Newsletter - Coaches Corner

The highs and lows of May!

I grew up in an entrepreneurial family.  A Garden Center and Greenhouse Company to be specific.  May was THE month!  Our entire business was made in one singular month, the rest were shoulder months that helped, but May was it.  

Soccer is similar.  We love this time of year because we market our programs and see tons of new faces that are trialing our product.  We also celebrate the year's success and the rewards for the work put in!  This year for me was even more special because we launched “The Bobbi' -' The Barbara Eddinger award for 2 young players in our club that represent everything we want our players to be.  This year Ryan Pelletier and Keira O’Brien won the award.  As I presented this award I watched their parents beaming with pride from ear to ear, thinking this is it, this is what it is all about.  My hope is that every family holds that in higher regard!

We don’t all make the team, we don’t all get everything that we want.  We don’t all become professional soccer players.  We do become professional at the game of life, our character, who we are when it gets hard and when no one is watching.  That is what we should be proud of our children for.  I hate this time of year because of the let down that comes for some people with tryouts - they want to play, they want to play for Vale.  The industry we call home is a hard one because we hold the hopes and dreams of these young players, sometimes however, it isn’t their dream.  Sometimes it is the parents' dream.  They live through their children.  I ask that you let the game be your child's, that you support them in the hard moments, in the happy moments and in the challenging moments.  You let them know that who they are as people is what is most important.  

“The Bobbi”  is an award I am most excited about in our club, the story behind the award and the woman my mother was.  The things she taught me about life and who I try to be on a daily basis.  We don’t get it perfect, ever, but we can try our best.  

If you didn’t make the team this year that doesn’t define you.  If you did make the team this year that doesn’t define you.  Who you are as a person, a friend, a teammate, a family member.  That is what defines you. How you treat people, the standard you hold yourself to.  Everyone goes through happy and sad times.  Keep pushing and keep getting better!

MAY the month where we are all still people!

Enjoy the ride!

- Zach

The 2022-23 Seasonal Year promises to be a big one here at Vale Sports Club.  We are excited to be making moves that we feel will create better learning environments for our players and help stimulate their growth throughout the year.  From more time on turf, to league mobility, to a different slate of tournaments and winter events, we have been proactive in attempting to address many of the challenges faced by our members in order to create a better experience for all parties.

One of these changes is moving to a ‘Zonal Coaching’ model.  Coaching in a zonal model allows us to attack several key aspects of our player experience, which we feel will aid and assist in long term player development, as well as affording families a predictable path in their journey through Vale Sports Club as their child moves forward within our teams.

WHAT IS A ZONAL MODEL: Zonal Coaching or a Zonal Coaching Model is where programs group players by age ranges and assign a coach or team of coaches to specialize at each level.  These ‘Zones’ are based loosely around US Soccer’s Player Development Framework and in our context reflect directly to the game model of the players across each age of our membership.  Our Sprouts/Seedlings participate in the 4v4 Zone, which is the game model that fits their age bands (u8 & below).  Our u9 & u10 teams will be the 7v7 Zone, u11 & u12 teams are the 9v9 Zone, the u13 & u14 teams are the 11v11 MS (Middle School) Zone, and u15+ are the 11v11 HS (High School) Zone.  At Vale, we will have Zone Leads at 7v7, 9v9, 11v11 MS and 11v11 HS Zones.  Each Zone Lead will be supported by 1-3 other coaches who work in their zone to support the Zone Lead by coaching trainings and games (and in some cases teams) within the zones.

HOW DOES ZONAL COACHING AFFECT PLAYER DEVELOPMENT:  Zonal Coaching Models afford coaches the opportunity to become specialists in a given game model and age band.  Rather than coaching high school, middle school and elementary age players, a coach becomes laser focused on one specific age range.  A coach who better understands the players before them, better serves them.  This specialization will allow each coach to fully focus on the age and stage of development of the players in their zone.  Being attentive to how players learn, ensuring they receive information in the best way possible, and aligning the content with Vale’s Player Development Curriculum will all become more synergized in a Zonal Coaching Approach.

HOW DOES ZONAL COACHING AFFECT PLAYER TRANSITIONS:  Zonal Coaching affords players and their families to ‘see’ the player development pathway and removes many of the questions that always arise for families when transitioning from one coach to the next.  Rather than a randomized ‘lottery’ of who will coach the group (or no transition at all in which players often get ‘pidgeon holed’ into roles), the Zonal Model clarifies the pathway from zone to zone.  Players will know WHO the zone leads are and have ample chance to interact with them throughout the year.  Families will be able to ask questions and see how the Zone Lead’s work to see how each coach builds upon the prior coach’s teachings.  Players will have a stable and predictable pathway from start to finish in their Vale experience.

WHAT DOES A ZONE LEAD DO:  Zone Leads are the Head Coaches of their respective zone.  They will serve as a sort of ‘Director of Coaching’ for their zone and oversee the training of all teams and players in their zone.  The Zone Lead’s role is to implement the Vale Player Development Curriculum’s relevant learning objectives in each game model and ensure that all players progressing to the next game model are fully prepared for the next game model upon graduating from their current zone.  At the oldest ages, the Zone Leads will aid players in their college search and college pathway process.

At Vale Sports Club, we strive to keep the player experience at the center of all that we do.  In the ever changing world of youth sports, we are constantly reviewing trends and seeing how we can stay at the forefront of innovation and improve our experience for every member.  We see moving to a Zonal Coaching model as an exciting opportunity to better the program we offer our members and we are excited to be implementing the Zonal Coaching Model for 2022-23.  

- Jeremy Wilson