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John Jay Futbol Club
Dear Parents, We have some exciting news that we would like to share with you all.
New Branding: In March of last year, our soccer club began to evolve. One of the more obvious changes was our rebranding to the JohnJayFC. This was no accident. We had every intention and desire to connect our community’s Soccer Club directly to the one institution that we all have a personal connection to, our John Jay / KL Schools. This is an institution where our children learn, develop life-long bonds, and where they are driven to succeed in a competitive, yet supportive environment. We want our soccer program to also share in these principles, and leverage what we believe makes us an integral part of our community.
New Board Position and New Programs: The name change can only get us so far. We also have to embrace and reinforce this relationship ourselves, and live its values. So, to that end, we will develop a new JJFC Board position that manages our relationships with the school district. This liaison will be intimately responsible for identifying new pathways of support, but also to escalate and manage the programs we have already established, eg. College Scholarships, Booster Club Support, Big Brother/Sister Programs, Employment through our Referee Program, and Volunteer Work at our Tournaments and Camps, among others. As is the case for any volunteer organization, we invite any opportunity to identify individuals who will support the JJFC mission and to bring them into the fold, whether that is as a Team Parent, Academy Volunteer Coach, Academy Age Group Coordinator, Travel Team Manager or as a Board Member. Applications for the new JJFC School Liason position can be sent directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
New High School Girls Squad: Additionally, and I am extremely pleased to announce that Kristin Spiros, our JJHS Girls Associate Varsity Coach will lead a NEW JJFC HS Girls squad for their inaugural Spring Season. We welcome Kristin to our program. She has played and coached at JJHS, and I hope you will choose to register your HS–aged daughter for this JJFC team. Amanda Popoli has served as the spring HS Travel Boys’ Coach for the past several years and JJFC is proud to welcome her back. Registration is now open for both teams.
New Evaluation Process: Rebranding alone is not enough to support the long-term viability of our program. We have also needed to address one of the systemic issues we were facing as a club, and that is related to improving the overall quality and increasing the consistency of our training program for both our Travel and Academy/In-Town programs. This past March we began the first part of our request for proposal (RFP) process and invited five (5) professional training organizations to bid on our existing training program. This was a quantitative approach whereby each presented their capabilities, core expertise, pricing structures, etc… Two (2) were dropped out of the process because they could not deliver upon our needs. Three (3) were then invited back in the Fall for an extended, on-field assessment. In the Board’s opinion, each looked great on paper. The opportunity now was to see them where their “boots hit the pitch”. Each was provided with a piece of our Fall program and they were not only observed, but critiqued and challenged along the way. We also visited them in the other communities in which they train, at tournaments and at their camps/training facilities. This exhaustive, qualitative portion of our assessment provided us with a much deeper understanding of their capacity to provide high quality vetted coaches, technical expertise, administrative capabilities, personal integrity, age-appropriate curricula, as well as access to their management teams, plus a thorough depth and understanding of their resources, but also of their limitations. It is important to note that this process was never going to be, nor could it be, a referendum on any one individual trainer. We did receive many notes and messages in support of our current JJFC trainers, and that support was not limited to any one organization. Ultimately what we seek is to engage an organization who can meet the needs of not only one Travel team or one Academy age group, but instead serve our entire Soccer community from Pre-Kindergarten to our HS Travel teams. Like yourselves, we also want what is best for the children of our community and your passionate, well-written and honest observations resonated with us. I thank you all for providing your feedback.
New Training Partner: As a Board, however, we are entrusted to take a broader, more holistic view of our program and consider which training organization is best suited to deliver upon our needs for the next 10 years. So, our challenge was set and in a unanimous vote, the partner that we selected was UKElite. As such, they were identified as the best partner to deliver, among other needs, the criteria we set out to achieve: To elevate the level of coaching service provided to the club through qualified staff, coaching resources and knowledge To create a superior soccer culture and develop programs that challenge players, coaches and parents within the club To provide proactive support to address the needs of each aspect of the Club’s program and transition ideas/requests into reality To execute a yr. round calendar that follows the best practices for overall player development, i.e. Training Curriculum, Assessments and Supplemental Support To provide a qualified and objective Director of Coaching to run the day-to-day training operations and to identify areas of needed focus and to pro-actively develop additional opportunities
Director of Coaching: We recognize that the shift to install one training organization at mid-year may be perceived as a disruption. We see it as just the opposite. We will identify a Director of Coaching in the next several weeks and use the Winter months to challenge them to provide a coaching team that is well-qualified, vetted, and fully versed in the defined UKElite curriculum so that can be prepared to address and improve our Travel teams and Academy divisions. With regard to Travel we hope to continue the technical work that should be stressed from U9-U14+ as foot-skills and the confidence to handle the ball is critical to long term success. We do, however, hope to challenge UKElite to also incorporate tactical elements so that our Travel players are better equipped to maximize their potential, as the level of competition grows. On the Academy front, we are in need of an established curriculum for each week of training, at each age group, and a way for parents to access and track the information. To that end, UKElite will provide a “Dropbox” so that parents will then have complete transparency to the curriculum and are able to reinforce what their children are learning in the small-sided setting. As was seen in our inaugural season of Academy, many parents did not understand the benefits of small-sided play and our reasons behind the Board’s decision to provide more professional support for our Academy children. We will find a date on the calendar in December and invite families to attend an open forum with us, our new training partner, UKElite, and also JJHS coaches to answer questions and discuss the forward progress we intend to make. We will also more thoroughly address and define the roles that parent volunteer coaches have in conjunction with Academy teams and Travel teams. After all, you, our families, are our greatest and most important asset. The Director of Coaching will play a critical role within our organization. He or she will alleviate the strain on our volunteer board. This individual will be a point person to address concerns and questions. The DOC will be intimately involved with both Travel and Academy and will support our Board in problem-solving the issues that will invariably surface from time to time. Due to the depth of administrative support that can be provided by UKElite, they will be best able to vet trainers and on-board them into our program. UKElite’s location in lower Westchester, as well as their familiarity with the WYSL, will allow them to also assume responsibility for the Travel registration process, follow up with Risk Management for volunteer coaches, and help funnel the day-to-day operations away from volunteers. For all of these reasons, UKElite will enable us to be a more sustainable and consistent organization for years to come. Looking ahead to the Spring, as we ramp up in anticipation of Travel tryouts, UKElite’s trainers will have excellent exposure to all of the kids in our programs. For those individuals who are interested in participating in Travel soccer, our training organization will not be "flying blind" to the Spring tryout evaluations. Instead, UKElite’s trainers will have observed the JJFC kids in Winter training for Travel and Academy, Spring Academy, Spring Travel as well as the Spring supplemental Saturday programs we expect to bring. UKElite brings an excellent “evaluation” tryout system to the table and we have great faith in the organization’s ability to get it right in formulating teams. Most importantly, the DOC, in conjunction with the vetted UKElite staff will be an objective lens in the formation of our Travel teams. Over the years we have heard from families disappointed in the tryout process. We expect that the installation of a DOC, in conjunction with a solid staff of trainers, will provide an impartial and unbiased approach in making decisions and creating teams.
In Summation: All of this brings us to today, our final Sunday of the Fall season and the conclusion of our RFP process, but not the end of our work. As such, we will begin, in earnest, to fully “On-Board” UKElite, transition our teams to their leadership and identify additional opportunities for our children. We will set a date shortly to introduce you to the UKElite Team. In the meantime, please feel free to visit their website and learn about their training methodology and capabilities. UKElite WebSite
Thank you for your continued support and contributions to our community’s soccer club. The JohnJay FC Board