SOCA’s Augusta Regional Director, Nora Maguire White, recently sent an email letter to all Augusta families summarizing the status of the club in that region. SOCA’s merger with Augusta has been in place for a little over a year and a half, with significant results for local soccer enthusiasts.
Response to White’s address was swift and positive. One satisfied parent summed up the feelings in Augusta with this reply,
“Thank you so much for this email. This helps me understand all that SOCA has done in Augusta County. It’s amazing all of the accomplishments that you all have done for the youth in our community. I’m proud to have my daughter be part of this organization to help her improve her soccer talents and love for the game. Thank you all!”
Below is the text of the State of the Region message:
Dear SOCA Augusta Families,
As we kickoff the 2016 spring season, I wanted to take an opportunity to reflect on the past twenty months that make up SOCA Augusta’s history. I am honored to direct SOCA’s Augusta Region and am grateful to work with a fantastic staff committed to making a difference in young people’s lives through the beautiful game. We cherish our partnership with SOCA families, volunteers and community members who seek to grow the game and serve the community.
SOCA, founded in 1982, was initially formed to provide appropriate soccer programming in Charlottesville and Albemarle with the goal of fostering increased awareness and greater love for a sport that had little history in the area. Originally offering youth recreational soccer programming, the organization has grown through the years to become the preeminent soccer provider in the west-central region of Virginia. With soccer opportunities offered for young and old, novice to advanced players, SOCA now serves over 6,000 local soccer players seasonally.
When SOCA began planning in Augusta, the leadership recognized several key priorities. First, the club invested in a full time staff and professional office located to specifically serve the Augusta region. From that foundation the primary goals were established to grow participation at all levels, provide quality service, and to put in place a comprehensive player development pathway for youth. Immediately upon operating in Augusta, SOCA took actions and allocated resources to support those primary goals. Below is a summary of some of the club’s initiatives and activities in Augusta since merging operations:
· Opened regional office at 21 Hannah Circle, Waynesboro.
· Placed professional staff consisting of: Regional Director Nora Maguire White, Recreation and Operations Coordinator Mark Yurish and Administrator Shannon Harris.
Field & Facility Development
· Complete goal and net replacement at the Eastside Speedway fields, valued at over $10,000.
· Field repair, renovation and development at VSDB, Ridgeview Park and Wilson Field 6 (Hot Shot & Travel training facility), totaling more than $14,000.
· Goal and net replacement at other various regional fields.
· Established a year-round cycle of clinics supporting Recreation coaches.
· Established an annual, intensive “Coach Development Week” taking place each February.
· Provide financial support for USSF licensing and certification at all levels within the club.
· Provide on-going coach mentoring and development by full-time staff and qualified adjunct staff.
· Continuing education for staff coaches.
· Established Travel coach stipend payments to attract and retain quality coaches in a competitive market.
· Install the highly regarded SOCA U6 Hot Shots program for entry level players. Growth has exceeded 45% in just three seasons.
· Successful launching of Augusta U10 Girls & Boys Challenge Program (Advanced Recreation) with four teams total.
· Increased participation in the Recreation program, with more than 15% growth since merging.
· Instituted comprehensive, year-round supplemental training programs which provide player development opportunities at all youth levels. Advanced training programs have been added during the fall and spring seasons, along with additional programs and camps throughout the winter and summer months. A total of ten new supplemental programs are now offered in Augusta.
· Cross-over play for some Recreation age groups with Charlottesville Recreation teams, allowing a full and varied season schedule.
· Established Adult summer league.
· Increased participation by Augusta players in SOCA Elite teams resulting in advanced playing opportunities and exposure for top players
· Increased tournament participation for Augusta Premier and Classic teams.
Other Development and Support
· Distribution of an estimated $12,000 of financial assistance, annually, in Augusta, across all levels of youth play.
· Establishment of an annual Referee training program in the region.
· Recreation tournament offerings in Augusta & Charlottesville regions (Frostbite & Sunburn).
· Summer 3v3 Tournament hosted in Augusta.
· Commitment to broad media advertising and marketing, to grow interest in our sport.
· Invested in training equipment for use throughout all programs.
· Formalize and support referee recruitment, training, assigning, and mentoring efforts.
It has been an exciting time, and our work is far from over. The SOCA staff continually examine our offerings and services, always seeking improvement. Specifically, we are presently engaged in several field improvement and field development opportunities in the Augusta region. The club is pursuing various arrangements with both local government and private land-owners, with the ultimate goal of developing an elite quality soccer-specific facility in this region.
Thank you for your family’s support and commitment to this great organization as we continue to grow, improve and develop new opportunities for soccer players in this terrific community.
Warmest wishes to each of you for 2016 and I look forward to seeing you on the field!
Nora Maguire White
SOCA Augusta Regional Director