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An Open Letter to Our Soccer Community

Dear Parents, Coaches, Club Directors,

Having coached soccer in college and the pro game for over 22 years and now being in the business of placing players into the right fit college soccer program for them, I watch a lot of youth soccer from coast to coast, and even internationally,

While watching these matches and evaluating thousands of players, I have noticed a few things that I would like to share.

I notice that more and more players are stressing out about playing after High School.

I notice that the more stressed-out players are when they play, the worse they tend to play, which only adds more stress to their lives.

I notice more parents are stressing out, and club coaches are playing players in such a way to develop less, yelling more, all in an attempt to win more to attract college coaches and better players to their clubs.

I am noticing more clubs & coaches increasing the amount of travel across the country and worldwide to gain what they perceive as “college exposure” for their players.

I notice players at the “higher-level clubs,” whose teams belong to the myriad of, what I call, alphabet soup name “elite” leagues, are generally more stressed out about playing in college than the players who play in smaller, local leagues playing mostly local matches.

While all of this may be fine for a certain small percentage of players who genuinely feel that soccer is all they want to do with their lives, it is all too much for the vast majority of players.

I believe we may be missing the entire point of soccer and sports in general at every level.

Sports are called games for a reason; they are supposed to be FUN!

Growing up, my friends and I played loads of different games, and while many of us did go on to play in college, that was never our focus.  Our focus was fun and competition.  We were always trying to outdo each other, improving our game (we did not know it at the time), in the streets, on the ball fields, or wherever we could find space to play. We had a lot of fun.

Play, Fun, Growth, Enjoyment is much of what makes our youth memorable.

Let’s all do our part to remind each other that soccer is fun, and games should be just that, FUN!

The players who are ready and going to play in college or other levels past high school are only about 7.5% as a national average.  I am asking that we all remind each other not to make this all so stressful on that 7.5% and the additional 92.5% that they do not enjoy playing anymore.

We Can All Do Better!

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Koach Karl’s Notes

  • Thank you Don for submitting your observations and giving us pause to think about what we are doing for/with our players.
  • Dear Reader, ‘Thank You’ for taking the time to Read and then Sharing this article with your soccer community. Your Comments on this theme are very much appreciated..!
Don Williams

Don Williams is a veteran college coach whose coaching career spans 30 years. He coached at virtually every level in the United States, including a pro stint in the USL, the NCAA, NAIA, and at the Junior College level. Most recently, he coached the men and women at Feather River Junior College in California, where he was able to transfer 92 players for $4,375,000 in scholarships having his players recruited by many distinguished schools such as Penn State, UMass, Florida State, UCLA, Lipscomb, New Mexico State, North Carolina, University of Washington and many more. Before coaching at Feather River, Don spent 12 years coaching at California State University at East Bay. Don has also been the men’s head coach at Ohlone College and the goalkeeper coach for the Bay Area Seals of the USL. There he coached such notables as Jon Conway, who went on to play for the NY Red Bulls, Chicago Fire, and Toronto FC of the MLS. Don also served as the inaugural Director of Coaching for the Northern Nevada State Olympic Development program, where he helped 67 players get invited to the US Regional Event. Don is Head of Operations with Sports Recruiting USA for The Americas, the most successful and connected college placement agency in the world. He has earned his "A" License from the United States Soccer Federation.

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