Dear Parents and Players,
The Mercer Island Youth Soccer Club (MIYSC) just completed another very successful fall season. We had nearly 1000 players participating on over 100 Micro and Recreational teams! In addition, we currently we have 9 teams from Mercer Island FC (MIFC) - our Select Soccer program - in post-season tournaments sponsored by the Washington State Youth Soccer Association. With state champions at GU12 and BU15 in 2012, two other finalists, a number of semi-finalists, and a pair of our U16 teams currently competing in the Regional Club League (the highest youth league in the state), opponents are well aware of the reputation of Mercer Island FC Select teams.
As we swing from winter towards spring, a number of exciting things are in the works. In partnership with the Mercer Island Boys and Girls Club, we launched a winter indoor Futsal league that is proving to be even more popular than we had anticipated. Registration is open for our very popular "Friday Night Lights" winter scrimmage program at the high school stadium that runs through the end of February. We have begun planning for our "Spring Player Development" program starting in March targeted at the younger player who wants to work on their skills. Our "Get Ready for Select" program also starts in March and prepares players for Select tryouts later in the spring. As always, our "Sundays with the Pro" clinics in the summer and fall provide an opportunity for some additional work under the watchful eyes of our club trainers. As you can imagine, this amount of activity requires a great deal of organization and volunteer effort. Our board of directors is highly enthusiastic and motivated to make this another fantastic year.
One of the questions we get is "what makes Mercer Island Youth Soccer Club unique?" My response is our focus on "Developmental Soccer". Helping families and coaches understand "Developmental Soccer" is a major goal for the Club the next few years, so expect to hear more about it. There are numerous authoritative sources of guidance for this developmental emphasis (e.g. US Soccer Federation, US Women's National Team program), and these sources are very consistent - Align what's emphasized to players in practices and games with what is developmentally appropriate for their age. Specifically, and in particular for players younger than 13, coaches and parents need to:
- Provide positive reinforcement for mastery of individual skills, experimentation on the field, and experience playing all positions (yes, including goalkeeper)
- De-emphasize tactical play at the younger ages (this is an area where coaches often spend much more time than they should)
Avoid adding pressure to win - players are plenty competitive without any adult input. This is not to say that players
shouldn't receive guidance on what it takes to win - but it takes very little parental or coach pressure to push the fun out of the game for many players.
MIYSC's efforts to focus on Developmental Soccer have been embraced by other clubs within the Eastside Youth Soccer Association (EYSA). Our club VP of Player and Coach development, Aaron Byers, was recently elected to the EYSA board to fill a new position coordinating player development across all of EYSA and with our sister Premier Club, Eastside FC. Congratulations to Aaron and the great work he has done for our players and coaches.
MIYSC is fortunate to have such a strong partner for Mercer Island players aspiring to play soccer at the Premier level in Washington State - Eastside FC. A member of the Regional Club League (RCL), Eastside FC has been fielding some of the best Premier teams in the state for 42 years while developing players for collegiate, national team and professional careers. Several recent examples: MIYSC and EFC alum Jordan Morris (2012 Washington State Gatorade Player of the year) now playing for the Seattle Sounders U18 Academy team before heading to Stanford this fall on a soccer scholarship. MIYSC alum and current EFC GU18 goalkeeper Corey Goelz, named to the Washington State Class 3A High School All-State team. Finally, MIYSC alum and current EFC GU18 player Marissa Hammerstrom also named to the Washington State Class 3A High School All-State team
MIYSC is fortunate to have the International Academy of Soccer (IAS) provide our Club with training professionals. IAS Executive Director David Addison has assembled a group of IAS trainers with many years of collegiate and professional playing and coaching experience. They are extremely enthusiastic and passionate about the game of soccer. We are the envy of the other EYSA clubs as none of them has a similar group dedicated to their club. From the Micro-soccer clinics, the Recreational player and coach training sessions, or the trainer role they play with some of our Select teams, the IAS team runs a fantastic program.
The Club's programmatic offerings change year to year based on the interest shown in different programs. Program descriptions are provided in the "Programs" section of the club website at http://www.miysc.org. Some of our programs and emphasis this year include:
- Our continued focus on coach training and support, especially for coaches at ages U8- U11
- Spring Training and Get Ready for Select Tryouts clinics this spring
- IAS run Summer Boot Camp for players is offered for 2 weeks in August
- Sunday Skills is starting a month earlier this summer, on 7/11
A closer alignment with the MI High School coaches and teams to see some great soccer and to help young players
understand what it takes to play at the high school level.
In closing, I'd like to remind you that we also utilize many volunteers, from referees, to coaches and board members. If you would like to help out please let us know. We are always looking for more of us to help the kids enjoy and appreciate soccer and everyone has a skill that would help. I would like to express my deep appreciation for all the kids who make our club great. Also, to the parents, volunteers and staff who make this all possible. Soccer is a fantastic sport. It is healthy and fun. It teaches teamwork, decision making and sportsmanship. If we can pass on these skills to our children, we have all succeeded.
Toby SuhmPresident Mercer Island Youth Soccer Club