ProgramsSkill Development

Journey from Rec to Competitive with Girls Unite Development Academy

By January 11, 2024 January 26th, 2024 No Comments

The Journey from Recreational to Competitive Soccer with Girls Unite Development Academy

By Lan Nguyen, Girls Unite parent & Board Member

Last Fall, my then-2nd grader, Nico, played on a Rec soccer team with friends from school. While she enjoyed being on a team with school friends and we enjoyed post-pandemic socializing with school families on the sidelines, she wanted more soccer than the one practice and game a week that she was getting. She said yes to every guest playing opportunity that fit our schedule, but she still wanted more.

In early 2023, Nico joined the Girls Unite Development Academy. In addition to her Rec team practices and games, she had one to two practices a week with the Development Academy. For the first time, Nico was surrounded by other like-minded girls who were similarly committed to soccer.

What is Girls Unite Development Academy?

Girls Unite introduced the Development Academy as an opportunity for players who have excelled at the recreational level to advance their technical skills under the guidance of professional Girls Unite coaches. It’s also a great way for families to learn more about what competitive play with Girls Unite means.

Coach Kierra Scalercio leads the Development Academy and has worked with young players for over 15 years. She understands how to teach and develop this age group, helps them identify as soccer players, and prepares them (and their parents) for playing at a higher level.

“Our Development Program is the stepping stone that provides insight into the experience of what competitive soccer has to offer,” says Coach Kierra. “The environment is one of like-minded young players with a desire to learn more about the beautiful game. The sessions are technically focused on the journey of ball mastery and developing the mindset of trying one’s best – all while having fun!”

Moving to Competitive Soccer

This past Fall was Nico’s first competitive season and she is thriving and having a blast. She’s learned new ball skills, grown as both a player and a person, and made many new friends. This Spring, her 2015 team will be competing in the Gold League and State Cup Tournament, the highest level of play NorCal Premier Soccer has to offer for U9.

As the Development Academy has grown, girls in the program have been able to guest play on competitive teams, test their skills, and consider whether competitive soccer suits them. From the Development Academy, Girls Unite has formed two new 2015/2016 competitive teams for the Spring season.


Girls Unite is always welcoming new players! If your child is interested in more soccer but you’re unsure whether competitive soccer is for your family, contact us for an assessment!

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