Soccer fees up this year

Association tackles player growth

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— The Steamboat Springs Youth Soccer Association has taken on new staff in an effort to elevate coaching and player development of budding local soccer stars.

"At the board level, we're trying to do two things," Director of Coaching and Player Development Rob Bohlmann said. "Meet the demands of growth in the program and to improve the product of youth soccer."

Parents will notice substantial percentage increases in youth soccer fees when they go to register their youngsters this month. However, Bohlmann said the board researched fees at comparable programs throughout Colorado and determined the new fees in Steamboat are either less than or comparable to those of other programs. The Soccer Association is a nonprofit organization.

Soccer Association Commissioner Chuck O'Connell added that the board created a scholarship program 14 months ago to help ensure financial aid for needy families.

Newly appointed Administrative Director Heidi Walker said the Soccer Association supported more than 600 recreational and 250 competitive soccer players last year. She still enjoys the youngest children in the program.

"At 5 or 6, you can just run around in a mass," she said.

An example of fee increases is the $70 cost, if registered before April 18, for children in the U8 program. Teams meet Mondays and Wednesdays from May 19 to July 12. The fee is up $20 from last spring.

Older soccer players in the competitive programs, beginning at U11, have seen the fees go up $50 to $200, plus uniform and travel expenses. Families of competitive soccer players also are required to post a $200 work deposit that can be worked off with a four-hour shift during the Mountain Youth Soccer Tournament in July.

"We're still trying to keep all levels of youth soccer affordable from the little guys to the competitive teams," Bohlmann said. "We're still competitive as an affordable sport to be involved in Steamboat."

New staff positions at the Soccer Association include Assistant Director of Coaching and Player Development Joey Rind. His role includes working on programs for parent education and sportsmanship, as well as supporting team managers and education.

As technical director, Bohlmann said former Steamboat Springs High School Sailor and St. Joseph's College player Hobey Early will help to ensure that young players are being taught appropriate soccer skills for their level.

"A big push right now is building an age-specific development plan," Bohlmann said. "Hobey's job is going to be to make sure all teams and players are incorporating it. As an example, at age 8, players should be learning to use different surfaces of the foot" to control and strike the ball.

Soccer Association staffers also will work to uniformly educate coaches this year about desirable teaching methods and skills for young soccer players.

Other staffers include Director of Recreational Soccer Blair Seymour and Eric Tegl, the third-year director of the Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament.

O'Connell said the tournament, which draws 120 teams from around Colorado and surrounding states, is the financial foundation of the association and raised more than $40,000 last year. Those funds subsidize competitive players and their families to the tune of $300 each.

In addition defraying the cost of participation, the tournament has allowed the association to donate tens of thousands of dollars to new playing fields in Steamboat, O'Connell said.

- To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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