Between Jerry and Tonya Creel, someone has genes which should be highly coveted in the soccer world. Their two oldest sons, Ryan and Jon, have both surged through the regional Olympic Development program, and have upcoming dates to compete internationally for Region 3 ODP teams. These rare opportunities are generally mere pipe dreams for most competitive soccer players. For the Creels, they are reality. Ryan, a member of FC Alliance’s 95 Black, will soon have the chance to compete in Argentina. Likewise, younger brother Jon of FC Alliance’s 98 Black is traveling to Costa Rica.
Donning a USA jersey abroad as part of the ODP program is a result of a long tryout process. Players begin by trying out for their state teams. The state teams pick only the best, the “all-state” players, and then they move on to compete regionally representing that state. Regional competition means numerous tournaments and camps. From there, the regional teams comb through each state team and pick out the best from those. Essentially, the best of the best are selected for teams to compete nationally and internationally. Region 3, which Tennessee is a member of, consists of soccer powers such as Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Georgia. All together, there are four regions in the United States.
Both boys have successfully navigated this process. Ryan, an outside midfielder for Region 3, is in his third year on the team. The exposure has been priceless, as he is considered a major NCAA Division One prospect. According to his father, he will commit prior to his senior year at CAK.
Jon Creel is likely to follow in his older brother’s footsteps on the college front, as well. He began his ODP career in Tennessee playing up on the older state team. A year later, he was chosen for the Region 3 team for his own age group. Stops have included competing at the US Olympic Training Center in Chulta Vista, California. Now, he turns his attention to an upcoming trip to Costa Rica.
Jerry Creel is quick to credit FC Alliance coaches for being critical to his children’s success. Ryan plays for John Craven, while Jon has played for Paulo Neto, Darrick Lubell, and former FC Alliance coach Allen Fincher.
“There is no question that the training and coaching they’ve received has played a huge role,” he stated. However, he also pointed out his sons have done more than just play on teams.
“A great club environment is critical to the success of a young player,” Creel said. “However, a player who wants to compete at the highest levels must also take personal responsibility. Ryan and Jon have always been very committed to doing their own work at home. They also participate in outside soccer camps, club team camps and winter programs.”
Next up, another Creel is making his mark. Younger brother Thomas is showing the same talent his older siblings possess as a member of Lubell’s 02 Black. According to his dad, he follows the same regiment as Ryan and Jon.
So an interesting question looms: can three kids from one family represent the United States on foreign soil? Only time will tell. So far, things look very promising. Even if Thomas doesn’t make a regional ODP team, it is still a family which has produced three outstanding youth soccer players.
And yes, there may be a fourth one. A toddler girl, last name Creel, has recently been seen patrolling the sidelines of FC Alliance games. That story, however, is years away.
JERRY CREEL’S ADVICE FOR PARENTS:
1. Train with the best players possible.
2. Be trained by the best trainers possible.
3. Play against the best competition possible.
4. Commit to individual training and hard work.
5. Find and environment where you can do all the above.