Academy Home Page


Mission: The Portland Thorns Academy empowers female athletes to develop into women of character and community leaders. We prepare players for youth national teams, collegiate and professional opportunities in a positive, player-centered environment with a focus on a "One Club" mentality.

Vision: The Portland Thorns Academy will be a globally recognized leader in the development of elite soccer athletes. We will consistently produce players who will play with the Thorns first team.

The Portland Thorns Academy is an elite training program for girls and young women U13-U19, with Pre-ECNL teams at U11 and U12 age groups.

Our holistic approach to player development and the integration of the Portland Thorns FC is the driving force of our program. The Thorns Academy has direct interaction with the Portland Thorns FC, which includes opportunities to observe first team training, interaction with players, observation and training sessions by first team coaching staff, and tickets to Portland Thorns FC home games.

Our goal is for players to reach their peak performance as elite, well-rounded athletes. Our focus will be on giving players the opportunity to earn collegiate scholarships, National Team invites, and developing players to be drafted into the NWSL.

2023/24 Thorns Academy ECNL Coaching Staff

U19 (2005/06) – Tracy Nelson, USSF “A” License

U17 (2007) – Sharla Topaum, USSF “B” License

U16 (2008) – Sharla Topaum, USSF “B” License

U15 (2009) – Chris Thurley, USSF “A” License

U14 (2010) – Ryan Johnson, USSF “B” License

U13 (2011) – Kris Dunne, USSF “B” Candidate

U12 (2012) – Kris Dunne, USSF “B” Candidate

U11 (2011) – Darren Lilla, USSF “A” License

Director of GK – Maite Zabala, USSF “A” License

Academy Director – Tracy Nelson, USSF “A” License

Academy Director of Operations – Gabe Tatz

Portland Thorns Academy Program

Services & Support

  • College Resource and Preparation Program
  • Video taping of all League and National Event matches
  • Athletic Trainer at all Games
  • Video analysis access
  • Game film and video review sessions
  • Individual development plans and evaluations
  • Providence Play Safe Injury Management enrollment
  • Recommendations to and scouting by US Youth National Team scouts and college coaches
  • Regular attendance of College coaches to high school age teams at games and National events
  • Training up to 3x per week
  • Futsal training for younger teams

Portland Thorns FC - First Team - OPPORTUNITIES

  • Training at Providence Park (home of the Portland Thorns and Portland Timbers professional teams)
  • Monthly opportunities to interact with Thorns FC players and coaching staff
  • Tickets to Thorns FC home games for players (when team is playing)
  • Potential training opportunities with Thorns first team
  • Thorns Academy recognition/introduction at Thorns FC home game
  • Opportunities to observe First Team training
  • First Team coaching staff will observe and run training sessions

Elite Clubs National League - ECNL

The Thorns Academy play in the ECNL and will play up to 20 games against teams in the ECNL Northwest Conference.

Teams will play up to 20 games against other teams in the Northwest Conference.

In addition to League Games, teams will participate in select ECNL National Events, based on their age group. The National Events will draw college and national team coaches/scouts, increasing the the opportunities for players to be identified for National Camps as well as College Scholarship offers.

Informational Portland Thorns Academy Virtual Meeting

Please find the link to the Informational Meeting Recording, as well as the access passcode below.

Passcode: 3^U*K3+K

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