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May, 2021

Iowa Rush standout chasing dreams at Combine Academy this summer

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Iowa Rush U-17 striker Hunter Kennedy has turned plenty of heads in his home state with his soccer prowess. But his dreams to play in college at a higher level extend far beyond the Hawkeye state.


As the end of his junior season neared, due to the Covid-19 pandemic both his opportunities to play against top-tier talent and put his skills on display for college coaches had been diminished. That’s when he started looking for outside-the-box solutions.


Enter the Rush Soccer Combine Academy.


The residential prep school offers a solid academic education as well as the opportunity to train with top coaches and compete with some of the best pre-professional players in the country. And their residential summer camp seemed like the solution Kennedy needed.


“One of my coaches at Iowa Rush mentioned there was a camp at Rush Combine Academy,” Kennedy said.  “We were able to get information on it and then we sat down and talked about it and looked look into it just to see a feasible was for me to go. After a while we decided that this was probably a good fit for me, so I put in my application.”


Kennedy said he was excited about getting accepted, though he understands that’s just part of the battle to accomplish his ultimate goal. 


“I’m a little nervous because they accept 24 kids, but only 18 get to be on the roster each week for their games,” Kennedy said. “So obviously I want to be on that roster. It’d be unfortunate to go down there for two months and I could play because that is a possibility.”


But that shouldn’t be a problem for a player who thrives on competitive environments. For Kennedy, the more competitive, the better.


“I've always liked the more competitive environments,” said Kennedy, who’s played for multiple teams at the same time on occasion and played on a total of six club and elite teams. “I've been used to getting onto new teams and kind of figuring people out and seeing where I fit in and how I stack up.”


It won’t take long for Kennedy to see what kind of work he’ll have cut out for him due to program director Bob Reaso’s rigorous training schedule.


“Right when they get on campus, we’re going to put them through a college pre-season camp,” Reaso said. “It’ll be something that is different for them. For the first eight days, we’ll put them through a camp with double sessions where the speed of play will be much higher along with the demands on them.”


Early on in the camp, they’ll also spend time in the classroom, learning coaching techniques.


“We’ll take them into the classroom and teach them the principles of attacking and defense and modern principles of the game,” Reaso said. “The more they understand the game, the more we can teach them.”


From there, the summer campers will compete for spots on the roster to play against teams that have rosters with an average age of 25.


“There aren’t many ways to get better than playing against older and more experienced players,” Reaso said. “It’s one thing to get whipped by someone your own age, but it’s entirely different when it’s by a man.”


As a result, Reaso expects players on campus this summer to return to their club teams not only more seasoned on the field but off it too.


“I think club coaches will see these players are more mature and more capable of leading their teammates,” Reaso said. “There’s going to be a staggering difference when they return.”


To learn more about the Rush Combine Academy, visit www.combineacademy.com/rushhs/


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