Alaska Olympic Development Program 2008 boys team featuring Gunnar Pinsky, Beau Miller and Kai Waltenbaugh (Photo provided by Breanna Hill)

Alaska Olympic Development Program 2008 boys team featuring Gunnar Pinsky, Beau Miller and Kai Waltenbaugh (Photo provided by Breanna Hill)

Homer soccer players compete on Alaska Olympic Development team

Seven Homer soccer players are making their national and international debut after earning positions on the Alaska Olympic Development Program teams.

Gunnar Pinsky, Beau Miller, Kai Waltenbaugh, Reid Rauch, Ruby Hill and Rio Waltenbaugh are members of Homer United FC who secured positions on the state’s teams to compete in Boise, Idaho at the Small State Friendlies tournament and in Pheonix, Arizona at the ODP Region IV Championships. The soccer players competed in Boise Nov. 3-7 and are now training to compete at the Region IV Championships in January. Carter Kincaid, who did not play in Boise, has been called up to the Alaska 2010 team to compete in Arizona.

“We are incredibly proud of them! Other kids are looking up to them and it’s just amazing. It’s great,” said Breanna Hill, co-founder of Homer United FC. “These group of kids are representing Homer United FC and Homer, our community.”

Breanna and Holland Hill founded Homer United FC in February 2020 with the hope to provide year-round soccer training and competitions in Alaska and the U.S. for kids in Homer. Now almost two years later, Homer United FC has almost 300 kids playing soccer during the summer and around 75 kids playing indoor futsal during the winter.

“With this group, our goal was to get kids playing soccer and futsal year round instead of just summer,” Breanna Hill said. “As well as to open it up to all ages, our goal is to provide soccer for ages 3 and up all year round. … We’ve done really well, and we hope to continue moving forward in that direction.”

According to its website, the Alaska Olympic Development Program offers “statewide high-level training opportunities that identify a pool of exceptional players, providing development and enhance competitive experiences for the players in the state of Alaska. The program offers multiple statewide and in-district trainings, camps, tournaments, and identification events for players.”

“It’s a really neat program,” Breanna Hill said of the Alaska Olympic Development Program. “It offers these kids scouting in the United States, which starts at a very early age. This just gives the kids something when going to college if their goal is to play soccer and continue on with that. It gives them the opportunity to build that resume.”

The seven kids who made the Alaska Olympic Development Program teams are on the 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 age bracket teams.

“They did good (in Boise),” Breanna Hill said. “They played Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, and they were competitive.”

Breanna Hill shared that the opportunity to play for the Alaska Olympic Development teams stemmed from the connections the club has made from playing competitively across the state of Alaska.

“As we brought kids to play in tournaments outside of Homer, we made contacts with other clubs, and of course, ODP, Olympic Development Program,” Breanna Hill said. “They’ve seen us play, and they gave us the opportunity to choose kids we think should try out for that program and we did. Those kids then made the team.”

While all seven kids were invited to compete in Arizona this January for the western region championships, four players were invited to compete internationally with the Olympic Development Program, including Ruby Hill, Pinsky, Miller and Kai Waltenbaugh. Ruby Hill will be competing in the United Kingdom over spring break while Pinsky, Miller and Kai Waltenbaugh are playing in Germany.

Eric Waltenbaugh, a member of Homer United FC’s advisory board, has two sons who made the Alaska Olympic Development Program. Additionally, he will travel with Kai Waltenbaugh to Germany this spring.

“The kids were super excited to have the opportunity to access a higher level of coaching, a higher level of play. I think it’s a great way for our kids in Homer to have access to a different level of play that we don’t get day to day here,” Eric Waltenbaugh said. “It’s going to help them develop as players, but it also helps them … learn things like nothing in life comes without hard work. Certainly they’re competitive and they want to win, but the main part of this is about player development and being a part of a team.”

As someone with a love for soccer himself, Eric Waltenbaugh shared he is excited to see how the program helps his children develop into stronger players, teammates and people.

“The focus of the program is to develop better players to be better players and to have a better understanding of the game,” Eric Waltenbaugh said. “I was really pleased with that. That’s why I enjoyed soccer so much because there were so many things you could learn from it. I was really excited about their chance to participate in that and to get to know kids from around Alaska that they’ll see every summer at tournaments playing for club teams.”

The soccer players are currently training for the region championships in January, and Breanna Hill shared she is proud of how they have competed so far and is looking forward to seeing them compete for the state of Alaska again soon.

“I want to give these kids the recognition they deserve and let them know we support them,” Breanna Hill said.

For more information about Homer United FC or the Alaska Olympic Development Program, visit homerunitedfc.org/.

Reach Sarah Knapp at sarah.knapp@homernews.com

Alaska Olympic Development Program girls 2009 team featuring Ruby Hill (Photo provided by Breanna Hill)

Alaska Olympic Development Program girls 2009 team featuring Ruby Hill (Photo provided by Breanna Hill)

Alaska Olympic Development Program boys 2009 team featuring Reid Rauch (Photo provided by Breanna Hill)

Alaska Olympic Development Program boys 2009 team featuring Reid Rauch (Photo provided by Breanna Hill)

Alaska Olympic Development Program boys 2010 team featuring Rio Waltenbaugh (Photo provided by Breanna Hill)

Alaska Olympic Development Program boys 2010 team featuring Rio Waltenbaugh (Photo provided by Breanna Hill)

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