Blue Jays sending two to Illinois for elite-type soccer camp

Jun. 23—JAMESTOWN — In just a few weeks Connor Traut and Brady Harty will be heading south.

The two are hoping to come back to the Buffalo City as two of the best soccer players on the field.

Traut and Harty were invited to the Regional ID Soccer Camp in Rockford, Illinois, July 8-10. The duo was selected from a previous state camp through the Olympic Development Program (ODP).

"It is a very intense camp where you are pushed to your limits," Traut said. "To go to this camp you have to be chosen by your state ODP coach. Within a team, normally three to five kids are picked to go represent the North Dakota and South Dakota ODP teams.

"I think being selected to go to this camp shows that the person is a very well-rounded player. Having two players from our club be selected is a great thing. I think it shows that Blue Jay athletics has very dedicated and hard-working kids who won't stop until they reach their goals."

ODP started back in the late 1970s as a format to identify the best soccer talent in the country. Up until about the last 15 years, it was the primary developmental tool and identification platform to find the U.S. national players for the national teams.

Harty has been a selection for the Regional ODP ID Camp in 2019, 2020 and 2022 while Traut has been invited twice — in 2021 and 2022.

The two Jamestown athletes will be grouped according to their age. Traut, a soon-to-be senior at JHS will be a part of the 2005 boys team while Harty will be grouped among other athletes who were born in 2007. Athletes are eligible for the program through their senior year of high school.

"Since the top kids from all over the country are selected to go to this camp it isn't skill development based," Traut said. "I think the goal of the camp is to help players adapt to different environments with different sets of players with great talent.

"I believe it's meant to give kids a taste of what the next level might be and it's also great for getting noticed by college coaches as they are scattered through out the camp."

Through ODP each state has at least one state team — teams comprised of the hottest talent among the state's soccer community. After state teams are developed, teams compete against other state teams. From there each state association takes its top players from the state team and sends them to the regional event.

"The Olympic Development Program is a team that you try out for," Harty said. "All I had to do was play at tryouts and a tournament then the coaches choose who gets to go to region camp.

"(From there) you can move on to region camp and if you make the region team then you go to nationals."

Harty said there is a different coach for every age group and once they are assigned to the team, team members train together and play games throughout the course of the camp. Harty said the ODP regional camp helps him develop as a player because he is spending time with other soccer players who perform at a high level.

Harty and Traut said they are excited to join forces with other people across the Midwest region who will test their skills and other coaches who are investing the time and effort into the duo's skill development.

"I'm always open to learning new things — being coachable is probably the best thing for athletes," Traut said. "But I want to improve my decision making and technical abilities most while I'm there.

"I'm excited to meet new people and see how my skill stacks up to other players around the county. I think it'll benefit me greatly going into our high school season. Not only technically but physically and mentally as well."