FC Barcelona training school draws talented players, who now attend ASU's charter school
As a teenager in Slovenia, Miha Kline thought of nothing but playing soccer, and he was so good that he signed a professional contract at age 18. A decade into his pro career, he had a routine medical exam that changed his world forever when doctors found a heart defect that required immediate surgery.
“And I never set foot on a soccer field again as a player,” he said.
Now Kline is helping to prepare talented young players to reach their potential on the field but also for a life beyond soccer. He’s the director of recruiting and soccer operations of the Barça Academy, a residential program that has partnered with ASU Preparatory Academy Casa Grande High School.
The academy, which trains about 100 teenage boys, combines top-flight development with a rigorous academic program all on one campus. ASU Prep Casa Grande, which opened a year ago, and Barça Academy are both on the grounds of the Francisco Grande Hotel and Golf Resort, about 50 miles southeast of Phoenix.
The soccer school recently became an affiliate of FC BarcelonaBarcelona has won 20 European and world titles, including four FIFA Club World Cup championships. , one of the best soccer teams in the world, and is now the club’s only residential academy in the United States. That partnership likely will draw the most talented young soccer players in the country. And those teenagers now have the opportunity to attend ASU Prep Casa Grande for high school.
Matthew Hoppe takes notes in his AP Psychology class at ASU Prep Casa Grande. Hoppe, from Yorba Linda, California, attends the Barça Academy soccer school.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Austin Amer (left) and Matthew Hoppe play a few games of table tennis before the start of conditioning in the gym. The players train about three and half hours a day.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Matthew Hoppe does alternating-arm, medicine ball push-ups during conditioning work before scrimmages. The Barça Academy players live in recently renovated dorms that used to be part of the resort on the property.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Austin Amer does lateral movement exercises during conditioning work in the gym after school. The Barça Academy hosts about 100 boys on its campus in Casa Grande.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Austin Amer runs drills during practice with the Barça Academy U19 team in Casa Grande. The players on the team are now able to attend ASU Prep Casa Grande right on their campus.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Matthew Hoppe (left) jokes around with Sam Thomson, 15, of Washington, D.C., before conditioning work in the gym. Barça Academy works to balance the academic, athletic and social lives of the boys.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Top photo: Matthew Hoppe and his group scrimmage during practice at the Grande Sports Academy facilities, home of the Barça Academy and ASU Preparatory Academy in Casa Grande. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
ASU study: Communication is key for keeping your kids off drugs
It might be a difficult conversation to have, but a new study confirms that talking to your children about substances will help keep them off drugs.
The research, led by Jonathan Pettigrew, assistant professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, was recently featured in the New York Times article, “When Your Teenager Asks ‘Did You Smoke Weed?’” The article highlights Pettigrew’s research that parents who provide direct information, guidance or advice about substances like marijuana, have adolescents who are less likely to experiment with drugs.
“Warm families that welcome conversations on a variety of topics actually help prevent substance abuse,” said Pettigrew, who specializes in adolescent behavior.
Pettigrew collaborated with a team of researchers. They questioned more than 3,000 seventh and eighth grade students from 39 rural schools in Pennsylvania and Ohio about their use of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana, the most commonly used substances in early adolescence.
Most of the students reported that they have talked with their parents about drug use. Those who hadn’t talked to their parents were more likely to report that they had tried illegal substances.
“This finding is important to share with parents, especially given that these substances are often believed to pave a path toward more problematic substance use,” Pettigrew said.
He says that because youth hear direct messages about substances from the media, peers, and prevention programs, “parents, too, should join the conversation with their children.”
The good news is that students reported that their parents are the individuals with whom they are most likely to talk about substances, and consider credible sources of drug information.
“The cultural stereotype of a rebellious teen is a bit overblown,” Pettigrew said. “Sure it happens, but not for everybody, and not the majority.”
At what age should you have “the drug talk” with your children?
“The foundation needs to be laid in seventh and eighth grades,” Pettigrew said. “If parents are laying out their expectations, maintaining warm friendships with their children, and handling conflicts well, then they are setting themselves up for later on when their child says ‘I have a friend who wanted me to smoke weed with him, but I wanted to talk to you about it.’”
Jonathan Pettigrew is also an affiliate scientist with ASU’s REACH Institute, which endeavors to increase community access to prevention programs and advance research, education and the health and well-being of children and families.