At the Top of Their Game

Kennedy State CupCongratulations to the Spring 2016 Kennedy U10 Girls team for winning the Gold Division State Cup at Edinboro!  They went undefeated and allowed only 3 goals throughout the tournament.  NASC is proud of how they’ve risen through the ranks of younger age groups and play levels to show what hard work and teamwork can deliver.

This is like many other teams we have playing at the “D4” level.  Division 4 is the pinnacle of community travel soccer in PA-West.  Divisions 1-3 play on Saturday afternoons, not Sundays.  Teams competing at that level are what are typically called “cup teams.”  Like higher level international soccer, when teams are champions in these upper division, they are expected to go up to the next level, while teams struggling in higher levels descend a level in the subsequent season.

NASC has a lot of kids that play for these “cup teams” while also playing community soccer.  That creates a dilemma when they win-out in D4, since we as a club need them to move up to D3.  Since most of these kids already play D3 for other clubs, they must then either play just for our club at that level, or choose to play for their other club on Saturdays and find some other configuration of play in NASC on Sundays.  We prefer to mix these kids and coaches in with other kids so more can grow from their experience and our programs can grow stronger.  We believe this will lead to better results once they transition to school teams playing 11 v 11 soccer.

Cup teams have paid staff, participate nearly year-round, and cost ten times what we charge.  They serve a different purpose and are very effective delivering teams that participate at higher levels.  NASC’s purpose is to provide a positive soccer experience for any kid in our community that wants to play and hopefully create bonding experiences for their participating parents.  Along the way we strive to build winning teams and players.  The dedication of parents like Jim Earle that voluntarily coach their kid’s NASC teams into cup levels can provide the rare opportunities for kids to play together in our club above D4.  Unfortunately, that can be a tall order, especially when cup organizations already have an infrastructure to do that and the price is not beyond the means of most NA families.

So congratulations to “Team Kennedy” and thank you for representing NASC so well!  We hope we’ll still find ways in the future that we can serve a purpose for each other.


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And Toes Will Be Stepped On

We upset people on regular basis.  There are a thousand players, as many parents, and over a hundred dispersed volunteers trying to get along.  Do the math.  We won’t all be happy with any decision.  Yet I think you’ll find a consistent attitude and culture from any of our members that have been around the club for a decent amount of time.  Soccer can be a great activity to teach kids about getting along, improving ourselves, setting goals, and being a part of something bigger than ourselves.  It is not the only place to experience this stuff  and soccer is not the only thing to be taught.  There is just a good balance here.

Putting teams together is probably the most challenging aspect of club management when it comes to things that can upset the peace.  Putting together a single good team is easy.  Trying to figure how every kid gets on a team with all people they like and every kid of the thousand that register (many late) is put on a team that fits them equally well is impossible.  Oh yeah, this has to happen twice a year, every year. It’s obviously not possible and nobody would expect that level of perfection.  Each season most parents are pretty satisfied with their experience and many more, though not completely satisfied, realize each season is roughly ten weeks of their child’s life and they’ll learn a variety of lessons from their NASC experience and try to lay the groundwork for better options in future seasons.  We have limits based on age and the number of kids on a roster, as well as the advanced timing of team declarations we have to commit to the state association to allow schedules to be made before everyone even registers.  Thankfully, tireless volunteers jump through hoops and ask parents forgiveness trying to make this elaborate puzzle fit together so every kids wanting to play, gets to play.  On top of that they need to be on a team where they are challenged, improve their skills, aren’t put in dangerous situations, and the events don’t conflict with the rest of their other activities.  You get the picture.

We’re not the only game in town.  Indeed, there are many other sports and soccer clubs predicated on more intense training.  I’m glad they exist so you have a choice for the experience you think is right for your child.  Hopefully your child sees these opportunities and you have a good enough relationship with them that they can openly let you know their preferences.  Even further, may you find that experience enjoyable and beneficial and helps them grow as a healthy person.  Our game and philosophy are not for everyone, but I think we serve our purpose well and am proud of all the North Allegheny parents and kids that make it an enjoyable part of growing up here.  I’m thankful that there are other places that will take your money to deliver a more intense experience and that the door is still open for you to come back if you decide our approach fits you at another point in your soccer journey.  All I ask is that you treat the people volunteering to help your children with the respect and patience they deserve.  They and their families give up a lot of their time for our community.  That example of class and compassion is your job as your kid’s primary coach.


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About Tryouts 2016

Every May the North Allegheny Soccer Club holds tryouts for the “D4” teams for age groups U10-12 for the following Fall and Spring seasons.  Kids don’t have to try out to play soccer in our club, only to play in more competitive divisions.  We charge a slight fee to be able to compensate the professional trainers attending to work with the kids.  Below I’ll describe the tryouts and how our league is structured, but if you just want to go to the tryout registration you can just proceed to this Google Form.

Tryouts Design

Starting in 2015 we adjusted from having just two tryout evenings to also include two clinics functioning in the same structure as tryouts.  This worked fairly well so the kids got more training while they got used to the tryout drills.  It also let us work out the kinks so that our evaluators got better scores for all of the kids during the actual tryouts.  Each clinic and tryout event is split into two sessions so we can accommodate roughly 75 kids per session, usually U10 boys and U11-12 girls in the first one, then U11-12 boys and U10 girls in the second session.  The kids rotate between three stations, spending roughly 20 minutes at each.  There is one for 1v1 and 2v1 drills, another for small sided games (4v4 and 3v3), and a third station for some shots on goal and goalie work.  Kids are scored based on observations of the evaluators of their ball skills, defensive capabilities, quickness, and attitude.  Those scores are balanced with evaluations by their coaches from spring to establish rankings to determine how many teams we can put together that can compete at the D4 level.  Kids not making the D4 teams still have plenty of opportunities to play on our D5, D6, and recreational teams.

We have a Google Form for registering.  $30 is due when you arrive at the McKinney Pavilion where you are issued a clean, numbered pinney for your child to wear during the clinic/tryout and only needs to be returned when all of the events have been finished, where you will receive $10 back for returning it to us for use in future events.  This is an improvement over past tryouts where there were lines each time.  This design means it should only be the first event where getting there extra early is really required.

About PA-West Levels of Play

Division 4 in PA-West is a more competitive environment for teams located anywhere in PA-West, from Erie, past Altoona, to parts of West Virginia.  Divisions 3, 2, and 1 can only be reached by succeeding at the D4 level first.  Most teams that do are part of “Cup” clubs.  Those “Classsic” teams typically compete on Saturday afternoons, practice four nights a week, travel to various tournaments, and cost much more to participate in as a result of the additional resources needed such as paid coaches.

The North Allegheny Soccer Club is considered a community club in the PA-West North District.  We have “In-house” divisions for kids “U5-U10” and participate mainly in Division 5 & 6 travel divisions for ages “U11-19.”  All kids that wish to play soccer and register in time will be placed on a team.  Indeed over a thousand kids play each spring and fall wearing our gold or white jerseys as either in-house players on Saturday mornings or on travel teams on Sunday afternoons.  No matter what the age, we seek to place kids on teams where the level of play is challenging and they can improve their skills while learning life lessons in teamwork, a commitment to training, and treating others with compassion.  Nearly all of our volunteers are parents of children playing on their own teams where kids witness first hand the positive aspects of people involved in their own community.

These tryouts are to ensure the kids are placed in levels of play where they are fairly challenged.  Kids participate in other activities over time and have differing natural athletic talents and investments in soccer-specific training over time.  Creating separate levels of play attempts to prevent discouragement and boredom at opposite ends of the talent spectrum.  We will not please all of you in our attempts to create our teams to provide a good soccer experience for your child.  I do ask that you let us know if you think we have gone awry of what we claim to provide and perhaps volunteer to help us make the club a valuable asset to the North Allegheny community.

More info on the concept of “travel soccer” can be found in my previous “Why Travel” blog post.

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Age Group Shake-up

There has been a shake-up in US Youth Soccer with a change of the dividing date for age groups to January 1st.  This puts the US in line with the rest of the world as opposed to our existing date of August 1st.  The good news is that rather than trying to figure out which “U” group your child naturally fits in, divisions will go by the year of their birth.

The first place you will run into the new age guidelines is in the tryouts for our “D4” teams for what is still U10-U12 teams, but is more specifically the 2005-2007 birth-year kids.  There is a subsequent announcement coming out for the details of the clinic and tryouts from May 15-25.  Players will still be able to play-up to other age groups but we ask that they try-out within their natural birth year group.

The result for many kids will be that they seem to skip an age group between the Spring 2016 and Fall 2016 seasons.  This will be the same for all PA-West kids and indeed all across the country, so don’t panic.  NA schools also have a lot of parents that either hold their kids back or start them earlier, so worries about not being with kids in their specific class have also not necessarily been controlled in the past.  The fact of the matter is that your kids will meet lots of different kids in our area through soccer and then run into them in future grades in school at levels where schools consolidate, like going into middle school in 6th grade or NAI in 9th.  Getting to know new kids early in their experience helps with their adjustments in future years, not to mention broadening your own networking among the parents on the sidelines each season.

So there you have it, look for a slightly different registration experience where you’ll see more birth-year-based nomenclature and a bit less of the “which U group is my kid in” dilemmas.  The nature of play at relative ages stays the same, but how this kids are grouped and the labels will appear different.

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PA West Coaching Licensing Requirements

By Viktor Gotz – Director of Coaching and Player Development

As of the Fall, 2015 soccer season, coaches of U5/U6 and U9/U10 age groups must earn coaching credentials by successfully completing PA West licensing/certification programs.

The minimum licensing requirement for coaching these age groups can be met by completing the online portion of the PA West Youth Module certificate. The online course is free, and must be completed before coaches can be placed on rosters. Although the minimum requirements no longer include the Youth Module field session, NASC highly recommends the completion of the field session as well. The field session is extremely useful in gaining practical understanding of creating and executing a coaching plan for these young age groups.

For more information on the Youth Module, and to register for the sessions, go to

As an alternate way to meet the minimum requirements, coaches may complete the USSF F License. The USSF F License is also an online course. The cost for this license is $25, which will be reimbursed by NASC for active coaches. The fee also includes a one-year membership to the US Soccer coaching platform. For reimbursement requests, click this link.

For coaches, who are planning to continue with their coaching education, the USSF F license is a good choice, as it is a prerequisite for the National E License.

For more information on the USSF F license go to

Although this requirement only applies to U5/U6 and U9/U10 coaches in the 2015-16 soccer season, NASC highly encourages U7/U8 and U11/U12 coaches to complete one of the above certifications as soon as possible. Starting with the 2016-17 season, all U5-U12 coaches must comply with the youth licensing requirements as detailed above.

If you have any questions about licensing, please, contact Viktor Götz, NASC Coaching and Player Development at

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Hard Decisions for Tryouts

The tryout process for our premier Division 4 (D4) teams is always a stressful process.  It’s great to see nearly 200 kids tryout for positions on our U10-U12 girls and boys teams.  How to run it so every kid and parent feels they got a fair shot is where the stress comes into play.  We are all volunteers who want the kids to have a great time playing, improve every season, and be challenged in doing so.  We will never convince all parties of that each time, though.

I’m very pleased with the improvements we made to our process running the tryouts for the 2015-16 seasons.  Lori Heim, our VP of Travel, did a tremendous amount of work organizing, number crunching, pestering coaches for evals and communicating with parents.  Keith Ruiz, our Equipment Director, got in a whole batch of new numbered, colored pinneys for the kids to use throughout clinics and tryouts to make the process easier for parents when they got to the field as well as for coaches to group new teams on the fly during the clinics and tryouts.  Countless coaches and professional trainers help design and run the drills throughout both clinics and tryouts so we got the best look at the kids and the kids improved their skills as well.  Thanks to all of the parents that registered, transported, and observed from a distance to help things go smoothly.  Hopefully you also felt that it went well.

Having more ratings of the kids than ever made it that much better, as we averaged scores and compared players overall ratings with those provided by their regular season coaches.  We then discussed the rankings with the coaches selected to run the teams for the Fall season.  They added the field logic, making sure they had a couple of goalies and a group of kids they had confidence would gel.  In some cases where we will have multiple teams, it is important to select and announce the group of kids that make the program early, so they have this knowledge going into other club tryouts, before we decide who is on which team and what the whole coaching staff for that team will look like.  That is why our initial list does not show team specifics.  Still, there will be kids who made the cut that decide to play elsewhere and we’ll have to go back to a player that did not initially make this cut and ask them to play.

Some kids playing on an existing D4 team will not make this year’s teams.  That means that some kids that did not make it in prior years did make it this time around.  Hopefully that encourages everyone to try hard and keep at it, though some may be disappointed, but hopefully working hard this coming year for a shot to get back in.  Some coaches have changed as well, which is a healthy part of the process, keeping our gene-pool of training and development strong and diverse.  Since all kids play in travel programs at U11 and older AND our U10 in-house programs are strong, I hope those not making D4 teams are comforted by the good experience available at all levels of our programs.  Certainly youth soccer is about building character and making new friendships with each new team and season as the kids skills try to keep up with their growth.  Like every game, tryouts come with learning experiences for all of us.  Hopefully we take these things as experiences to learn from and not the be-all end end-all of our self esteem.

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Hit the Field Ready This Season

imageAttention Parents and Coaches:

Before heading out for practice or the game, please be sure to follow these simple tips to improve your experience and hopefully avoid a headache or two:

  1. Shin guards, cleats, ball, drink, no jewelry – All games and practices require the proper equipment for safety.  Make sure they fit now and ask the coach or another parent about spares when you arrive (hopefully early) if you forgot yours.
  2. Have your name on your things – there are more than 80 teams that use our fields each week.  Things get lost and there is a good chance the person that found it does not know you.  Put a name and contact phone number on your things that might be left behind.  You’ll appreciate avoiding the frustration and disappointment of losing your stuff and your coach will be glad to use the trunk of his car for something besides a lost and found.  There is a lot of duplicate equipment as well.  Mark yours so you can tell the difference and avoid awkward apologies.
  3. Bring a chair and watch your kids – Our fields are public places that do not have bleachers.  Pull up a lawn chair and rap with the other parents.  Don’t bring your dog, no matter how nice they are.  They are not allowed at our fields.  It’s bad enough the deer make us watch our steps.
  4. The other coaches and parents aren’t freaks – Make friends with folks when you visit, especially at games.  Too many people forget that different color shirts are just that.  Those “other people” like being at home on Sundays rooting for the Steelers as well.  Just because they live in a different neighborhood does not mean they woke up with your child in their cross-hairs.  An early, friendly “hello” can be the difference between going home as a role model to your child as opposed to grumbling at the world.
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Referee Training Available

Refereeing is a great way for kids to earn some money and develop their soccer knowledge.  The North Allegheny Soccer Club is looking for some new teenagers interested in being paid and trained to ref youth games this spring and fall.  There are two options but you must be available on Saturday March 28th, 2015 to do either:

  1. Official Ref Training from PA-West – You must be 14 by the end of March and you need to pay for this one-day class but you are then licensed to referee at in-house and travel games.  It is a full day class in Shaler (NASC is not hosting one this year).  This is the traditional means of becoming a ref.  Please find more details and registration at this link (space is limited):
  2. NASC in-house training – Carl Belletti, our head of referees will be hosting a free one-hour session to train some in-house referees for U8 & U10 games on Saturday mornings.  This is a good option if you are not old enough for the official certifications but want to gain some experience.  This will take place at Yoest field at 11 AM on Saturday March 28th.  Attendees should be accompanied by a parent to sign a permission/liability waiver.

If you have questions you may contact Carl or Mike by emailing

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Get Ready for Fall Soccer with Coach Ben!

Time to get ready for the Fall season with a week of soccer camp with Coach Ben!  Youth Elite Soccer is running a camp at McCandless Fields next week (August 4-8).  All kids aged 4-13 are welcome (separate age-based sessions throughout the day).

Please go to this link to check out the details and register ASAP:

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Special Access at Heinz Field

On July 27th 2014, Manchester City played against AC Milan in a special game in front of almost 35,000 spectators at Heinz Field.  Relevent Sports contacted us about offering tickets to our members at a discount.  As a result of the tickets you bought, they were able to have two of our players escort players from Manchester City onto the field before the game.  While I wish we could have had open access to that environment, we were at least able to get a couple of our players out there.  There are a lot of us that put in countless hours at the field keeping things running in our league year-round.  Over the past couple of seasons the Cooke’s and Moose’s have coached multiple teams year-round as well as helping with try-outs, training programs, and hosting camp trainers.  They have made last minute efforts to help the club at the inconvenience of their family and I think having Elizabeth Moose and Ryan Cooke represent NASC at the international game was fitting.  Thanks to everyone that purchased tickets and who volunteer at all levels, year-round to keep our club healthy and fun!image


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