Washington Youth Soccer’s mission statement states:
It is the mission of Washington Youth Soccer to foster the physical, mental and emotional growth and development of the State of Washington’s youth through the sport of soccer at all levels of age and competition.
Because we are a soccer organization, we focus a majority of our efforts on the physical development of players but it’s equally important for our organizations to support the mental and emotional growth of our players. Soccer is our organization’s tool for assisting our players and parents in answering a big question: how do I, the player, prepare for life?
We’ve found that many of our Associations and Clubs support their players becoming well-rounded individuals through educating them about soccer and giving back to the community. You demonstrate to your members how they can make soccer a part of their adult life through pursing a professional playing/coaching career, becoming a volunteer coach/board member, or becoming a certified referee. We all work together on education for players, parents, coaches, and volunteers on soccer skills, sportsmanship, and teamwork, to name a few. All of these educational efforts that your organization is already supporting are setting up your players to be successful adults in the future.
As we find examples of our member organizations developing players mentally and emotionally, we’ll feature them on Set Plays. Today we’ll explore how one of our Clubs is helping players and parents manage decisions about college through a unique Club-level staff position.
When higher education is paramount to an individual’s future success in their professional life, it’s particularly important to support your families in their conversations about post-youth soccer life and education. For some of our players, soccer may be a way to receive college scholarships or to continue playing after leaving the youth soccer system. One of WA Youth Soccer’s member clubs, Eastside FC, has created a College Coordinator position in their club to help guide their players through the college recruitment process for those players that aim to play on a college soccer team.
Tom Bunnell, Eastside FC College Coordinator, and Eastside FC leadership have recognized that going through the college recruitment process can be a bit stressful and confusing. They’ve started by creating a place on their website for resources provided by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) that cover eligibility requirements and overviews of how the college recruiting process works. Tom is also coordinating discussions with high school-aged teams in the club about the options available to players, both on the field and in the classroom.
Take a look at the information Tom and Eastside FC have provided to see what college recruiting resources are out there for you to share with your players. How does your Club or Association prepare players for life after youth soccer? What does your organization do to involve players in your communities and develop them mentally and emotionally?