The league is only open to the top eight teams in the country for each age group. Albion skated through the competition, compiling a 6-1 record. Albion’s dominating performance handed the team of local ninth- and 10th-graders a berth in the National Championship in Kansas in July.
Gins’ championship vision for the team could come into fruition for the first time. He wears many hats for Albion SC — including director of coaching — and took over the club when it had just six squads. Today, it has close to 40. A win this summer in Kansas would mark the club’s first-ever national championship.
Manager John Shackelford credits the boys’ dedication and perseverance — and that of Gins — for the lengthy list of tournament and league championships. It started when Gins formed the team at the Under 8 level.
Each year after, Gins laid out the plan. The boys bought into it.
“It was [Noah] who kind of decided that this team had the talent to eventually win the national championship with the right additional players, so he has trained the boys on a very technical, thorough, consistent [program] for years,” Shackelford said. “And they’ve won so many tournaments, big tournaments, all across the country.”
The boys will step foot on unfamiliar ground this summer at the national championship. But their skill set should translate well.
“They are technically very sound. They are a great passing team and they probably have the best defense in the country,” Shackelford said. “And they are relentless. They just don’t give up.”
Albion’s resiliency will continue to come in play, as it tackles a full summer tournament schedule. Within that schedule is its own Albion Cup National Soccer Showcase from July 17-19 that pits teams from across the country against one another at Robb Field and other locations.
Those tournaments are followed by league play, high school play and then it starts it all over again. But for Albion and its players, it’s all for the love of the game and actively pursuing its highest level of reward.