This edition of our Club Spotlight series focuses on Greenbelt Soccer Alliance. We caught up with David Whiteman, President, and Erik Blaufuss, who has been involved with the club for years.
When and how did your club start?
Greenbelt Soccer Alliance was incorporated in 2010 to give local residents access to US Youth Soccer affiliated soccer opportunities.
What makes your club unique?
We have been severely limited with facilities, so we have learned how to offer high-quality programs at a low cost in a neighborhood that is under-served and under-resourced.
What programs do you primarily offer?
We are primarily a recreational club; most of our teams play in the PGSI league. Other teams play in the Anne Arundel Youth Soccer League, which operates similar to a travel league. We have also had fully carded teams compete in BBSL and NCSL.
We have had a good relationship with other clubs in the area and encourage players to move on if they want to play at a higher level.
Notable teams or players?
We had a boys team called the Stampede with a very talented group of core players who started in the Anne Arundel league at U12, moved to NCSL and always won their division as they moved up the ranks. They have since moved to BYSA and now play in EDP. We also had a girls team called the Lightning that started at U12 and that remained with the club through high school. Several of those players have continued soccer in college at the NCAA DIII or Junior College levels.
How have you supported your players and families during the pandemic?
The pandemic has impacted us tremendously. We haven’t been able to run our programs since Fall 2019. However, this fall, we were able to offer practices to our high school-aged players.
This past season, one team competed in the Anne Arundel league, so we provided significant discounts for registration and uniforms.
Do you conduct any community service as a club?
We have a strong working relationship with the local Greenbelt schools. We use their fields in fall and spring and gyms during the winter for practices and to offer professional training. In return, we make donations, including used equipment to before and aftercare programs.
What opportunities do you provide for your coaches to develop?
Most of our coaches are volunteers, so at the recreational level, we invest in MSYSA Coaching Education professionals to assist with training coaches and teams throughout the season. For all of our coaches, we reimburse the cost of any coaching education course, up to and including the D License.
Vision or plans for the next few years?
We look forward to building on our current good relations with Eleanor Roosevelt HS and working with their soccer programs to improve local opportunities for the community. We also want to develop more community soccer programs within Greenbelt and the surrounding communities.
Any other comments?
One big issue that we face is players dropping out of programs because of the pressure of winning. We want our players to enjoy the ‘play’ aspect of the soccer experience as much as possible, so we eliminate scores and standings in leagues until U11. We believe that the true measure of success in a soccer program is whether the players want to return to the game. Reducing the pressure to win games allows the players to have more fun and want to come back.
Check out Greenbelt Soccer Alliance programs HERE!