Well, to be honest it wasn’t yet called the Zee Goalkeeper Academy when we started two years ago…
In July of 2016 I was contacted by a “Paesano” Pat Soncini, at the time Pat was the Director of Coaching at the Port Orange Soccer Club. I had known Pat since my son started playing at the club the season before. When he found out that I was a UEFA B goalkeeper coach and that I gave private lessons to goalkeepers of all ages he went straight to the point and offered me the position of Goalkeeper Academy Director at the club. The club had been looking for a new director for months and because my son was playing at the club, I thought to myself “Why Not!”.
The Port Orange SC invested a lot of their financial resources into the GK academy program, bringing in two other experienced goalkeeper coaches like Maggie Manville from Daytona State Soccer and Brandon Cisneros a head coach at the POSC with the U11’s.
The academy was well advertised on social media and via TeamSnap, every coach at the club (besides a fool here and there) encouraged their keepers to take part in the Friday sessions, and it was a full-house right from the very first session.
A great season, great curriculum, great staff members and lots of development, it was simply perfect! 95% turnout! During the season I must have threw an additional 25 free sessions, setting up wherever there was a lot of teams training and I’d call in all the keepers and work with them. I identified three maybe four keepers at the time that had some serious potential and I’m still working with this amazing talent today!
At the end of the season, I couldn’t wait to get started with the next! I had a creat development curriculum basically set up and the season was still 45 days away. But then I get a phone call from a board member that gave me the news that the club was going to merge with some franchising out of Jacksonville. I attended the meeting of presentation and I was not impressed at all. I went home I did my homework on them and that same day I resigned. I didn’t want to be a part of something that in the long run would slowly kill what I had built during the previous season. It was best to kill it rather than watch others do it.
Every penny that I had earned at the club, I had reinvested it in soccer equipment, basically after a year I had already purchased over $7,000 worth of it, I even got some serious deals on Craig’s List.
So here I am with all this equipment in my shed not knowing if I should keep it or sell it and make 10 payments on my car. At the end I decided that I’d keep throwing some free group sessions for the kids here in town and I did. The kids at first were 4-6 then a month later 8-10 and as the soccer season started I had 15-18 goalkeepers attending my sessions.
After no time I was working with 20 goalkeepers, half were from the new local soccer club, but slowly the word got out and goalkeepers from Stetson FC, Deltona, SVSC and Ormond Beac SC were asking to join.
With the tuition fees I was buying equipment, paying the field rentals and getting free J4K gloves for the keepers, the keepers loved it, the parents did and so did I. Thats when the idea to give this new academy a name… Rick “Z”ucchi… Z… ZEE
Initially I worked very well along side Just-for-Keepers, but after two very successful goalkeeper camps, basically the largest goalkeeper camps that have ever taken place in Florida, having to share the profits 50-50 with J4K, but doing basically all the pre-camp work myself, I thought well that I could do this on my own, without having to depend on a brand that really isn’t giving me any exposure, or at least not the exposure I had expected it to.
Zee is the largest Goalkeeper School in the state, no matter what anyone says, they can’t provide a larger and more equipped academy as ours. Attempting to overtake this goalkeeper school would be like fighting off an alligator with a Fly Swat. Don’t even waste your time.
We have partnered with three soccer equipment manufacturers on of witch is Soccer Innovations, this company is sponsoring our next Goalkeeper Camp investing a lot of time and finances. Large companies like this don’t do this if they’re not 100% sure that you’re #1 in what you do… and we are!
The academy is on the road to branding, there are Prototype Goalkeeper Gloves out there with our logo on them, we’re in a testing phase and shortly we will have in production a glove created with the same materials as Puma Goalkeeper Gloves but at less than half the price!
Youth Soccer Clubs all around Florida are contacting me asking if I can do a clinic at their facilities, I brought 20 goalkeepers to a soccer camp at a local collage, next time that they ask me I’ll bring 40.
I could compare the academies growth to the 1950 US economy golden years. We’re doing it with very low tuition, offering the keepers the best possible equipment on the market, free gloves and soon our very own brand of gloves and apparel. That’s practically why the competition cant compete. They charge at least double what we do, they have a 10th of the soccer equipment we do…
The end of the story is that I do it for the development of the goalkeepers and that only. I’m not in it to scrape cash off the parents, I leave that to the others.
WHAT DO YOU SAY… SHALL WE GIVE IT ANOTHER 2 YEARS?