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SJEB & NJ Rush Combine U15-U18 age groups to form national power house

03/29/2016, 1:00pm EDT

Merger Announcement - South Jersey Elite Barons & NJ Rush Join Forces to Form a National Contender 

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016, South Jersey, NJ – New Jersey Rush and South Jersey Elite Barons (SJEB) announced today a partnership agreement that will see the showcase age groups (U15-U19) of the two largest academy clubs in South Jersey merge to form a super club expected to compete on the national stage. 

The combined college showcase age groups will operate as SJEB Rush.

The two organizations will immediately begin to transition activities by combining the rising birth year 2002 - 1998 teams, with unified service delivery beginning this April for tryouts of the 2016-17 seasonal year.


The U14 & younger age groups will remain untouched for this upcoming year and stay as the South Jersey Elite Barons and NJ Rush separately. 

NJ Rush teams out of Hamilton Township, NJ will also be unaffected by the merger.

By combining forces, SJEB Rush will provide the highest level of competitive soccer for South Jersey players in their college showcase years on both the Boy’s and Girl’s sides.  In addition to providing opportunities for players at the highest levels to compete on the national stage, SJEB Rush will offer multiple high level teams at each age group, allowing for a custom fit for all serious players looking to showcase their talents for college coaches.

SJEB Rush will have a website with the following domain names - and

Benefits of Merger:

Competition - The overall quality and depth of teams will dramatically improve, allowing teams to become stronger and more competitive on the national level.  The increased number of talented players combined with top level coaching and professional training environments will prepare them for the next level.

Professional Coaching Staff - Staff coaches are highly credentialed and experienced with high level coaching licenses/degrees and college and/or professional playing experience.  There are also college head and assistant coaches on staff to help mentor members through the college search & recruitment process.  

Facilities – SJEB Rush will serve a larger geographic area which will increase accessibility to training centers and service a broader group of quality players.  The club will now occupy several of the best facilities in South Jersey including:  Tuckahoe Turf Farm; Total Turf Experience; Camden Catholic High School; Rowan University; Gloucester Township Community Park & other facilities to be announced.

*  Enhanced Resources - By combining our resources administratively, structurally & developmentally, we will become more efficient, providing more opportunities for our players and staff.

*  Opportunity - Separately, SJEB and NJ Rush were among the top clubs on the East Coast.  By combining our teams, coaches and resources, we will be able to better provide for our players through College Recruitment, Talent Identification Programs and Club support for our families. 

“This is truly a win-win opportunity for all sides.  By combining our player pools and talented coaching staffs, the club is better prepared to become a force on the national level,” said Don D'Ambra, SJEB Executive Director. “Currently, many of the top players in our area are traveling an hour or two to other academies outside of South Jersey.  Our goal is to provide an opportunity for local kids to compete at the highest level of competition right in their back yards.  Our clubs have been competing against each other for years, and with U.S. Soccer's new age mandates, this is the perfect time for us to become stronger together and provide more opportunity for our players."

“This is a major milestone for youth soccer in South Jersey, collaborations of this magnitude don’t happen very often and there is no doubt that the winners here are the players in South Jersey and the surrounding areas,” said Sandeep Mehtani, NJ Rush Executive Director.  “What really makes this a special opportunity for our players is the strength of our combined coaching staff.  Individually both clubs have some of the best coaches in New Jersey, but the combined staff may be the highest profile staff of any club on the East Coast. Our combined staff will have multiple A-licensed coaches, multiple college head coaches and assistant coaches and multiple ex-professional players.  The experience is going to provide unparalleled training and opportunity for our players.”

For more information or to register for 2016-17 tryouts, visit our website at


Why are we merging?
Our goal is to continue to provide continued development and to foster a love of the game to every player while also creating a positive competitive environment.  The benefits of working together are numerous. Players will continue to grow and develop within their current club format and location (SJEB or NJ Rush) from the youngest ages and will then come together to form unified teams that best suit their competitive level. The benefits of the merger will come into play as high school nears when college searches and recruitment begin.  Our newly formed club will have the ability to field multiple high quality teams at each age level (U-15 and up) and will place each player on the team best suited to their abilities.  We will also be able to identify and field teams from a select group of players capable of playing at the very highest level who will compete with top-tier teams from our region and across the US.  By merging our two strong premier clubs, we will be able to combine resources and put forth the strongest applications for USSDA Academy status.  The merger does not guarantee our acceptance but gives us a much better chance of being favorably considered.  It has become increasingly difficult to be granted Academy status, but together we meet or exceed the required components.  This has been a long-term goal of both clubs, and we may be able to expedite the process after the merger.  By pooling our coaching resources, we will be able to offer training from the best professionals in the region whose cumulative experience and skills are unprecedented in South Jersey.  Our vast network of contacts and the excellent reputation of the individual clubs will also ensure that our players will have the high level of college exposure that they deserve. 

It is important for you to know that we appreciate the loyalty and support you've shown to SJEB & the Rush, and we will not change most of what you currently experience and enjoy with your current club. We firmly believe, though, that moving forward we can offer you the best avenues of opportunity and improvement by joining together.  The benefits will be apparent in enhanced player development, better programming and facilities, streamlined administration and improved and expanded sponsorship and fund-raising partnerships.

Are the clubs merging or is one club in control?
This is truly a merger of equals which is being carried forward with the highest level of cooperation and support from all involved for the U15 & older groups. We intend to be a model organization for youth soccer with an unwavering focus on ensuring that the good of the players and their families comes first.

What will be our club name?
The current club names for U14 & younger will remain the same "New Jersey Rush" & "South Jersey Elite Barons".  The U15 & older age groups will be the “SJEB Rush”.  

Will my child have to travel to one of the other club sites for practices?
SJEB Rush (U15-U19 ages) will be spread out to various locations which include:  Tuckahoe Turf Farm; Camden Catholic HS; Total Turf; Rowan University.
SJEB (U7-U14 ages) will remain at current locations.
NJ Rush (U7-U14 ages) will remain at current locations.

Will all club locations wear the same uniform?  If not, what will our colors be?  
SJEB Rush (U15-U19 ages) - will wear the national "Rush" uniform with a re-designed "SJEB Rush" logo.
SJEB (U7-U14 ages) will wear same colors - Blue/Red.
NJ Rush (U7-U14 ages) will wear same colors - Blue/Gray.

Will we have a new logo?
SJEB Rush (U15-U19 ages) - will use the new "SJEB Rush" logo
SJEB (U7-U14 ages) will wear same logo.
NJ Rush (U7-U14 ages) will wear same logo.

What will the merger mean to club registration fees?
As it is every year, we work on the following season’s budget and fees in the later half of the previous season and will do the same for our soon-to-be merged club.  In our initial analysis, we believe that fees will remain in the same range that has historically been experienced by both clubs. 

How will the 2016-17 SJEB Rush tryouts be organized / run?  Will all players from NJ Rush and SJEB tryout together or will there be separate tryouts?  We will be hosting combined birth year tryouts and forming teams based on level of competition. Since we know there is a good depth of talent, we will be forming multiple teams in each age group.  Our Directors of Coaching are currently assigning coaches to appropriate age groups and a making a plan to have all teams of the same age bracket train together and work cooperatively to create a positive support system and quality training environment for all.

What does this merger mean for my child’s team? With the merger, does his/her team stay together and move up with their coach? Due to the US Soccer Birth year mandate, all teams are being forced to reorganize.  We are taking this opportunity to make the merger changes at the same time since there will already be player movement on all teams.  By merging the two clubs together, the player pool will be deeper and will allow for more teams giving all players a team to play for.

Will my player have to try out all over again?  If so, will he/she get a fair shot in tryouts if their team has a coach from the other merging club?  Aren't they likely to give their club members preference?  Tryouts will be operated and directed by a combined staff of SJEB/NJ Rush (SJEB Rush) coaches who will be working together to make the best possible decisions.  If a player has aspirations to tryout for higher level than what they’ve been playing, this provides that opportunity.  The coaching staff from all locations will give recommendations and insight about their players, who will then be assessed through the tryout process. Prior to tryouts, each player will be given information as to where they may fall for the upcoming season, but there may be a shift once the entire field of talent is evaluated.    

As has always been the case, coaches will continually monitor the progress of each player to be sure that their individual needs are being met.  Player development continues to be the driving force of all placement decisions.

Is either club going to just be absorbed or will there still be separate clubs?  How will SJEB Rush be structured?  Both NJ Rush & SJEB clubs will remain separate entities.  We will be forming a new non-profit division called "SJEB Rush" which will be run & operated by Board Members from both clubs.

What uniforms will the SJEB Rush teams wear? We will be wearing Adidas apparel with a newly designed SJEB Rush logo on the sleeve of the uniform & on all additional apparel.    

Will the clubs have separate finances?  Registration fees and operating expenses for the SJEB Rush will be kept separately from the NJ Rush & SJEB Clubs.

Who will decide where teams will practice?  Practice locations will be assigned by Directors of Programs.

Who will be on the Board of the merged club?  Executive Directors will be Don D'Ambra, Cliff Simmons, Greg Wiesmore & Sandeep Mehtani.  

How will the new club communicate with parents?  Good communication is a priority for both clubs & will continue with SJEB Rush.  The club will launch a new website for the SJEB Rush and will communicate through the website, texts, internal emails, Facebook, Twitter and other social media as has been the current practice.  Weekly updates will still be sent to all players.

What will be the policy for “playing up?”  If a player is exceeding their level of play and meets the standards of the older team, we will allow them the opportunity if they choose to do so.

*As we continue to work on the details of the merger, we will have additional information to share with all of you.  Watch for information in the coming weeks and thank you again for your support!  We're working hard to provide the best possible experience for all!.

Don D'Ambra - SJ Elite Barons, Executive Director & Sandeep Menhtani - NJ Rush Executive Director.

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