Soccer is often referred to as “a player’s game”, and certainly players are central to SOCA’s mission. Player development is the essential activity of the club. However, players do not develop in a vacuum, and appropriate quality matches do not happen spontaneously. To successfully operate the variety and complexity of programs that SOCA offers, the club has made a substantial continuing commitment to training and developing the coaches and referees required at all levels.
SOCA offers comprehensive coach development training options with year ‘round offerings. Similarly, the club organizes an annual cycle of referee training classes for new and returning referees. The club’s commitment has paid dividends by continually adding, refining and improving the resources in both the coaching and refereeing departments.
Each summer, SOCA hosts VYSA sanctioned coach certification courses, in addition to providing programming of its own. SOCA conducts an “F” course prior to the start of each Recreational season, and in late August 21 SOCA coaches from both the Charlottesville and Augusta regions earned their entry level certification. The “F” course is targeted to Recreation coaches, and offers age specific training from U6 to U12.
Earlier in July, 13 SOCA coaches took the ambitious step of earning their “D” license. The course requires serious commitment from the coaches, who receive instruction over three days during the first portion of the course, and then spend a season applying their new knowledge, before returning for three days of evaluation in December. The “D” course is targeted to older youth players and higher levels of play. SOCA alternates hosting an “E” and “D” course each summer, allowing local coaches to plan their ongoing development.
SOCA further supports the coaching efforts by providing fee support to SOCA coaches. Once past the “D” level, coaches are guided individually through the advanced national licensing program.
Additionally, SOCA conducts the World Cup Camp Coaching School each summer, where the SOCA staff can connect directly with club coaches and provide training specific to the club’s player development model. This summer eight candidates in Charlottesville worked under the guidance of Coaching Director Dan Ensley at the week long camp, while five more candidates from Augusta spent the week training with Augusta Regional Director Nora Maguire White.
Ensley also conducted a new program this year, a three night pre-season training program for all SOCA Travel program coaches. The training allowed coaches from both SOCA regions to work together, share information, and develop methodologies for improving team and player performances.
Three SOCA staff members made the huge step of earning their USSF National Youth License this summer, in addition to maintaining all their regular obligations. Charlottesville Recreation Coordinator Don Dolinger, Charlottesville Technical Director Sam Miller and Nora Maguire White all succeeded in passing the comprehensive, demanding course. The National Youth License is targeted to youth club leaders who need to have a broad knowledge of the various stages of youth development and must be able to provide nuanced guidance to coaches working under their direction. SOCA is delighted to have these three leaders gain further expertise in their field.
Coaches interested in participating in future instructional opportunities should contact Dan Ensley (Charlottesville: Dan.Ensley@SOCAspot.org) or Nora Maguire White (Augusta: firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Of course, no serious soccer match (no matter how fun) can take place without certified referees. Prior to the start of the fall season, SOCA conducted USSF Grade 8 referee training courses in Augusta and Charlottesville, with 22 and 28 referee candidates respectively. In late August another 62 (that’s huge!) candidates were trained in the USSF Grade 9 course. As a result, more than 110 local referees have been trained to take the field this fall, providing the officiating guidance required to ensure a safe and fair match. The Grade 9 course is the entry level training for youth Recreation referees, while the Grade 8 course prepares candidates for older and more advanced play. Referee development allows for committed referees to advance through a series of levels, each more rigorous in its demands, as they prepare for high level youth and adult matches.
Maintaining referee certification requires an annual re-certification process to keep all match officials current with FIFA laws changes and interpretations. SOCA conducts seasonal re-certification classes to help local referees maintain their status each year.
Lecky Stone, certified referee instructor and assigner, coordinates the referee training efforts locally. Persons interested in learning more about referee training should contact Lecky at Lecky.Stone@SOCAspot.org.