In our first club spotlight of 2021 we met up with Corey Childs, General Manager of Annapolis Soccer Club to find out about their success in Anne Arundel County.
When and how did your club start?
Annapolis Soccer Club started in the mid-1980s as Peninsula Athletic League traditionally put on a fall soccer league, but it lacked a spring season. As such, Annapolis Soccer Club was formed by Jesse Simmerman who ended up running the club for 30 years.
What makes your club unique?
Our club is a great way for players to be first exposed to the game of soccer. As an organization, we strive to keep the kids engaged for as long as possible so they can be lifelong fans of the sport.
We also have a strong tradition and community feel tied to our club. Our families are connected on and off the field, and the players are friends.
What programs do you primarily offer?
We have over 500 players playing County soccer in the Anne Arundel Youth Soccer Association league during the fall and spring seasons. Additionally, we offer our Clinic Program for 3-7 year olds during the fall and spring. The clinic program has between 250-350 players depending on the season. Both programs (Clinic and County) are supported by volunteer coaches, roughly 125 of them! Just recently, ASC has had an additional team or two playing travel soccer each year.
In the winter, we run a 10-week futsal league at the Salvation Army of Annapolis. Of the near 1000 players in the league, about 25% of the participants come from other clubs or organizations. We call it the ASC & Friends Futsal League and the league has been taking place for over 20 years!
We also offer an after-school life mentoring program, called Goals to Growth. Goals for Growth is currently established at Annapolis Middle School and Germantown Elementary School. The program provides underserved children with opportunities to develop their character and academic proficiency through the sport of soccer. The program is designed to get kids' feet on the field and on the pathway to success. Many of these participants ultimately go on to play for an ASC team and/or their high school team. Over 50% of the Annapolis High School boy’s soccer players have participated in Goals for Growth!
How have you supported your players and families during the pandemic?
Like all youth organizations providing a similar service to the community, we were forced to adapt. During the initial months, we set up a virtual training resource center and created sessions that players could perform on their own. We held logo creation contests that ultimately led to our new logo being adopted this fall. Additionally, we established a financial hardship fund to help the families most severely impacted. These families could apply for a small contribution from the club to help with a meal or two.
What community service is your club involved in?
ASC is adamant about providing service opportunities within our community. We have an internship program for college students to gain credit for school and some real-world experience in Sport Management, Social Media, and Marketing. This past year alone, we worked with student-athletes from UMD, USC, and Roanoke, as well as engaging several Anne Arundel County Public School students in the Social Media role.
Our high school aged athletes from St. Mary’s HS and Annapolis HS are also involved in the club, which creates a positive image for our younger players. For community service, the HS aged athletes referee the U5-U7 age groups, organize club/team equipment, clean up facilities, and set-up or break down the fields for gameplay.
We are proud of our relationship with Pass, Pick, and Play, an organization who aims to collect gently-used sporting equipment and then put on an event for people to pick out equipment for free. In addition to collecting equipment for the drive and in order to help draw more individuals to the actual event, ASC puts on a free soccer clinic for the community youth.
What opportunities do you provide for your coaches to develop?
This past year, ASC was able to use MSYSA’s newly produced grassroots curriculum to give coaches resources to build training sessions and also to provide a long-term plan for the season. In 2018, we were successful in obtaining a grant from United Soccer Coaches to host a FREE Coaching Education Clinic to our community. This past fall, in conjunction with MSYSA, we were able to host a Grassroots 7v7/9v9 Course for our coaches. If an ASC coach wishes to pursue USSF coaching education, the club will reimburse the coach upon completion of the course.
Vision or plans for the next few years?
Since I took on the role as General Manager in Fall 2016, ASC has strived to evolve into more of a mainstream soccer organization. Our Leadership Team’s dedicated focus to this transformation will continue to see club enhancements in our communications, our visibility in the community, and the development of our players through well thought out programming. During this time, we look forward to creating meaningful partnerships in the community that’ll bring long-term value to our club members and the City of Annapolis.