am very fortunate to still have relationships with my former teammates and coaches - going to weddings, meeting up on the weekends, and even continuing to play in adult leagues. While some of us played competitively in college and others decided to hang up their cleats at the end of our TSF run, anytime we reconnect we recall the many laughs, wins, and even the heartbreaking losses that bonded us together. Furthermore, we collectively agree that if given the opportunity we’d choose to relive those years all over again.
Winning the National Cup 10 years ago was one of, if not the number one highlight in my club soccer career. Our team started playing together around U12 and we played together until U18, before heading off to college. In those years we had some players leave and some players come along, but the majority of our team was the same core group of girls for many years. Our team had an unmatchable strong connection. 20 or so different girls, from towns all over NJ, came together for the love of the game. We practiced twice, sometimes three times a week, all with the same goal...to exceed at the highest level.
The Idaho National Cup was the first time I ever traveled out West. I remember how beautiful it was and how excited I was to be competing at this level. My heart and soul poured into each and every game. The games are vividly in my head and the semi-final and final are forever embedded. To this day, winning that championship is still hard to describe. It's an unreal, truly amazing, accomplishment that I am so proud of. Our team worked so hard for that and deservingly won it. My favorite memory in Idaho was holding up that trophy with our team pencils...nothing beats it or the meaning behind it.
After graduating HS, I attended NJIT and played D1 soccer throughout my College career. I also played for TSF during the summer, initially with their U23 Women’s team, and then their semi-pro Women’s team - the North Jersey Valkyries. I am now a Forensic Investigator at the Office Chief Medical Examiner's Office in NYC but still find time to play soccer!
My TSF team meant the world to me, and still does to this day. I refer to games, practices, inside jokes, and memories all the time to family and friends. My team was a huge part of my life and helped me develop into the person I am today. My best friend played alongside me throughout my club & High School careers, and I have kept in contact with my former coaches. My memories with them are unforgettable and will stick with me for life. I couldn't have asked for better teammates, coaches, and an overall club to be a part of.
In 2011 I experienced what it was like to be a champion. I was one of the younger players selected and called by Mark White, the coach at the time, to help out his team in Idaho for a National Championship. When I accepted the amazing offer to go play up with TSF Fire I was beyond excited. This team was known on the women’s side of soccer at TSF Academy as a strong and amazing team. They were a group of talented and gifted girls and I could not believe I was called to play with them. It was an absolute honor to receive this invite. I was nervous, anxious and a tad bit scared. Nervous for playing up, anxious for playing with one of the best girls teams at the time and scared because I did not know what role I would have for this team. All these nerves and feelings went away once I landed in Boise, Idaho. Every single one of us girls had the same thought in mind, let’s win this thing. One thing I will never forget about this experience was the metaphor Coach Mark White used. I thought it was funny at the time, but I look back at the picture with a smile. Before leaving, we received a pile of pencils in a rubber band signifying each player on the team. A single pencil can be broken alone, but together it is hard to break a group. Game by game this team was one step closer to winning and on the last day, we did it. We won the dang thing. We walked onto that podium, pencils in hand and flew that beautiful big trophy back to New Jersey. On that day , each one of us came together to win a National Championship and standing on that stage will be a memory I will forever cherish.
I continued to play for TSF as a member of their U23 Women’s team and the North Jersey Valkyries and have recently played professionally in Italy. I stay in contact with Coach Mark and have helped out coaching some of the younger players in our community. TSF will always be a part of me!
First off playing for Coach Mark White and the TSF Fire was some of the best times I had in my life. 2011 was a special year for me, my family and my Team. I remember how well we all played that year leading up to the National Cup. We were totally in sync. It was the year that convinced me that I would play College Soccer.
Going to Idaho was so much fun. It was the first time ever on a plane without my parents.
Coach Mark made us feel like not only did we belong, but we were there to win. We played with so much confidence and trust in each other. I can't remember ever feeling like we weren't going to win. We won that Cup, felt like Rock Stars and I'm grateful and honored to have been a part of that "Championship Team". Kudos to Coach Mark, TSF and most importantly my sisters on the Team.
That experience alone made it easier for me to go the following year to Nike ID Camp in Oregon. I had been selected as part of a Nike initiative that TSF was part of. It was another great experience.
Upon graduating HS, I played D1 soccer at Marist College, as well as continuing to play for the TSF U23 Women's team. I still stay in contact with my teammates as they will always be an important part of my life.