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East Ridge soccer: Heslin picked for ECNL National Training Camp

Former East Ridge soccer player Emily Heslin was selected to participate in the Elite Clubs National League / id2 National Training Camp, which took part Aug. 2-6, at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Org. (Bulletin file photo by Patrick Johnson)

Emily Heslin's soccer star continues to be on the rise.

Heslin, who plays club soccer for the Minnesota Thunder Academy Elite, was selected to participate in the Elite Clubs National League / id2 National Training Camp, which took part Aug. 2-6, at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Org.

The camp included the top 100 players from the 1995-1997 age groups from across the country. Heslin, who has a verbal commitment to play soccer at the University of Minnesota for the fall of 2015, was the only Minnesotan chosen for the camp.

Heslin currently plays in the Minnesota Thunder Academy Elite program. She started playing soccer in Woodbury at the age of 4 and began playing for current East Ridge High School coach Mark Abboud at age 11 for the Minnesota Thunder Academy. Heslin played for East Ridge as a freshman and sophomore, but had to stop playing for the Raptors due to Minnesota State High School League rules that don't allow club play during the high school season. Heslin, who now attends Hill-Murray High School, plays year round for the Minnesota Thunder Academy — the only Minnesota Soccer Club admitted into the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL), which competes against the best teams from across the country.

The ECNL / id2 National Training is a joint program between the ECNL, Nike, and US Club Soccer. The camp is part of the id2 National Identification and Development Program. It provides an opportunity for the country's top female players from throughout the country to be identified and developed in an elite training environment, while also being scouted for possible inclusion in U.S. Soccer's National Team programs.

"The ECNL / id2 National Training Camp is one of the most elite training camps in the country, and is an opportunity for some of the country's best young players to train and compete at the highest level, against the very best in the United States, in a world-class facility," said ECNL Executive Director Jay Howell in a release.

There is no cost to players aside from travel to and from the camp. Lodging, meals and training gear are provided by the ECNL, US Club Soccer and Nike.

"The cooperation between the ECNL, US Club Soccer, and Nike is an example of how great organizations can work together to create more opportunities for players, and create programs that can help raise the level of play in this country at very little cost to the players," said ECNL Commissioner Sarah Kate Noftsinger.

According to a release, the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) was founded in 2009 to enhance the developmental experience of female youth soccer players in the United States through: Improving the competitive environment through creation of a true national competitive league; improving the process for identifying elite female soccer players for the U.S. Soccer youth national teams through a systematic scouting and identification program based on national competitions; and improving the daily training environment at top female youth soccer clubs through developing best practices and training and organizational guidelines for its member clubs. The ECNL is sanctioned by US Club Soccer and is sponsored by Nike Soccer.

Patrick Johnson
Patrick Johnson has been the South Washington County Bulletin’s sports editor since 2008. He reports on and oversees coverage of high school and amateur sports in south Washington County and Woodbury. Prior to joining the Bulletin, Johnson worked for other Twin Cities suburban newspapers. He is a University of Minnesota graduate.
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