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Winstars News


Wishing Coach SteveWieczorek and his Spring hill College Badgers a great season

Wishing Coach SteveWieczorek and his Spring hill College Badgers a great season and continue to build on a wonderful season last year. Also wishing our three academy players all the best for a great season. Three fantastic young men that we are really proud of and as well they are great players. Joshua Pedretti, Danilo Bakoc and Zach Witt. All of us at the academy are so proud of all three of you.


Summer tour 2018



Summer Tour 2018 Consent Form
Summer 2018 Medical Release

Winstars Coach Bus

Friday August 24th

Depart from our soccer office at 6am – 115 Woodstream Blvd. Unit 1 Woodbridge, travelling with 56 passenger Coach Bus

Arrive in Rochester NY – in afternoon – check into Double Tree hotel , get tour of RIT with Head Coach and go for dinner and in evening have a light training session at RIT

1111 Jefferson Road, Rochester, NY, 14623, US

With a stay at DoubleTree by Hilton Rochester in Rochester, University of Rochester.
This hotel is within the vicinity of Rochester Institute of Technology and Strong.

Rochester Institute of Technology


Don’t just take our word for it. Our reputation as one of the world’s top universities has been acknowledged by many leading college guides, industry, and internationally respected publications. As you search for the right university, consider what others have to say about RIT.

RIT Athletics site

Head Coach Bill Garno

Saturday August 25th

10am – Play against RIT – 40 minutes
11am – play against St. John Fisher College 40 minutes

Bobby Graham will be bringing his Winstars SC club through town on the way down to James Madison on Aug 25 so we’ve added 2 games for them to the schedule. Updated schedule for Aug 25 preseason scrimmages here at RIT:

Games will be played on our 2 grass practice fields.

Coach | Men’s Soccer | Rochester Institute of Technology
02-A615 | 51 Lomb Memorial Drive | Rochester, NY 14623
(O) 585-475-2618 | (M) 585-261-5525 |

After match players will be able to wash up at RIT and we will depart for Virginia

Hotel and destination where we will stay Saturday evening to be announced.

Sunday August 26th

We will scrimmage Bridgewater College at 1pm in Bridgewater Virginia – 2 x 45 minute halves.

University website
402 East College Street, Bridgewater, VA 22812

Athletic website -

Head Coach Ryan Bennison

Bridgewater Soccer Complex

We will play at 1pm kickoff on their beautiful Bermuda grass stadium complex.

After match – have a meal with the Bridgewater Team and then head over to check into our hotel

We are staying at the Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott – From Sunday August 26 thru Wednesday August 29 , Depart August 29th for Philadelphia

Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott
1946 Medical Ave
Harrisonburg, VA 22801

We will go to watch the games at JMU on the Sunday late afternoon - evening

• AUG 26 (SUN) 4 P.M.



AUG 26 (SUN) 7 P.M.

After match we will eat at Vito’s Italian Restaurant in Harrisonburg VA.

Monday August 27


Find your home from James Madison University on Vimeo.


University website
Athletics website

10am We will get a tour of James Madison University by Head Coach Paul Zazenski

In the evening we will train on JMU practice field – grass 6-8pm

Tuesday August 28th

Dr. Roger E. Mast

At 7pm we will scrimmage EMU on their beautiful soccer complex



Wednesday August 29th

Depart Hotel at JMU early morning after breakfast and head to Philadelphia

We will Play Philadelphia Union Academy on Wednesday August 29th at 7pm at their YSC Facility. Wayne, Pennsylvania

224 County Line RD, Wayne, PA Union

Union/YSC Youth Training Facility
YSC Sports in Wayne, PA offers a first-class, professional training environment for the Union Academy. The state-of-the-art facility includes a full-size indoor field, small-sided indoor field, new outdoor turf training fields, and an expanded main outdoor field with a professional-grade playing surface.
Additionally, YSC Sports features locker rooms, a full weight room/ADT Zone, and a Physical Therapy & Recovery Room

Our hotel while in Philadelphia will be the Westin Mt. Laurel.  We will stay at this Hotel for the second part of our trip. Wednesday and Thursday night.
Westin Mount Laurel
555 Fellowship Road
Mount Laurel, New Jersey 08054

While in Philadelphia we will tour UPENN and Drexel and Villanova University

Thursday August 30th


We play at 10am kickoff vs. Scholar Athletes Academy

Game date -  Thursday Aug 30th
Game Kick off  - 10am
Surface - Turf
Location - Total Turf Experience, 614 Lambs Road, Pitman, NJ 

The Westin Mount Laurel
555 Fellowship Road  • Mount Laurel, New Jersey 08054 • United States • Map
Phone: (1)(856) 778-7300 • Reservations:
(1)(866) 716-8108
 • Contact Us  • Visit our site:

Friday August 31

Depart for Vaughan, Canada to come home



Really proud of our Academy Player Daniel Festa who graduated from NCAA Division 1 Manhattan College in New York City and now has entered into the Wharton School of Business at UPENN to receive his MBA. What an accomplishment for this young man and his family. I remember him as a young boy playing for our Club Team at Woodbridge winning the Robbie tournament at U12 and the joining me when I started my academy, his first match for us was against Hamilton Croatia Men’s Team and Daniel was only 15 years old.  My memories continue to when we played Boston University and Daniel shined at 16 years old against a very good NCAA Division 1 Team.  I remember when he was chosen as Valedictorian at his high school Father Bressani.  Daniel shined at Manhattan College both on and off the soccer field.

As I write this wee note, I want all of our young athletes and parents to know that there is life after Soccer, and no matter how good you are and even if you go professional, at 35 years old you still have the rest of your life ahead of you, 30 more years till you retire, and you need an EDUCATION.

Daniel got this and will now be earning a degree that is one of the finest degree you can get in the world and it was all because of hard work, time management.  I ask him if he still plays and he says he kicks around and some events in NYC with friends and for FUN.

We will visit UPENN and hope we can hook up and see Daniel, I know when we were in NYC he came and saw us play at Columbia University. I was telling his Dad that I was worried about him as he was taking the path train to where we were playing and then I realized he is a Man now and was aware of the routes like the back of his hand.

I want all of you Players to see that if you work hard in the classroom and on the soccer field, avenues open up for you, and for parents, you have to really see the Big Picture and that is the importance of your Son getting an Education.

Daniel represented everything we want our academy players to follow. He was a joy the coach, he was a class act both on and off the soccer field and really thank him as it is players and people like Daniel that keep me loving what I do for a living.

Look forward to seeing him in Philadelphia

Coach Bobby
Academy Director     

Catching Up With Daniel Festa - Manhattan College Graduate

Catching Up With Daniel Festa
Courtesy: Manhattan Athletic Department
Release: 07/13/2017

Riverdale, NY - With this year being the 50th anniversary of the Manhattan Men's Soccer team we will be checking in with different alumni throughout the season to see how the program has impacted their lives.
Our second former Jasper is Daniel Festa '14.

What does being a member of the Manhattan Soccer family mean to you?
"Being a part of the Manhattan Soccer family means that I have brothers from all over the world and that Gaelic Park will always be our home field. It means staying connected with friends and supporting the program to attract future talent that will enable it to continually grow stronger."

What has Manhattan Soccer taught you?
"During my time with the program, I learned the values of working hard and how to persevere even against low odds. Additionally, the program has afforded me the right to spend time with people from different parts of the world. This has in turn taught me the importance of effective communication in a global marketplace."

What are you doing now?
"I am currently working for Morgan Stanley in Fund Services. I deal with hedge funds and their investors on inflows, outflows, transfers or capital and also reporting and distribution of information pertinent to their investments."

Daniel Festa Time Line


United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division I Men - National - Preseason Ranking - August 7, 2018


5 things I learned from Winstars Soccer Academy


~10m Read

As my time with the Winstars Soccer Academy comes to a close, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my experience. The last year and a half have been full of lessons, and I wanted to share them – both good and bad.
Before I dive in, I want to thank the coaching staff that has embraced me from day one, starting with Bobby Graham, the Academy Director. I met Bobby on the sidelines of a youth soccer practice for a team that I was consulting with. He was an hour early for the Winstars practice on the adjacent field.
Following that practice, Bobby introduced me to a few of his coaches.
While being introduced to the coaching staff, each and every player on the team walked up to the coaches and shook their hand, as well as mine, before heading to their change room. I stuck around to observe some of their practice, and was welcomed by the group with a round of applause after a brief introduction by Bobby.
The warm welcome I received was not a special treatment, but rather “business as usual” for the club. It’s how we welcome new players, coaches, or any returning players back to training from their respective schools.
That moment always stuck with me. I knew then that I was going to be part of something special.  

Here are 5 things I’ve learned from my time with Winstars Soccer Academy

1.   Hard work doesn’t go unnoticed
Winstars was the first team I got to call my own. Prior to joining the team, I had previously experience under a mentor or alongside a colleague.
This was my time to shine. I was going to put everything I could into making this team better and turn this into a positive and rewarding experience for everyone, including myself.
Luckily, I had a ton of support from staff and coaches which had made the aforementioned inevitable.
In a way, as much as I wanted to prove myself to Bobby and the coaching staff, I was really seeking self-validation. I wanted to know that I could take a team, and make them better. This was my first opportunity to do so, and I wanted to succeed.
I think that the players and coaches quickly noticed this trait about me. It really worked to my advantage because they knew that not only was I eager to make an impact, but that I wanted to be part of the team.
This built trust, not only in the program, but in who I was as a person and with the team as a whole.
Aside from my personal experiences on this topic, this lesson applies to the athletes as well.
Over some time, maybe a few weeks, or a few months , the players who were consistently working hard at practice and during S&C sessions began to shine. Whether they eventually got the scholarship they wanted, or they were making noticeable improvements amongst the team, their hard work came through and they began to shine.
These were the moments I cherished the most as a coach.
Lesson: Hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. No matter what. With enough time, the seeds you plant will begin to grow, and you will be rewarded with the harvest. 

Receiving an Appreciation Award for my work with Winstars Soccer Academy

2.   Do your job, and then some  

Depending on the sport/environment, S&C coaches can sometimes work in isolation in the gym, without the opportunity to attend practice or technical sessions. In my opinion, this can be a big problem. High performance teams and cultures require everyone working in unison.
The coaches at Winstars understood this and embraced my presence during practices.
The players had a running joke on our Summer Tour that I held five job titles on the team! I was the S&C coach, therapist, nutritionist, team photographer and social media coordinator.
Whatever job I was doing,  the goal was the same – support the team - both athletes and coaches.
Whether I was collaborating with coaches on practice plans and conditioning sessions, echoing their instructions, or lifting up the athletes with words of encouragement – I was there to support.
Lesson: In a high performance environment, it is not enough to simply do your job. Be prepared to step up to the plate to fill the gaps in any way you can – it all helps. 

3.   Coaching teenagers as a young coach is a challenge  

The saying “there is a fine line” couldn’t be more true. However, I often had a very hard time finding it a lot of times.
The first coaching principle I abide by is relationships come first. To me, that means establishing some common ground and building trust with the group.
There was a lot of common ground. I grew up playing soccer, I’m a relatively young male (26  with 8-10 years on many of them) and a lot of them were interested in my profession and had plans to study kinesiology in post-secondary school.
It didn’t take long to establish a positive rapport with the athletes on an individual basis. I took a lot of time in getting to know them individually. One of the ways I did this was connecting with them through social media (Instagram in particular) which I believe helped immensely in building buy in.
All the work I did to build rapport with the team helped when it came to training. Soccer players are notorious for disliking fitness. However, I rarely had any trouble in getting this group to work hard for me.
The trouble came when athletes began to feel too comfortable with me. They understood I was their coach, and in some way, also a friend. And there were certainly times when the players were a little too friendly.
This is where that “fine line” got hard to find. I began to ask myself: Do I make a big deal about a small comment? Should I discipline the athlete in front of the team? Did he or I cross the line?
In hindsight, I could have done a better job defining the ambiguous “line” with the team and my expectations of them.
That being said, I do believe there was a ton of mutual respect between myself and the players. I believe that the situations I encountered arose because of trust and comfort – which are qualities I set out to establish.
Although I am being critical of myself, I believe that these are challenges any coach working with teenage boys may encounter. There is a certain amount of “rope” you must give with this age group, and a there is a time to pull it back.
Lesson: Be clear and define your expectations and boundaries of athlete-coach relationship dynamics.

4.   Don’t get complacent  

Performing at a high level – whether it be an athlete, coach, or entrepreneur – is not something you do part of the time, you must do it always and continue to seek ways to improve.
During my time with Winstars, Bobby would always remind me that we need to keep getting better. In one of our first meetings, he sent me home with seven books and three DVDs on training soccer players!
It was easy at times to feel like I had some things figured out. We had many successful training blocks and I had some data to demonstrate that.
What I learned was that after a year and a half, you are going to find a groove with your group and hone in on what you can see is working. However, that doesn’t mean you stop innovating.
One thing I found particularly difficult was having a group of athletes I had been training for one year, and another that had been in the program for only a few months.
The new group lacked the understanding and training history to get the most out of the program I was running. I quickly realized that no matter how well you did developing one group of athletes – there is another standing right there at square one.
Lesson: There is no room for complacency. In physical and athletic development, there will always be new athletes on the team with limited training history.

The Travelling Gym!

5.   Physical Testing is hugely valuable with youth athletes 
This may be bias due to my position, but it is true.
Aside from the obvious reasons to perform physical testing (how do you know your program is working?) there are many other reasons to test youth athletes.
For one, they are still growing. At Winstars, the players are between 15-18 years old, so their bodies are going through a ton of changes. Being a part of the team for almost a year and a half allowed me to watch athletes grow into their bodies and become young men.
We ran a battery of tests every few months and it was amazing to see how the change in their height and/or weight would affect their physical performance – in both positive and negative ways. There were instances where these results explained their recent performances on the field.
Additionally, testing allowed us to set goals for athletes, monitor their physical development, and allowed us to screen for potential injuries.
This is where that “hard work” (mentioned above) would be validated at times. In many cases, their effort and improved soccer performance was being supported to some extent by improved physical fitness.
Throughout the year and a half, different tests were used, and we experimented with some things. It was a good exercise for me to collect this data and use it to inform my programming and report results that back to coaches.
Frankly, this part of the job was new for me. It took a while for me to be able to present the data in a meaningful way to coaches while drawing conclusions. There were a lot of bumps along the way and I was humbled more than once.
I still have a long way to go in this department, and I am looking forward to continue to learn and find ways to add value with testing to the athletes and teams I support.
Lesson: There is a ton of value in testing youth athletes. The data often correlated to what we saw on the field, and was a really useful tool in monitoring their development and physical qualities. 

Notre Dame Campus - Summer Tour 2017

As you can imagine, there were countless lessons learned over the last year and a half, with even more stories to be told.

Thank you to the everyone a part of the Winstars family – coaches, parents, and athletes - that made my time with the club special. I will always look back with fond memories.

Hope you enjoyed my reflection and coaching lessons and follow me on my journey as I continue to learn and grow.
Thanks for reading!

Strength and Conditioning Coach Joe Vecchione




The goal of your own training program is to assist you to get the most of your athletic ability so you can succeed on the soccer field. Improving your Strenghth and Endurance are the foundation for training and competing at the Elite level. Your dedication will be easily noted with your progress in our fitness testing, fitness training and team training sessions. The length of your training sessions will depend on how carefully you follow the work to rest ratio and your specific volume of training program.

This year is a big year for many of you with goals in mind of playing soccer at the highest level NCAA Division 1 / Professional Soccer

When we are on the tour, always have a bottle of water with you at all times.

Components of program

Warm-up (1) commit yourself to quality and effective warmup (2) The intensity and technique should be optimal to prepare you both physiologically and psychologically for your workout.

Speed development – (1) Technique is a priority, learn it and do it well. (2) Each of the exercises needs to be done with as much speed an explosiveness as possible. (3) Ensure enough recovery between repetitions. Do not rush thru the exercises.

Strength Training – (1) following full warmup (2) each exercise performed in the full range of motion. (3) Maintain proper technique and respect tempo assigned. (4) Recovery between sets should be no more than 60 seconds.

Core Training – (1) The abdominal muscles are almost entirely slow-twitch in nature. This means they respond very well to slow and controlled movements.

Aerobic training – Aim to have the times of the intervals consistent. You will get the greatest benefit if you keep your pace strong and under control. Try and get faster towards the end of the workout. *** Remember it is not where you start but where you finish ***

Cool Down – 5 minute easy jog. Perform Static stretches for each muscle group, hold position for 10-15 seconds. The stretch should feel like a slight tug and should not be painful.


The role which recovering your body over a tough pre-season cannot be underestimated. The Example weekly layouts all prescribe recovery sessions three times per week. This is a minimum expectation. You should be recovering after every session, every day. As much as many dislike certain aspects of recovery because of the discomfort is places you under it cannot be stressed the advantages which are seen when athletes complete correct recovery techniques. The easiest way to look at this is the Ice Bath should be come your best mate for 7-10 minutes each day. Training hard yet failing to recovery, is filing your body in its ability to adapt and improve to the imposed training stimulus.

Below is a list of recovery techniques you can look to implement into your training program:

• Hot / Cold shower - 1min hot, 30sec cold x 3-5 rotations (finishing on cold).
• Ice Bath - 7-10min in water at a temperature of 50-60 degrees
• Pool / Beach - spend time walking around, stretching and relaxing.
• Self-Massage
• Foam Rolling
• Stretching
• Compression garments
• Rehydration and Nutrition

For each pound lost during exercise, 16 ounces of fluid should be consumed as soon as possible. A combination of water and sports drinks should be used to ensure that electrolytes and glucose (fast-absorbing carbohydrate) are also being ingested. Another strategy for assessing hydration status is to monitor urine color and output.

Carbohydrates and protein are critical for glycogen repletion post-workout. For prolonged intense exercise (aerobic or anaerobic) the best post-exercise carb to protein ratio appears to be 3:1 or 4:1. For resistance (strength-power) workouts a ratio of 2:1 to 3:1 may be more appropriate. *Low-fat chocolate milk is a perfect post-workout choice- it provides the necessary 3-1 (carb-protein) ratio

The rapid introduction of carbohydrate, protein (and minimal fat) post-workout allows the body to begin repairing and rebuilding. The timing of protein intake is important and should be eaten every 3-4 hours. Post-workout protein should be consumed immediately (within 30 minutes).

Reducing oxidative damage (minimizing free radical damage) after exercise is also extremely important. Free radicals are unstable molecules produced during the metabolism of oxygen that promote inflammation and cell damage, leading to muscle soreness and delayed recovery short-term, degenerative disease long-term. Antioxidants are effective quenchers of free radicals, so it makes sense that ingesting antioxidants post-exercise would be an important strategy. The most effective antioxidants are Vitamin E and Vitamin C, and a wide variety of other phytonutrients found in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Our Current Approach to Physical Preparation of Youth Soccer Players – (Part 2)

Read Time (~15 mins)

The Physical Preparation of our Academy Players

In Part 1, I outlined the importance of physical preparation in developing soccer players. In part 2, I go into detail about the five elements of our physical preparation program, how they fit into our program, and some interesting case studies.

Step One

The first step in developing a program that would integrate with practice was simple - understand the environment. Every team has rules, expectations, processes ­- aka culture ­- that shape the training environment.

I always listened closely to coaches and players, along with getting to know everyone’s names.

A successful program starts with good relationships between myself, the players, and coaches. While gaining their trust, I would continue experimenting with ways to squeeze in elements of strength, power, speed, and conditioning into the 15-20 minute blocks I am afforded.

Although some things change from a programming standpoint, the goal remains consistent – a well-rounded physical preparation program for developmental soccer players!


In this section, I present the conditioning demands of soccer, how we monitor conditioning levels, and how intensity is viewed within the program.

It doesn’t take someone with a degree in sports science to tell you that conditioning is critically important for soccer. The game itself is a test of conditioning – two 45-minute continuous halves, in which each team is trying to outperform the other.

Preparing for the demands of the game requires more than being able to run for 90 minutes.

Soccer is more than a continuous running sport; it also requires the ability to perform repeat sprints (RSA), separated by intermittent recovery. The length of recovery between high intensity runs changes with match situations, ranging from 20-60 seconds (1,2,6).

Our go-to conditioning test is the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test, developed by soccer physiologist Dr. Jens Bangsbo. Not only is it widely used amongst other academies, it’s also been well researched in soccer players, both professional and youth. A score of >2,320 (stage 58) has been proven beneficial in promoting RSA in elite junior soccer players (age 19) (3).

In our academy, I’d like all players to reach a benchmark of 50. Currently, half of our team has met this benchmark, with a few surpassing 60.

Case Study

Since June, we’ve seen an average increase of 13.1 stages in the Yo-Yo test in the players who are still with us (many 15+ stages!). As a team, we’ve increased the average score from 35.2 to 47.2 (June-February).

Although we’ve had players come and go during that time, the fact is, we are fitter today than we have been in the past.

The Conditioning Continuum(s)

Our soccer practices are two hours (120 minutes) and provide the bulk of conditioning required for soccer players. Most importantly, practice must have both low and high intensity components to prepare for the demands of a match.

The best way to digest the different components of conditioning for a soccer player is to view them on a continuum of intensity.

Using Heart Rate (HR) monitors throughout the indoor season, I’ve been able to confirm that our practices include an appropriate distribution of work in each of the intensity “zones” listed above.

But that doesn’t paint the complete picture.

For most of practice, it is rare that a player reaches close to their top speed, or makes a run over 50 meters with pace.

These gaps at high intensity are where conditioning without a ball fit into the program.

Running without the ball may be a prerequisite for achieving certain high intensity qualities; specifically max speed. Distance covered at high intensities fall within both speed endurance and repeat sprints (with and without ball).

I find it best to view these qualities on a continuum of speed.

Within these 2 continuums, there is surely cross over. As you can see, the speed continuum (Figure 2) exists on the intensity continuum (Figure 1).

Application to Practice

As I stated earlier, practice covers the bulk of conditioning. We are looking to ensure we are training at high intensities, across all qualities of the continuum – with and without the ball. To complement practice, players are advised to run at a low intensity on most non-practice days.


Below, I explain why speed development is a key component of the program, how we train it, and present a case study.

As made clear in the above section, running is important to soccer performance. Both speed and endurance will lead to better running performance. Speed sessions have been a mainstay of the program since the beginning and there are important 3 reasons for this:

  1. The higher your top speed, the easier it is for you to run at a submaximal speed – leading to improved endurance.
  2. The force and velocity that your body is producing to reach top speeds cannot be matched by any other exercise. That means you are getting more powerful AND faster when sprinting.
  3. You do not reach the speed you will be exposed to in a game enough during practice and small-sided games – which can leave you exposed in a game, both to injury and tactically. We must supplement this type of work in practice to effectively prepare for this component of match play.


Speed training is usually done in our Saturday practices, the reason being, they are theoretically well rested since Tuesday’s practice – which is a MUST for speed training.

Currently, we are getting 4-5 high quality sprints per week. I’ve started to use warm ups for speed prep, and finish off the warm up with 2-3 sprints with long periods of rest (2-5 minutes, depending on the distances) – we are experimenting with this 2x/week.

Case Study

With one speed day and resisted acceleration day per week between November and February, we’ve seen improvements in 30m sprint times as high as 0.15-0.29s in some of our players’ sprint times. This is quite impressive in a short block of training that included a holiday break.


In this portion, we dive into the influence strength has on reducing injuries, power, program structure and general guidelines for soccer players.

Soccer is a physical game, and you must be prepared for it when making the jump to the college game. Beyond the physicality of soccer, a balanced strength program can help to reduce common injuries. The stronger your muscles, tendons and ligaments, the more resilient they are to injury.

“Strength is the mother of all qualities” – Dietmar Schmidtbleicher, German Sports Scientist

It is a fundamental quality of power (Power = Force x Velocity), which underpins many athletic qualities. How powerful you kick a ball is dependent on both the force you strike the ball with strength and speed. 

Whether it is power, speed, or endurance – having a good base of strength is a perquisite. It is critical that we maintain some type strength training in our weekly plans for its injury reduction benefits.

Logistics trump all when it comes to programming.

Being resourceful in programming is important when time and equipment is limited. Strength training is not limited to only lifting weights. For me, it also includes our “ankle strengthening” routine - a series of low amplitude jumps -  and our sprints which are a part of our “hamstring strengthening” routine.

For most of the year, we have trained for 20-30 minutes, one time per week. Our strength program consists of 4-6 exercises in a circuit format that alternate between upper and lower body to allow recovery time between similar exercise groups.

Currently, we are experimenting with non-competing supersets (four exercises total). Using an “every minute on the minute” (EMOM) style program, we are able to rest 2 minutes between upper and lower body exercises – ensuring we are recovering adequately for power and strength work.

My recommendation for any soccer player would be to lift weights 2-3x/week to supplement what we are doing in practice. It is critical that a well thought out lifting program be done to avoid competing soccer demands, injury, and putting on too much muscle leading to loosing speed. 

  • - 4 players got injured this past year in the gym
  • - 4 players have put on too much muscle/weight at points over the year leading to poor performances in the Yo-Yo test and 30m Sprint



The following segment outlines the three parts of our power program, insight into a week of jump training, and a case study about an testing tool that has been useful for monitoring lower body injury

. Power training is about moving fast – which is critical to soccer. Our power training program is simple:

  1. 1. Sprints
  2. 2. Jumps
  3. 3. Throws


By performing these explosive movements at different loads and speed, we are training to be more powerful. Similar to strength training, performing a balanced power program will help strengthen your muscles, tendons and ligaments, making you more resilient to injury.

Take our jump training for example. Most of the year, we’ve completed extensive-low amplitude skips/hops/jumps one day a week, while complementing intensive-high amplitude jumps (ie. Repeated jumps, tuck jumps, loaded jumps) throughout the week.

Case Study

The ability to produce force rapidly is important for sport, which is why we are looking to quantify it through testing. Of particular importance in young soccer players is the asymmetry between legs – common to many athletes. When this asymmetry gets outside of a tolerable limit, it can lead to overuse injuries.

The Single Leg Hop test (SLH) is an important marker for us. Not only a test of single leg power, but an opportunity to monitor athletes returning from injury, or those who may have a potential risk to developing one.

From November and February’s results, a combined 7 of 8 athletes who had an asymmetry > 5% between legs had either been returning from injury, had an injury at the time of testing, or later developed some sort of pain/injury in the lower body.

In 4 of the 7 cases, athletes picked up lower body injuries following testing.

This SLH is a go-to in our testing battery, serving as an important monitoring tool for our athletes.


The below section on agility will define the components agility, why it’s complex, and how we are approaching it with training.

Training “agility” is very elusive, partly due to the many components that are involved, and the lack of transfer to sports performance (See Figure 3).

Within each component exists further subcomponents. For example, within change of direction, we must consider an athlete’s ability to accelerate, decelerate, co-ordinate their limbs, change their center of gravity, etc. 

Making matters more complicated, each athlete has a unique agility skillset - often specific to their position. For example, midfielders who are often in the “right place” to receive the ball have strong decision making and visual processing skills which make their style of play seem effortless (ie. Iniesta). On the other hand, defenders require strength to win challenges and the ability to anticipate, and change direction based on an attacker’s play (ie. Sergio Ramos).

Sport is chaotic, and ultimately, your ability to succeed depends on your ability to read and react to the game.

The good news is that soccer practice allows players to work on these skills, in a sport specific context. Without sporting context (i.e.. use of the ball, positional tactics, game objectives) there is hardly any transfer of the critical skills required to read and react to the game.

So, what are we currently doing for agility?

Simply put, we focus mainly on change of direction.

As is the theme with this article, we must physically prepare for the demands of the game. Most injuries occur during changes of direction (deceleration, landing, cutting) – so we must allow our players to build proficiency and strength in these positions.

Throughout the year, we have used the end of warm ups as a time to introduce and work on different movement skills (i.e.. cutting, shuffling, landing, accelerating, decelerating etc.). Adding another layer on top, we may add visual/decision making stimuli by performing partner reactive drills, or position specific tasks (i.e.. defenders react to attackers change of directions).

Putting it Together

This article is the result of over 100 sessions with the Winstars this past year. It represents our current approach to physical preparation, and will surely evolve as time passes. I hope it provides context to our program, and the current thought process behind it.

For more information about Coach Joe and to learn more, visit 


Realize your Potential

Realize your Potential from Winstars Soccer Academy Video on Vimeo.

Our Current Approach to Physical Preparation of Youth Soccer Players – (Part 1)

By: Joe Vecchione

With over 100 training sessions in the books with the Winstars, I’ve been inspired to write this two part series sharing our current approach towards the physical preparation of our academy players – for college coaches, parents, and more importantly – our players. As a Strength & Conditioning (S&C) coach, my role is to physically prepare athlete’s for the demands of their sport, with the goal of improving performance and reducing injuries.

Training for sport is completely different than what you’d find in a commercial gym – AND on TV when you see athletes training.

Sport science has helped us push the limits of performance, which have shifted the culture of physical preparation in various sports – particularly in soccer. Many professional teams in Europe’s top leagues employ half a dozen people like myself to take care of their first team. Today’s modern soccer player must be physically fit to compete at the highest levels.

Simply put, physical preparation is important.

Which is why we’ve worked towards incorporating elements of S&C into each practice over the course of a week. Being at every practice over the last 12 months presented the opportunity to always be working on the physical development of our players.

It’s also brought a heightened level of professionalism to our approach – with S&C being commonplace in professional academies around the world.

When developing young soccer players who are pursuing college scholarships, the importance of their physical development cannot be understated. Although a bias perspective (since I am a S&C coach), top coaches understand it’s importance in developing high performance athletes.

Particularly those who are recruiting players for the next level in College.

Don’t believe me? We had a D1 coach come up to recruit a few months back, and he told me “There are a lot of programs that feel if a player has the physical traits, they can bring up their technical and tactical skills. The college game is so fast and physical, if you’re not built for it, you won’t see the field.”

Still don’t believe me? Out of our current graduating group, we have 2 players going to D1 schools next year.
They happen to be two of the fastest players on our team
(30m sprint test).

Your physical ability, whatever your strength may be – speed, strength, endurance – can be the difference between you and someone of equal technical/tactical ability.

An Integrated Approach.

On the soccer field, through warm ups, cool downs, and 10-20 minute blocks throughout practice, we’ve been able to effectively blend elements of strength, power, speed and conditioning into our soccer practice (details to follow in part 2).

Communication between coaching staff has allowed for this successful integration.

We must have a common understanding of practice intensity/goals in order to marry the two. Like chefs, we have our ingredients (exercises/drills), but we must create the right recipe (structure/program) to bring forward the true flavour of each ingredient in a delicious dish.

The results have been impressive.

Here are a few things that stand out in particular:

1.            Zero injuries on 2017 Summer Tour where we played 4 games in 4 days (90 minute, full field).

2.            The Yo-Yo Test (one of our Key Performance Indicators – KPI) has improved from a team average of 35.2 (June) to 47.2 (February) – 12 stages!

3.            Inquiries from a College Coach (who has 2 of our former players) about our S&C programs

•             One player had the best long jump score on team as a freshman.

•             One player had the best yo-yo score (aerobic fitness) on team as a freshman.

4.            Limited injuries over the course of the year

5.            More players on scholarship!

These are just a few highlights among many from over 100 training sessions and 12 months with the Winstars.

Stay tuned for the next part in this series where I’ll go into detail about the elements of our physical preparation program – including rationale, results and observations, along with some of the ways we are applying it into our daily training environment.

For more information about Coach Joe, visit to learn more!


Winstars Promo Video

Flashback from 2007 – All players went on scholarship, mainly NCAA Division 1 and our Academy won SAAC League and SAAC Cup against Bryst at BMO Field, we went undefeated in the first year of SAAC competition and first year of our academy.

Winstars Promo Video from Winstars Soccer Academy Video on Vimeo.


Winstars Tryouts


From Oakville Winstars to General Manager – MLS Team

Having Coached many fine players over my many years of coaching, you always remember the special ones. We had an amazing Team and a boy who was from Kitchener was on our younger Team and asked to come to our Training and train with our squad and the first weekend he came out we had Trevor Adair, good friend of mine up from Clemson University and we both said who is this player and the rest is history, if you are good enough you are old enough.

Niki was a very good player and became our Captain, was MVP of the Tampa Sun Bowl, scored two goals for us to beat Scott Gallagher of St. Louis in the Championship Final of the Capital Cup. Played with our Team in the opening game of the Dallas Cup Super Group where we were the opening game of the event against eventual winner AC Milan, advanced in the group only to lose to Boca Juniors in the quarter Finals.

Niki went on to James Madison University, Dr. Tom Martin who is one of my best friends recruited him and he had many choices and chose JMU. This Oakville Winstars Team was very special and had all 18 players go on athletic scholarship to NCAA Division 1 Universities. Niki went on to receive his Masters Degree back here at Wilfred Laurier University, went pro in Europe for a few years and then went into the Soccer Scouting Business and now with Orlando FC of the MLS.

Really proud of this young man, a fine player and more important a fine individual who always represented our program with pride and class.


Niki Budalic-General Manager – Orlando City FC - MLS



Summer Tour Itinerary – Friday August 24 – Saturday September 1 - Living the dream

Summer Tour 2018

Find your home from James Madison University on Vimeo.

Friday August 24 - Depart at 6am from our soccer office in Woodbridge / 1115 Woodstream Blvd. Unit 1
Travelling with Dallas Coach – 56 passenger Luxury Coach – our travel partner

Winstars Coach Bus

August 24 - September 1, 2017
Our Academy has our annual summer tour, which is one of our best events that we do during our calendar year.  We are away one week and travel on a 56 passenger Coach Bus and all food is included and hotel, as well as all expenses incurred during trip, we have 3-4 games against Top Academy Teams/ Universities and showcase our Players.

Deposit due now $1295
Full amount of trip $2595
Parent $500 Coach Bus only
We have to prepay many costs so I appreciate at least a deposit,  Bobby Graham – Academy Director

Deposit: $1295.00
Register Now

Full Cost: $2595.00
Register Now

Parents Coach Bus Only: $500.00
Register Now

Summer Tour 2016  




Spring Tour March 2018 - UAB

Spring Tour March 2018 - UAB
Click on picture to enlarge


Small clip from Tuesday nights session


FC Dallas Game Videos



FC Dallas Showcase March 2-4, 2018 - Game Videos


March 2, 2018

FC Dallas Showcase Game 01 - Winstars vs Real Colorado Olympico - 1st Half - March 2, 2018

FC Dallas Showcase Game 01 - Winstars vs Real Colorado Olympico - 2nd Half - March 2, 2018

March 3, 2018

FC Dallas Showcase Game 02 - Winstars vs Richland College - 1st Half - March 3, 2018

FC Dallas Showcase Game 02 - Winstars vs Richland College - 2nd Half - March 3, 2018

March 4, 2018

FC Dallas Showcase Game 03 - Winstars vs Colorado Storm North - 1st Half - March 4, 2018

FC Dallas Showcase Game 03 - Winstars vs Colorado Storm North - 2nd Half - March 4, 2018

March 5, 2018

Winstars vs UAB game - March 5, 2018



Sports Recruits


Our Commitment
Our mission is to empower student-athletes to pursue their dreams. Adversity in the recruiting process is inevitable, but can be overcome with candid guidance. Everyone’s process is different. We will work together to achieve your definition of success.
Learn More

The Insights Approach

  • 1. Athlete-Driven

College coaches want to hear from you. It’s up to you to own your process. We provide the personal curriculum, guidance, and action items to maximize your efforts.

    2. Leverage Your Advocates

Your guidance counselor, high school and club coaches are your support team. We don’t replace this team, we help you leverage it.

  • 3. Realistic Expectations

2% of high school athletes receive an athletic scholarship. We do not promise scholarships. We help you find the right athletic, academic, social and financial fit.

It is ok to be confused by the college search and recruiting process. We built Insights for you.

Get My Questions Answered

What's Included?

Dedicated Analyst

Personal Curriculum

Data + Analytics

2 Highlight Reels

Dedicated Analyst
Every athlete is matched with a dedicated Insights Analyst. Our Analysts are former college athletes, trained to leverage our proprietary data from thousands of committed athletes. Through working closely with your family, we design an actionable framework for you.

We remember the days of early weekend practices, long road trips to recruiting tournaments, and late nights studying. You and your family have invested so much into your athletic and academic career. My goal is to help you maximize these efforts with a personal, action-based plan of attack.
Alyssa Palomba, Insights Analyst

Personal Curriculum
Our team of former college athletes, former college coaches, and data scientists built a curriculum that has been proven to drive results. Recruiting is not one size fits all. Our framework adapts to your unique goals.

Course 1
Recruiting 101
Welcome to Insights! In this course, we will get to know you and your family and set you up for success with a personalized timeline to guide you through the recruiting process. You will learn the best practices for using the Sports Recruits platform and leveraging your coaches and guidance counselor.

Course 2
Target Schools
Using in-depth data analysis, find out what schools are a good fit for you academically and athletically. We will set you up for success, not just for the next 4 years, but for the next 40.

Course 3
Learn the most effective strategies for interacting with college coaches. With millions of messages sent through the Sports Recruits platform, we have been able to see firsthand what works.

Course 4
This is your opportunity to dive deeper into a topic of your choice. Choose the course that best fits your needs.

-Highlight Reels
-Scholarships + Financial Aid
-NCAA Rules + Regulations
-Interview Prep

Each Insights course includes:
A package of course materials
Action items
A 45 minute phone call with your dedicated Analyst

Data + Analytics
Millions of interactions between athletes and coaches on our platform have led to thousands of commitments. Access the most comprehensive dataset in recruiting through SR Insights.

Proprietary Data
We built tools to query our proprietary data in an aggregated and anonymized format, allowing us to share insights from the thousands of successful athletes on our platform.

 Academic Fit Report
Using your target list of schools, we provide an analysis of where you stack up academically next to other athletes interested in each school.

SR Interest Scores™
SR Interest Scores™ measure which schools are most popular amongst recruits each year, helping you discover new opportunities and prepare for competition.

What schools are you interested in?
Learn how Insights can help you focus on the right schools.

2 Highlight Reels
Our post-production team has built
We will help you stand out from the crowd.

Title Card
A professional title card tells college coaches you’re serious about your recruiting process

Isolation effects
Don’t make college coaches guess which player you are

Your Video
We can use any video you have to create your reel

Do you have access to video?
Learn how to leverage your video to maximize your exposure.


We have partnered with Sports Recruits

Happy to announce that we have partnered with Sports Recruits and real excited about this initiative as our academy is a Players first Academy and with SR we can work to become the best Academy in Canada for the Serious and Gifted Soccer Players who want to get to the next level.


Winstars 2018 Senior Team

Winstars 2018 Senior Team
(click for larger picture)


Winstars 2018 Junior Team

Winstars 2018 Junior Team
(click for larger picture)


Schellas Hyndman's Do's and Dont's of College Recruiting

Schellas is now the Head Coach at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix Arizona – NCAA D1 Soccer Program

Schellas Hyndman's Do's and Dont's of College Recruiting


Coaches Email List - NCAA Division 1 - 2018

NCAA logo

NCAA Division 1 College Coach Contact Information

Click Here





United Soccer Coaches



Champions are Made Here


Bobby Clark - Head Coach at Notre Dame Retires

All of us at our soccer academy wish Head Coach at Notre Dame the very best in his retirement. Meeting Coach Clark, fellow Scot at the Bethesda Tournament in Maryland – 1986 and have been a friend ever since.  A Legend in Scotland as Goalkeeper with Aberdeen FC. and done one amazing job at Dartmouth College, Stanford University and University of Notre Dame.  He has been most successful as a NCAA Division 1 Coach and is a fine ambassador for Collegiate Soccer in the USA sending many players to the Professional game.

More important to me is the person, so special and so much passion for the game and you just always want to be in his company as you learn so much as well as he lights you up and motivates you about the game.  Had one of my Players at Dartmouth in his first recruiting class – Danny Sankar who is most successful for the journey and learning from Coach Clark.  I had the pleasure with our academy to spend a couple of days at Notre Dame with our academy and present him with a plaque for his dedication and commitment to the game.

He certainly will be missed, however we wish him the very best in his retirement with his Wife Bette and his wonderful Family and Grandchildren.

Bobby Graham – Academy Director     


Click on Picture for video

Our Match vs. Philadelphia Union Academy Team

Sunday October 15th – our match vs. Philadelphia Union Academy

Was a great day and match as you can see for yourself, as our academy takes on the Union Academy.

Both teams together after the game on Saturday October 14th (Click on image to enlarge)

Bobby Graham – Academy Director  


Click on Picture


A nice Testimonial by our former Academy player Ethan Vigario – now on Full Scholarship at St. Francis University – Ft. Wayne

Eathan Vigario

Hello, I am Ethan Vigario, a former player of Bobby Graham. What I have to say is straight forward, easy to comprehend and to the point. If you are looking to get to a college on scholarship and if it is a serious dream / goal of yours then I recommend going nowhere else other than Winstars.

Not only does Bobby and all the coaching staff provide a professional training environment for significant development, but they also treat you like they son. It is a family like no other and definitely stands out from the rest. Bobby likes great footballers, but also great people and that's why you don't see 1000 kids in his academy, you only see. Around 40. This is because to him it isn't about the money, he cares about you and your future.

I hope you end up taking up this opportunity, regardless of how far or close you live. I traveled 2 hours to get to training and Bobby and the academy made it more than worth it. You can shoot me an email if you have any further questions regarding any of this.

Ethan Vigario.





Winstars vs St Francis



Dreams Come True




Message to Our Players:

No one gets handed anything in this game.

No matter how talented you are. The most you can ask for is an opportunity. Then it's up to to take advantage of it. How much time have you spent honing your skills and working on your game? How much have you sacrificed?

Enough to make an impact at a high level? Okay. Then show everyone. Then if you do deliver make sure you're aware that the level of expectation goes up with all the praise, and it's your responsibility to grow with it. Physically and mentally. That's what separates the great from the average. And that's why they stay at the top. Every day is an opportunity and every day they know they must deliver.



Winstars vs. FC United – at Wish Field – De Paul University Chicago - Saturday August 19, 2017

Winstars vs. FC United – at Wish Field - De Paul University Chicago - Saturday August 19, 2017 - Part 1 of 4

Winstars vs. FC United – at Wish Field - De Paul University Chicago - Saturday August 19, 2017 - Part 2 of 4

Winstars vs. FC United – at Wish Field - De Paul University Chicago - Saturday August 19, 2017 - Part 3 of 4

Winstars vs. FC United – at Wish Field - De Paul University Chicago - Saturday August 19, 2017 - Part 4 of 4



Tryouts for our Academy

Past Players

Past Players of Coach Graham
if you are looking for an academy that has a proven track record in development and placement of Elite Soccer Players who have grades and are serious about school.

Summer Tour August 2017

Our Team and FC United Team together for a picture after the match

Our Team and FC United Team together for a picture after the match (Click to Enlarge)

FC United Coaches and their Academy Director Jamie Smith fellow Scot and former Glasgow Celtic Player

FC United Coaches and their Academy Director Jamie Smith fellow Scot and former Glasgow Celtic Player  


Importance of having a Strength and Conditioning Coach

Training Coach

Our Academy has made the investment to having a full time strength and conditioning Coach, Joe Vecchoine, he will bring a professional approach to warming up prior to games and practices as well as cooling down, as well as help our athletes work on strength, speed and power, all very important to help our athletes to get to the next level of play. See below

Strength & Conditioning

Training Coach

As an academy, we are dedicated to developing our athletes in preparation for the next level. Our strength & conditioning coach, Joseph Vecchione, works with our athletes to develop the physical qualities (i.e.. Strength, power, speed, endurance) that a young player needs to make the step to the next level.

Training CoachWe integrate strength & conditioning into every practice, starting with warm ups
and ending with cool downs. By doing so, we can work to improve the physical attributes (strength, speed, power) that build well rounded and robust soccer players. We also conduct monthly testing batteries to monitor our player’s progression and provide informed programming.

In addition to on-field training, Joseph hosts drop-in group workouts for our boys at his garage gym on Tuesdays @6:30, Wednesdays @6, and Sundays @11. For our athletes who would like to join a drop-in session, or book semi-private training sessions with Joe, please contact him via e-mail –


Joseph Vecchione Bio

VecchioneJoseph is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength & Conditioning Association. He studied Kinesiology at the University of Guelph-Humber, where he performed concurrent training research on endurance athletes, looking to minimize the interference effect (IE). Studying the fine balance of strength/power training and endurance training to minimize the IE of a program’s desired adaptations is critical to the successful programming of soccer players and athletes.

During his 5 years of coaching experience, Joseph has worked with hundreds of athletes at all levels; grassroots, high school, university, national and Olympic. Joseph had his athletic career cut short by 2 ACL reconstructive surgeries as a young soccer player, which has sparked a relentless drive to physically prepare athletes to be resilient and dominate in their field of play.

Joseph has worked in many settings, including the Canadian Sport Institute of Ontario, the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, and the University of Toronto.


I highly recommend any of our academy student athletes take the test with Dan Sankar, it is a 16 hour course that would cost more if done with another company or individual. All our funds received are given to Dan, we do not keep anything as we want our players to succeed. I highly recommend that you register/register your Son if he is in grade 10 or 11/12. The next test date is October 7 and the final date to register with the SAT College board is September 8.

The SAT Test – Date of Test October 7th register by September 8
Date of Test – November 4 register by October 5
Date of Test – December 2 register by November 2

Please register online as that is the best way and we will start on the Sunday after the Labor Day weekend.


WHERE: Winstars Academy Office
WHEN: starting after the tour / will be prior to or after our training sessions on Sundays
COST: $500
(1st Time) $350.00 (2nd Time)

SAT Prep Course

Complete SAT Prep Course
Cost per player: $500.00 - (First Time) - $350.00 (2nd Time)

INSTRUCTOR: Dan Sankar (416) 575-6958

CLASS RESOURCES (bring to each class)

SAT Preparatory Book (will advise which book to purchase, not needed for the first class)
Scientific Calculator
Workbook/Paper, Pens, Pencils, Erasers

ABOUT THE SAT: The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is a standardized test required for admission to all U.S. colleges and universities. The SAT evaluates the student's knowledge in the areas of writing, critical reading and mathematics. The SAT helps universities compare students from different parts of the country and the world with one standardized measure. In addition to the student's school marks, extra-curricular activities and admissions essay, SAT results play a crucial role in the admissions process.

* Learn important study techniques and concepts for the three sections of the SAT.
* Learn general study and test preparation skills.
* Do many practice questions and essays and be provided with ongoing evaluation and feedback.
* Do vocabulary building exercises with the purpose of applying these to actual SAT questions.
* Do timed test sections in the areas of critical reading, writing and mathematics

* 20+ years of experience as SAT and High School Mathematics Instructor
* B.A. (Psychology), M.A. (Sports Psychology), M.Ed. (Counselling Psychology)
* Player for Dartmouth College, NCAA Division 1, All-American, All-Ivy


Sat Testing Dates 2017-18



Catching Up With Daniel Festa - Manhattan College Graduate

Catching Up With Daniel Festa

Catching Up With Daniel Festa
Courtesy: Manhattan Athletic Department
Release: 07/13/2017

Riverdale, NY - With this year being the 50th anniversary of the Manhattan Men's Soccer team we will be checking in with different alumni throughout the season to see how the program has impacted their lives.

Our second former Jasper is Daniel Festa '14.

What does being a member of the Manhattan Soccer family mean to you?

"Being a part of the Manhattan Soccer family means that I have brothers from all over the world and that Gaelic Park will always be our home field. It means staying connected with friends and supporting the program to attract future talent that will enable it to continually grow stronger."

What has Manhattan Soccer taught you?

"During my time with the program, I learned the values of working hard and how to persevere even against low odds. Additionally, the program has afforded me the right to spend time with people from different parts of the world. This has in turn taught me the importance of effective communication in a global marketplace."

What are you doing now?

"I am currently working for Morgan Stanley in Fund Services. I deal with hedge funds and their investors on inflows, outflows, transfers or capital and also reporting and distribution of information pertinent to their investments."

6 Expectations On the Road to Success

When I arrived in Tampa as head coach, I began meeting with the players who lived there, trying to understand from them what needed to be fixed. Although all the issues were relatively minor, they contributed to the team’s second class, defeatist, excuse-laden mentality. I began to sell the philosophy that we are responsible for what happens to us, not anyone or anything else. No excuses, no explanations.

At a team meeting, I ran through a laundry list of excuses our players could easily hang a poor season on if they chose to: We have a new coach staff. We have to learn a new system on both offense and defense. We have sub-par facilities. We have a young quarterback. We never get the benefit of the doubt from officials. We might move cities. Those were all great excuses, and we could have used all of them. However, our goal was to win and excuses weren’t an option. Have you been using excuses lately? Here are 6 expectations I communicated to my team on the road to success.

1. Be a pro.

2. Act like a champion.

3. Respond to adversity; don’t react.

4. Be on time. Being late means either it’s not important to you or you can’t be relied upon.

5. Execute. Do what you’re supposed to do when you’re supposed to do it. Not almost. All the way. Not most of the time. All of the time.

6. Take ownership.

Is this how you approach your marriage? Your role as a dad? Your job?  Whatever it takes. No excuses, no explanations.


Bobby Clark: Shaping minds, not just professionals, at Notre Dame

Bobby Clark: Shaping minds, not just professionals, at Notre Dame


The Secret by Dani Alves - You really need to read this article

The Secret by Dani Alves - You really need to read this article


How to Improve Stamina for Soccer

How to Improve Stamina for Soccer

Check out all our best drills, gym workouts and articles on how to improve stamina for soccer


Our Goalkeeping Department

Goalkeepers are the most important player in a Team, at our academy we have an excellent Coach Roberto Carranza who specializes and trains our goalkeepers three times a week.  We invest much time, effort and finances into our goalkeeping and have had much success in the past with Goalkeepers who went on to the next level.

Past Goalkeepers Coached by Academy Director Bobby Graham

  1. Peter Pappas Philadelphia University and Professional with Philadelphia Kixx
  2. Loukas Papaconstantinou University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Now a Dentist
  3. Jaro Zawislan – Clemson University - Former Head Coach at Cornell University – Men’s Team
  4. Thomas Zawislan – Creighton University
  5. David Clemente – University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
  6. Raj Wakhale – Hartwick College
  7. Melford (Junior James) – University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
  8. Robert Marinaro – Clemson University – Now Head Coach of Kent State University (Women’s Team)
  9. Rasih Pala – Northern Illinois University
  10. Jay Mason – University of the Incarnate World - Now Head Coach of Cal Poly (Women’s Team)
  11. Phillip Cavicchia – Appalachian State University
  12. Chris Skelton – Niagara University
  13. Dennis Kramer – Southern Polytechnic State University
  14. Jamie Englefield – Winthrop University
  15. Domenic Spedaliere – Eckerd University
  16. Spyros Sergiotis – Wilmington University
  17. Adriano Debreau – Western Michigan University
  18. Matthew Zaikos – Urbana University
  19. Zachery Zeke – Adrian University
  20. Jordan Sedhi – Seton Hill University
  21. Christian Brunet – Lewis University
  22. Nicholas Luciani – Culver Stockton University
  23. Karman Saini – Swedish First Division Husqvarna FF



Adidas is now our official Clothing Supplier of our Soccer Academy

Some of the sports apparel each Academy player will receive




Student-Athlete NCAA Resources


NCAA Eligibility Center  *Formerly known as ‘Clearinghouse’ and is required for all Division I and Division II athletes
The College Board  *SAT Registration, College Search Tool, Scholarship Searching Tool



20 Questions to see where you should go to school



Choosing a college isn’t a four-year decision; it’s a 40-year decision. From campus to classes, academics to culture, there’s a lot to consider. And, often, students don’t even know what they want in a college experience. To help your student-athlete better understand their best college match, you can start by asking them the right questions. In this article, we provide 20 questions to gauge academic and cultural fit.

We are not covering questions for determining athletic fit, as that is an entire topic in itself. These questions can help you start a list of potential colleges, and you can add athletic fit to whittle down your choices.

Remember: You’re trying to figure out what your student wants in a school, not what you as a parent want for them. A lot of parents will frame questions by giving an obvious bias to one answer. For example, “Do you want to just be another number in a class with 500 kids in it?” Instead, phrase questions so your student-athlete can share what they really think.

It might be tempting to try grinding through all 20 questions at once. But, you’ll likely get a lot of eye rolls and, “Ugh, I don’t know!” responses. Instead, ask a couple questions at a time and keep track of the answers in a notebook. That way, you can refer back when you need to.

Ask these 20 questions to see where your student should go to school.

Academics. To parents, academics may be the most important aspect of determining best college match. For high school students, academics may be the first thing they push to the side. These questions help narrow down schools where your student would thrive academically.

1. What do you want to major in?

2. Would you be willing to adjust your major?

3. Do you want to be taught by full-time professors or graduate students?

4. Which type of classes do you prefer: lecture style or discussion style?

5. Will your major require an internship?

6. Do you want to take classes that interest you or would you like to stick to your major?

7. Is the prestige/reputation of the college important to you?

8. Do you fulfill the academic requirements to be accepted?

Culture. When students go to college, most of them will be living on their own for the first time. They need to feel at home in their university, surrounded by students who they can connect with. Campus culture refers to the type of students at the campus, the location, physical attributes of the campus and what stands out in the student body.

9. Are you more interested in a social campus, a commuter campus (where students tend to go home on the weekends) or a quiet campus?

10. How far away from home would you like to be?

11. Would you prefer to go to a school where you already know a lot of people?

12. What are your weather-related deal breakers?

13. Do need a lot of green space?

14. Do you prefer to be in a large city?

15. Would you like a religious university?

16. What kinds of extracurricular or social activities are you interested in?

17. Do you want to be surrounded by people who share your viewpoint?

18. Do you want a diverse environment?

19. Do you like seeing people you know around campus every day?

20. What specific experiences do you want to have in college (e.g., studying abroad)?

Bonus: 5 financial questions for parents

College is a huge investment. As a parent, you need to be realistic about what colleges are feasible from a financial standpoint. Ask yourself these questions to make sure you—and your student—know where things stand financially.

1. How much are you willing to pay for college and how much responsibility will fall on your student?

2. Does your student qualify for any scholarships or financial aid?

3. Will your student be supporting themselves while at college? Is the college town’s cost of living realistic?

4. Will your student need to participate in a work-study program or similar arrangement to help cover the cost of tuition?

5. Are you and/or your student willing to take out college loans? How much?

Time Management Winstars


How to be a Professional Footballer

Link to article


Testimonial from Barry Gorman, Former Technical Director, FC Dallas and Penn State University Coach

Barry Gorman

Bobby Graham is, without doubt, one of the foremost pre-eminent youth soccer ambassadors Ontario has produced. His commitment to the development of youth soccer in Canada is second to none. I can think of no one, in America or Canada, who has assisted more players in progressing to the Collegiate and Professional ranks.

For over 25 years, Bobby Graham has provided numerous, incredible opportunities for countless Canadian youngsters to showcase their talents at the best soccer events throughout the USA. The sheer number of former players who can trace their academic-athletic opportunities back to Bobby Graham run organizations is testimony to the man's "Midas" touch. The truly remarkable success rate his programs have achieved throughout the years, both on and off the field, is an indication of the excellent high standards he expects, creates and maintains.

The Winstars Soccer Academy is an outgrowth of that desire for excellence. It is a professionally run organization where it is clearly evident, "they are on the right track and have ‘bottled’ something special." On the coaching side, they are extremely well organized while constantly preparing and coaching players in a meaningful, competitive environment. On the academic side they are, in my mind, the leading source for soccer scholarship information and advice in Canada.

In my former role, as the Head Coach of Penn State University Men's Soccer Program for 22 years, I got to know Bobby Graham very well and am delighted to count on him as a valued and trusted friend. We share a similar vision of the "beautiful game," but more importantly, a strong core value in how best to monitor the growth and development of aspiring young soccer players.

Without question, I would recommend the Winstars Soccer Academy to any serious student-athletes and their parents as a worthwhile, positive career/life changing investment. I look forward to continuing to stay in touch with Bobby Graham and enhancing my professional relationship with the Winstars Soccer Academy.

FC Dallas

Barry Gorman
Technical Director – FC Dallas
Former Head Coach Men's Soccer – Penn State University

NSCAA Past President

Champions are Made Here - Video




Success doesn't happen as an accident. It is hard work, sacrifice, ups and downs, determination, motivation, but, most of all, love for the game and love doing your job.

Training is a process. It consists several main components:
1. periodization,
2. preparation,
3. organization,
4. dedication,
5. consistency.

All main factors, joined together, create entirety when you're making professionally organized plan with long and short term objectives.

While you're preparing your training program always consider:

→ the connection between the sessions – so the transition from one day to another, and one week to another, is gradually developed.


→ building up challenges and training loads in coming sessions.


→ using these methods you are constantly controlling your players but laying on their effort and making them naturally building up their performance. Each subsequent training is an upgrade to the previous work so it must be proposed on a higher level than the previous one.

Playing the highest level isn't for everybody, and that's what makes it so special. Only the ones who made it know what kind of commitment to soccer training takes to get there. With that in hart, there are few facts your player should have in mind if his dream is to become a pro.

In the modern game, at any level, soccer training and conditioning is essential. What makes the main difference between the great soccer player from the average one is their ability to do 'that something extra', something special during the match: dribble few players on the run in dying minutes of the game, precisely cross the ball to a teammate who is on the run passing the defender, clear the ball from the opponent in a counterattack action…'that something extra'.

If you commit yourself, make it count. Keep the consistency and persistence in training, attending every practice without any excuse. There are many factors that can distract you from the training, but you must know that every practice will make you better than before.

You are training hard to be fit and in your best shape for the match. You must be prepared at any moment coach decides to put you in a team. It can be full match or part of the game. Coach will decide to play you depending on his vision, situation on the pitch, including tactical variation or injuries.

Many times coaches propose physically demanding practices. The purpose is to be prepared to the last minute of the game playing in high tempo, not losing rhythm or level of performance. Hard work in training is guarantying lightness and ease during the game.

If you did your job well during training, you don't need to worry about the coming game. If you're prepared well, you will be fully focused only on your best performance and team's effort during the game.
Physically fit players are confident, motivated, in control of their potential having variety of options to choose.

After every match, player should analyse his own performance and where he stands. What is needed to work on to improve and what should be polished and mastered till the automatism. But one is definite, put your maximum effort because that is what is expected from you. Level of your performance depends on your preparation.

Becoming a good player takes a lot of time, hard work, and practice, especially. Be honest to yourself and set standards you wish to achieve. At the end, the price will be huge. Satisfaction, joy and respect are just a few of them.
→ Preparation prevents poor performance.

Arsene Wenger, How To Build a Footballer

Arsene Wenger

When a manager of the calibre of Arsene Wenger takes time to tell you the key to becoming a truly great player like Cesc Fabregas, you listen. See what the great man had to say on commitment and the desire to improve.


Harvard's Ferguson formula for success

Harvard's Ferguson formula for success


Winstars Tryouts
Tryouts for our Elite Soccer Academy

We are only interested in very talented players as well as students with good grades and a passion and desire for the game of soccer and also to play soccer at the next level. NCAA Collegiate Soccer. Looking for a few players as we are close to full for the fall and winter season.  Only serious student athletes and soccer players communicate.

Showcase our Players at the best events in USA/Canada and Europe
Professional Staff with a proven track record of success both with development and winning
The number 1 Academy in Canada for athletic scholarships at NCAA Universities
Meaningful training in a quality environment / more significant games
Academy Director has now sent over 350 players to the USA on athletic scholarship/unparalleled
Talent ID criteria centered around the players ability to control the ball

Academy Director – Bobby Graham


Men's Soccer
NCAA Division 1 Rankings - NSCAA Coaches
Men's Soccer
NCAA Division II Rankings - NSCAA Coaches
Men's Soccer
NCAA Division III Rankings - NSCAA Coaches



The Route to a Dream

2015 Summer Tour


 Checkout our past summer tour –so it will give you an
idea on what we do besides the soccer, we visit the
schools, meet the coaches, tour the campus.





NCAA logo

NCAA Division 1 College Coach Contact Information

Click Here


Daniel Festa Time Line


Winstars Academy


Canadian Dynasty of International Proportions

Article by Nicholas Spiller
Published: August 20, 2014

Most youth soccer players share a common goal as they grow into their late teenage years: They want an opportunity to keep playing the sport in college and beyond! While numerous soccer teams and programs are aimed at helping players achieve those dreams, few organizations consistently get their players to live that goal.

Hardly any places in Canada develop players as well as the Winstars Soccer Academy, which has successfully placed over 300 players into colleges across Canada and the U.S. There, they have been able to learn the game and receive a great education as well.

The Winstars Soccer Academy is led by the brilliant soccer mind of Bobby Graham, who has over 30 years of coaching experience in the sport. The focus of his program is geared toward helping players learn the technical skills required to play soccer at the highest level. While most teams focus on athleticism and running, Winstars understands the importance of working well on the ball and as a team.

The Academy also harnesses a relatively hands-off approach to gameplay. Bringing in the right group of players is key, and with this mindset players are given freedom to play and have the trust of coaches to best utilize their skills.

Additionally, Winstars Soccer Academy benefits from being the most successful and proven club in Ontario for several decades. Coaches across North America are familiar with the team and these relationships are very beneficial to aiding young players in the recruitment process for college teams. The team takes part in many travel excursions for prestigious tournaments or to various colleges. A current tour in August 2014 will see the squad visit universities like Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, and James Madison University.

The Winstars has been the most successful Canadian Club program ever to compete at the prestigious Dallas Cup. Bobby Graham teams have competed in the Super Group for many years, playing against the likes of AC Milan, Boca Juniors, Tottenham Hotspurs, Moscow Dynamo, Benfica and International of Brazil as well as the best the USA had to offer, Dallas Texans, Chicago Magic, etc.

Additionally, numerous college scouts and coaches love to attend tournaments like the 10th annual Collegiate Boys Showcase, set to be held this December. Such exposure gives players every opportunity to catch the eye of a specific college coach or recruiter. But at its core, the reason such chances come about is due to the competitiveness and quality of the Winstars Soccer Academy, which prepares players for college and professional soccer like no other club in Canada.

While hundreds of players have earned placements to various colleges, some have even been able to play soccer professionally! One such player is Dejan Jakovic, who not only featured for UAB, but also went on to star as a defender for D.C. United and currently plays abroad in the J-League. Dejan was one of 20 players from Bobby Graham teams that went on to play for Head Coach Mike Getman at UAB, and they have been a top 25 NCAA Division 1 program for many years.

As stated by Barry Gorman, former Penn State head coach and technical director of FC Dallas, "Without question, I would recommend the Winstars Soccer Academy to any serious student-athletes and their parents as a worthwhile, positive/life changing investment."

Winstars Soccer Academy isn't just another soccer club to play during your teenage years; it is a vessel to propel your future as a soccer player! Available to boys aged 12-18, this is Canada's finest youth soccer program and gets players opportunities to continue the sport in college year after year!
See article


Daniel Festa

Daniel Festa, a past Winstars Academy player, has recently Graduated in Economics and Finance, from Manhattan College, in Riverdale, New York! Keep up the Great Work Daniel!

Daniel Festa signs with Manhattan College for 2014.

Our News section is constantly changing! We work hard behind the scenes to create as many opportunities as possible for our players.