Touch passes: Rush, Quaranta give back

Pro players kick-start Pipeline Soccer to train young players

March 12, 2011|By Matt Ford, The Baltimore Sun | Baltimore Sun reporter

When Sean Rush and Santino Quaranta met in 1992, they were 7- and 8-year-old soccer players with big dreams and bigger potential.

Almost 20 years later, Rush, who attended Dulaney High School, has played professionally in the United States, Italy and Brazil, and is still under contract with Ribeirao, a Portuguese club. Quaranta, who went to Archbishop Curley, has played for three Major League Soccer teams, including his current squad, D.C. United, since he was 16 years old. He has also appeared for the U.S. national team in 15 games.

"I've loved soccer more than life itself," Rush said. "I've been playing professionally since I was 18. It's been my life."

But when Rush and Quaranta caught up over lunch in December, they knew they had one thing left to accomplish in their careers.

"For a long time, I didn't really give a whole lot back to the game," Quaranta said. "I've been wrapped up in my own career."

Days after their lunch meeting, they founded Parkville-based Pipeline Soccer, a not-for-profit business venture that aims to provide top-of-the-line youth soccer training from professional coaches for a low cost.

This spring, Pipeline will be hosting a 10-week academy program, directed by professional coaches under the supervision of two professional players -- all for $80 per student.

"My family didn't have a whole lot growing up," Quaranta said. "Why does the average Joe, who works 40 hours a week, need to pay us to do what we do? I don't need to be paid to make a child happy, to do something we truly, thoroughly enjoy."

Pipeline's philanthropic mission and low cost are what its executives hope will set it apart from its peers.

"We want to produce happy faces," said Dylan Curtis, co-vice president of Pipeline Soccer, who met Rush when they were training youth players on the same field last year.

"We want to help mature kids into young adults," Curtis said. "If we can all join together and do this as one, it's good for everyone."

Rush said Pipeline, which has hosted training sessions this winter at Friends School, is growing "like crazy." The club hadn't planned on fielding teams until October, but demand was so high that they will unveil the first three youth teams this spring.

Pipeline Soccer has another division,. Pipeline International Soccer Academy, which teaches soccer skills and life lessons and was introduced in January.

"We're trying to develop players to play at the highest levels," Rush said. "But we also want to train kids who are less serious and have a positive impact on them as well."

Pipeline plans to field club teams and competitive travel teams for boys and girls in a wide range of age groups and skill levels.

"Each age group will have multiple teams," Rush said. "All will be given a pro coach and the same facilities. There will be no favoritism shown to a team that wins. They're all gonna have fun; they're all gonna develop."

As Rush played professionally in Europe and Brazil, he took note of how young players trained.

"Our kids will learn the basics the right way," Rush said. "Youth soccer is taking off on a line we've never seen before, but the kids aren't being trained the right way."

Despite the professional achievements of Pipeline's founders, the goal is not to become the most prestigious club in Baltimore, Rush said.

"We don't want to win everything. We want to win these kids over," Quaranta said. "The wins will come. We'll attract the players, and the winning will come."

Rush and Quaranta have had their share of accomplishments on the soccer field. Each said after long and successful playing careers, they hope to focus less on themselves and more on youngsters.

"Ninety-nine point nine percent of these kids will not go play for Manchester United," Quaranta said. "But can we make a difference in these kids' lives? Can we really touch one of these kids and make them go a different path? That's what we're going for."

xcxmford@baltsun.com

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