Director of Athletics and Afternoon Programs Herb Haller '85 talks about the 2020-2021 WRA Black Rock FC Soccer Team.
In September 2020, WRA announced a long term partnership agreement to offer the Black Rock Football Club (FC) Residential Academy, a 10-month soccer program popular among high achieving student-athletes from around the world who aspire to compete at the collegiate level.
Recently, we caught up with Director of Athletics and Afternoon Programs and Boys Varsity Soccer Head Coach Herb Haller '85 to learn a bit more about the partnership and where we are in the process.
Now that WRA has officially launched the partnership with Black Rock FC, where are you in the process?
Right now, we're in the planning phase because the program doesn't officially start until fall of 2021. We are speaking to mission appropriate prospective student-athletes, watching recruitment videos of potential players, while also considering the current WRA soccer players who have shown interest in the program, and looking at what the schedule might be. We now have two seasons to plan — our typical mid-August to end of October season as well as the new November to May season that is fully dedicated to the Black Rock team. We should be done with this in early spring.
Black Rock FC has similar partnerships with other boarding schools, such as Northwood School (Lake Placid, NY) and High Mowing School (Wilton, NH). How does WRA's partnership differ from those schools?
First and foremost, our program is unique in that WRA already has an established soccer program with a proud history dating back to 1926. As a result, we immediately have a strong pool of student-athletes who can potentially participate and play for Black Rock in the off season. Right now, because of their strong soccer abilities, we already have 5-7 current WRA students interested.
Like every fall season, we will have our typical WRA teams at the different levels. This means the student-athletes will play in WRA's soccer program in the fall. Once this season ends, a group of 18 to 22 players will transition to Black Rock FC, playing under the BRFC umbrella until mid-May.
We will have our girls' team competing in their typical high school season, and look forward to developing a BRFC opportunity for them as well. I am extremely excited about what both programs will look like in the next few years.
A cool component of all of the above is that as the BRFC - WRA partnership grows, there's potential for collaboration among WRA, Northwood and High Mowing too.
What type of events will the WRA Black Rock team participate in?
The plan is to play in national level showcases and various other high caliber events throughout the country. We will also supplement those events with friendly competitions on the regional level in places like Columbus, Cincinnati, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh. This might include playing youth teams from the different MLS and USL clubs.
How do you know Club Founder and CEO Jon Moodey?
Jon Moodey spent 18 years coaching and teaching in independent boarding schools, including Western Reserve Academy. Jon was faculty here in 2001, and because of his soccer background he was on the coaching staff here. We collaborated in and out of WRA soccer, including within the Olympic Development Program. During his time here, our relationship really developed into a friendship.
After three years, Jon moved on from WRA, but we continued to stay in touch. In 2017, I saw Jon at the National Soccer Coaches Convention in Chicago and he had just launched the Black Rock FC Residential Academy. At that point, I was immediately interested in having Reserve soccer be a part of that conversation. I knew it was something special.
What, in your opinion, is the best part about this partnership?
Jon and I have a shared belief in boarding schools. While we take the soccer component seriously, what we feel is especially beneficial with this partnership is that we are two guys who believe in the holistic approach and full development of the student-athlete. These student-athletes will be integrated into the whole WRA experience. While we will be working with serious soccer players, they can also be the lead in the musical, or a dorm Prefect, or have a voice in student leadership. The Reserve experience is an unparalleled piece, and Jon and I both believe in that.