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WINTER 2010

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We Are Listening

By Bob McDade, President, Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer

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s many of you have heard me say, Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer is your service provider. As such, we are concerned with ensuring that your needs are met. However, as I am sure you can all understand, the needs and desires of 130,000 players, 10,000 teams, more than 400 Clubs and approximately two-dozen leagues are not all identical. We must make decisions that balance the needs and desires of our affiliates and, at the same time, stay consistent with the philosophies of, and duties assigned to us by, the United States Soccer Federation. This is not an easy task. I am very proud of the effort and ability shown by our current Board of Directors and staff to try to reach that balance. What we have learned is that the key to driving this balance is to continually listen to ALL of you. At our last two Annual General Meetings discussion was had relating to moving our Under-11 and Under-12 State Cup games to a single format 8 v 8. It was clear at this year’s AGM that the vast majority of our affiliates wanted this

Vol. XXXI • December 2010 change. In response, a decision was made that the 2011 Cups would be offered in both the 8 v 8 and 11 v 11 formats. However, in 2012 the format would go solely to 8 v 8. Since that time, we have learned that many of our constituents (the vocal minority shall we say) have reservations about instituting the change at the Under-12 level. The reservations are based primarily on logistical and practical issues, e.g., number of coaches, field spacing, and equipment needs, etc. We believe that these issues can all be addressed through an educational process. But that process cannot occur overnight. Therefore, we have recently amended our decision. We will now institute the change at the Under-11 level at our 2012 State Cups, but our Under-12 change will not take place until 2013, thereby giving us the time to assist all of our affiliates in gaining the information needed to adapt to this change. I am proud of this decision as it shows our organization’s agility to deal with the needs of everyone. For you, I just want my message to be clear: We Are Listening. To paraphrase Abe Lincoln- we won’t be able to please everyone with our decisions...but we do promise that we will try our best. TL

By Chris Branscome, Chief Executive Officer, Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer

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soccer family and friends. There are many wonderful things that are happening in Eastern Pennsylvania off the field as well as on. This association is made up of many dedicated and enthusiastic individuals, teams and organizations. I hope some of these stories resonate with you and help you remember why you trained so hard, or logged so many miles or cheered so many cheers. Thank you everyone. Thank you, parents. Thank you, volunteers. Thank you, administrators. Thank you, referees. Thank you, coaches. And most of all, thank you to 130,000 youth players in our association. On behalf of our Board of Directors and our staff, have a safe and wonderful holiday season! TL Chris

EXECUTIVE BOARD President Robert McDade Vice President, Recreational Brian Talerico Vice President Travel Jim Kuntz Treasurer Herb Maguire Secretary Jeff Sommer Registrar Donna Outt State Youth Referee Administrator John Campbell Immediate Past President Tom Dougherty COMMITTEE CHAIRS Arbitration & Risk Management Rick Tompkins TOPSoccer Program Diane Spencer Soccer Across America John Kukitz Cup Commissioner Dave Ash Rules and Revisions Tom Dougherty Tournaments Wim Roset Scholarships Dave Edgecombe STATE OFFICE STAFF Chief Executive Officer Chris Branscome Director of Operations Damon Nolan Director of Coaching Mike Barr Assistant Director of Coaching Danielle Fagan Manager of Communications and Marketing Evan Kravitz Membership Services Specialist Beck Kleinert Risk Management/AGM Carol Urbach Accounting Serena Karlson Coaching Department Administrator Kelly Connor Programs Assistant (Tournaments/Insurance) Meghan Walker Touchline Editor Evan Kravitz Story ideas, pictures and editorials can be submitted to the editor at ekravitz@epysa.org.

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Bob

From All of Us, To All of You ver the past four months of the fall season, we have all been driving to one practice or another, driving to multiple games in a day or weekend, heading off to tournaments. There will be soccer events over the holidays; training, games, tournaments- our schedule gets tighter each year, but we need to take the time to recover, relax, reassess and re-energize. At this time of year, it’s okay to put the ball away and be sure to connect with our families and friends. This issue of Touchline connects us with some great stories about our extended

Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer

4070 Butler Pike, Suite 100 Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462 Phone: 610-238-9966 Fax: 610-238-9933 www.epysa.org

The entire contents of this publication are copyrighted; all rights reserved. Articles may not be reproduced or reprinted without written permission from EPYSA and AE Engine Media/Marketing. Advertising space in Touchline is purchased and paid for by the advertisers. None of the products or services are necessarily endorsed by EPYSA or its affiliates. The views and opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of EPYSA or its advertisers. Printed in the United States of America.

Contents DEPARTMENTS President’s Message .................................................5 Chief Executive Officer’s Report................................5 Upcoming Events........................................................8 Letters to the Editor....................................................14 The Team Page...........................................................16 The Coach’s Corner....................................................19 FEATURES Concussion Awareness..............................................25 From Mom to Coach...................................................27 ODP Spotlight..............................................................29 ODP’s Aerial Ace at UNC............................................31 A Heart of Gold...........................................................32 Mission: Possible........................................................33

EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA YOUTH SOCCER • TOUCHLINE

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Eastern Pensylvania Youth Soccer News Startegic Planning

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n October 1, the Board of Directors and staff from Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer met for the first in a series of meetings meant to open up a discussion designed to reinforce the mission of this organization and the best ways to keep moving forward. These strategic

planning meetings will serve as a reminder of our mandate to promote, foster and perpetuate the game of soccer in the region and foster the mental, physical and emotional growth of Eastern Pennsylvania youth through the sport of soccer. Prior to the meeting, the group was surveyed as part of an analysis to identify our strengths and weaknesses as well as identify our priorities in the next 12 to 24 months. From that analysis, the group identified four key strategic areas:

• Organizational governance • Operational excellence • Financial stability • Membership focus “This is not a five-year plan or a ten-year plan,” said President Bob McDade. “This is about creating the vision and direction for the future of this association and generating programs to execute and fulfill that vision.” TL

Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Promotes Rebecca “Beck” Kleinert and Hires Kelly Connor

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Kleinert

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ebecca “Beck” Kleinert was promoted to Membership Services Specialist after serving as a Program Assistant in the Coaching department and for the Olympic Development Program. In her new role, Kleinert will manage the daily interaction and re-

lationships with member affiliates, overseeing the registration of all players as well as affiliate leagues and clubs. Kelly Connor comes to the organization from the Women’s Professional Soccer team the Philadelphia Independence. Connor served as Director of Outreach and Communications for the Independence since its inception. Connor received a Masters in Business Administration and Masters in Sport Business Management from the University of Central Florida. Connor played Division I soccer at Florida State University setting the all-time record for starts and was a candidate in 2005 for the Hermann Trophy. Connor was a standout for Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer ODP for six years and was a Region I selection for three years.

Connor was also invited to train with the Under-19 and Under-21 U.S. National Teams. In her new role as Coaching Department Administrator, Connor will work on the coordination of the Olympic Development Program. Connor will also assist with Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer’s growing coaching education program, providing U.S. Soccer courses and scheduling soccer clinics and lectures throughout the state. “Beck and Kelly are very capable and qualified individuals who are committed to providing this association with the high quality service our membership deserves,” said Chief Executive Officer Chris Branscome. “Their efforts will bolster our programs and keep us moving forward.” TL

We Are Here to Help

By Damon Nolan, Director of Operations, Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer

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t has been a whirlwind first three months as director of operations. I have enjoyed the opportunity to speak with and assist members throughout the state association on the daily challenges of running their league or club. It is the leagues and clubs that provide players with the opportunity to 6

enjoy and learn the game of soccer from week to week. Whether we talk by phone, Email or in person, helping our membership is one of the most important duties we do each day. A critical task that we at the state office are currently undertaking is the review of all of our policies and procedures. For each policy and procedure we have in place, we ask the question of whether or not it fosters and perpetuates the game of soccer for Eastern Pennsylvania youth. Just as important, we want to make sure that our policies and procedures can be applied consistently as they are written, while leaving room for our leagues (travel, recreation

EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA YOUTH SOCCER • TOUCHLINE

and intramural) to work within our policies to develop their own based on the needs of the unique membership they serve. It is our goal to release a new procedures manual that will be available to all membership prior to the 2011/2012 seasonal year. Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer has many terrific events planned for 2011, and I am proud to be onboard helping to bring them about. Take a look at our Upcoming Events calendar in Touchline and join in on the fun. Damon dnolan@epysa.org


Upcoming Events 2011 EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA HORIZON SERVICES INDOOR CUP The 2011 Eastern Pennsylvania Horizon Services Indoor Cup competition kicks off on January 8 and runs through February 20. This year’s tournament will feature some of the hottest indoor action in the Under-9 through Under-19 Boys and Girls age groups. Top facilities being used include Body Zone Complex, Bucksmont Indoor Sports Center, In The Net Sports Complex, Riverfront Sports, SportsPlex, Wyoming Valley Sports Dome and YSC Sports. Check www.EPYSA.org for standings and game re-caps.

2011 Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Workshop Save the date! The Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Workshop will take place on Saturday, March 5, 2011 at United Sports in Downingtown, Pa. Included in this year’s workshop will be coaching sessions led by Eastern Pennsylvania Director of Coaching Mike Barr, informative lecture series, vendor displays with the latest in soccer gear and apparel and ODP showcase games. The 2010 Workshop was one of Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer’s best-attended events with more than 1,300 people gathered. More information on the Workshop can be found at www. EPYSA.org and through our monthly e-newsletter “The Post.”

2011 Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Annual General Meeting and First Annual Awards Luncheon The next Annual General Meeting for Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer will be held on March 6, 2011 at a location to be determined. The meeting will be followed by our first annual awards luncheon. Further details can be found at www.EPYSA. org and in our monthly e-newsletter “The Post.”

Kohl’s US Youth Soccer American Cup Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer is bringing plenty of Kohl’s US Youth Soccer American Cup action to the area in 2011. These events provide recreational youth soccer players an opportunity to experience a consistent and high quality statewide tournament in a fun, family-like atmosphere. The games foster stimulation and excitement about soccer in an effort to increase the recreational players’ interest in and love for the game. • March 26 in Montgomery County (Hatfield, PA) [to be held indoors] • June 18-19 in Chester County (West Chester, PA) • October 9-10 in Berks County (Denver, PA) • Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer is also working with member organiza tions on two more Kohl’s American Cup tournaments in Lehigh County and Luzerne County.

Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer is currently planning an open recreational festival in Lycoming County for 2011. Stay tuned to www.EPYSA.org and lookout for further details in our monthly e-newsletter “The Post” for more on this exciting event.

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EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA YOUTH SOCCER • TOUCHLINE


U.S. Soccer Training Center Comes to Eastern Pennsylvania

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astern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer hosted a United States Soccer Federation Training Center for 97 and 98 Girls and Boys this fall. Mike Dickey, Under-15 Women’s National Team head coach, led the sessions. The training center, running nationally, was developed as

a process for identifying potential national team pool participants. “We want to have training centers for the kids so we can start to see them a little more frequently than we currently are,” said Dickey. “This is the Federation’s attempt to establish a database for potential national team players at early ages and follow them as they proceed through the Olympic Development Program, regional teams and developmental academies,” said Mike Barr, director of coaching for Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer. “It also helps the

players develop an awareness of how they need to improve their game and allows them to be considered for national teams.” According to Dickey, the Federation, in the past, relied on scouting club games and attending ODP programs for identification. “The kids are on trial,” said Dickey. “They are getting invited into the training center so we can get an opportunity to work with them and see what their game looks like.” For Conner Weiss, of Warminster, Pa., this tryout was no walk in the park. “I was up against older players,” said Weiss. “I had to be the best that I could to match up against them. The nerves of coming out in front of U.S. coaches and playing against older kids I think made it one of the toughest tryouts. However, I think I did pretty well.” “I thought the kids from Eastern Pennsylvania were highly competitive with a pretty good skill set when it comes to passing,” said Dickey. “They certainly put in a lot of work. But there is still a lot of work to be done. We talked a lot about being more aware of what’s going on besides just themselves and the ball. Certainly, this is not uncommon from any other state.” TL

The National “C” License Course

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ore than 30 coaching candidates took to the fields in Downingtown, Pa., in November to improve their instructional skills by taking the United States Soccer Federation’s National “C” License course being offered through Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer. The course, which ran over a period of nine days, was led by USSF instructors Mike Barr, Lewis Atkinson, Fran Kulas and Bill Stara. The candidates were introduced to concepts targeting players ages 11-14 with a primary emphasis being the close relationship between technique and tactics. In practice field sessions and the final field exam, the candidate was required to address the impact that technique has on tactics.

“What we teach in the “C” course is fundamental to the game,” said coach Atkinson. “We have a sport that takes its coaching education seriously, more so than in any other sport. I think a coach who takes the “C” course is serious about their coaching and willing to put in the extra time it takes to become a good coach.“ Shea Salinas, a midfielder for the Philadelphia Union, was taking the course in order to get a different perspective on the game that would give him an added tactical advantage on the field while being able to start a coaching career of his own. “I would encourage other players to get a license because it helps you look at the game from a different point of view,” said Salinas. “I also think

that while you are playing you can make the most influence on younger kids.” Sherif El Bialy, a former Egyptian National Team player who attended Rutgers University, viewed the “C” course as a bridge between playing and educating. “I am getting older and I wanted to start educating myself about coaching and the transition between playing and coaching,” said El Bialy. “I believe everything is an ongoing learning process.” For more information on coaching courses being offered through Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer visit our Coaching Education site at www.EPYSA.org.

Do you have a story to tell? We’re always on the lookout for feature stories on our players, coaches, teams, clubs and leagues. Send your ideas to Touchline Editor Evan Kravitz at ekravitz@epysa.org. 10 EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA YOUTH SOCCER • TOUCHLINE


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Coaching Education Takes Center Stage Resources Readily Available Through Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer

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n November 16, Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer invited club presidents, directors of coaching, directors of training, technical directors and many representatives who are involved with coaching and player development to a forum on the value of coaching education. “We want coaches to do what is best for their

players and families,” said Mike Barr, director of coaching for Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer. “The ideal situation for us is to have a coach who has gone through the coaching education process be able to teach.” “Coaching education is a push that we are trying to make at our club,” said coach Chris Rehmann of the Philadelphia Soccer Club. “We want to get everyone involved in taking courses so that we are passing the right things along to the kids and focusing on the right things in training sessions.” Danielle Fagan, assistant director of coaching for Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer, was on hand to promote the resources readily available to coaches. “We really want these coaches to go back to their clubs and start talking about the resources we have to offer them in terms of coaching edu-

cation,” said Fagan. “In order to shift the focus from winning and results to player development and success, while still teaching competitiveness, we need to educate the coaches and parents. We’re committed to partnering with clubs and being proactive about coaching education so the players are ultimately the winners.” “Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer is trying to do more, and they are doing a push on education which I think is great,” said Janice Tabbut, president of West Mont United.

For more information on the coaching education courses and vast array of learning materials available through Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer visit our Coaching site at www.EPYSA.org.

US Youth Soccer National League Season Opens

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he US Youth Soccer National League opened its fourth season on November 18 in Wilson, N.C., when the U-15, U-16 and U-17 Boys took to the fields for four days of grueling soccer action. The girls were set to begin their matches on December 2 in Wilson, N.C. Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer has six of the most competitive teams in the league competing this year. Touchline caught up with the coaches of our teams to get their take on the league and their teams. Penn Fusion Academy 95 U-15 Boys Penn Fusion concluded their first four games of league play at 2-1-1. Coach Lee Martin expected the competition to be a stern test for his team. “The boys are playing extremely well at the moment and have a lot of confidence,” said Martin. “Four games in four days is difficult for any player, but if we can stay healthy I believe

we will be able to compete with anybody.” Lehigh Valley United 95 U-15 Boys: “We are going to be very competitive in every match,” said coach Greg Ramos. “We belong in the National League, and we have proven that over the years. We’re confident, not arrogant.” LVU was 2-2 after the season opener. PSC Coppa 93 U-17 Boys PSC was 1-1-2 after the opening of the league season. Coach Pat Farrell predicted four days of heavy competition for his team, which was a 2010 Region I champion and back-toback state champions (2009-2010). Penn Fusion 93 Celtic U-17 Boys These U-17 Boys were regional finalists last year and have three players that represented the Philadelphia Union in the Sum Cup. Coach Sean McCafferty says his team has the potential to win the National League and earn a spot in the National Championships. Celtic was 2-2 after the November games. FC Pennsylvania Strikers U-17 Girls “The National League is a great program,”

12 EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA YOUTH SOCCER • TOUCHLINE

said coach Dave Shaw. “You play the best teams from across the country. The competition is good and the coaching is superb. We have some new players that will make us a more competitive team this year.” Penn Fusion Academy 94 U-16 Girls “We’re very excited to be in the league, and the girls have worked hard to get here,” said coach Jonathan Rhodes. “We have the type of dynamic players on our team to make it happen for us this year. We just need to gel on the field.” Teams in the National League play against top competition from across the country. These teams gain exposure at the national team, collegiate and professional levels. National League teams compete for the league title and two slots per gender age group to the annual US Youth Soccer National Championships. The boys’ teams will meet again in February in Weston, Florida. You can track all of the National League action at usyouthsoccer.org and at www.EPYSA.org.


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FC York Soccer Club

The FC York Soccer Club U-10 Boys teams took pride in showing their support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month by wearing “Pink on the Pitch” t-shirts during their pregame warm ups. These fine young boys chose to make an important statement about the seriousness of this disease and how even the smallest gesture of dawning pink can raise awareness. We are proud of their efforts both on and off the field! Way to go boys!

Springfield Soccer Club

With only one win in the past two seasons, this season has certainly turned around for the Springfield Dynamo U-13 Boys. Currently, at 6–0-2, the team has gelled into a powerhouse within their division, letting up only four goals since the season began in September. Most of the team has been with the Springfield Soccer Club for several years, while continuing to work together as part of an indoor league in the winter. Head coach Brian Peters attributes their success to hard work, confidence, believing in themselves and, most of all, believing in each other.

CRUSA CARES

On November 13, the U-11 Boys Council Rock United Soccer Association teams the Gunners and Thunderbolts rescheduled their games in order to participate in the 2010 Autism Cares Foundation’s “Race for Resources” fundraiser at Tyler State Park in Richboro, Pa. The event was in support of “Team Tyler” named for the autistic brother of one of the players. The coaches of these two teams felt it was important to take advantage of moments like this to teach their kids lessons that will last a lifetime. The Gunners and Thunderbolts raised $2,800.

YOUR TEAM NAME HERE

If you have a submission for The Team Page send a detailed summary and picture to ekravitz@epysa.org. Submissions may be seen on www.EPYSA.org as well.

16 EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA YOUTH SOCCER • TOUCHLINE

YMS Premier Inferno

The YMS Premier Inferno U-13 Girls had a very successful fall campaign. The team, trained and coached by Maggie Kaminska, won the PAGS playoff championship in the second division. Earlier in the season, the team traveled to Dayton, Ohio to compete in the Mead Cup where they were finalists. Over Columbus weekend, the team traveled to the WAGS tournament in Northern Virginia and came home with a championship win.

HVAA Pride

On October 28, the HVAA Pride U-13 Girls traveled 3.5 hours each way to watch a college soccer game. But this was no ordinary game. The women’s team these girls of Huntingdon Valley went to see was the Penn State Nittany Lions. And the coach of that team was none other than HVAA’s most famous alum Erica Walsh. Walsh, who is a former Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer ODP player, arranged for the team to visit. Penn State won their game with the help of a grateful cheering section.


Good Citizenship Award

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astern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer is currently accepting resumes from high school juniors, active with Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer, for consideration of being awarded with The Union League of Philadelphia’s prestigious Good Citizenship Award. Award winners are eligible to apply for a college scholarship award of $1,000/year. Each year, The Union

League of Philadelphia awards this medal to as many as fifteen boys and girls who demonstrate exemplary qualities of cooperative effort, self-control, perseverance, serious scholarship and good sportsmanship “This award is about the qualities of good citizenship that endure long after you stop kicking a ball,” said Nick Cirilli, chairman of the Selection Committee. “I enjoy looking at the resumes and learning about these young adults. It’s good to know that there are kids like these who will be running the country some day. They represent what Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer is all about.” The Deadline for submissions is no later than Friday, January 7, 2011. Each winner must be able to attend an all-day leadership program and awards dinner at the Union League on Thursday, May 19, 2011.

The Union League of Philadelphia was founded in 1862 as a patriotic society to support the Union and the policies of President Abraham Lincoln. It laid the philosophical foundation of other Union Leagues across a nation torn by Civil War. The Union League has hosted U.S. presidents, heads of state, industrialists, entertainers and visiting dignitaries from around the globe. It has also given loyal support to the American military in each conflict since the Civil War, and continues to be driven by its founding motto, “Love of Country Leads.” TL

Detailed information on submission criteria can be found at www.EPYSA.org. Good luck!

EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA YOUTH SOCCER • TOUCHLINE 17


Inter-County Soccer League Celebrates 50 Years

(Left) Ralph Hofmann, past president, (Background) Jim Bollinger, past president, (Center) Rick Tompkins, past president (Right) Tom McMahon, president

Who would have thought that from our humble beginnings of having only six teams that after 50 years we would evolve into an organization with over 650 teams and 10,000 players? Fifty years of hard work by the league membership have paid off.” And with those words, Inter-County Soccer League (ICSL) President Tom McMahon welcomed guests to a banquet in honor of the league’s half-century dedication of providing a fun, competitive and growing soccer

environment to Eastern Pennsylvania. Hans Peters founded the Inter-County Soccer League in 1960. The league was initially made up of six clubs (Bryn Gweled, Levittown, St. John Bosco, Lower Southampton, Hilltown, St. Francis) and there was only a single age group: Under-13 Boys. Girls’ soccer would be introduced into the league in 1973. Since then, ICSL has grown to be the largest travel soccer league in Southeastern Pennsylvania with 70 active member clubs. The main territorial draw for the ICSL is Bucks and Montgomery Counties, along with Northeast and Northwest Philadelphia. However, the ICSL does have some representation from as far as Berks, Chester, Lancaster and Delaware Counties. Congratulations to the Inter-County Soccer League for 50 years of excellence in soccer. TL

Lighthouse Inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame

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n November 11, the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame, for the first time, recognized an organization for its highest honor. Lighthouse Soccer Club’s time had finally come after 120 years of unprecedented service to the soccer community in all corners of the world. “They have put more people in the Olympics and in the World Cup than any other soccer club in the United States,” said Hank McColgan of the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. “It’s an amazing feat. We just felt it was time to recognize them for the things that they have done.” Lighthouse was originally founded as a social services organization to help immigrants in the Kensington area of Philadelphia become acclimated to America. Since a lot of the immigrants in Lighthouse were already connected to soccer through their European heritage, it became the most

popular sport in the area. At one point, in 1940, Lighthouse was regarded as the largest soccer club in the world. Lighthouse folded in the late eighties when interest in soccer faded in the community. But the “old” Lighthouse community began to reconnect in the late nineties and soon there was a resurgence of energy and commitment to develop the program again. New fields were built in Northeast Philadelphia and today Lighthouse has some 400 players and 17 travel teams with an in-house training program and TOPSoccer. Throughout its history, Lighthouse has fielded teams that have won a record five US Youth Soccer James P. McGuire Cups. “The quality of people involved, the commitment to soccer and the develop-

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ment of kids led us to rebuild Lighthouse,” said Sam Lee, president of the club. “It is an incredible child-centered environment. The Lighthouse tradition is about competing to the best of your ability, having respect for your teammates, the game and the community as a whole.” For Lee, the honor bestowed upon Lighthouse by the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame spreads beyond the club itself. “This is an honor to be shared throughout the soccer community because almost every club and soccer entity has some Lighthouse connection and we are extremely grateful for our inclusion in this community.” TL


The Coach’s Corner: Our Best Coaches with our Youngest Players By Mike Barr, Director of Coaching, Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer

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y the time a child is three, a child’s brain has formed 1,000 trillion connections. Around age eleven pruning begins; a process of getting rid of extra connections and making order out of the other connections. The remaining connections are more powerful and efficient. Researchers have shown that sensory motor skills learned as children mean that proper neural pathways have been laid. In brain development with young children, when a connection with motor skills is used repeatedly in early years, that connection becomes permanent. Things a child does a single time are less likely to have an effect on brain development. How does this information affect my child in obtaining technical skills for soccer? If a child is introduced to proper technique in training, with a coach’s awareness of cognitive development, it will enhance a child’s potential for success for a lifetime. The inner ear and motor activity system is the first sensory system to mature. The system gathers information and helps children keep balance, turns thinking into actions and coordinates movement. If children are constantly exposed to various proper movement activities with a ball it will enhance technical skills needed to play at a high level. When children are challenged in youth sports neurotransmitters are released, brain neuron development is promoted and neuronal connections

are enhanced. Coaching the U-6 to U-10 player it is common practice among many clubs to have their best coaches with the older travel teams. These teams gain the most recognition, success is determined by wins and losses and they normally carry the banner of the club. If players have not been exposed to proper techniques at early ages they do not have the ability to put the skills to use in the very limited time and pressure they face in matches as they get older. Having a club’s best coaches with the younger players assures proper technique for the older player in all situations of a match and guarantees all the younger players with proper training. If we use our best coaches who are aware of the constant movement needed by children, various fun activities that address technique, a large amount of free play as well as a need for repetition every child benefits. A player needs several years of quality training, numerous touches on the ball and quality free play in order to refine those skills to go to a higher competitive level. Patience is a quality these coaches should exhibit. Young children are left brain dominant and have not yet begun to compartmentalize activities or experiences. They are in constant movement and appear not to pay attention but what they are really doing is taking in the entire environment for future needs. Surprisingly, chaos and lack of struc-

ture may be strong indicators of a quality training session for U-6 children. Quality fun, technical training with one practice to one game for the U-6 player and two practices to one game for the U-8 to U-10 player will assure proper development. As players become older these same coaches should refine these skills by increasing pressure and speed of play. It is easy to recognize the player who has been exposed to this type of training at the early ages by examining their comfort on the ball, first touch and enjoyment of playing in a match at U-10. The child and their parents should expect and receive the same quality of education from coaches, as they expect from the primary teachers within their school district. With budget cuts in physical education, soccer clubs must now take a more serious role in providing quality physical activity which transfers into brain nourishment, high energy levels, self- esteem and better performance in the classroom. Every club in Eastern Pennsylvania should attempt to have a master coach (technical director, director of coaching) who has gone through the coaching education system offered through the state association and U.S. Soccer. We also offer courses to all other coaches within a club to provide proper coaching methodology, progression in training sessions and improving technique. TL

You can read more from Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Director of Coaching Mike Barr on his daily blog at www.EPYSA.org.

EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA YOUTH SOCCER • TOUCHLINE 19


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Why 8 A-Side?

By, Sam Snow • U. S. Soccer National Staff Instructor US Youth Soccer Director of Coaching Education

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hildren in the U-11 and U-12 age groups should play eight versus eight (8 v 8) in their matches. This includes the goalkeeper, hence seven field players and one goalkeeper. Players in this age group should play 8 v 8 to enhance their soccer abilities. This is true for all levels of play, recreational or premier. At this point in their physical and psychological development, most 10 and 11-year-old children can play rather than play at the game of soccer. Coaches must be careful at this juncture and not fall victim to the false assumption that these preadolescent children are now able to play mature soccer. Yet there is more competence in their individual technical performance. They now intentionally combine in groups of two to four around the ball. In fact, the word “team” now becomes more than an abstract concept. The playing field should be 70 to 80 yards long and 45 to 55 yards wide. The goal should be 6 feet high by 18 feet wide. The penalty area should be 14 yards out from each post and 14 yards forward. The goal area, penalty spot, penalty arc, corner arc, corner flags and center circle should be per FIFA rules. They should play two halves of 30 minutes each. Overtime should be two periods of 10 minutes each. The ball is a size four, which gives a good indication that these are still children playing the game.

TECHNICAL

With fewer players on the field each player will touch the ball frequently. Obviously this happens in match conditions, thus assisting their technical development in a realistic way. Technical speed is enhanced due to the realistic

size of the field. Improving technical speed puts a player on the road to tactical awareness. Since there are fewer players on the field they will have to perform both offensive and defensive ball skills frequently during match play. Improving ball skills is the main objective with this age group. Two critical technical aspects of soccer are learned incorrectly in the current 11 v 11 format with this age group: goal scoring and shot stopping. In the current 11 v 11 format the U-12 players are asked to use a regulation adult goal, which is 8 feet high by 24 feet wide. Ten and eleven-year-old goalkeepers are not very tall. Being preadolescents they have no vertical jump of any significant height. They generally have no chance of making a save on a high shot. Poor goalkeeping habits may be developed due to this environment. Furthermore the shooters are getting into a terrible habit of shooting high. With a smaller goal at U-12 better goalkeepers and shooters will be developed. Skills become an even more important factor at this point in their development because the players need to be introduced to general tactics as well. The technical/tactical possibility of switching the point of attack occurs for these players on a slightly smaller pitch. They could not execute this play on a full size pitch. The ability to switch the attack from one side of the pitch to the other with one or two touches of the ball is now a real option. This technical/tactical possibility keeps all of the players within the team connected.

PHYSICAL

With fewer players on a smaller pitch a greater demand will be placed on the players’ fitness level. In this environment the game will take on a quick pace from end to end of the pitch. No player will be able to “hang out” while someone else defends or attacks for that player. In the 8 v 8 match environment the biggest increase on the fitness demand upon the players will be anaerobic. Speed and strength in these pubescent players will also begin to improve. Players will be in constant motion from penalty area to penalty area. Because the pitch is somewhat smaller there will be less aerobic endurance required, since the players will do fewer long

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distance jogs. Instead more anaerobic endurance will be required since they’ll do more short distance sprints.

PSYCHOLOGICAL

With fewer players directly involved in the match a greater demand on mental focus will be placed upon the players. The game will always be near them and they will be almost continuously involved in the action. Since the number of players on the field of play is manageable for these children they may be willing to take more risks. In other words, players now work with one another on offense in the shape of combination passing and defending in pairs. When playing in larger numbers the tactical picture is confusing to them. They do not yet have the cognitive development to handle so many variables at once. Furthermore, in the small-sided game environment the coach and players can work together to improve teamwork; confidence; desire; mental rehearsal; intrinsic motivation; handling distress; how to learn from each match; sportsmanship; dealing with parental involvement and emotional management.

TACTICAL

The aspect of player development that will be most impacted by the 8 v 8 environment is tactics. With fewer players on a smaller pitch all players will be continuously involved on “both sides of the ball.” That is they all will be engaged in both offense and defense throughout the match. A much greater demand for tactical transition will occur in this small-sided game. When


U-12 teams play on a large pitch with 11 a-side there is a tendency for the players to watch their teammates play and to only play themselves when the ball is in their immediate area. The 8 a-side match does not allow players to “hide in the weeds.” I recommend that U-12 teams play in a 2-3-2 formation. This formation allows the players to execute the principles of play, but will also place a great demand on mental and physical transition. This aspect of the 8 v 8 environment is most appropriate since the U-12 age group is considered the dawning of tactical awareness. Ten and 11-year-old players can execute individual and group tactics. The tactical concept of compactness is enhanced in the small-sided game. Another interesting aspect concerning horizontal and vertical compactness recognizes that when U-12 children play 11 v 11 on a full size field, because the spaces between defenders are so large, the attacking game often devolves into a series of one against one confrontations rather than coordinated combination play. Thus, attacking players are often confronted with one defender, a large space behind the defender, and with not much more than a change of speed, often they are able to dribble past and still have space to come under control again before they face another defender. This is one reason it is so difficult to get teenage players to play combinations rather than perpetually try to take players on 1 v 1, even though the spaces between defenders get smaller and smaller as they get older. What these young players do not yet have is the experience or maturity to execute team

tactics. As more players enter the field of play the tactical environment becomes more complex. This has a direct impact on the players’ decision making in both a technical and tactical sense. This becomes a tactically overwhelming environment, which leads to frustration. Since the tactical problems are too complex to solve the players often resort to a kick and run approach. Within the 8 a-side match, the group tactics are reduced to mostly two, three and four players around the ball. This is a tactical situation, which a ten-year-old can comprehend. Consequently, the player is able to handle the tactical environment and make intelligent decisions. The U-12 age group is a transitional age for soccer players. These are players in the throes of puberty. Moving from childhood into adolescence they are going through a myriad of changes emotionally, physically, intellectually and socially. The 8 a-side game

serves as their bridge into playing the adult soccer game of 11 a-side. This environment will produce young teenaged players who are a bit more tactically aware and more comfortable with the ball. With this approach we are moving closer toward intrinsic motivation, which is precisely where we want to be if we honestly believe that soccer is a player’s game.

EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA YOUTH SOCCER • TOUCHLINE 23


Indoor Training and Games for Player Development By Danielle Fagan, Assistant Director of Coaching for Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer

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s the fall soccer season winds down, the weather turns cold and damp, the days get shorter and it becomes time to take your teams indoors. Years ago, there were only gymnasiums or indoor soccer facilities with dasher boards and hard turf on which to train and play soccer. Nowadays, there are a variety of facilities with various surfaces and the option to play with boards or touchline. There are also futsal leagues starting in many areas. No matter what you select for your team, the key is to make sure it is developmentally appropriate for the players such that they are getting plenty of playing time, maximum touches on the ball and playing the game indoors as it relates to the game outdoors. When entering your team into an indoor league or tournament, you may want to consider splitting it into small groups so you will have two or three teams and players have many opportunities to improve their game. Most indoor leagues and tournaments play 5 v 5 up to 7 v 7 and the games are anywhere from 18 minutes to 40 minutes long. So, that doesn’t give you a lot of time to get players in the game. Having one to three substitutes per team is the best scenario for player development. That way the players have plenty of game time and their parents are not only getting their money’s worth for being there, but the players have enough time to get into a rhythm of play and have some sort of flow to their game as well. Small rosters for indoor leagues also ensures that the players will get a lot of touches on the ball and be actively involved in the play for a

majority of the game. Having opportunities to go 1 v 1 in games, make decisions and be part of the play in games is important; but it is also critical to have maximum touches in practice. When training indoors, the ball to player ratio should be 1-to-1. Using this time to develop players’ ball control, footwork and dribbling will go a long way when they get back outside on the big field. The surface indoors can sometimes be a lot faster, especially if you’re training on a wooden gym floor or sport court, which helps players learn to control the ball better. Also, the smaller indoor space creates many opportunities for 1 v 1 situations and limits the player’s time and space in which to make decisions and control the ball. Players learn to think faster, which improves their speed of play and they must execute their skills such as dribbling or passing in much tighter spaces. This improves their touch on the ball and overall control with the ball at their feet. There are many activities players can do indoors to improve their foot skills. You also have the benefit of walls in some of the indoor facilities. One thing to be certain of though is that you use the walls to teach the game and not to win the game. When you play smallsided games or scrimmages in training, limit how the players use the walls or use the lines as out-of-bounds so they don’t rely on the walls to keep the ball in play. In the indoor game, there are also opportunities to teach players to play with their backs to the goal and how a negative pass helps the team go forward. And if you’re playing games in a facility that has walls, encourage players to use the space as if the walls are not in play, but to still stretch the field and get wide with their backs to the wall when they don’t have the ball. Teaching players to bang the ball off the wall without a purpose is not going to help them develop as soccer players. I see many coaches teaching players to use the wall to beat an opponent, which is ok as it replicates the “wall pass” used outdoors. However, I also see many coaches encouraging players to simply hit the ball off the walls especially the walls next to the goal so the ball rebounds in front of the goal to an oncoming player for a shot. While this may be a great strategy to get a goal and ultimately win the game, it doesn’t exactly teach the players soccer as it relates to the

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outdoor game. It creates bad habits whereby the match turns into a pinball game with the ball simply bouncing all over the field. When training with the use of wall space, players can use the walls to improve their reaction time and also maximize their touches. There are various activities players can do with their ball and a wall by knocking the ball off the wall and standing at different distances from the wall to improve reaction time for passing and receiving. Players can be timed to see how many times they can strike the ball against the wall and receive it under control in 30 seconds or one minute, for example. Coaches can decide on different restrictions or rules regarding how the player passes and receives the ball (inside of the foot, outside of the foot, laces), the number of touches a player has in each sequence, whether or not to do a move before passing the ball and which move to do. Plus, the coach can decide which foot to use or using both feet, etc. Overall, when it comes time to take your players indoors remember to: • Consider smaller rosters for games • Take advantage of the opportunity to develop individual ball skills including passing, receiving, and dribbling • Execute appropriate use of the walls in training and games. Indoor soccer, while it doesn’t exactly replicate the outdoor game, is a lot of fun for players because it is fast-paced and they have more chances to be involved in the play. It’s a great way for players to continue to develop their game while staying out of the wintery weather. TL

You can read more from Assistant Director of Coaching Danielle Fagan on her daily blog posted at www.EPYSA.org.


Max: A Case for Concussion Awareness A Team Rallies Behind One Of It’s Own

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ionville is a small travel club in Downingtown, Pa., with only nine teams ranging from Under-9 to Under-15 Boys and Girls. They are usually the underdogs amongst the bigger clubs in the area. But the Lionville Kixx Under-10 Boys are beginning to make a name for themselves in just their second year of travel league play. They won the Delco Soccer League championship in 2009, which was their first year together. This season they moved up to division 2 in the league and finished 4-1-4. That is some achievement. However, the team’s success was almost foiled when they lost one of their players to what has become a topic of increasing awareness for coaches, parents and, most importantly, players: concussions. On September 12, Max, 9, playing in goal, collided with another player and hit his head on the ground. According to Kixx head coach John D’Angelo, the fall didn’t look serious but he took Max out of the game for a breather. A few minutes later, D’Angelo asked Max if he was ready to go back in. The answer from his young, tough athlete was a shocking “no.” Hours after the game Max told his mother, Kimberly, that his vision was blurred and he had a headache. She took him to the pediatrician the next day and was told it might be a head injury and to take Tylenol and avoid sports for the time being. But Max’s symptoms got worse over the next few days. He was dizzy, nauseous and had trouble remembering things. Kimberly took Max to see a specialist and was soon diagnosed with post-concussion

syndrome. According to the Mayo Clinic, postconcussion syndrome is a complex disorder in which a combination of post-concussion symptoms — such as headaches and dizziness — last for weeks and sometimes months after the injury that caused the concussion. Loss of consciousness isn’t required for a diagnosis of concussion or post-concussion syndrome. In most people, post-concussion syndrome symptoms occur within the first seven to 10 days and go away within three months, though they can persist for a year or more. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, reports that the potential for concussions is greatest in athletic environments where collisions are common. As many as 3.8 million sports and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States each year. The CDC advises coaches and parents to watch for the following among athletes that could lead to- or signal- a concussion: • A forceful blow to the head or body that results in rapid movement of the head • Any change in the athlete’s behavior, thinking, or physical functioning Since that diagnosis in September, Max has been restricted from playing in all organized sports. No computers or video games. No academic tests, quizzes or large project work that requires a lot of attention. Max sees his specialist every week. His brain needs time to heal. What would be a “normal” routine for Max needs to be reintroduced slowly into his life. “I can’t stress enough how innocent this was,” said Kimberly. “What did I miss? Why didn’t I realize it was so bad?” According to Max’s specialist, Dr. Bonnie Nye of Advanced Orthopedic Associates, concussions are the invisible injury. “Initially, when you see someone, they may

seem ok,” said Dr. Nye. “Less that 10% of those who receive a concussion are knocked unconscious. But, we need to make sure that kids understand what a concussion is and what it will feel like. We need to increase player awareness. We need to make sure that parents and coaches understand it too.” “Max understands what happened but doesn’t understand why he is not better,” said Kimberly. “I was lucky because I was surrounded by people who told me to send my son to a specialist. “ Coach D’Angelo hopes that Max’s case is a wake up call to all coaches and athletes about how serious head injuries can be and the responsibilities a coach should take to protect their players. “I don’t ask the kids if they want to come out anymore,” said coach D’Angelo. “If they are hurt they are coming out. I am on the side of caution.” “You cannot tell after day one what will happen to a particular child who may have received a concussion,” said Dr. Nye. “It makes it tough for coaches and parents because you realize that there won’t be a big ‘X’ on their forehead signaling a concussion.” “If your child experiences any kind of knock to the head, watch them,” said Kimberly. “If a doctor says they see a concussion then go to a specialist right away. There is a happy ending to this story. Max was made honorary captain at the last game of the season and received applause from everyone. Assistant coach Steve Battisti maintains that Max was a stalwart on defense and irreplaceable. His teammates miss him on the field and remain connected to him through the team’s strong bond of friendship. “Max defines himself by his athletic ability,” said Kimberly. “He is very much connected with the team. I get calls all the time from the kids asking how Max is and can he come back.” Get well soon Max. Your teammates will TL always be there for you. 0

For more information on concussion awareness visit the CDC’s “Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports” site at www.cdc.gov/concussion/ HeadsUp/youth.html

EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA YOUTH SOCCER • TOUCHLINE 25


The Ref: Stephanie High Helping Kids Enjoy the Game

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t age 14, Stephanie High knew she wanted to enter the definitely non-glamorous world of being a soccer referee. It was like a light switch turning on for this Exeter, Pennsylvania teen who found a way to stay active in the game when she started to realize that her dreams of playing pro might not become a reality. Now, six years and hours and hours of officiating courses later, Stephanie is still going strong. She officiates an average of eight games per week for FIFA and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA). This, on top of her academic workload and other work demands, begs

the question of why she loves to officiate so much? “By being a referee, I get to help other kids enjoy the game,” said Stephanie. “I get exercise and on top of that I get payed to do a job I love. If I wasn’t going to become a famous soccer player then this is what I was going to do.” Stephanie works games for the Under-9,10,11,12 and 14 age groups. Although players, coaches and refs don’t always see eye to eye, Stephanie has the confidence to back-up her calls on the field and explain her decisions to players after the game. “If the kids have questions they don’t have a problem asking me,” said Stephanie. “I get compliments from the parents and coaches because I take the time to explain things. If they know the referee is not the enemy the game goes smoother.” “Stephanie promotes the game by attending clinics and meetings held by referees to further their knowledge of the sport,” said Mark Yocum, referee assignor and president for the Reading Berks Jr. Soccer League. “As a referee she also takes the time to explain the game to the younger players to make sure that they are also understanding the game she loves.” Officiating comes easy to Stephanie. She’s not afraid to speak up on the field and she knows the game inside and out through her years of experience playing soccer for

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various travel clubs and on her varsity high school team. But you would never guess from talking with Stephanie, or watching her on the field, that she deals with dyslexia and an auditory processing disorder. At times, she struggled academically at Exeter Township High School. However, through perseverance and hard work she met all the requirements to graduate with her class in 2009, and she did it with honors. “She is very determined and dedicated,” said Stephanie’s mother, Sherri. “Her disabilities never played into her playing soccer at all. We saw how difficult school was for her and soccer gave her another level of confidence. She has always had a love for the game. With refereeing, she didn’t need to learn something new. This was familiar territory.” “My learning disability doesn’t have a lot to do with my officiating,” said Stephanie. “I was raised with soccer. It comes easy for me. I feel confident about the calls that I make on the field. I do dread every year taking the FIFA test, but I do believe we need to have the tests.” “Her learning disabilities have not taken away from her ability to communicate game assignments or to maintain the high expectations coaches have for a referee,” said Yocum. High expectations are exactly what Stephanie has set for herself by being a referee. And, by all accounts, she is meeting those expectations. “It makes me feel good when parents say, ‘Hey ref, you did a great job,’” said Stephanie. “That puts a smile on my face.” In addition to her officiating schedule, Stephanie is currently taking courses at the Berks Career and Technology Center and the Reading Area Community College. She is pursuing a career as a dental hygienist. Stephanie recently won first place in a speaking contest at a national Health Occupation Students of America competition. TL

If you would like more information on becoming a referee visit the Eastern Pennsylvania Soccer Association Referee Committee website at www.EPSARC.org.


Spotlight on Coaching: Sherri McClintock From Mom to Coach

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herri McClintock has been coaching soccer since 1993 and, by all accounts, she knows her stuff. Over the years, this “E” licensed coach has built a reputation for herself in the Palisades Youth Soccer Association as a coach who cultivates a love for the game of soccer and as a team builder who inspires others to bring out their best. Coach McClintock has faced many challenges as a coach but none so great as when she decided to move from the helm of her Under-15 Lady Pirates, which she had been coaching for six years, to an Under-10 Boys travel team, the Palisades Pirate Crew. The move made sense for her, from a scheduling standpoint, but would these boys take to a woman being their coach? “Boys and girls are very different in their energy level and the way they think,” said coach McClintock. “It took me a little bit of time to gain their trust, to go from someone’s mom to their coach. It was exciting for me to realize that there are different ways to what makes girls and boys tick. It took some time for them to see what I could offer them.” But it took very little time for the male coaches to see what coach McClintock would bring to the game. “I think the men were surprised to see a woman coaching,” said coach McClintock. “I was a little intimidated last year, but this year I feel I have more support and respect. The coaches that I have played against have treated me well.” The Pirate Crew gave their coach a fair shot and in doing so found a coach who would

lead them to success on and off the field. Now, in her second year of coaching the team, she is leading them to an undefeated season. “She has turned all of the kids on our team into really good soccer players, and I am certain that we could not have come this far in our season without her coaching,” said player Charles Ryan. “She motivates us to work really hard and to be good players by believing in us. She makes us want to be our best and teaches us how to get there.” Michael Creighton, another of coach McClintock’s players, echoed those sentiments. “She has helped me to believe in myself and I have a lot more confidence as a player since she has been my coach.” Coach McClintock teaches her players respect for the game, encouraging the kids to discuss with her what did and did not work in a match. She instills patience on the attack to help her players avoid being sloppy on the field. And she wants her team to trust in each other, a lesson she drives home by getting her players to tell one another what they have done in a game that is “pretty cool.” “My focus is making the players proud of their individual contributions to the team and then building the team so that they are proud of their accomplishments together,” said coach McClintock. “Sherri has a knack of bringing out the best in any player while positioning them on the field in a way where they can have the greatest opportunity for success,” said Thomas Buccigrossi, president and travel director of the Palisades Youth Soccer Association. “Her dedication to her players is truly something to be admired. Her drive is immeasurable.” Coach Mc-

“It took me a little bit of time to gain their trust, to go from someone’s mom to their coach. It was exciting for me to realize that there are different ways to what makes girls and boys tick. It took some time for them to see what I could offer them.”

Clintock’s fondness of sports comes from a core belief that they are a valuable learning tool which teaches lifelong lessons. “I have always loved playing sports,” said coach McClintock. “I want my kids to have those types of memories and experiences as well. Sports can be helpful in teaching tolerance and working together.” Speaking of lessons, this coach is learning some new ones herself. She recently began taking officiating courses with her 15-yearold daughter Elise. It should probably then come as no surprise that we will be reading about “referee McClintock” in the near future. TL

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The Coach and the Coached From Generation to Generation

“Jorge and Nicholas Severini in Argentina”

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he annual clash of the varsity boys’ soccer teams of Lower Merion High School and Haverford High School is an event in and of itself for the Central League every year. This past September’s game had a little extra excitement to it though. This was the first official coaching match between a father and son well known in the community for their passion for soccer. The elder statesman, Jorge Severini, hailing from the town of Bahia Blanca in Argentina, would lead Haverford while his 28-year-old son, Nicholas, would take charge of Lower Merion for the first time as it’s head coach. But Nicholas was no stranger to his father’s Haverford squad. He served as his dad’s assistant for four years. Nicholas knew the players and, more importantly, knew what to expect from the team’s coach. “There was an excitement about the game,” said Nicholas. “I looked at it as an experience to play against someone who taught me everything I know about the game. We have similar coaching styles. I knew what was going to be thrown at us. We just said good luck to each other before the game and then tried to enjoy it. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.” The experience was not lost on Jorge. He took delight in watching his son take the reins of the opposing team and couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride in what his son had

Ukrainian Nationals. He has been an Olympic accomplished. “I saw Nicholas ma- Development Program coach for Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer for 25 years and terialize into a coach his coaching style is based on experience that day,” said Jorge. with an eye towards flexibility for incorpo“What a nice surprise rating new techniques. He and Nicholas for me to see him recently returned from Argentina where they very well composed learned new training methods and tactics to and having a team use with their teams. respond well to him. “I develop players on and off the field,” He has good players said Jorge. “I believe in a structure of on the team, and I discipline based on good work ethics with am sure Nicholas is enough room for creativity and improvisabringing out the best tion. I might change my tactics but not my in each one of them.” philosophy.” Lower Merion Jorge’s philosophy is not lost on Nicholas. would go on to beat “I have had a lot of different coaches and Haverford 2-1 in a tight match. But even I’ve learned from all of them but my father was the one who influenced me the most,” with the loss, Jorge, who has been at the said Nicholas. “I’ve been around him so many helm of Haverford for 22 years, couldn’t help years that I feel very confident and I translate but be pleased with the overall outcome. that into my coaching. My father is one of “I wouldn’t have done much different with the best coaches I have ever known.” TL my team,” said Jorge. “It was a fun game to watch. It was an even game. Nicholas is a smart coach, an analytic coach. Based on what he knows about my coaching style, I think he made the right decisions in the game. It was a little emotional having Nicholas on the other bench.” “It was fun to compete in a game that If you are interested in learning more could have gone either way,” said Nicholas. It about the soccer adventures of Jorge and was a big win for us.” Nicholas Severini during their recent trip to “This game set the tone for the rest of Argentina, log onto www.EPYSA.org. the season for Nicholas,” said Jorge. “It gave Nicholas the confidence to do what he needs to do with his team.” But the confidence Nicholas gained from the win did not come completely from besting Haverford that day. For Nicholas, soccer is ingrained in his family’s core. It is a way of life rather than a hobby. Upon arriving in the United States in 1973, Jorge played for Philadelphia soccer teams the Spartans, Atoms and the (Left) Nicholas Severini (Middle) Mike Barr, Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer director of coaching

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(Right) Jorge Severini


ODP Spotlight: Andrea Gunderson Taking It to the Next Level

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ifteen-year-old Andrea Gunderson knows if ever there was a time to focus on her game it’s now. This rising star out of Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer’s Olympic Development Program (ODP) is intent on taking her soccer career all the way. This is Andrea’s fourth year in ODP and she is making a name for herself. “ODP has helped me become a better player,” said Andrea. “You get to work with coaches who come from all over the region and you get their perspective on how you can become a better player. There is a lot of pressure to do well but, in the end, good things will come.” ODP provides supplemental training and competitive opportunities for players with the goal of advancement to US Youth Soccer Region I teams and, ultimately, national team selections. This year, Andrea was named to the US Youth Soccer ODP Region I pool and worked hard to not only maintain her pool status but also make it to the regional team. This was revenge for the year before when she was in regional pool at camp and got cut the last day. “Andrea has really started to focus on what she

needs to do mentally to play at the next level,” said Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Assistant Director of Coaching Danielle Fagan. “Andrea is extremely physical and knows how to use her speed and strength to her advantage. “ Andrea’s dream is to make it to the U.S. National Team, a Division I school and the pros. But at this age, Andrea is taking things in stride. “I wouldn’t be upset if it doesn’t happen,” said Andrea. “I am taking this one step at a time.” “Because she has been exposed to that expanded horizon in ODP she knows there are a lot of good players out there that she has to compete with,” said Andrea’s mother, Susan. “Andrea has an appreciation for other players.” Andrea’s infectious personality has not been lost on those who know her best. She is the captain of her Under-16 Penn Fusion club team and is a skilled communicator. “Andrea is lighthearted, fun and makes everyone around her laugh,” said coach Fagan. “I am convinced that she finally figured out how to balance her fun side with the side that is so incredibly determined to succeed.” TL

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INCLUDED THIS YEAR: Coaching Sessions with Special Guest Clinicians and Director of Coaching Mike Barr Appearances by the Philadelphia Union and the Philadelphia Independence The Latest in Soccer Gear and Apparel from Angelo’s Soccer Corner ODP Showcase Games Informative Lecture Series Vendor Displays And Much, Much, More... GO TO WWW.EPYSA.ORG TO LEARN HOW YOU CAN REGISTER AND RECEIVE AN EARLY DISCOUNT EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA YOUTH SOCCER • TOUCHLINE 29


ODP Coaches: Jason Luzak A Passion for Teaching

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knee injury ended Jason Luzak’s playing days in the mid-nineties but led to an impressive coaching run with the Olympic Development Program (ODP) for Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer that continues today. ODP is a national identification and development program for high-level players. A graduate of Strath Haven High School in 1989, Luzak went on to play soccer at Harvard

University. Upon graduation, he went to Germany where he played soccer for two years. “I wanted to pursue soccer for as long as I could,” said Luzak. “Playing in Germany was certainly a unique experience.” After Germany, Luzak played in the USISL (United States Interregional Soccer Leagues) for a season until knee problems finally sidelined him. It was then that Luzak decided to pursue coaching and soon received his USSF “A” License and became an assistant ODP coach back in Eastern Pennsylvania with the Under-17 Boys in 1996. Luzak continued to thrive in ODP and eventually became the Under-12 Girls head coach in 2009. He also added to his duties the role of coordinator for the Under-12 Boys and Girls. Along the way, Luzak coached high school soccer and was the assistant coach for women’s varsity soccer at West Chester University. On top of all this, Luzak coached club teams ranging in age from six to 18. But all roads lead back to ODP for Luzak. After

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all his years of playing and coaching he has a pretty good idea of what it takes to make it at the ODP level. “To make an ODP team we look for players with a passion to play,” said Luzak. “You have to have that competitive edge.” It is the players who inspire Luzak day in and day out to give as much to them as they give to him. “I am very interested in being a part of the development of some of the best players around, “ said Luzak. “If you have the time to be involved with high level players then you have the opportunity to give them some nuance of instruction to make them great.“ Teaching is a passion for Luzak and having that opportunity is the most satisfying aspect of the job for him. “My goal is to give information to the kids to get them to play at the highest levels possible, hopefully higher levels than I was able to achieve.” TL


Amber Brooks: The Aerial Ace at UNC ODP: Where are they now?

She is a soccer junky who dominates aerial duals like no one else.” Those words from University of North Carolina Tar Heels head women’s soccer coach Anson Dorrance describe none other than Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer’s own Amber Brooks, a former Olympic Development Program (ODP) standout who, in her sophomore year, played a pivotal role in leading the Tar Heels to 19-3-2 season. All seven senior starters who helped UNC win the national championship in 2009 went on to play in women’s professional soccer. And if Brooks, a midfielder, continues playing with the same intensity that she has always brought to the field, coach Dorrance has no qualms about predicting a pro future for #22. For her part, Brooks is firmly planted in her commitment to go as far as her potential will take her. She realized much of that potential playing

in ODP. “ODP had a lot to do with me growing up and becoming independent,” said Brooks. “It put me in a great environment where I could mature as a person and player. I took bits and pieces from all I learned from the coaches and players and added them to my game.” The US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program was designed to be the premier provider of quality soccer training to elite youth soccer players in the United States and guide them to identification at the national level. Brooks was a member of the Region I ODP team from 20042009, travelling to Barbados, Spain, Brazil and Russia. Her National Team experience is extensive, having recently started on defense for the Under-20 National Team in the 2010 Under-20 World Cup in Germany and playing a pivotal role for the Under-17 Girls when they captured the silver medal in the inaugural Under-17 World Cup. She played for her club team Arsenal World Class since she was 14. But most soccer roads lead back to ODP for Brooks. She credits former Region I Girls ODP Administrator Charlotte Moran for creating equal opportunities for girls in soccer and making girls in the program more self-reliant. Brooks’ mother, Jean, is the current administrator and was a college soccer player herself along with her husband, Allan. Brooks has no hesitation in encouraging other players coming up through the ranks to get involved with ODP if they have their eyes set on playing college soccer and beyond. “With ODP, there is a consistent kind of level,” said Brooks. “You get to play with the best in your area. There is no better way to get better than to play with the best players. You are coached by some of the best. If you

aspire to get to the highest levels of soccer then I think ODP is an important part of it.” Playing for UNC has played an influential role in Brooks’ development. When it came time to choosing a school, her heart was set. “I was not going to say no to UNC,” said Brooks. “Everyday I go to practice I know I am going to be competing against the best in the country. “ And compete she does. Coach Dorrance’s philosophy of the “Competitive Cauldron” means, in part, that everything the players do in practice is recorded and the players are ranked from it. If Brooks gets the slightest hint that she is not where she wants to be then she goes into overdrive. “I am extremely competitive,” said Brooks. “At the end of the day, I am going to do whatever I can to get my team to win. You can never become too technical. Everyday you spend with the ball helps. I am always trying to embrace emotion control on the field and work on my positive leadership voice. I try to remember what my thought process was during my last successful game.” “She is a central player with excellent speed,” said coach Dorrance. “ She wants to be the best she can be at the game. I like her leadership qualities and her commitment to her development. She is a significant player for us.” Brooks was recently named to the 2010 Academic All-District Women’s Soccer Team presented by ESPN. This New Hope, Pa., native hits the books as hard as she hits the field. TL

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A Heart of Gold

A Young Teen Starts a Life Changing TOPSoccer Program

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hen Madeline Howard was 13, she went with a friend, and her friend’s brother who has Down syndrome, to a soccer event at which he was able to participate. Madeline had been to the Special Olympics and other similar events before but there was something about the opportunity for those with disabilities to be able to enjoy soccer that struck a chord in Madeline’s heart. Madeline, and her older sister Carolann, both soccer players, decided that they too wanted to do something that would build confidence for children with disabilities. So they reached out to the Haverford Soccer Club and presented a proposal to start a TOPSoccer program in the area. Now, four years later, 17-year-old Madeline is still leading the program and more committed to it than ever. US Youth Soccer TOPSoccer is a community-based training and team placement program for young athletes with disabilities, organized by youth soccer association volunteers. The program is designed to bring the opportunity of learning and playing soccer to any boy or girl who has a mental or physical disability. Madeline currently has twelve kids in her program and won’t reject anyone. She strives to pair one volunteer per child. She set up a buddy system so that volunteers who come out to the Brookline School Field in Havertown, Pa., on Sundays to work with a specific

child can keep them focused and give them constant support. The children range in age from 7 to 19 with disabilities including severe autism and Cerebral Palsy. “It’s really important for these kids to have a connection with someone,” said Madeline. “If they have a personal connection with each of the people they see then it’s more meaningful. It’s important for them to have an opportunity that they wouldn’t normally have without this team.” For a parent, having a program like TOPSoccer and volunteers like Madeline opens up new avenues for their child’s development and enjoyment of life. “TOPSoccer gives the parent the ability to see their children grow in something that you would have taken for granted,” said Jim McCoy whose son, Matt, 12, has Cerebral Palsy. “You watch the kids play and function in a sport that not only brings enjoyment to your child but to the parent as well.” “We didn’t have any programs like this when we were growing up,” said Terri Kirlin whose daughter, Kristy, 16, suffers from a chromosome abnormality. “Madeline started this league for kids to enjoy. Society changes by the things that people do and

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what Madeline does makes a huge difference.” A huge difference is exactly what TOPSoccer has made in Madeline’s life. So much so that she will remain involved with the team no matter where she goes to college. “When I first started this team, I didn’t think it would affect me the way that it has,” said Madeline. “I know who I am because of this team. These kids are so inspiring and so amazing. I wouldn’t give up coaching this team for the world.” “Madeline brings energy to the program, and she gives these kids self-confidence,” said McCoy. “She is a young lady beyond her years.” “Madeline’s social life often comes second, as she will turn down social opportunities if it interferes with her team schedule,” said Peter Schechner of the Haverford Soccer Club. “I don’t give anything up,” said Madeline. “I benefit from being in TOPSoccer. “I think it is worth it.” TL For more information on how you can become a volunteer with a TOPSoccer Program near you visit the Programs site at www.EPYSA.org.


Mission: Possible

Father Doesn’t Let War Interfere with Kids Soccer

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alfway around the world in Afghanistan, where some nine hours adds to the distance separating families during this war, a high ranking officer still finds time to keep up with his children’s soccer games. In fact, he cherishes every moment of it. Army Colonel Reginald L. Sikes is the Director of Plans for a combined joint interagency task force that is responsible for United States detention operations in Afghanistan. It is his job to work closely with the U.S. Embassy, coalition forces and Afghan partners to expand fair and equitable justice in the country. But even in the midst of these complex operations it is not uncommon to find Col. Sikes on the phone with his wife Cheryl during soccer games asking for updates on their two children Blake, 12, and Brianna, 9. It is a different operation altogether for which Col. Sikes runs a tight ship. “My colleagues get a kick out of me at game time as I sit in front of the computer watching the games through Email updates,” said Col. Sikes. “I will sometimes call during the second half and listen to the game over the phone. Even though I cannot be there in person, I try to always be there in spirit.” Sikes’ wife of 17 years, Cheryl, jokes that she often feels like Howard Cosell, calling the game from the sidelines for her husband. “It’s kind of comical,” said Cheryl. “I have a cell

phone in one hand and a camera in the other. But this is his break from the day-to-day grind. He needs a little bit of normalcy in his life.” Normalcy is a tough thing to find in military family life. Blake has moved nine times and Brianna, five. They recently settled in Carlisle, Pennsylvania where they have been living for a little more than a year. Blake plays for the Carlisle Area Youth Soccer Crush Under-14 Boys and Brianna is with the Carlisle Revolution playing with the Under-10 Girls. Soccer has remained a constant in the family’s life helping to make the transition from town to town a little bit easier. “The kids have pretty much played soccer in each hometown,” said Cheryl. “Soccer means instant friendships. Every time we move we get them into a club and they form instant bonds. Usually we move during the summer and soccer helps them to start forming friendships when school is out.” Forming connections in each town has been important for the family during deployments and it is no less true for the bond between coaches and families. Brianna’s coach, Pat Weiss, says Col. Sikes is not only interested in how his daughter performs on the field but how the team as a whole is progressing. “He is super dedicated and we try to keep him in the loop,” said coach Weis. “There are very few of us who can imagine what it is like to be over there and what he is doing for us. I know that he would rather be here. I often picture him on the sidelines.” “While coaching Brianna, Pat has helped develop her as a player and a person,” said Col. Sikes. “He is teaching and

reinforcing good sportsmanship and inspiring self confidence. He has offered her a support network while I am deployed. This all contributes to her emotional and physical health while dealing with the separation of deployment. For that alone, there is no price on how important that is to me.” It’ is not just coach Weis or the family that misses the colonel but the whole team. Before leaving for Afghanistan in July, Brianna’s team threw him a going away party and gave him a jersey to hang on his wall. That jersey, along with soccer photos of Blake and Brianna, decorate Col. Sikes’ small piece of Afghanistan. “I serve with a fellow father whose son plays soccer in high school and we both enjoy sharing stories of our children,” said Col. Sikes. “My fellow service members get a kick out of me on game and tournament weekends because I follow the updates over Email for both of my children. It is through the stories of our children that we all help each other make it through the time away.” In times of war it is sometimes hard to find the adequate words to express one’s gratitude for what all of those serving in the United States military do for us. But perhaps coach Weis said it best. “Col. Sikes sent me a text recently thanking me for sending him updates on the games. I sent him a note right back thanking him for what he does. He doesn’t need to thank me at all.” Col. Sikes will return home to his family in March for a brief visit. We, at Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer, support all of our troops serving around the world. TL

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Changing the System

By John Campbell, State Youth Referee Administrator

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s the new State Youth Referee Administrator (SYRA), I am honored to be a part of the team working to make necessary changes to the system. The youth referee community will now have a voice in how referee programs are administered. I will solicit the thoughts of the leagues, clubs, coaches, administrators, parents and referees applying the responses to the questions we are addressing. Our

primary purpose is to achieve an atmosphere of cooperation in which we can create new programs and services. The responsibilities of the SYRA are not just to deal with “young” referees, it is to deal with all issues relating to referees in the age divisions up to and including the U-19 level. My goal is to develop the next generation of match officials, instructors, assessors, assignors and administrators to allow the referee community to keep pace with the demands of the Eastern Pennsylvania soccer community. Education remains a top priority. To that end, I am also reviewing how we train and educate referees in order to increase our numbers and improve the quality of officiating. We need to acknowledge that a reshaping of the programs in place has to be completed while staying within the guidelines of the United States Soccer Federation’s policies and procedures. Knowledge is empower-

ment. To this end, I am working on adding programs enabling referees to check online to view and understand the requirements for the maintenance of their USSF license and links to help them through the process. Online programs will be available to direct referees to the information they will need to successfully complete a recertification examination. The intermediate clinics will take on an entirely new referee driven format. Involvement in this process of change is paramount, and the success of the programs is contingent on the referee community stepping up and being accountable for the changes we need. The involvement I am asking for is not time driven, it is idea driven. Together we can make this a better process. TL

To learn more about a referee course near you, visit the Eastern Pennsylvania Soccer Association Referee Committee website at www.EPSARC.org .

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