KEYSER, W.Va. (WV News) — Keyser’s Kyren “Monk” Garland, and Frankfort’s Liam Orndorff, rising eighth graders at Keyser and Frankfort Middle Schools respectively, are busy young men with respect to schoolwork and athletics. Both are successful in the classroom and on the soccer pitch, and their dedication, along with that of their families, to the game of soccer, is impressive.
Monk, when the summer and fall season is in, competes as part of Frankfort’s JCP program. But soccer for Monk is a year-round affair, with travel and club soccer filling the schedule all 12 months.
Locally, Monk competes for the Avid Soccer Club in tournaments and competitions. Beyond that, however, Garland also plays for the FC Alliance Organization based out of Morgantown. It’s here in particular that going above and beyond what the average player and family is doing comes into focus.
The trainings are held in Morgantown and the organization has players from all over West Virginia, including neighboring states Ohio, Maryland and Pennsylvania. You have to try out, and if accepted, you must stay committed to a rigorous training schedule that includes regular, twice a week travels to Morgantown, not to mention various tournaments all over the place.
“We practice two days a week, year-round, at Pro Performance and Mylan Park in Morgantown. While FC Alliance has every age group of boys and girls, the team that Monk is on is the U14, 2008 squad,” Aleisha Garland, Monk’s mother explained.
The time, the travel, the dedication, all are above and beyond the norm. But for the Garland’s it’s an activity that involves the whole family, mom, dad, Monk, and older brother Kaden, a current student at WVU. And they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Monk’s dad and brother are the ones that do a lot of the running in the evenings to Morgantown because I work nights. But, all the friendships, and the people we’ve met through FC Alliance has been hugely beneficial,” Garland explained.
According to CH, Monk’s father, “It’s an hour and forty-five minute drive one way, so it is three and a half hours in one day, twice a week, for the trainings. But, the progression we’ve seen in Monk in playing club level as opposed to just rec has been worth it.”
“It’s certainly a large time and money commitment,” Aleisha stated. “But, when it is something your kid loves and they and the family are getting so much out of it, it’s worth it. Some people do the same with gymnastics, or volleyball, for us, it’s soccer.”
Most recently, from a competitive standpoint, Monk’s FC Alliance squad, participating through the United States Youth Soccer Association, competed in and won the West Virginia State Cup. By winning that, the team will now advance to the Regional championships, and if they would win there, possibly on to Nationals.
The West Virginia State Cup competition was held in Beckley, West Virginia. West Virginia actually gets to host the Regional competition this year as well, between fields in Barboursville, Charleston, and Beckley as well. There will be 20 teams in the U14 division competing, with teams coming to the Mountain State for New York, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, etc…
Those teams will compete for a chance to advance to nationals. It has been and will continue to be a great experience.
If you ask Monk whether all the time, dedication, and travel is worth it, he’ll tell you it is.
According to Monk, “I have developed a lot of good friendships playing club soccer. Plus the training, the travel, getting to see different places, it’s all worth it. It gives me the chance to play and train at soccer year-round. Mentally, physically, and emotionally, it’s made me better.”
Monk’s not the only Garland that gets to make it onto the field, older brother Kaden participates as an official.
“When I first moved to Morgantown for college, I had referred back here, but I was not USSF certified, which is what the West Virginia Association uses. I met some connections through Monk’s team, and started reffing some of the league games they played in. I got noticed by some people, and was offered to ref some tournaments throughout the year,” Kaden stated.
According to Kaden, “Reffing those tournaments got me into getting invited, as one of only 20 referees, to do the West Virginia State Cup competition. It’s been a great experience, both seeing the game from a different perspective, and getting to spend so much time with my family.
I get to see the game as a family member and through the eyes of a referee.
Every member of the Garland family plays their part. Mom and dad make the travel, the time, the resources, and the encouragement happen. Monk plays his part of him as a player, and Kaden as a referee.
“Monk has been playing since kindergarten, through the JCP League at Frankfort, that’s where his love of the game started. And alongside Monk, there is Liam Orndorff from Frankfort, who has shared a similar journey through JCP, Avid, and now as part of a club level team in West Virginia as well,” Aleisha stated
That brings us to Liam Orndorff, a rising eighth grader at Frankfort Middle School, who like Monk, has played for Frankfort in the JCP League, locally for the Avid Soccer Club, and participates in club soccer as well. Liam competes for a separate club level organization, the West Virginia Football Club based out of Charleston, West Virginia.
‘They originally found out about Liam through the ODP, Olympic Development Program, The coach from Charleston saw Liam at a tournament, and really liked him. Long story short, he asked him if he would come and play for his club, ”Evan Orndorff, Liam’s father stated.
Logistically, with Charleston being three and a half hours away, Liam doesn’t so much get to practice or train with the group, but does travel to participate in tournaments with them. Liam practices independently.
Once Liam was fully carded with the West Virginia Football Club, he was able to participate with his squad in the West Virginia State Cup.
Liam’s team was also victorious, winning the West Virginia State Cup, and now moves on to the Regional competition as well.
As with the Garlands, the time, dedication and commitment put forth by the Orndorff family is quite extensive. Like the Garlands, the Orndorff’s feel it is all worth it.
“Our sense is that we want to allow every opportunity for him that we can. We always keep the focus on whether he wants to do it. Do you want to spend four or five hours in the car, play three or four games, and then spend four or five hours driving home? We always let them make the decision, both boys,” Orndorff explained.
According to Evan, “He wants to do it. He’s driven and he continues to do well in school. Nothing with the soccer has affected anything else. Obviously, travel expenses with gas especially has made it more expensive. We started on Memorial Day and we’ve played every weekend, five weekends in a row of travel and playing.”
“He loves it, and by default, we love it. And like I said, we try to give him every opportunity to better himself,” Evan explained.
According to Liam, “I love the opportunity, the whole experience really. I love the team, I love playing soccer, and I like to get to experience it all with new kids and new coaches as well. The West Virginia Football Club has definitely bettered me, made me a better player and provided me with great competition.”
Liam recognizes the commitment made by his parents Evan and Molly.
“They are definitely very committed, and I am very thankful that they allow me to go to all these tournaments that I do,” Liam stated.
Monk Garland and Liam Orndorff love the sport of soccer. They’ve played together as part of the Frankfort JCP Program, also with the Avid Soccer Club locally, and albeit through separate organizations, on club level teams based out of Morgantown and Charleston respectively.
It’s a tremendous commitment, for them personally, and for their parents, their whole families really. For the Garlands and Orndorff’s however, they wouldn’t have it any other way.