It is hard to believe two years have passed since taking over the presidency of the club. In that time the club has seen improvements at all levels. Some of our accomplishments include:
Improved Communications – This was item #1 on our to-do list and I believe we have made great strides in this area. Our biggest improvement being the implementation of our new web site that allows easier communication to members, greater visibility to the public and easier scheduling of team activities. On the travel side we have increased the number of team meetings and reinforced the need to keep an open dialog throughout the season between parents, players, team managers, trainers and our DOC.
On Line Registration – The integration of on line registration has enabled us to become more efficient at administering the club. Our customer database is more secure, our system for background checks is more thorough and the registration process has become more streamlined. We will be pushing our on-line registration vender for even better improvements to the process as we go forward into 2010.
Umbro and The Team Wearhouse – Our partnership with Umbro and The Team Wearhouse has been a success. We have received overwhelming support for the Umbro product and equal amounts of praise for The Team Wearhouse’s dedication to customer support.
Fundraising – Early on we targeted fundraising as a priority for the club. Despite the economic catastrophe that has hit our world including the businesses and supporters of the club we have managed to raise approximately $70,000 since January of 2008 from corporations and private donors alike. All of this money has gone into the program as either quality improvement initiatives or cost reduction initiatives. We are appreciative of the many generous companies and individuals that support the club.
Recreation Program Highlights – Our recreation program continues to improve and to grow. We have partnered with BASA at the U12, U13, U14 levels to provide a more competitive playing environment. This year we introduced the U6 kindergarten team approach as opposed to having the U6’s play in Little Kickers to bring us in line with surrounding area programs. Finally, we have added professional training opportunities for our U6 – U11 recreational players to further enhance their skills development.
Travel Program Quality – Our travel program has expanded at all levels – our academy program which began in 2007 continues to grow and improve each year providing the foundation of soccer skills necessary to compete effectively in a travel environment. The quality of our players and teams also gets better every year. Our top teams in each age group consistently compete at the highest levels of their leagues. This is a testimonial to our commitment to ongoing player development and quality of training at all levels. At your request we are adding more training opportunities scheduled in such a way so as not to conflict with core team training through our Player Enhancement Program (PEP). Our Synergy physical conditioning program has been expanded to serve all ages and is now conveniently located at Kits. Our high school program has expanded to include our college preparation Elite program (see highlights below) as well as our competitive travel program for those kids wanting the competition of travel but not wanting the level of commitment a college prep program requires. Finally, we have extended our travel program to include a U23 age group that focuses on providing a competitive playing environment for our players on break from college.
College Opportunities – In response to our member’s desire for us to provide better college playing opportunities for our high school players we rolled out our Elite program at the end of 2008. Transitioning to this type of competitive program is challenging as it requires a different focus than a community based travel soccer program typically provides. Despite this challenge, as of November 2009 our 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 graduation class has placed fifteen players in college soccer programs with combined scholarship funding commitments approximating $1,000,000 over four years of college! Yes, that is not a typo. Our first year and a half offering the Elite program has been more successful than expected. This past year brought Ela’s first national champion with our inaugural U23 men’s team as well as a state championship from our U23 women! Look for continued strengthening of the Elite program with increasing levels of competition as we move forward into 2010.
Fields/Tournaments – Although we have made significant improvement to the fields we play on we will be focusing on continued improvements in this area. We are already working with Hawthorn Woods to make the necessary repairs/improvements to our Heritage Oaks facility. We are also currently investigating the addition of other fields in our area to allow more flexible field scheduling when needed. As part of this effort we are looking closely at the possibility of hosting a tournament, either recreation or travel, in the upcoming years.
New Board Position – Lastly on behalf of the club I want to welcome Art Gora to the Ela board as the Vice President of our travel program. Art comes from a soccer background and has been active in coaching in the Ela program for many years. Art is already hard at work creating initiatives that will further strengthen our travel program. We are looking forward to Art’s strong stewardship of the travel program in the upcoming years.
As we approach the new-year I want to remind everyone to please enjoy the extra time with friends and family this time of year provides. On behalf of the club we wish you the happiest of holiday seasons and look forward to a safe and successful soccer year in 2010.