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FC Durham Academy Testimonials

Katrina Giantsopoulos - Davis & Elkins College

"Before coming to FCD my grade 12 year, I honestly did not think playing soccer in college was a reality at that point.  I assumed I was too late in the recruiting process and did not stand a chance of receiving any sort of scholarship.  However, when Rich sent my video to multiple US schoools, I secured a soccer scholarship to Davis & Elkins College in West Virginia within two months of being at FCD.  I cannot thank Rich and Rocky enough for everything they have taught me and all they have done to help me get to where I am today.  FCD is the perfect environment for players who want to play college soccer and be successful at an elite level."

Nathan Ingham - Florida Gulf Coast University

"My soccer story seems a little too common in the soccer world these days. I grew up playing through several different clubs in Ontario, and had an abundance of bad experiences whether it was poor coaching or politics; After my u14 year I ended up quitting soccer for 8 months. After that break, my parents and I made a deal that I would go to one more tryout before I hung up my boots, and that's when I called Tom. After that phone call I never looked back. After 4 years playing under Tom we built a player coach relationship and a friendship that has lasted since day one.

 It wasn't until after I spent time in the NCAA and with the national team that I realized how lucky I was to have Tom as a coach growing up. He is up there with the best coaches I have ever played under to this day. Of everyone I have met in the soccer world I don't know if I respect anyone more, I can honestly say that I owe him for my scholarship and my success. I can assure you I am just one of a very large group of players who can say the same.

 The relationships he builds with his players and his teams may be one of his best characteristics, he can take any group of parents and players and turn them into a family. A breathe of fresh air in a very political world. The best decision I have made in the soccer world was joining his team and I'm sure when you have a chance to look back on things in years to come, you will be able to agree."

Tim Novak - Parent of Shea Jeffery-Novak, Grand Valley State University

"I highly regard Rich Hirst as coach of my daughter and in his past position as a Director of Coaching.  My daughter Shea has been a member of his team for only 2 yrs but has gained invaluable personal and playing skills, on and off the field.

Rich is the complete coach. He teaches proper skill development, tactics and strategy, always setting proper expectations for both parent and player, while he stresses the importance of school marks and that ultimately school comes first. He has a wonderful rapport with people of all ages, especially the girls of this team. His ability to connect with his players and his talent at teaching simple concepts, as well as more advanced, are both truly superior. He has excellent verbal communication skills, is extremely organized, and accomplishes his coaching tasks with great initiative and with a very positive attitude.

His biggest attribute is his College Bound Program that is dedicated to teaching players how to get to the highest level of soccer and namely promoting college or university scholarships through contacting coaches and competing in many major US college showcases throughout the year, and also organizing home showcases, such as the recent event in December 2012, where about 50 coaches attended. His record for the past few years speaks for itself, with many of his players achieving education via his college recruiting programme. He also is very well connected with major universities in the US and Canada and has been instrumental in my daughter Shea being notice by Grand Valley State University and committing to a full scholarship once she graduates in 2015.

He is just an amazing coach/friend to the girls, and my daughter, wife and I thank him for his hard work and dedication, as through his programme my daughter has achieved the opportunity to attended a major US university to get a virtually free 4 year education."


Alyssa Smith - Western Michigan University

"My journey to Western Michigan University and being a Student Athlete in the US was a little different than the average player.  Upon completing my U16 season I contemplated if collegiate soccer was the right fit for me.  The majority of my teammates were beginning to communicate with US coaches and schools they wanted to attend.  I quite honestly did not understand the recruiting process.  I assumed I was not good enough if I was not contacted by that point.  As tryouts began for the U17 season, I attended to support my recent teammates and see how the team looked.  I was approached by a couple important people in my life who gave me the support and encouragement to continue to play a high level of competitive soccer.  I can honestly say if it was not for Coach Steve, Coach Rich, Kevin Barry, my teammates, and my family, I would not be playing soccer at Western Michigan University today.  Coach Rich and Coach Steve provided me with an incredible environment.  They believed in me and the team, helping motivate and build confidence in each player in order for them to reach their goals.  My continued involvement with FC Durham Academy and their coaches has contributed to my success as I return to Western Michigan and look forward to excelling with my academics and collegiate sports career.  I cannot thank them enough for everything they have done for me.  I do not know where I would be right now if it was not for their support the year I almost let go of my dream."

Bobby Graham - Winstars Academy

"It is with great pleasure that I wish FC Durham Academy all the very best as both Tom Croft and Richard Hirst start up this new exciting initiative.  I wholeheartedly recommend this academy to any player serious about learning their soccer and going on to the next level.  I have known Tom Croft for many years, back to our years we spent at the Wexford SC.. Tom Croft is an excellent soccer coach, he is one of those special coaches who bring out the best in his players, consistently over the past many years builds the best teams in Canada and has proven he can compete with the best in North America.  The most important trait about Tom is that he is honest and cares so much about each and every player, he will go out of his way to do anything to help his players succeed not only on the soccer field, but more important, in life.


Tom Croft encourages academic achievement and excellence on the field.  I have had the privilege to join his program on a number of events and he prepares them very well and allows the players to express themselves on the soccer field and have fun and enjoy the game, which is most important.  His contacts in the USA at the NCAA Collegiate level are endless, he is very well respected by many coaches in the best programs in Canada and the USA.  Richard Hirst has a very good name in the soccer community and has done a great job on the Female coaching side and with him and Tom forming this partnership with FC Durham Academy, the sky will be the limit for this program.


In closing, Canada needs more coaches like Tom and Richard and programs like FC Durham will only better our soccer community and better our developing players.  I highly recommend this academy to  families and players who want to grow in the game and have their kids become better as both of these coaches will lift the passion of your Son's and Daughters."


Veronica Torres - Illinois Institute of Technology

"I have played for Coach Rich for over 8 years, and throughout that time I have learned a tremendous amount. From basic technique to tactics, he has helped me reach my goal of obtaining a scholarship to play college soccer, and making me more than ready to compete at that level.  His program brings forth high quality soccer and a competitive atmosphere that fosters complete player development." 

Katherine Lawrence - Kent State University

"This will be my third season playing under Coach Rich at the Under 21 level. Throughout my years of playing this game I have heard of many good coaches, but never any who have put in the amount of extra work that Coach Rich does. He truly cares about developing young players into mature, well rounded soccer players, and He realizes the importance of having good technique and creating good habits. He is a great coach, and has helped me to become a better soccer player in the short time that I have been coached by him."

Madison Carruthers - Jacksonville State University -

(It had always been my goal to attain a scholarship somewhere in the United states.  Since grade 9 I had been to many showcases but I did not feel like I was getting anywhere.  I was then given the chance to play for FCD in grade 11 and my opportunities grew.  Thanks to Coach Rich I am now playing for Jacksonville State University.  An amazing school and the perfect for me.  I would never ever have gotten this opportunity if it weren't for Coach Rich.  I came to FCD with little knowledge about the game.  Coach is not only amazing at helping players finding a school right for them but also preparing us to play at that level.  Coach Rich helped me reach my potential as a player, improving my technical and fitness abilities.  I cannot thank Coach Rich enough for all he has done for me, through the ups and downs of my recruiting process he was always incredibly supportive and helpful no matter what.  I do not know where I would be without FCD and the amazing staff.

Jesse Cormier - Men's Head Coach, U of Vermont

"Coach Tom Croft has been a great asset to the local Toronto

student-athletes because he knows the demands of collegiate soccer in the US and he prepares his athletes accordingly.  There is nobody that can match his energy, passion for the game, and of course the success of his teams and players not only in the youth game in Canada, but at the next step: US collegiate level.  Along the way, Tom does it ethically and is always responsible to the families he serves, honest in his evaluations and can be counted on by everyone to do what he sees as the best interest of each of his kids."

Darnell Parris - IPFW

Letter to Tom Croft from Dawn Parris - "In 2006 we made a difficult decision to transfer from our local club and program to the fledgling U13 boys team developing under your leadership. Little did we know at the time that this transfer would start our son on a 7 year journey that has traversed 4 countries,crossed several states and provinces, lead to many wonderful friendships and continues to this day.
Through your program, our son along with many others, has had the privilege of playing in local, provincial, national and international competitions and college and university showcases. Thanks to those experiences he and several of his teammates are continuing their education and playing for an NCAA Division 1 universities.

We wish you and your Academy every success as you help players take their game to the next level."

Lisa and Michael McGhee

"Mike and I wanted to offer our heart felt thanks for everything you have done for Brendan.  Having him for one season allowed his soccer career to move forward in a way we never thought possible. 

Brendan had been with a team for many years however he was unable to connect with the right people and receive the proper exposure until he met you.  Brendan not only received incredible coaching and tactical advice but was able to take the information and put it to great use.  It amazed me that after four short months with you we started getting calls from American schools looking to offer him scholarship opportunities.  When we think about it now it was like a total whirlwind for Brendan and for us as parents!  Thanks to your hard with work Brendan and contacts you have made during your extensive career Brendan will attend Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania-NCAA Division 1.  Without your professionalism and dedication to your players Brendan would never have had this opportunity."


Isaiah Wilson - St. Bonaventure University

The Wilson family is forever grateful to Tom Croft and FC Durham Soccer Academy.  Just wanted to say thank you for your support and guidance in securing my son's soccer scholarship to USA University.  Although my son is a very good player, the process of finding the correct University which offered a good scholarship package was a bit challenging.  My younger son currently plays for FC Durham, so I approached Tom, before the conversation was over Tom had approximately 5 Universities that would be interested in my son.  Within 2-3 weeks my son was offered a 4 year scholarship to play at St. Bonaventure.

There are 3 requirements for a good scholarship, Be a good athlete, good grades and knowing the right people.  Tom Croft and FC Durham family are the Right People.