By Jeff Pill, Women's National Competitive Staff Coach, U.S. Women's National Teams
Over the past several years, it has been my privilege, and challenge, to work with the ODP program in many different capacities. I have been able to work as a district coach, assistant state coach, head state coach, regional coach, and most recently, with the national teams. It is from this perspective that I offer the following thoughts as to why players should play ODP, and what their goals and mind set should be as they approach the ODP season.
It has been my observation that the people who get the most out of the program are the ones that look upon the ODP opportunity as a chance to further their development as a player. This is done primarily from the opportunity that presents itself from playing with and against some of the best players in their state and region. To these individuals, ODP is looked upon as a way of supplementing their local or club environments. It is a chance to train with a competent coach who also recognizes the developmental opportunities that arrive from playing in a highly competitive and challenging arena.
People that look upon the ODP experience solely as a chance to have a shot at making the regional or national team, or who see it as a vehicle in which a college scholarship is to be obtained are rarely rewarded for their efforts. In fact, these individuals frequently are so disappointed that they drop out of the program after only one or two years, just at the time when the real benefits are actualized. In fact, since they are often striving for something that they have no true control over, they find nothing but despair.
Therefore, it is critical that the players, parents, administrators, and coaches all, look upon this opportunity as a tremendous challenge. They should see what can be learned, put themselves in an environment that demands that they reach beyond their comfort level, strive to be the best that they can be, and improve as players and as people.
Having said this, I wish you all the best as you participate in the ODP program! Whether or not the final team is made is not as important as the fact you were willing to take the risk to tryout. If you make the pool, I hope you find the program to be worth while as you strive to improve as a player. Remember, you get out of this what you put in to it. If you do not "make it", I trust that you use the experience to inspire you to continue to work hard to improve and come back again next year.