Elite boys high school soccer players often choose to play with an academy team to play at the highest level of competition and training.
But guidelines by the UIL that have precluded academy players from also playing for their high school teams put those players in a tough spot.
A Grapevine standout, though, is bucking the trend and has elected to forego an academy opportunity to continue his eligibility for the Mustangs.
Chad Sahinkaya, a senior at Grapevine, has played with the U15 developmental teams which have traveled to locations such as Spain and the United Kingdom.
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As part of the U.S. National team for that age group, Sahinkaya said he vividly recalls being able to score six of the team’s seven goals in Barcelona.
He said he believes picking high school play, in which he won district MVP last season, over academy ball is the right choice for him.
“It’s a very large time commitment,” Sahinkaya said of academy competition. “It was in my best interests to play in high school. I’m taking a lot of AP classes and education is the key in our society. My passion for the sport is there and I want to have fun playing the game.”
Sahinkaya is a member of the Honor Society and volunteers as well, making his already busy schedule even more of a quagmire of time constraints.
He said Grapevine head coach Heath Bullard is another reason he doesn’t feel the need to be trained in an academy program.
“I’m proud to play for him,” Sahinkaya said. “He has integrity and I look to him as an upper-level figure.”
Having already played on national teams, Sahinkaya said he felt his name was already in the soccer community when it comes time for college programs to start showing their interest in recruits.
“I’ll wait until the season is over, but I’ll make a few visits and see some campuses,” he said of making college decisions.
Certainly there will be more for the center-mid to add to his highlight reel this year with Grapevine.
Last year, Sahinkaya scored 25 goals, and his aggressive style of going straight toward a defender to put pressure on him to make a move seems to be productive. Bullard is moving Sahinkaya around to free him up even more.
Although he’s a scoring threat, Sahinkaya said he loves passing the ball to get his teammates involved. The unselfish Mustangs attack led them to a district title last year, but their loss in the first round has them hungry to go farther this year.
“I know we’ll go farther,” Sahinkaya said. “We’ve got a good nucleus and good chemistry on the pitch.”
Until the season gets started at the end of the month, Sahinkaya said he’ll be focused on improving his fitness level to last deep into tight games and that he hopes to spread his love for playing the sport to younger teammates.