Over the last 6 months we have done a great deal as a club and soccer family so I wanted to give you all an update on the exciting additions and important changes we have made that directly impact you and your player.
There have been so many positive developments that it warranted this ‘State of the Club Address’ to briefly highlight what they are and how they will benefit you, our members.
Growth of our Club
We continue to expand our reach as an organization with the recent addition of Newport Hills as a location. This is another demonstration of our commitment to serving areas where there is a need and demand for a quality youth soccer program.
The structure of our club has evolved over the last 3 years and, as parents, it is not always easy to keep up with the ever-changing youth soccer landscape so I want to explain the direction our club has taken.
We currently serve Bellevue, Mercer Island and now, Newport Hills. The bulk of our members are located in central Bellevue and we have access to considerable field space in this area. As a result, Bellevue has become our main hub of operations.
However, I have a special attachment to Mercer Island as this is where I started the Club and the support and loyalty of our Mercer Island-based members has been a big factor in our programs' success. This is something I will never forget and I am determined to provide this area with a great youth soccer program regardless of the opposition and difficulties we face on the Island.
At this stage, we will be focusing our programming on the Development age groups at our Mercer Island and Newport Hills locations. This will allow our young players to remain close to home when learning the game and keep things convenient for our families. When the time comes to make that step up to 11v11 and a full year-round commitment, our members will only have to travel a short distance to our central Bellevue location to continue their soccer education with NPSA.
This is similar to the way the EYSA and other associations have operated for many years where the Select clubs feed into the Premier Club. The main difference with our model is that all our locations are connected. The NPSA philosophy, coaching curriculum and staff are consistent throughout. Whether you are on one of our teams in Newport or Mercer Island or Bellevue, your child will receive the same level of professional coaching and the same quality environment that NPSA has become known for.
My goal has always been to offer a genuine youth soccer program that will force surrounding clubs to raise their standards which in turn will give all families more options and a better environment for their players to develop. I love a challenge and this has definitely been the biggest challenge of my soccer career but I truly believe we are making progress and other organizations have woken up from their slumber and are trying to compete with the product we provide. This is only going to benefit the game as a whole!
The recent announcement about our partnership with SKLZ again separates us from every other club as this is the first collaboration of its kind in youth soccer.
SKLZ is the leader in performance-based training equipment and this new partnership cements SKLZ as the official supplier of innovative soccer training equipment to NPSA.
This will be a huge benefit to our players because it will add a new dimension to all the training programs that we offer. Our coaching staff will have access to a wide range of SKLZ products that will enhance our team training environment and provide the players with a whole new level of soccer specific fitness and skill training that you won’t find at any other club.
This is a long-term partnership that will keep NPSA at the forefront of the modern game and ensure that we will continue to offer our members the latest technology and equipment that the SKLZ team design.
Year-Round Team Program
From day one, I wanted to offer our members flexibility and convenience when it came to joining our program. Part of this was breaking up the soccer year into two seasons across all our age groups. This format has served us well for the most part and is going to continue for our Development age group teams (U8-U12).
However, being a Premier player requires a certain level of commitment which increases as you get older. I feel that when the player makes the step from our development teams to the 11v11 level, there needs to be more consistency and, ultimately, more commitment in order to compete and succeed.
Therefore, we as a club have decided to make the move to a year-round commitment for our U13 and above teams starting the upcoming 2017/18 season.
So, all teams from birth year 2005 and above will now be required to commit to a full soccer year which will run from June-May.
I believe this is the right time to make this step and it will benefit the players, coaches and parents as it will create continuity and a more settled team environment overall.
Continued Advocacy for the Female Athlete
This year saw the launch of our TITAN XX program. This was the very first female-specific soccer training program of its kind and it has been a massive success!
Led by NSCAA Instructor and ‘A’ Licensed Coach, Erik Oman, our female program has gone from strength to strength over the course of Spring Season with the progress clear for all to see in the performances on the field.
While winning games and leagues isn’t our primary objective, I am a firm believer that success comes as a by-product of development and the results our female teams have recorded so far this season speak for themselves.
At the time of writing, we have 4 out of 6 female teams sitting 1st in their division with a combined record of 34 wins, 4 ties and 7 losses. It is a truly remarkable return at the Premier level and is a deserved reward for all the hard work the players and coaching staff have put in.
In addition to the great training and curriculum Coach Erik has provided, the TITAN XX program offers the players so much more. We recognize that the female athlete requires a different approach to training and particularly the injury-prevention component of the game. For this, we brought in an expert in Dr. Ellie Somers who is a qualified physical therapist and has been working with the players once a week educating them on strength and conditioning and injury-prevention. We have seen a marked improvement in the stamina of the players on a match day as well as a decrease in the number of injuries sustained over the course of the season.
To top it all off, we wanted to give our female players opportunities to listen to, learn from and be inspired by professionals that have been where they are now and achieved success in the game at the highest level. In the first of a series of TITAN XX guest appearances, former US Women’s National Team player and Olympic Gold Medalist, Stephanie Cox, will be coming out to talk to all our female players and their families on Wed April 5th. It is important for any young player to have aspirations and goals but even more important is for them to understand that the best players in the world had to start somewhere. These guest appearances will open their eyes and inspire our young players to believe.
We are truly breaking new ground with our TITAN XX program and it is just the beginning!
We have spent the last few years focusing on building our club the right way. Creating a culture that fosters outstanding soccer education and life lessons that will set up our players for future success.
However, one huge piece was missing for us. A structured program that provided the correct information at the right times to prepare our players and parents for navigating the athletic recruiting maze. If we pride ourselves on giving the best opportunities for success on the field, we absolutely must set them up for success off of it. That means our players going to college.
Whether they play college soccer or not, our College Pathway Program will help every player be prepared to go through the process of getting into the right college for them. Like everything we do at NPSA, we are obsessive about offering nothing but THE BEST. Our players and parents require it.
We have hired Lee Hitchen to head our College Pathway Program. Lee is one of the best in the business with years and years of experience in ALL areas of higher education from coaching, athletic administration, enrollment & financial aid, student life, to even teaching. We know there isn’t ANYONE out there with the sort of experience Lee has and we give it to you to take advantage of.
All players dream of going pro. Many will play college soccer but hopefully, everyone will at least go to college and get an education. Now, we can offer a program that helps you get to wherever you wish. We are going to work tirelessly to be known as the club that provides, simply, THE BEST way to get into college. We want people to say, “Your son or daughter plays soccer and wants to go to college? Then you have to play for NPSA.”
New Uniform Cycle
We are fast approaching the end of our 2 year uniform cycle and, starting next season, NPSA will be an Adidas sponsored club!
Our new uniform design is sleek and clean with the ‘Home’ color scheme being all Navy and the ‘Away’ being all Red. It is great and the players will look and feel the part for sure.
One important and much-needed change is that our female players will have a female cut uniform. I know this is long overdue and I am happy that we can provide this option to our female players moving forward.
We have continued our partnership with Soccerwest on the uniform side and I can assure you that the system will be a lot smoother than in previous years. You will order your uniform package directly through Soccerwest and it will be delivered directly to your home.
A large inventory order of all our uniform items has already been placed so we anticipate no delays with our players receiving their uniforms prior to the training program starting in June.
As much as I am proud and excited about what we have been able to achieve together so far, I am nowhere near satisfied or ready to relax. I am constantly looking for ways we can improve our program and the product we provide to our members.
We are working diligently on adding to our coaching staff and continuing to develop them through our Coaching Education program so that the players receive the very best in coaching standards.
We are building strong relationships with other clubs that share our player-centric philosophy as it can’t just be about NPSA doing things the right way. We must work together with other organizations for the betterment of the youth soccer landscape as a whole.
We have just seen our first player make the step into the Sounders Discovery Program and I guarantee it won’t be the last! I have said from day 1 that we provide a program for all levels of player and this proves that statement. In addition to this, we currently have 25 NPSA players in the Surf Academy program and 5 members of our staff on the Academy Coaching staff. This is a testament to the quality of our program and it will only get stronger.
On a personal note, I value and respect the investment of time and money that our members have put into making NPSA the fastest-growing soccer program in the State and I work tirelessly to ensure that your trust is validated by providing the best possible experience for each and every player and family that we work with.
There is so much more to come!
Together Each Achieves More