How many parents would be willing to move across the country for the sole reason of providing their child with the best chance at athletic success?
Joel Spitzer and his wife Alison are one such couple. Their daughter Stella was a top-notch soccer player in Columbus, Ohio, but was running into a lack of competition. They knew how much better youth soccer was in North Texas than in nearly any other place in the country. So in September 2021, they bought a small, patio-style home in the Harvest neighborhood of Argyle allowing Stella to compete with one of the nation’s best club programs, the DFW Solar Soccer Club, a development outfit based in Allen.
“North Texas and Southern California are the most competitive for girls’ youth soccer,” said Joel, a licensed attorney in both Ohio and Texas. “Ohio is well-organized. It’s just not as competitive.”
Stella, who turned age 13 earlier this month, is in her last year in the U13 division. She’s been playing soccer since age 3, first in a recreation league then by age 7 for a club team. By 10, she dominated wherever she played – including a year with boys – scoring as many as 9-10 goals a game and knew she needed to play elsewhere.
“I just grew out of it up there so we came down here for better competition,” said Stella, who plays the outside forward position.
“It wasn’t moving her towards her goals,” Joel said.
Her immediate objective is to make the U.S. National Team once she turns 14 after representing Ohio in the Olympic Development Program for the past three years. Next would be joining a good high school team followed by collegiate soccer and ultimately, the pros.
She’s currently a seventh grader at Flower Mound’s Coram Deo Academy which has a flexible schedule that’s perfect for her situation. She attends classes in person on Mondays and Wednesdays, homeschools twice a week, and trains about 20 hours per week on footwork, skills, shooting, passing, biometrics, etc. Besides Texas, she learns under trainers in Ohio, California, and Florida.
For many years, Joel had taken Stella around the country to play. Her reputation led her to Texas when in November 2020, she was invited to guest play for a weekend for a Grapevine team. Among those watching were coaches from DFW Solar.
TopDrawer Soccer ranks Solar’s U13 team in the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) as No. 1 in the country. Its season runs from September to May followed by national playoffs in San Diego in June and national championships is Richmond, Virginia, at the end of July.
The 14-player team is led by Matt Colvin, coach of three-time state champion Southlake Carroll High School. Stella plans to either play for Colvin at Southlake Carroll or Argyle when she’s ready for high school.
So far Stella likes Texas despite the summer heat because of what soccer offers here. Her dad said she’s averaging about one goal and more than one assist per game,
When not playing, Joel and Stella fly back to Ohio on weekends while Alison comes to Texas to watch games. Their other children – daughter Kennedy, 17; daughter Camden, 16 and son Liam, 9, still live in Ohio with their mother.
“Sometimes my wife and I trade high fives in the airport,” Joel said. “You make sacrifices for your kids. If we didn’t think she could make it at something higher than the collegiate level we probably wouldn’t be making the sacrifice. But she’s certainly good enough.”
Stella Spitzer is good enough to hopefully play for the University of North Carolina which has won 21 National Collegiate Athletic Association titles.
“It’s the gold standard for D1 college soccer,” Joel said. “Their coach – (National Soccer Hall of Famer) Anson Dorrance – thinks the world of her. He calls her a generational player, a hornet, and a street fighter.”