With so much uncertainty these days, youth soccer clubs are not alone in having their worlds turned upside down. As parents and players wait to return to the field, clubs across the country are doing all they can to stay connected to their families.
How is that happening? We checked in with Del Mar Carmel Valley Sharks Director, Shannon Mac Millan, to see how her club is handling these uncertain times. DMCV Sharks is one of hundreds (thousands?) of clubs across the nation who are working hard to serve their coaches, players, and families in these crazy times.
A Chat with Shannon Mac Millan
SN: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. How’s it going with Sharks in this COVID-19 and economic crisis?
“I think now more than ever, soccer is important in the daily life of these players…”
SM: We are doing our best to navigate through these unprecedented times. Our main goal and focus has remained on taking care of our players as well as our coaches. We are doing our best with “Distance Coaching,” — keeping players engaged and working via online sessions. Sessions focused on ball skills, fitness, speed and agility, age group sessions, team building, etc.
I think now more than ever, soccer is important in the daily life of these players as it can be used to keep them focused on a positive note during these uncertain times, while also staying healthy and connected with teammates and coaches.
The biggest challenge
SN: What are the biggest challenges you’re facing as a club?
SM: I think one of the biggest challenges we are facing is similar to everyone else out there. Uncertainty. This is such an unprecedented time without a known “end” point currently. We are doing our best as we go along to make sure we are not only keeping our players engaged and active but also taking care of our coaches.
SN: Can you let SoccerNation families know what clubs are dealing with that may not be obvious?
SM: We miss our players/teams and want to be back out on the field as much as they do!!! We realize distance coaching isn’t the most ideal but we have no other options right now, and like our families, we are just trying to stay positive and make the most of the current situation we all find ourselves in.
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Truth is, we do not know what our “new normal” will look like
SM: We are already making plans as to how we can phase back into training with our players as restrictions are lifted. Truth is, we do not know what our “new normal” will look like when it comes to training, games and events nor what it’s going to take to get there. We will continue to follow guidelines set forth by the CDC and our governing bodies with our player’s, their families and our coaches health at the forefront.
SN: Are you still paying coaches?
SM: Yes! Sharks have long operated as a community-based club and as such, that includes our coaches and taking care of them. Coaching is part of their livelihood and they also have families to take care of.
SN: What are coaches and the club doing to stay engaged with their families, teams, and players?
SM: A lot of communication – online sessions via Zoom, training plans via emails and of course phone calls.
SM: We have also put out a bunch of “challenges” to our players and it has absolutely made my day to see all of the individual and team videos being put together. We are sharing them on our social media as well as internally with the club.
SN: What steps are you taking to help your DMCV players who are part of the class of 2021 and 2022?
SM: They are in a tough spot with college recruiting!
SN: What’s the club doing to help? We have hosted a couple online college nights with our College Director, Brooke Kentera and ScoutingZone. Brooke is also reaching out to our coaches and is available for questions and help when needed.
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SM: We are continuing to be a resource to help all of our college bound players, whether they wish to play collegiately or not.
SN: Any tips for those families who do have players with goals of college soccer?
SM: Keep reaching out and doing the work! College campuses and sports programs are also shut down so now more than ever you may have more success connecting with the coaches!
The question everyone has: When will teams be back on the field together?
SN: Do you have any idea or plan for when teams will be able to take the field again?
SM: No idea as to when but yes, we are already making plans. We are working under the assumption that it won’t just be a day that they say, “Ok, everyone get back out there.” We know there will be new protocol and standards that will need to be adopted as well as more than likely starting with smaller groups before we have an entire team out there.
SN: Is a date set for practices to start back up?
SM: Unfortunately, not yet – this is something that is out of our control.
Copa Del Mar??
SN: Copa Del Mar is always such a fun summer tradition for all ages and soccer levels! What’s happening with Copa Del Mar?
SM: Great question and also a huge unknown at this point! We just don’t know, but we are hoping for the best.
SN: Do you think, and are you planning for, fall leagues to start back up around the traditional start time of Labor Day?
SM: I truly hope we are able to have fall seasons. I think it will be important for all of the kids to have a time and place to just get back out there and play with their friends!
Thank you, Shannon, for your time!