Gillespie takes big step toward soccer goal
Gillespie was one of five players from the PA West chosen for the Regional Olympic Development Pool. He spent most of last week at a pool camp in Binghamton, N.Y., playing games and going through fundamentals with top-level coaches.
Gillespie was one of 30 players chosen from 14 states in the Northeastern part of the country for the '85 pool. The national age group pool is chosen from the four regional groups. The pools are broken up by the year of the players' birth.
'It's big time,' said PA West coaching director Chris Brown. 'If they go to the events, the national team coaches attend the events. The next step from regional is on to national team. They are one step away. It's hard to make that step, but it is great to be where they are at.'
'I think the overall experience (was useful),' Gillespie said. 'It does show you a lot. I think I held my own.
'For me it was (a big deal). Out of 14 states, they pick 30 players in your age group to go to the camp, so they had a lot of players to pick from.'
In addition to working with the players, the coaches there are also evaluating players. There will be an 18-member team that would represent Region 1. That team will travel to play the other regional squads in November in Coco Beach, Florida. The players for that team are still being chosen. The players were told to expect notification in a month. They could also play some international teams.
Making the ODP team also helps in drawing interest from college recruiters.
'It helps a lot with colleges,' Gillespie said. 'There were some college coaches there. Some of the coaches for the regional teams are college coaches.'
'If a kid is on the regional pool, obviously the kid generates interest from Division I university coaches,' Brown said.
Gillespie also plays for an age-group cup team, Beadling, and for the Penn Hills varsity. He has started for the Indians since he was a freshman, playing mostly in the midfield. Gillespie plays forward on his higher-level teams, midfield among the local competition.
'I will probably play forward or outside midfield at the next level,' Gillespie said.
He also expects to be playing in the post-season with Penn Hills, despite the Indians losing their star player from a year ago, all-state selection and Wake Forest recruit Ryan Caugherty.
'We should be okay,' Gillespie said. 'I think we should make the playoffs.'