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Our Origins

“If I could give every kid one thing, it would be a passion for learning.”

Richie Graham, YSC founder

When YSC Academy opened its doors in 2013 to its first cohort of students-athletes, it launched a new era in U.S. soccer as the first independent school to integrate an MLS-affiliated, world-renowned youth-soccer development program with an elite level college-preparatory education.

Inspired by the model of Burke Mountain Academy, the first sports-specific school in North America, and by established, professional sports academies in Europe and South America, YSC Academy founder Richard Graham imagined a unique soccer school where student-athletes could maximize their athletic and academic potential. Informed by extensive research of soccer youth development overseas, Graham determined to combine high-performance athletic training and high-quality secondary school education within a culture characterized by passion, hard work, trust, and positive reinforcement, all supported by attention to research and best practices, and staffed by world-class individuals.

Dr. Nooha Ahmed-Lee was appointed the founding Head of School. A professor of neuroscience at St. Joseph’s University, with a background in research regarding learning and the brain, and with 30 years of experience in independent schools, she was charged with developing the school’s progressive academic program. Her belief that the student should be in charge of his learning led to the design of a program approach she termed self-directed learning. This concept puts the student at the center of the learning process, rather than the teacher. Students are challenged to be responsible for their learning, and, with the expert guidance of dedicated teachers and staff, learn to be the primary agents of their learning.