Newsletter - Coaches Corner

Confidence = Self Trust

At Vale we ask our coaches to provide in person and written feedback to our players.  I just finished going through mine with my teams and it is amazing to me the similarities between a lot of the meetings.  Most players lack confidence. Confidence comes and goes way to easy.  Our inner voice is not strong. I find it interesting that most of the conversations tend to go into how we show up for ourselves more then just what we do on the field in training or games.  The players that are succeeding the most are usually the most confident ones, and we all play our best when we are confident.  

Can we build confidence? I do think players and people in general can build confidence.  Confidence for me is self trust.  If I do work to improve my confidence grows.  When I practice my craft outside of training, when I study for the test, when I do things to improve I get more confident.  As an adult I gain confidence with myself through the little victories.  If I say I am going to wake up early and follow through with it.  If I say I am going to pack a lunch to save money, if I follow through and go for a walk or run or go to the gym. All of these little things help us to improve and build our trust in ourselves, then we get our inner voice on our side.  Our confidence grows.

Soccer teaches us a ton about life.  I love that about the game.  As a parent I grab on to the positives of what it is teaching my children that will transition into the real world.  Confidence is right at the top of the list.  As we come out of the winter season, a hard season for all of us. Where the days are short and we go to work and come home in the darkness. We may not be thinking the best about ourselves. My push to each of us is to recognize the small victories that turn into big victories.  The game can be a great teacher for all of us and we can gain confidence by doing what we say we are going to do.  We are coming to the end of the winter season at Vale, I am excited to see and hear about all of our teams using what they learned in the small setting that is indoor and turning that into the bigger game that we play outside.

Yours in Soccer,

Zach Eddinger

Hello Valiens! It is that time of the year again where our teams will go and compete at showcase tournaments around New England. In preparation for these tournaments, I wanted to help the Vale players prepare for these events so that they can perform at their absolute best. 

Those high school age players who are interested in playing at the collegiate level should be doing the following:

  • Contacting college coaches of schools they are interested in.
  • Those contacts should include athletic/academic resume, cover letter (no form letters, make it personal) and alerting the coaches of upcoming events and inviting them or a staff member to come and see you play. 
  • Once schedules become available you should contact coaches with information on what time and where the game will be played. In addition you should also be giving the coaches information about yourself “My team will be wearing red, my number is 3 and I’ll have the yellow nike shoes”.
  • You never know who is watching at games and tournaments so be coachable, be a good teammate and have great character. Coaches want to see players that work hard and demonstrate good character.
  • Following the tournament touch base with the coaches you wrote with more information of upcoming games or tournaments. If a coach comes to see you play, thank them for coming and do not be afraid to ask the coach for feedback in regards to your performance.
  • Start to compile video! Vale provides an excellent platform with the VEO video system and many of your matches will be recorded. You should be creating a highlight video of yourself of 8-12 minutes of short video clips that include whatever you think you would want a college coach to see. Once the video is completed, create a YouTube link for that video and send the link to coaches. 

Getting back to the optimal performance element for a moment. Tournaments are often survival of the fittest so if high performance matters to individual players (and it should) they should consider the following topics to help prepare for the grind of playing 3-5 matches in a 2 day window:

  • Eat minimally processed foods. Limit foods with added sugar, trans fats and saturated fat.
  • Eat a rainbow. Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Choose lean proteins. Have lean protein with each meal.
  • Choose healthy fats. Include healthy fats such as olive oil, flaxseed,fish, avocados, nuts and seeds.
  • Choose Whole-Grain Carbohydrates. Whole grains are rich in fiber and nutrients that fuel your body.
  • Eat breakfast every day. “Break the fast” and kick-start your metabolism with protein, carbohydrates and fluids.
  • Fuel for your training/matches. Don’t skip meals.
  • Stay hydrated. Dehydration equals decreased performance! Women should drink approximately 2.7 liters of liquid a day, and men should drink approximately 3.7 liters of fluid and/or sports drink a day.
  • Recover. Have a recovery drink with a 4-1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein within 30 minutes of exercise/match play.
  • Eat a balanced meal within two hours.
  • Sleep. Get six to eight hours every night to ensure proper recovery.

Whether it is on the field or trying to attract attention in the recruiting process, Vale players should be prepared to do things that make them stand out from other players. If you really want to achieve optimal performance, the time is now to make changes. The Vale coaching staff and support system is always here to help. Good luck and please contact me if you have any questions.

Chris LeGates

Vale College Pathway Director/High School Girls Zone Lead

Vale SC agrees long term partnership with Nike and WeGotSoccer to become exclusive uniform apparel brand and supplier.

March 6th 2023

Middletown, CT – Vale SC is pleased to announce that it has agreed to a multi-year agreement with Nike and WeGotSoccer. Nike will become the Official and Exclusive Uniform and Apparel brand with WeGotSoccer as the Supplier for the premier youth club based in Middletown, CT starting in the 2023-24 season.

"Each year we reflect on our strategic partnerships to make sure they align with our vision and direction in order to best serve our membership. With that, we are excited to announce we are moving forward with a multi-year deal with Nike" said Zach Eddinger, Vale SC Owner. "As many of you are aware Nike is a leading global brand that will provide ease of accessibility, a stronger local presence, and an established brand image of being best in class.  This relationship and partnership with WeGotSoccer will allow Vale to continue to focus on our core competencies as a business which is teaching the game.  WeGotSoccer will handle all of our customization and uniform delivery while also allowing our membership discounts and awards programs.  Between these two new partners, we feel the behind-the-scenes work that goes into making our club look great will be much more streamlined and organized to get our players on the field looking professional sooner."

“This is a strongly forged partnership that matches the ambition of our soccer club"  said Vale Soccer Director Lloyd Warren.  "We look forward to partnering with such a recognizable and top brand that truly matches our long term goals. This partnership will help support us as we strive to deliver the best on and off field experiences for our membership.”

“We are extremely excited to partner with Vale Soccer" said Nike representative Mike Surber. "In only 4 years, Vale Soccer has demonstrated they have created a culture and a vision that will allow them to continue to be successful! This partnership with Vale Soccer demonstrates Nike’s commitment to the game of soccer. It also reinforces Nike’s leadership in grassroots soccer to help grow the game beyond where it stands today. We can’t wait to get started!"

"WeGotSoccer is excited to be the official uniform and apparel partner for Vale SC" said Ben Knight from WGS. "WeGotSoccer is your one stop shop for everything you need to be outfitted on the field. All Vale SC members will receive access to our Rewards Program providing you with discounts on all sales and cash back for future purchases online and in store at our Wrentham, MA Retail store."

We are excited to partner with Nike & WeGotSoccer for the 2023/24 season and beyond. Thank you for your continued support. We look forward to many more years developing aspiring soccer players!

Tournaments... The good, the bad and the ugly…

Before each tournament I write an email to my families about what I have seen over the years and what is probably going to happen again at this event.  It goes something like this…

"Dear Families,

As we prepare for a tournament weekend I want to reiterate who we want to be as Vale and how we want to show up this weekend at the tournament.  The game is the child’s not the coaches and not the parents.  Let’s try our hardest to let it be theirs.  We should not coach from the sideline and we should definitely not talk to the refs….”  

You see what happens in these events is there are “Winners or Champions”  Even the youngest 2014 boys and girls had champions.  This causes extra emotions to creep in.  We want so badly for our kids to have success, usually for all the right reasons, but occasionally for our own ego.  Does our kid winning a championship make us a better parent?  I’d say NO WAY. 

Tournaments have different goals for different ages.  Seeing competition that we don’t normally see.  Having team bonding experiences.  Playing and concentrating when we are tired, being nervous, being excited.  Feeling the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.  There are a lot of really good learning lessons that come from these events.  

The past two weekends we have seen all of it.  The good - teams playing good soccer, working for each other and learning.  The bad - kids missing curfew, coaches and parents yelling at referees.  And the ugly - adults putting themselves above the kids and making the experience about them rather than the children.

It happens all the time.  My response is just to reflect on the overall experience for your team and your child.  Was it what you hoped for?  What would you do differently if you could do it again.  We will have more experiences like this, heck in a few short weeks we get to have another tournament experience.  If you were happy with it, do more of what you did.  If you want to change something to make it better, great.  

At Vale we take pride in how we represent ourselves.  Our coaches, players and parents are a representation of who we are.  Thank you to all the families that take that into consideration every time they are on the sideline.  Thanks for being Valiens!!!

Yours in Soccer,

- Zach Eddinger

Youth and adults play sports because they enjoy it, are passionate about it, want to learn more about it, maybe they’re really good at it, but there’s plenty of reasons why someone plays soccer, or basketball, or baseball, or whatever it is. However, when it comes to team sports and we’ll use soccer as the sport, and you ask any young player why they stay with the team, or why they continue to be passionate about it, or what makes the experience enjoyable while still being challenged, oftentimes it’s because of the team and the environment that the player is in. 

The culture of a team is directly linked to true development of a player both on the field and off of it. Any team or coach can say that they “improve” the players but many times it’s from a purely soccer standpoint, meaning they’ve potentially improved as a soccer player but did they grow as a person? If the team atmosphere is negative, if the coach is negative, if the team is constantly arguing with each other, if the habits are poor like constantly being late or blaming others for mistakes, then even if a player has technically improved as a player, they’re more than likely not having an enjoyable experience. Thus they won’t develop as individuals with respect to building good habits, they won’t improve their teamwork, they’ll be hindered in their communication and relationship building, they’ll be scared to really try anything in case they get yelled at and so on. 

It’s important then to realize the importance of creating and maintaining true camaraderie in the dressing room as it not only helps the team be successful but the individual player as well. Setting standards and goals as a team and holding each other accountable, being positive in communication and pushing each other in a productive way to keep working to improve, having open communication so that there’s no ambiguity or players or parents not knowing what is going on, being unselfish and being growth minded with the understanding that the whole is greater than the individual and everyone is working towards something greater together… Those “small” details separately may not seem crucial for the youth, but added together it helps them learn valuable life lessons for when they grow older such as whether it’s facing adversity together through mistakes or setbacks, or seeing that everyone going in the same direction allows for a smoother developmental journey. And it is up to the coach to continue to manage and help cultivate the team and it's culture through consistently setting a good example and creating productive and healthy relationships with the players.

If you think about when you are the happiest with others, whether it’s at work, in school, on the field, wherever, it may be when there’s little stress. When everyone knows each other well and when there’s little to no confusion, when everyone wants to be with one another, that’s when the environment is positive. Of course not everything can be straightforward and simple and there will always be setbacks within a team. But when a group of people have a common goal or goals, then getting everyone to refocus on that “bigger picture” helps continue the productive team culture. 

A culture is strong when people work with each other, for each other. A culture is weak when people work against each other, for themselves.”

- AJ


I recently taught a lecture to the college team about EGO. There are 3 stages to it - Aspiration, Success and Failure. The ego has a part to play in each of them and the important thing is to recognize what your ego is doing within your decision at each step.

Albert Einstein says something along the lines of “More the knowledge, less the ego, lesser the knowledge, more the ego.” That sits with me because on any journey when we begin we are excited and feel like there is no way we can fail! As we move through the process we begin to get nervous that maybe we cannot succeed. Where I think that we need to land is simply to keep going and improving recognizing that we will never arrive fully.

You see we need to get comfortable with hard. When you are doing really well at work and get a promotion what happens? It gets harder, more people want your time, the responsibility is larger. When our team wins the league, they move into a higher league, it gets harder. Getting comfortable with hard is the important thing!

Each year around this time my ego finds reason to doubt. Are we doing everything we can for our membership? Are we trying our best and are my coaches doing everything they can to support their players? Am I giving my coaches enough time and attention that they are growing and happy? Are the other programs better than ours?   

This year and most I land on one of our core values - Always Try Your Best! I cannot control what others do or think, I can control what I do and how I work to build the best program for our coaches and membership possible. I hope you have enjoyed your experience, your coach and the things we do inside of our club. I hope you can say that your child's coach cares. That is what is most important. As we enter into tryout season I hope it is not too stressful on your child and for some that it may be I hope you can guide them in a way that there are learning and takeaways that come out of it. We play soccer because we love it, whether it is at Vale or anywhere else. Let’s keep that central to the process.

In youth sports there are a lot of reasons to play. I hope if you are reading this it’s on behalf of your child and what they want, but in a lot of cases we, the parent, live through our kid. We push them so that we can brag about them to our friends and we can inflate our ego. Ego is the enemy in that situation because we are doing it for the wrong reason. Spend some time to reflect on how your ego is playing into your decisions and thoughts, its an interesting and valuable exercise that hopefully continues to frame conversations and decisions inside your family.  

I look forward to our upcoming awards ceremony and finishing out a great season!

Yours in Soccer,

Zach Eddinger

By now you probably have all heard about the story of Wrexham AFC. It has engulfed the soccer narrative around the world and is really pushing the conversation further on the idea of promotion and relegation in the USA. Formed in 1864, Wrexham are the oldest club in Wales and the third oldest professional football team in the world. How exciting to see them breathe new life with eccentric owners and a revitalized fan base.

As a young boy growing up  in the South West of England, the idea of promotion and relegation was all I knew. The club I played for in my youth, Torquay United currently play in the same league as Wrexham AFC.  I experienced many games where we were fighting for promotion or had the unfortunate relegation. Ecstasy and agony was always achieved as a player and supporter of my local club. It did however always  keep me coming back for more. My club actually go up against Wrexham AFC this week in a sell out game. 

So what is promotion and relegation and how does it relate to our story at Vale? 

Firstly, It is a system used throughout most of the soccer world. Clubs move up and down their country’s standings based on their relative strength via results on the field from season to season. And soccer fans all over the world overwhelmingly prefer it to the alternative. 

The alternative is the franchise system. One where the same roster of teams is locked into the top division no matter how poorly they might perform. Likewise, teams in the lower levels are stuck there, no matter how many games they win. Unless they have deep pockets and investment to join the league of choice.

But why do fans throughout the soccer landscape generally prefer the promotion and relegation model? Both in nations where the practice is entrenched in tradition, and those fighting for it to be implemented in their area, there are steadfast advocates of the concept.

First and foremost, promotion and relegation delivers a (relatively) fair competition. It operates on the principle of sporting merit. The top teams compete at the top level because they’ve earned their place. You don’t get to be at the top of your country’s pyramid simply by being located in a big city. Or by cutting a big check. You have to win to get there, and win to stay there.

Sadly in many leagues, there is still often a noticeable competitive imbalance. This includes several top leagues like the EPL, LaLiga, Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga. With some owners having access to nearly unlimited spending on player wages and transfers, a culture of haves and have-nots is definitely apparent.

But no matter how much more you can spend than your rivals, you still have to play and win games to avoid relegation. The same goes for clubs hoping to qualify for continental competition, or to get promoted up the ranks. Success on the field is what determines your fate – not metrics such as marketability, owner worth, what TV market you’re in or the demographics of your town. Simply splashing cash around and having a big club name on your shirt does not guarantee a permanent place at the top.

Nothing creates drama quite like a promotion or relegation race. With intrigue at both the top and bottom of the standings, it usually creates a very compelling story for any given season. And that generally means more games matter for something. Staying out of the drop zone, for some clubs, is as big as winning a trophy. Winning the promotion playoff final and finishing third in the EFL Championship is known as the richest match in soccer. The winner may earn as much as $350 million in TV revenue and payments.

Check out this moment from back in 2013  between Watford and Leicester as two teams fight for promotion to the Premier League. I still get goosebumps watching this

"Here's Hogg... DEENEY!" | Best end to a football match EVER

A game between two bottom of the table sides in a European soccer league in late Spring is far more meaningful than a contest between similarly-ranked MLS teams in September, for example. There’s more of a reason for fans, and media, to pay attention to every game all year. You can’t tune out when your side drops out of the title race halfway through. They could try to qualify for European places, or slip down the table and get relegated.

Arguably the biggest selling point of promotion and relegation systems is that they are inclusive to everyone. No club or community is automatically dismissed because they don’t have a big enough population or a billionaire owner willing to pay $500 million for a new franchise team.

Anyone can theoretically rise to the pinnacle of the sport. This is so important.

So let’s circle back to how this all relates to us at Vale?

Foremost,  we are part of a league structure built on sporting merit. As a member of the USYS and the EDP leagues we have access to local, regional and national competition which is solely based on our performances. If we reach the top of the pyramid we participate in the National League. This provides us with the opportunity to compete in high level league play and showcases across the country going against the best teams. It is also a pathway to the USYS National Championship. We would only be able to go to these events because we have earned the right to. Our teams that have not yet proven themselves play at the appropriate level so they can continue to establish themselves and prove they should move up the ladder. When each team earns its place you create an environment built on high standards, quality play and a winning culture. All things we strive for at Vale. 

Our Core values are fundamental to who we are. They guide every decision we make as a club. One of our core values “Always try your best” aligns with the USYS National League mantra “Earn your place”. The path is the correct one for us right now and we expect it to be for years to come. 

This is something we feel strongly about and wish to continue our journey on. As an organization we have and continue to have opportunities to pursue other avenues for league play. However, where we are now and the journey we wish to take our players and families on is aligned. We want to develop players that are ready and want to challenge themselves daily. We will earn our place.

Yours in Soccer,

Lloyd Warren

Vale SC Soccer Director

May is CRAY! You know, like the kids say, cray, short for crazy!

We finish May with a bit of reflection… We had practices, games, events, tryouts, tons of conversations, tournaments, band concerts, step up celebrations, and so much more. It is a lot for anyone. We pack our schedules because we want to fit it all in, and guess what, we do fit it all in.

I wanted to take a second and thank everyone that came out to our tryouts this year. We had over 750 kids attend and want to be apart of our awesome club. There is happiness and sadness that comes with the tryout season. At Vale we try and be forward with the families on where they stand with their teams.  A lot of clubs will just send a drafted decline letter, we try and spend the time with the families that were with us to prepare them for what may happen and give them a chance to find another home for their athlete if they want to. It still hurts, no matter what we do. Development happens at different speeds for every player, your child may or may not make it today, but on their journey they may turn into a great player. There are also the players that come back and get another year with the friendships they are building, to work on their craft and improve in the game they love! The pureness in this joy is something I will always grab on to. If you are back with the club or not we appreciate you being a part of our program and I will always take your call to support your child being able to continue playing.

At this time of year I tell my players to show off, show us what they have learned over the course of the year and how they use it in the game. The league play and tournaments are getting ready to finish and we are excited by the progress we have seen by all of our players and teams. This season has been tremendously fun and rewarding. I can’t wait for the next one.

Yours in Soccer,

Zach Eddinger