SoccerNation’s Carrie Taylor recently sat down with founder and Director of Coaching for SOL SC, d’Alary Dalton Carrie Taylor: d’Alary wh
SoccerNation’s Carrie Taylor recently sat down with founder and Director of Coaching for SOL SC, d’Alary Dalton
Carrie Taylor: d’Alary what is your coaching education background?
d’Alary Dalton: My passion for promoting women and girls in sport was boosted when my father advocated in court and secured my right to play baseball.
I started coaching soccer in 1990, right out of college, and began alternating between NSCAA and USSF coaching courses. I earned my USSF A-license, NSCAA Advanced National Diploma, USYS National Youth License, and a Double Goal Coach certification from the Positive Coaching Alliance.
Carrie Taylor: What levels have you worked at?
d’Alary Dalton: For more than 25 years, I’ve coached both recreational and competitive soccer at a variety of levels including youth, high school, and college as well as for the Region IV Olympic Development Program (ODP). I briefly coached soccer and lacrosse at Alleghany College before starting the women’s soccer program at Holy Names University in Oakland, CA. While there I earned my master’s degree in Education. I also have my doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from Mills College where my research focus was on “How coaches balance teaching positive life skills and the importance of winning.” I coached youth teams in the SF Bay Area until I took a Coaching and Administrative Director position at a club in Santa Barbara which ultimately led me to start Sol SC.
Carrie Taylor: Why did you start Sol SC?
d’Alary Dalton: During my short time in Santa Barbara, I watched as the number of girls teams dramatically declined, no women coaches were hired, and more troubling was that the club’s leadership routinely blamed girls and women for not stepping up or staying in the game. All this was taking place in a community where there are a record number of girls trying out for their high school teams and there are three highly successful college women’s soccer programs. Clearly soccer loving girls and women are here. So I ask myself, why are we limiting access to playing opportunities for girls and why is there such a scarcity of women coaches?
I came to the realization that I needed to found Sol Soccer Club. My goal has always been to improve youth soccer through safe and healthy competition so that coaches can teach and girls can thrive. I firmly believe that sports play a particularly important role in girls’ lives. For this reason, I am a strong advocate for girls and women at all levels of the sport and I am deeply committed to giving all girls a chance to gain all of the benefits that being a participant in sports has to offer, not simply selecting a limited few to create superstars or super star teams.
Carrie Taylor: Who is your target audience?
d’Alary Dalton: Every girl who wants to play soccer. I am especially passionate about breaking down financial barriers to participation as well as any obstacles that they face which might be beyond their control, such as a selection process and criteria that potentially may exclude them. More than 30% of our girls receive some financial assistance and another 10% are fully funded, including uniforms and travel assistance. I’m looking forward to the day that every girl who wants to play will be able to regardless of the multitude of obstacles that are in front of her.
Carrie Taylor: What are the culture and values of the club?
d’Alary Dalton: Our core values are care, play, collaboration, diversity and transparency.
Care: We care for the health and well-being of all participants; coaches, players, referees, fans, and opponents.
Play: We are committed to the right of every child to enjoy and thrive playing soccer.
Collaboration: We are active in collaborative learning and coaching.
Diversity: We are a team of diverse and supportive individuals united by a common purpose.
Transparency: We strive for honesty; we act with integrity. We are open to new ideas and we welcome all comments
Our staff is deeply committed to these ideals. The culture of our club draws from these values in order to create the kind of space where every girl feels valued, is active, and builds valuable skills.
Carrie Taylor: How has SOL SC grown over the years?
d’Alary Dalton: Three years ago, four girls attended our first free spring clinic. Those same girls came to our first free Futsal program. This year our spring clinic averaged over 25 girls at each session and we added a free fall clinic which was equally successful. We’re currently halfway through our third Futsal season and have 15 girls attending, so far.
When building our teams, it has never been our objective to grow in numbers for the sake of short-term gains. As a result, we have had to make some very tough decisions to not form a team in a particular age group. This has allowed us to refine our focus on coaching quality, parent engagement and community outreach.
Carrie Taylor: What are some challenges you have?
d’Alary Dalton: As a club we face 2 major challenges: finding and securing funding sources other than membership dues and competing in the wild wild west of youth soccer where teams and clubs operate with impunity. For me personally, my challenge is being resilient and steadfast.
Carrie Taylor: Who are your key staff?
d’Alary Dalton: As a small club that values collaboration everyone on our staff is invaluable. Specifically, our coaches are key to our club’s success. Coach J.R. Eskilson has been with our club from the beginning. Coach Daniel Torres is our connection to the broader community. Coach Jessie Hernandez is a positive female role model for the girls. In addition to having excellent soccer knowledge and ability to teach the skills, these coaches have a broader understanding of the value that soccer has on the girls’ lives outside of soccer.
Overall, the mark of a club is how you make the players and parents feel, and here are some endorsements from SOL SC players and parents.
“Sol Soccer Club for Girls is a good match for our daughter’s style of play and development. The focus on team play and camaraderie builds confidence on and off the field.” – Sol parent
“The beautiful thing about SOL is my daughter has found a home where she can thrive. SOL is a community of girls, parents and coaches who love soccer but also understand the value of a well-rounded child. SOL has given our daughter the skills to excel as a soccer player. Equally, they emphasize the importance of teamwork, fair play, compassion and kindness that translates both on and off the field. – Sol parent
“Mi experiencia con SOL Soccer Club. Como jugadora he estado una temporada con el equipo del 2006 y ha sido muy emocionante, pues es la primera vez que pertenezco a un equipo de niñas, he jugado varias posiciones gracias a la confianza que nuestro coach a tenido en mi, también este año he anotado varios goles y eso me hace sentir muy confiada y con ganas de seguir ayudando al equipo. Mis compañeras son muy buenas y siempre tratan de dar lo mejor de ellas en las practicas y en los juegos. Se que podemos hacer un poco más y espero que lo logremos en la próxima temporada.” – Sol 2006 Player
“Como padres de Linda nos sentimos felices de verla cada día en práctica y en juegos con ganas de hacer bien las cosas para el equipo y sobre todo verla cómoda en el campo de juego, con el coach y con sus compañeras. Agradecemos haber encontrado este club que se enfoca en el desarrollo futbolistico de niñas y porque siempre se preocupan porque ellas estén cómodas y den lo mejor. Gracias a coach Daniel Torres por la paciencia y dedicación hacia las niñas y a coach d’Alary quien siempre con su motivación hace que las niñas den ese extra que tienen y que crean que es posible lograr lo que deseen. Gracias SOL Soccer Club.” – Luis Jeronimo and Veronica Alva Proud Sol Parents.