Proud Partner:

STA Girls Academy

We Strive For Excellence

STA Girls Academy is the top tier arm of the STA Girls program. The academy teams & players will strive for excellence and compete with themselves to be better today than they were yesterday. While competing at the highest level they will display togetherness, unity, integrity & a passion for the game. 

As a club, we will provide the pathway to excellence as well as resources to develop on and off the field to prepare players for any level of competition after High School as well as teach them life skills they can use for the rest of their lives. 

STA Girls Academy will have at least two A license coaches on staff in addition to B licensed coaches. It will also have a full time goalkeeping director/coach as well as a Sport Performance director/coach on staff. This is all to support the players in their strive towards Excellence! 

Participation in Girls Academy teams is by invitation only. Our coaches are constantly working to identify the most talented players in our state, both within and outside the STA network. Girls Academy participants have the chance to play against some of the toughest competitors including clubs and teams with YNT players, which allows players to develop soccer skills that may take them through college soccer and beyond.

Our Girls Academy teams begin at U13. Younger teams will begin competing in late summer, and usually participate in at least two Girls Academy Regional events throughout the year. Our U15-U19 teams begin training in the late fall, with optional fall training and friendlies for players who are not playing on their respective high school teams. The U15-U19 teams usually participate in two to three national showcases, which attract many college coaches from top schools as well as YNT scouts.

Key Principles

  • Standard-based league
  • Competition level
  • Collegiate showcase pathway
  • Holistic approach to player development
  • Empower the clubs and directors to make decisions on what is best for their club, teams and players


  • Dedication
  • Fun
  • Respect
  • Development
  • Integrity
  • Leadership


The Girls Academy will be composed of member clubs primarily from the former Girls Development Academy as well as admitted clubs from the Girls Academy Board of Directors. The Girls Academy would be a league developed to address needs from its membership: national competitive platform, staffing, college recruiting and youth national team scouting.

By unifying DA clubs from conferences across the country, we have found a way to maintain several of the defining standards of the Development Academy with flexibility in two key areas; permission for all players to participate in High School Soccer and revising the substitution rules to encourage clubs to better utilize their player pools, especially when showcasing their players to college coaches. We feel by giving the autonomy to clubs to determine what’s best for their membership, we can take what worked for us in the DA and erase the obstacles for our players to have a more enjoyable and diverse experience.

The Girls Academy strives to develop players by providing elite, driven youth talents with development environments, which meet the highest standards, that empower them to reach their full potential.

The Girls Academy program at STA impacts everyday club environments by setting standards that ensure every Girls Academy player trains in a world-class environment and competes in more meaningful games. Clubs competing in The Girls Academy commit to uphold the highest standards and maintain the best possible environments to optimize player development.

For elite, motivated players, The Girls Academy provides a pathway to develop and reach the highest level of competition.

Why STA Girls Academy?

The Girls Academy (GA) is the leading youth development platform for the best female soccer players in the United States.

The GA is the only national youth soccer platform that represents the collective vision of the member clubs and actively engages the voice of the players to take real ownership in the GA.

The collaborative philosophy creates a culture guided by a shared set of core values, which produces an unparalleled experience uniquely designed in the best interest of the players.

The GA embraces the desire of the club members and the GA players alike to maintain an unrivaled standard of excellence in coaching, competition, and regional and national showcase events throughout the year.

Lastly, the GA is committed to cultivating an environment that empowers each play to reach their best potential as an exceptional athlete and human being by celebrating the player’s journey with a lifelong love of the game through competition, showcases, and camaraderie.

2012 Girls Pre-GA
2011 Girls GA
2010 Girls GA
2009 Girls GA
2008 Girls GA
2007 Girls GA
2005/2006 Girls GA

ID Clinics

STA Girls Academy will be holding internal and open Talent Identification Clinics to help form their Girls Academy teams. During those clinics, the technical staff will identify players based on current ability, talent and potential. Contact the Girls Academy Director Kelly Sims at

What is talent?

  • A natural aptitude to excel
  • It can be developed (Environment)
  • Genetics influence but talent is NOT innate

What is potential?

  • Qualities or abilities that may be developed to lead to FUTURE success (Environment)
  • Not based on current game performance level
  • Scouting youth players is predicting the future

Team Staff

The Girls Academy believes that coaches are an integral part of creating the best environment and influence player development immensely. The best coaches are able to develop the best players and they continuously develop their own skills to be the best coach. All coaches in the Girls Academy are required to hold a minimum USSF B License and their directors a minimum USSF A License.

Tom Shields

Technical Director | Boys ECNL Director | USL2 Head Coach

Kelly Sims

Assistant Technical Director | Girls Academy Director

Ylon Krauweel

Girls Zone 2 Director | WPSL Head Coach

Zack Roth

Goalkeeping Director

Ferry Smedema

WPSL Assistant Coach

Haleigh Svede

GA Club Rep | U23 Girls Head Coach

Seve Hirst

Gotham FC Partnership

NJ/NY Gotham FC of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and STA have been partners since 2022. The agreement features a scouting affiliation, opportunities for the club’s brightest talents to train alongside some of the best players in the world within Gotham’s NWSL first team environment, and coaching staff education. Additionally, Gotham FC players will make appearances to STA training sessions and the Academy will have a presence at select home games at Red Bull Arena.

Player Testimonials

The Girls Academy believes that coaches are an integral part of creating the best environment and influence player development immensely. The best coaches are able to develop the best players and they continuously develop their own skills to be the best coach. All coaches in the Girls Academy are required to hold a minimum USSF B License and their directors a minimum USSF A License.

Mackenzie Gress

2004 Girls Academy
USNYT Camp Jan 2020 &
USNYT England Trip Feb 2020

What was it like to play international matches in Europe?

I have always wanted to represent my country ever since I started playing soccer. To be able to play for the United States National Team in international matches was something I have worked towards for a long time. Playing against some of the best players in the World while being able to experience the European soccer atmosphere was amazing. Stepping onto the field with the US crest on my jersey and hearing the National Anthem play was one of the best moments of my life. My first international caps are something I will never forget and being able to have this experience has only driven me to continue developing so I can consistently perform at the World’s highest level.

What did you like most about the opportunity?

The best part of playing International matches in Europe was being able to play against the best competition in the World. The high level and professional atmosphere was both demanding and rewarding. The culture of the US National Team, the coaching staff and my teammates created a perfect atmosphere for me to thrive on and off the field.

How has STA helped you prepare for this experience?

The coaches at STA have created an environment that is ideal for players to grow and develop physically, technically, tactically and mentally. STA has helped me strengthen all areas of my game and helped me become a better player and person. The coaching staff has supported me every step along the way by providing feedback, bringing out the best in me and allowing me to continue to evolve. The high level training pushes me to get better and has prepared me to excel amongst the top players in the country.

How has playing in the Development Academy helped you prepare for this experience?

Playing in the Development Academy has prepared me for this experience by providing me with a high level environment and atmosphere. The training schedule and competition has pushed me to become a better player. Playing against the top teams in the country has shown me what it takes to play at a high level and allowed me to develop to be able to compete at that level.

Tell us a quick funny story about your experience with the US Youth National Team.

The rainy England weather made the fields that we were playing on really soft and easy to slip while playing. You definitely do not want to slip during a match so the equipment manager gave out studs to the team. He didn’t have any in my size since my feet are so big and he needed to order them since goalkeepers need good traction. The studs came in a day before game day so I was able to wear them during the game versus England. The next day at training the studs weren’t with the others and were nowhere to be found so I had to train without them. I was so nervous that they wouldn’t be able to find them for our last game versus Denmark that was going to be played in the pouring rain. Luckily they found my studs a few minutes before we went out for pregame warmups and I was able to play without sliding all over the place. If I didn’t have abnormally sized feet none of this would have happened!

Kyla Holmes

2005 Girls Academy

What was it like to get invited in to USYNT camp?

It was absolutely surreal! Since I was nine, I wanted to have a chance to play at the National level, so when I got called in, I was thrilled.

What did you like most about the opportunity?

The players and coaches at the camp not only challenged your abilities and had great insight to improve your game, but they were all phenomenal people too. Having other players and coaches surrounding you that have similar aspirations automatically created a bond between us. Even though the camp was only a few days, I made friends that I’m still in touch with to this day, and it was exciting to reunite at showcases and games back with STA. That, and the unlimited food of course…

How has STA helped you prepare for this experience?

The coaching staff at STA all have SO much to offer to your game and can always bring you to the next level. The coaching given by STA  was practically identical to that of the coaches at the camp, which lead to me feeling both prepared and confident, allowing me to play comfortably. STA gave me all of the resources I needed in order to play at the level the YNT coaches expected.

How has playing in the Development Academy helped you prepare for this experience?

The talent displayed by the other teams and players in the Development Academy forced my game to improve dramatically. I had never been so challenged by my opponents between their strength, speed, and skills. The majority of the players at the camp came from the Development Academy, so I was already familiar with the intensity of the players.

Tell us a quick funny story about your experience with the US Youth National Camp.

We were required to take electrolyte fizzy tabs called Nuun. There were multiple different flavors to choose from, but the Nuun had already made its way around the other half of the camp, so my half was left with all of the bad flavors. Olivia Moultrie told me that when she doesn’t like the flavor, she eats the tablet whole instead of dissolving it in water, so I did that too. I unexpectedly got called into my player coach meeting, and I went into it foaming at the mouth because of the fizzy component of the tab. There was so much foam, it was like I ate a bar of soap. I learned my lesson…..