About Us Contact Us

NJ Youth Soccer Hosts ODP Success Stories Seminar

Esteemed Panel of Former New Jersey ODP Players Provide Insight and Commentary for Attendees

East Windsor, N.J. (Jan. 29, 2020) ― The New Jersey Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (ODP) recently hosted an ODP Success Stories Seminar at Rider University, where attendees were treated to an insightful panel of former ODP players that included Nicole Baxter, Sean Davis, Trish DiPaolo, John Loiodice and Renee Washington.

"This was our second ODP Success Stories Seminar, and the panel delivered mental messages that inspired the audience," said James Galanis, Technical Director of New Jersey ODP. "The panel was made up of former ODP players who have gone on to become successful in their own way. Apart from the success of Sean and Nicole as soccer players, our other panelists are successful in other fields. This helped our ODP players understand that playing soccer gives you valuable tools that can help you succeed in any career you choose to take. Not just soccer."

During the event, the panelists each spoke about their personal experiences with ODP, as well as explaining how participating in ODP helped them set the stage for their careers. They also addressed both the achievements and setbacks that they encountered along their journeys, stating that both were equally as impactful for them. The program started with the athletes providing background information on their careers, and the second half of the seminar was opened up to a Q/A session.

About the Panelists

Nicole Baxter played high school soccer at the Pennington School, earning several accolades. She also played in New Jersey ODP before attending the College of William and Mary from 2012-2016. The New Jersey native played 77 matches for the Tribe, scoring eight goals and notching 19 assists throughout her college career. Baxter was the team captain and earned NSCAA All-Mid-Atlantic Region First Team, All-CAA First Team and All-VaSID First Team honors after her senior season. Professionally, she joined Sky Blue FC of the National Women's Soccer League after playing for Asarum IF in the Elitettan division of Sweden in 2019, starting 10 games. She played for Telge United FF of the first division in Sweden in 2018, making 21 starts over 22 appearances while scoring three goals and notching six assists.

"The ODP Success Stories Seminar was a special event," said Baxter. "I think it is really important for professional level athletes and coaches to share their stories with younger athletes, and the seminar was the perfect way to give current ODP players access to people who were once in their shoes. The event offered an opportunity for us to show that there is no one pathway to success given that all of our journeys are so different. It was inspiring to engage with so many talented young athletes, and I am thankful NJODP and NJYS gave me the opportunity to do that!"

Sean Davis is a standout midfielder for the New York Red Bulls. He grew up in Holmdel, where he competed at the club level and was a member of the New Jersey ODP State Team and Region I Team. He was also selected to the 1993 adidas All-Star Team at the US Youth Soccer ODP Boys Interregional Event. The New Jersey native went on to become a two-time captain at Duke University, where he received many collegiate accolades including being named the 2014 ACC Midfielder of the Year.

Davis was signed by the Red Bulls as a homegrown player in 2014 and has been an integral part of the team's success ever since. He was recognized by the league in being named a starter of the Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game during the 2015 All-Star Weekend. In 2017, he recorded season-bests in games played (27), games started (21) and assists (4). In 2019, he started 27 of 29 matches and registered more than 2,500 minutes for the second consecutive season.

"It is always great to work with NJ Youth Soccer," said Davis. "Their program helped me tremendously when I was younger, so to be able to pass on my lessons to current youth players is truly an honor."

Trish DiPaolo grew up playing high school, club soccer and ODP in New Jersey before entering college at Rutgers University. A four-year captain for Rutgers, she overcame numerous injuries and served as an integral part of the Scarlet Knights' success during her career. Professionally, DiPaolo earned a roster spot with Sky Blue FC of the National Women's Soccer League in 2016. That same year, she was inducted into the Lenape Valley Regional High School Hall of Fame. Currently, DiPaolo serves as the Director of Operations for the Rutgers Women's Soccer Team and head coach of two youth teams at the Players Development Academy.

"As a youth player, participating in the New Jersey ODP platform really gave me the opportunity to take my game to the next level," said DiPaolo. "The ODP experience is something I will always be grateful for, so it only felt right to take advantage of the opportunity to provide insight to the young players whose shoes I was once fortunate enough to stand in. All of the speakers at the ODP Success Stories event had incredible advice to pass onto the players. I think it is really cool that NJYS and ODP set up this opportunity for the younger players. It was very fun to be involved and a great honor to be invited."

John Loiodice is a New Jersey soccer product who developed by playing ODP and is now with the program as a coach. He is in his seventh season on the Rowan Men's Soccer coaching staff, also serving as the Recruiting Coordinator and Director of Social Media & Game Day Operations. A 2010 graduate of Rowan, Loiodice is also the head coach of the boys soccer team at Triton Regional High School. As a player, he was a two-year starter at Rowan after being named an All-American at Brookdale Community College in 2008. Further, he was named both an adidas and NJCAA Second-Team All-American in 2009.

"This unique event brings generations of ODP players together to share lifelong experiences, on and off the field," said Loiodice. "Each player is able to take away a piece of valuable information that they can apply to their everyday lives. This event is what makes New Jersey ODP so special."

Renee Washington is an NJYS alumna who is now a sports reporter with ESPN and Fox Sports. She competed on New Jersey ODP every year as a youth player as well as the Region 1 Team for a few years before her college career at LaSalle University. As an Explorer, she was a three-time All American who led her team to its first ever Atlantic 10 championship and NCAA experience. The team made three NCAA Tournament appearances and won two conference championships. Washington is still the second-highest points leader in program history. After college, she was invited to preseason camp with Sky Blue FC before she transitioned into coaching for two years at Lehigh University while pursuing her Masters. Since then, she has been actively working in sports broadcasting, covering college and professional sports.

"It was remarkable to hear everyone's journeys through ODP and soccer to today, as well as to see how engaged the players and their families were throughout the entire event," said Washington. "The ODP Success Stories Seminar is what the game is all about. To use through the challenges, connections and opportunities that ODP provides to all be able to grow and navigate through youth soccer, college and life after soccer - whether in the pros, coaching or in the workforce like myself still applying what I learned as a player in my work as a sports reporter. I am humbled and honored to have been a part of helping to encourage and inspire the rising talent in New Jersey."

For all of the latest news regarding New Jersey ODP, make sure to follow our official ODP page on Facebook. To find out more information about New Jersey ODP, visit the program online or contact us directly at odp@njyouthsoccer.com.