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CCFC Academy Announces David Upchurch as CCFC Academy Director and Ryan Robinson as CCFC Academy Director of Operations


HIGH POINT, N.C. (March 7, 2024) - CCFC Academy today announced the appointment of David Upchurch as the CCFC Academy Director and Ryan Robinson as the Academy's Director of Operations.

CCFC Academy is a fully-funded scholarship soccer academy that is designed to develop professional and collegiate soccer players. CCFC Academy participates in the MLS NEXT league, which is the highest level of youth soccer in the US. Starting in fall of 2024 CCFC Academy will have a U13 boys and U14 boys teams.

“With David's extensive experience in the soccer community of the Core, Eddie Pope and our board of directors felt that David was the perfect person to come in and lead this initiative that is aimed at increasing opportunities for youth athletes in our area," said Leah Hazelwood, Chair of the Board of Directors of CCFC Academy.

Upchurch joins Carolina Core FC having amassed over 30 years of experience in youth soccer, working in a variety of roles including director of coaching and executive director. The Triad local, played an integral role in forging the partnership between Piedmont Triad FC and CCFC Youth, to create an experience with a player pathway that will help guide future players.

“It's a tremendous honor to be a part of this exciting new program. I'm looking forward to working with Eddie Pope and the CCFC Technical Staff to provide the most advanced soccer experience for elite youth soccer players throughout the Core region. This project is very significant to me due to growing up in the area and witnessing firsthand how the sport of soccer can positively impact lives on and off the pitch."

In this role as Academy Director, his duties include, but are not limited to, overseeing all aspects of the CCFC Academy, leading and managing all Academy staff, maintaining oversight of the Academy calendar and budget, and working in collaboration with the first team head coach to develop and design the academy curriculum. Upchurch will also work to disseminate the first-team methodology and style of play throughout each age group in the academy.

Working in conjunction with David Upchurch to develop youth soccer at CCFC, new CCFC Academy Director of Operations Ryan Robinson will be joining the staff as it embarks on its inaugural season.

Robinson joins Carolina Core FC having amassed over 16 years of experience in sports, working in a variety of roles including directing player personnel and team operations. Robinson has worked as the Director of Track and Field Operations at the University of Alabama, since 2022. In this position, he has primarily focused on coordinating team travel, maintaining and managing the budget for the program, as well as acting as a liaison to equipment, academics, and nutrition at the university.

“I love soccer, and at certain points in my life, it has been my primary focus. Hours upon hours of dribbling, pick-up games, and studying alone. The Carolina Core FC Academy gives me the opportunity to help kids like myself and point their talent and effort in the correct path regardless of economic background, color, or any other factor. Together, we will provide these young athletes with a platform to push their talents as far as possible, with the help of our talented technical staff and under David’s leadership. Soccer is my passion; it's become my job, and I can’t wait to get started!"

In this role as Director of Operations, his duties include, but are not limited to, working with MLS NEXT to coordinate schedules, managing player relations through registration, communication with parents/guardians, and assisting visiting in-market teams. Robinson will also collaborate with the Academy's technical staff to maximize growth and development, in order to provide a positive and professional experience for CCFC Academy players and staff.

"Ryan joins us with a wealth of knowledge from working in operations and player development at the highest level collegiately. With his high-level understanding and work in both player personnel and sporting operations, he will fit into our organization seamlessly,” said CCFC Academy Executive Director Eddie Pope. “Given Ryan's vast amount of experience, we know that he will prove to be essential to the development of both players and staff within the academy."

Information about ID sessions and Tryouts coming soon.  To learn more about CCFC Academy, click here.


CCFC Academy FAQs

Q: What is CCFC Academy?

A: CCFC Academy is a fully-funded scholarship soccer academy that is designed to develop professional and collegiate soccer players. CCFC Academy participates in the MLS NEXT league, which is the highest level of youth soccer in the US.

Q: What is MLS NEXT?

A: MLS NEXT provides the best player development experience in North America. Founded on a collaborative approach to governance and a commitment to innovation, MLS NEXT players have access to the highest levels of competition and to training to prepare them for their futures, both in soccer and in life. MLS NEXTfeatures over 90% of the current youth national team player pools. MLS NEXT is part of the MLS player pathway from youth development to professional soccer.

Q: What are CCFC Academy’s core values?

A: CCFC Academy’s core values include:

  • Community: We are a community-engaged and community-focused nonprofit. We partner with our community. We affirm community voice and leadership at the decision-making table, and we grow the connections among people in our community through the international sport.
  • Inclusion: From the board and staff to the players on the field, we practice full inclusion of our whole community. We are focused on creating access for all youth by eliminating financial barriers, and ensuring they are fully equipped to excel in soccer as a means to personal and community development.
  • Respect: We model respect for ourselves, for others, and for our community. Through the integrity we demonstrate, year-after-year, we are building a culture of soccer in the Carolina Core that forms strong character in our youth, parents, and fans.
  • Development: We form soccer players to be good citizens and well-rounded individuals by instilling the positive values of soccer. These values include hard work, grit, confidence, professionalism, self-improvement, teamwork, and personal responsibility.
  • Leadership: We are leaders on and off the field. As a regional leader in the soccer community, we have a responsibility to the health of the sport throughout the Carolina Core. On the field, we prepare youth to embody our commitment to leadership through the formation of the whole person. We aim for everyone who participates in our programs to grow in their ability to communicate, exercise self-discipline, and lead others

Q: What is the connection between CCFC Academy and the CCFC Youth Junior Academy and the CCFC MLS NEXT Pro Team?

A: The CCFC Youth Junior Academy falls under the CCFC Youth programming for girls and boys (U7-U10). CCFC Youth Junior Academy is the first level of competitive soccer. This program is for those who desire to develop as a player, be surrounded by quality players and coaches, and compete against other clubs within the state.

The most dynamic pathway would be an elite player to transition up from CCFC Youth into CCFC Academy’s MLS NEXT full scholarship teams and then into CCFC’s MLS NEXT Pro squad.

Entering CCFC Academy is open to all players throughout the Core. While there is a strong relationship between CCFC Youth and CCFC Academy, considerations for the CCFC Academy (as well as the CCFC MLS NEXT Pro team) are open to all and there are no exclusive recruiting relationships.

CCFC Academy MLS NEXT teams will share a similar methodology and curriculum with the CCFC MLS NEXT Pro team that is designed to prepare young players for the next step in the player pathway.

Q: What age groups are in CCFC Academy?

A: In the inaugural 2024-25 season, CCFC Academy will have two teams: U13 boys & U14 boys.

Q: Will there be additional age groups added to CCFC Academy?

A: Yes. The plan is to expand the CCFC Academy to include U15 and older age groups in the future. There will be more information in the months to come.

Q: Will there be opportunities for girls?

A: Elite-level programming is being explored for girls. More information will be shared as these opportunities develop.

Q: What does it cost to participate in CCFC Academy?

A: CCFC Academy is a fully-funded scholarship soccer academy for all participating players, meaning that all player costs related to participating in the CCFC Academy’s MLS NEXT team are covered (this does not include transportation to and from training).

Being a fully-funded scholarship soccer academy helps ensure that the opportunity to play at the highest level of youth soccer and continue on the professional player pathway has no financial barriers. For reference, these covered costs are budgeted to be about $20,000 per player per year.

Q: How are players selected for CCFC Academy?

A: CCFC Academy players will be selected using the following methods:

  • Scouting by the CCFC MLS NEXT Pro Team’s Scout
  • Recommendations from current coaches and club directors
  • ID Sessions
  • Tryouts

Q: What will the cost be for ID Sessions and Tryouts?

A: CCFC Academy ID Sessions and Tryouts are free for all registered participants.

Q: When does the MLS NEXT season take place?

A: MLS NEXT has a fall and spring season. Training for CCFC Academy will start in early August for the 2024 fall season. More information will be shared when the MLS NEXT 2024-25 season schedule is released.

Q: Where do CCFC Academy teams train?

A: CCFC Academy teams train at the Phillips Park Soccer Complex in High Point and the Ivey Redmon Soccer Complex in Kernersville.

Q: How often will CCFC Academy players train?

A: CCFC Academy players will train 4 days per week.

Q: Where will the CCFC Academy teams travel for matches?

A: CCFC Academy teams will play against MLS NEXT teams throughout the southeast United States. More information will be shared when the MLS NEXT 2024-25 season schedule is released.

Q: Can CCFC Academy players play for their school’s soccer team?

A: Participation in high school programs is not permitted for MLS NEXT players.

Q: What will CCFC Academy players wear?

A: CCFC Academy players will wear identical uniforms as the CCFC MLS NEXT Pro players.

Q: Who are the CCFC Academy coaches?

A: CCFC Academy coaching staff will be announced in the coming weeks.

Q: What sort of off-field development do you offer the players?

A: CCFC Academy’s mission is to develop leaders both on and off the field. We are building a rich off-field development program that can include things like financial literacy, study skills, mental health, nutritional education and more.

Q: How can I support the fully-funded scholarship CCFC Academy?

A: There are several ways to support CCFC Academy including:

  • Spread awareness so that all soccer families are aware of the opportunity
  • Attend our fun annual Cocktails & Cleats fundraising event
  • Become a corporate donor

Q: What does my donation to CCFC Academy support?

A: Your donation helps ensure that the opportunity to play at the highest level of youth soccer and continue on the professional player pathway has no financial barriers. Since CCFC Academy is a fully-funded scholarship soccer academy that covers all player costs of participating, your donation helps cover costs for high-quality coaching, training facilities, bus/plan/hotel/meal travel costs for matches, gear and equipment, tournament fees, league fees, and more.

ABOUT Carolina Core FC  

Founded in 2022, Carolina Core FC is an independent professional men’s soccer club that will begin play in MLS NEXT Pro in 2024. The club’s local owners are dedicated to community development through its on-field and off-field activities. Carolina Core FC has diligently worked behind the scenes to build together its experienced executive staff, including High Point Native, Eddie Pope as the Chief Sporting Officer. Eddie is a former U.S. Men’s National Team, MLS legend and USSF Hall of Famer. #CCFC will play its home matches in High Point, N.C. at Truist Point, the $38 million stadium located in the revitalized downtown social district. Supporters can join the club by securing a season seat and ordering Carolina Core FC merchandise at