Friday night will be a footskills session you will not want to miss.  We are fortunate enough to have ESK’s own Aidan Wolf, USA National Team Member, demonstrating the footskills he initially learned at these same exact sessions! We will also be joined by our professional coaches Paul Eyre and Jorge de la Barrera to assist.

Aidan Wolf is the third former ESK player to be involved with Team USA.  Before Aidan, Bayard Elfvin was capped and started in goal for Team USA in the Futsal World Cup. Dasan Robinson played in the MLS for the Chicago Fire and was called into the USA Senior Men’s January Camp one year.

Aidan Wolf’s father, Jade, provided the following bio of Aidan’s career path from ESK to the USA National Team.

Aidan started in the Cleveland Heights rec league at 6 years old, where he and his friends were coached by current ESK President, Dan Culver.   Aidan, and his friends were so dominant that the entire team moved to ESK at U 8.

At ESK , Aidan was coached by current Heights High Girls Varsity Coach, Paul Eyre.  Paul was a great mentor for both Aidan and me. He taught me that nurturing creativity and confidence were key to development; that players can rather easily learn where to stand, how to trap and pass; but teaching them to attack with confidence and creativity is a skill that is lost in an older mind and body.  I actually remember a few parents of other players becoming frustrated with Aidan as his mad dashes to goal and his seventh step over caused ESK to lose the ball at times.    I worried about that but Paul gave me assurance that we were on the right track.  ” Let it be,”  he said.  ” The worst thing we can do is harness his wonderful creativity.  In time, he will learn to pass but first he needs to become one with the ball.”   I ran with that advice and was constantly showing Aidan videos of Neymar, Edan Hazard and greats like Ronaldinho, Messi and Ronaldo.  Aidan would go out into the yard and practice moves he learned from videos or ESK foot skill sessions for hours at a time on a daily basis.

 I attribute a lot of his success to the amount of time Aidan spent practicing and playing games while at ESK.   I recall him playing 70+ games in multiple years. The ESK team was so good that it  won Tournaments like the Internationals, Continental Cup, Fall Classic and a handful of various other tournaments that Paul hand picked based on the skill and past performances of the team.

The team was good enough to rival all of the top ” Premier clubs” in the state.

One major reason for the boys’ amazing  success was “the cage” at Roxboro elementary. That team with Aidan, Luke, Noah, Xavi (Nicholas), Emmit, Izac, Sammy, Jake, Eli and a few others… All going to the same school and taking every opportunity to play street soccer on an old tennis court that was enclosed with a chain link fence. They all loved the game, they all wore their idols jersey to school and could recite any stats for the prior few years regarding the players and teams they followed.

As the boys got better and better, Paul had the insight to kick them out of the nest and send them on their way to bigger clubs but not without securing their best interests. This was at a time before OPFC so we really had no local option like the best players do now.  Had OPFC been available Aidan and his friends would surely have played at OPFC.  In fact, I have been told that OPFC was created so that players like my son and his friends would not have to travel far and wide for top notch coaching and superior competition.  Without the OPFC option Aidan played at a few clubs that Paul and I handpicked and he ended up with Team Challenger, who at the time had an affiliation arrangement with ESK.   Throughout this period of Aidan’s development he was coached by Zel Marusic and Chris Dore in addition to Paul.  .. You really couldn’t ask for a better trio of coaches to nurture a budding soccer career.  Paul made it fun and cool and taught them without them feeling like they were being taught. Zel nurtured the technical side of things with superb training and tactical awareness. Chris Dore introduced Aidan to Futsal and that was the beginning of Aidan’s mastery of the top of the ball. I understand that ESK/OPFC now has Dennis Weyn as the Director of Coaching and Aidan and his friends did some small group training with Dennis and loved it.

During his time with Team Challenger Aidan played in tournaments throughout the country.  While playing in the Disney Showcase in Florida Aidan was noticed by a Club in New York and he was invited to play in the Mediterranean International Cup which was his first world class event.  His team beat Liverpool in the tournament.

During the Winter months Aidan always played Futsal in Parma. He tried out for and made the Regional Futsal Team  and was invited to the National ID camp each year. We decided to go to KC for the National ID camp starting in 2015 and he had made the US National Futsal Team both years. He made the 02 National team as an 03 and went with the team to Medellin, Colombia last year. Aidan was the starting Pivo and played very very well.

In the summer of 2016 until this summer  Aidan played for the Academy in Ohio North.  During this past  winter, Aidan participated in the Academy futsal showcase, where he was the star of the event. His coach told me after the event that the USNT Scouts want to bring him in to camp.  He had been invited to 4 or 5 regional National training centers in the previous few years.

At some point Aidan was scouted by the Columbus Crew. Dennis Sanchez of the Crew Academy said that the Crew’s first team coach had watched Aidan play several times and ” thinks he has potential to play for the first team.”

Aidan just got back from England where he played with an all star team that played friendlies against:

 Wiggen Athletic

Crewe Alexandra
Derby County
Coventry City
Kawasaki Frontale

That All Star team won all of the games handily except the Derby County game where Derby County loaded up with older players.

As we were in England touring the National Futball  Museum, Aidan and I got the email inviting him to the USA National Team Camp in Portland, Oregon. The camp was at Nike World Headquarters for a week. Aidan established himself as one of the better players early. During the 2 scrimmages he started on the Blue squad which was the A team. They then would sub the majority of the team off at halftime, but brought Aidan back on as a super sub for the last 8-10 minutes.

Aidan is currently the starting number 10 for the Columbus Crew Academy. He has played just about every second of their first 3 games, they are 3-0 and just beat the Chicago Fire which is probably their hardest competition in the region. They play in two GA Showcase events this year against other MLS Academy teams. The first event is in Toronto and they will play Toronto FC, Colorado Rush and Chicago Fire again.

He is currently ranked at 53rd on the IMG 150 rankings of players Nationwide. I think that number is a little low, being that there are just 50 kids in the National team player pool and Aidan was the starting center mid for both scrimmages, but it is still nice to see him getting attention on a national level.

Certainly Aidan would not have achieved such success at his age without the help and guidance of multiple coaches and clubs.  I get that.  I do, however, feel blessed to have had Paul and ESK as an integral part of Aidan’s development and have maintained throughout  that this wouldn’t be possible if Paul and the other ESK coaches weren’t part of it at such a crucial time in Aidan’s and my life.

I asked Aidan for any advice he could give to all of the young boys and girls on ESK who want to be the best they can be.  His answer was quite simple:  ” go home and work on the moves you learned at ESK Footskills sessions ; find a place like the Rox Cage to play with friends,  play all day long in the summer at places like Sean’s Camp, listen to your ESK coaches, and most importantly play with confidence and a smile on your face.”

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