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New private high school geared toward soccer coming to Mishawaka

Published: Jan. 4, 2021 at 7:01 PM EST
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MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - A private high school for American and foreign soccer players is expected to open in fall 2021 in Mishawaka at the former YMCA building located on Edison Road.

“We’re the first soccer-specific academy in the U.S. that’s actually a school. We’re all in-person, which makes us a lot different from some of the other soccer academies,” said Ethan Hunt, Founder and Director of the International Soccer Academy of America - or ISAA.

The goal is to help students ages 14 to 18 elevate their game in the classroom and on the field.

“If we can give the students the best education possible to at least get every single student the opportunity to go to college, that’s the goal,” Hunt said. “Now, if we can get them to go professional [in soccer], that would be an even greater goal.”

Hunt, a Michiana native and Bethel University alum, earned his Master’s Degree in Sport Management from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. He also has a national soccer coach license and studied soccer analytics and scouting under Lee Fraser, who has over 20 years of scouting and analytical experience within the Champions League and the renowned English Premier League. The former Head of Talent Analytics at Newcastle United FC is a member of Hunt’s team at ISAA.

“It was quite an easy one for me to say, ‘Yeah, I’m happy to be involved happy to help others,’ because I think he had the right values and principles in place for his own life, you know [and] the philosophy on life is similar,” remarked Fraser, Director of Global Scouting and Data Processes at Spotlight ID.

To curtail the spread of Covid-19, the International Soccer Academy of America is capping enrollment at 100 students, said Hunt, who added the 35,000 sq. ft. building allows for adequate social distancing. Each day, students will have their temperatures taken with wall thermometers.

Ideally, Hunt would like a 50-50 split of American and foreign student athletes, who can choose to live together in off-campus apartments - with parents’ permission - or with host families.

“We really want them to get the American experience, if they’re coming from another country, know what it’s like to come, you know, into a loving home,” Hunt said. “We want them to make sure they feel like they have an American family. So that’s what we’re going to be incentivizing.”

ISAA will have a 10:1 student-to-teacher ratio. Seven licensed and accredited teachers with a combined 150 years of experience will join the staff, teaching standard high school subjects. However, one nuance is a high-performance mindfulness class based on curriculum developed by Hunt’s former Bethel University kinesiology professor, Dr. Rachel Lindvall, and Erin McLeod - a four-time World Cup goalie for Canada and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist.

“[Students] will talk about fixing growth mindset, you know, how to get the most out of themselves, how to, you know, like work on their self-talk, self-compassion, when dealing with mistakes, and all those kind of things, on top of finding mindfulness techniques that will enhance their performance, but also their life,” explained McLeod, The Mindful Project co-founder and goalie for the NWSL club Orlando Pride.

The ISAA will not compete in the Indiana High School Athletic Association and instead will play games within regional club leagues and tournaments. Hunt is in talks with the City of Mishawaka to convert a field for the academy to use.

Lindvall, Hunt’s former professor and The Mindful Project co-founder, believes ISAA can withstand the test of time.

“What I have learned about Ethan is that if he’s passionate about something, he finds a way,” she said. “He genuinely cares about people. And he genuinely likes meeting people and genuinely says, like, ‘Hey, how can we come together on this? How can I help you? How can you help me’ and he’s really, really good at it.”

McLeod is equally impressed.

“I think just his drive, and, and his willingness to be inspired and let the people you know, the teachers, like I said, that he’s handpicked, like, the people that are best at what they do - he’s gonna let them do that...” said McLeod. “I don’t think he has an ego about it, which I think helps.”

The ISAA website lists the introductory tuition price as $24,900. This covers academic fees; book fees; technology costs; weekly tutoring sessions; indoor and outdoor facility use; all soccer fees including kits, tournament fees, hotel costs, and travel costs for practices, games, and tournaments; weekly conversations with mentors; exposure to college coaches and professional scouts; and other amenities.

In its first year, ISAA will undergo an accreditation process either through the State of Indiana or a third-party agency, in hopes of being a fully accredited high school in the second year.

ISAA is also partnering with the Futboleros after-school youth academy coached by James Ortega.

“We teach kids from seven years old to 14 all the basic fundamentals, and up to the advanced skills. So whether you’re beginner or an advanced, this academy is going to be great for you - for skills, tricks, speed, endurance, agility, balance, coordination, etc.,” explained Ortega.

Futboleros Soccer Academy will run five days a week. Classes start January 11th.

For enrollment questions about the International Soccer Academy of America, call 574-402-0100 or visit the website.

Futboleros Youth Academy information can be found here.

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