A3 Soccer has been a successful and longtime affiliate in Anne Arundel County. We had the pleasure of meeting with the President and Executive Director of A3 Soccer, Eddie Hegewisch, to find out more about the club’s history, operation, and plans for the future.
When did and how did A3 Soccer start?
A3 Soccer started as Crofton Soccer in 1972, but in 2010, rebranded as A3 Soccer. We wanted to become more professionalized and appeal to a broader audience by attracting more players and obtaining more business opportunities. We have since become partnered with global companies like Adidas, World Wide Technology, and other corporate sponsors, which is beneficial to the development of our players.
What makes your club unique?
We are located in an area that is very saturated with soccer clubs, with around 50 clubs in a 15-mile radius. Our organization is centered around the development of all players, not only the top players. We are never going to set our sights on results or tournament victories; we want to be the club to help kids in Anne Arundel County develop on and off the field. Our mission statement is clear, “To be the model for the future of youth soccer development in the U.S from the recreational to elite player.”
What is the breakdown of teams in your travel, county, and futures programs?
We currently have 32 travel teams playing in EDP and NCSL, but we lost 8 teams because of COVID. At this time, our organization is geared toward playing in EDP as it gives us more flexibility with fields and scheduling. With a new high school being built in Crofton, MD, we’ve had to endure a temporary field crunch. We are looking forward to the high school being built and gaining more space and opportunities.
Our county program also lost about 25% of its teams due to the pandemic. We are looking to build those teams back up in the spring. The county program is important for us as it allows us to offer a recreational opportunity to play for kids in our community.
Our Futures program is all in-house and focuses on developing the players for either a travel or county team. The main focus of our in-house program is to get kids to love the sport and develop a life-long connection to soccer. If we can get the players to keep coming back, have fun, and enjoy soccer – it’s a success.
We also have other activities to keep kids as involved as possible during the off-season. We offer a variety of camps to kids in our travel, county, and future programs.
Notable players or teams?
We are quite proud that Jacob Greene, a player who started out with A3 Soccer, just recently signed a professional contract to play with DC United. It’s very rewarding to see players that got their start make it to the top level of the sport.
In addition, in 2016 we launched a U23 team that competes in the CCL U23 League. In 2019, we won the league championship over DC United and other much larger clubs. The core of the squad was 97s and 98s who came from our own travel program and had success playing in Super Y Championships and other cups. It was amazing to see in-house youth talent win a competitive regional league for us at the U23 level.
Describe your partnership with West Ham? How do the players, coaches benefit from it?
Our partnership with West Ham started 6 years ago. I initially cold-called businesses overseas looking for ways to grow the A3 soccer brand, which led to contact with GIS Sports. They had contacts with West Ham, who liked our ideology and the direction we were headed. Over the years, West Ham has sent London-based academy coaches from their youth academy to run our player ID sessions. They try to identify local talent to invite to national camps and eventually London. In addition, they provide a curriculum to help develop better players and coaches.
How have you supported your players and families during the pandemic?
Like many clubs, we’ve been hit hard by the pandemic. We tried our best to do what we could and used various technological methods to keep our people connected. Coaches have used Zoom to meet with players and ensure they are keeping up with their work.
What opportunities do you provide to your coaches to develop?
Roy Dunshee runs coaching clinics through our club. In 2019, United Soccer Coaches awarded Roy the Mike Berticelli Excellence in Coaching Education Award, given to a coach who made positive contributions to the game of soccer and excellence in coaching education. It is great to allow our coaches to learn from such a talented educator. We also recently brought in Ryan Shera to work with Roy and further the development of our coaches. Ryan, who’s working to obtain his USSF A license, has been instrumental in setting up coaching clinics for all of our programs. This is something that he’s looking to build on as we look to further our coaches’ educational levels.
Vision or plans for the next few years?
Like many clubs, we want to have more access to privately owned fields and indoor facilities. It’s a long-term commitment to achieve such lofty objectives but we’re certainly committed to doing just that. We believe that field space is at such a premium all over the MD/DC/VA area, that any private venture to provide field space would be a benefit to kids and their development. We are also looking to develop additional corporate sponsorships which allow us greater opportunities for players.