On the Board salutes the people that run the great clubs we serve.
This month, YESsoccer honors the dedication and hard work of Northwind SC, IL (@NorthwindSC) President Brad Webster, who is celebrating three years of service as well as a nice trophy haul over the last few months.
Chicago Fire Camps & Training Regional Director Lee Hannant (@CoachLeeHanno) recently sat down with Brad to discuss his time at the helm of Northwind & how the club is developing:
What is the biggest challenge you've faced as a soccer board member?
As a volunteer run organization, one of the biggest challenges is finding willing and able volunteers to carry out some of the everyday tasks that are taken for granted. We are always looking to recruit the right people that can put in the necessary time and effort, to help steer the club from both an administrative and technical perspective. It can be tough, especially as there are a number of important jobs that enable the club to operate smoothly.
Having different core beliefs from your typical travel club is another challenge for us. As an affiliate of the AYSO 418 program, we have to juggle the six philosophies that underpin AYSO, while pushing the kids to the next stage of their soccer development. As such, we place a higher emphasis on developing the person, over the soccer player. Generally, other clubs do it the other way around; the person develops as a by-product of their soccer. So we have to live those philosophies everyday, while remaining competitive in our respective leagues.
What are the Highlights of your time as Director?
Its funny, one of the things that stick out in my head is the impact you can have on people without truly realizing it. For example, I had a player come up to me earlier this year, asking if he could have a photo with me. That was new for me; no one ever wants my photo! When I asked why, the kid said he was doing a project at school on “the person who had the most impact on me this year” – I almost cried!
Even now, three years in, I still get a buzz when I walk around the fields on a weekend and parents/players come and tell me what a wonderful program we have and how much it has benefited their lives. At the end of the day, that is what it is all about for me!
Another thing is seeing the players you have worked with for years continue to support the program, because it has been their life for so long. Twelve players became certified youth referees this year, and as a referee myself, that was a proud moment. It also helps to grow a sustainable program when you can offer more to your players to develop their knowledge of the game.
What is your long-term objective for the club?
To create a safe fun and all-encompassing program for the families we serve. It is also important to me that we have a sustainable program, so the club continues to grow long after me. We are putting the foundations in now by aligning what we do with the US Soccer guidelines, to help grow the sport in Chicago, and America.
What makes your club different? Why Northwind?
As I touched upon earlier, we are part of the AYSO program, so as a club, we have duel objectives:
1. Always adhering to AYSO’s six philosophies: Everyone Plays, Balanced Teams, Open Registration, Positive Coaching, Good Sportsmanship, Player Development.
2. Give players a platform where they can truly express themselves as people and players.
We have also won 8 trophies in the previous 18 months, so we still have that winning desire, which is important for any travel club.
Finally, any advice for other club Presidents/DOC’s?
In my opinion, you must have a true passion for the game, and the families you serve. If you don’t, you won’t give it the time and energy it needs, which will have a negative impact on the experience for the kids.
Take the opportunity to better yourself. Go to meetings, courses, and licenses, to gain more experience, so you are well equipped for the variety of challenges that may come your way. In addition, create a structure at the club, which supports and upholds the philosophies at all times. Having trustworthy people around you that are pulling in the same direction is huge.
Finally, remember that we serve the game… and a game should be fun!
When I asked why, the kid said he was doing a project at school on “the person who had the most impact on me this year” – I almost cried!
Northwind's U11 Boys