Good Evening CASSA families!
Another Fall season is in the books and it’s officially pitch black by 6pm! We did it! Take a deep breath and enjoy much needed time with your families and friends this holiday.
I simply wanted to take the time to say thank you, which can never be expressed enough, to each one of you and to your athletes for your loyalty to CASSA. Thank you for not only allowing and encouraging your child to participate in youth sports, but for bringing them to CASSA and giving individuals like myself an opportunity to lead this organization and continue coaching. Having you on the sideline, cheering their name, makes all the difference. You have a front row seat to see them win, lose, get knocked down, and most importantly stand back up. You’re there to see them grow, work hard, and persevere. Some of you get a little intense at times, but you can’t help it. You’re their biggest fan and we sincerely appreciate all you do for them.
Amazing opportunities are created by youth sports. They often bring families close together and provide a healthy outlet for young athletes. We should all continue to work together to provide the best environment possible for our sports stars. As a former athlete myself, I thank you for all you continue to do to make these fantastic memories possible.
“The big picture is not a matter of wins and losses, playing time, or the pursuit of scholarships, but how your children benefit from life lessons through sports that will help them develop into fulfilled, productive, contributing members of our society.” - Jim Thompson
I also wanted to say thank you to our club representatives, coaches, and team managers for everything you do. Your work greatly benefits athletes in our community! You are the core of this organization and without your hard work, dedication, and time this club would simply cease to exist!
Speaking from experience, being a volunteer can be equally soul-sucking and overwhelmingly rewarding at times. As one of many volunteers in our club, I can tell you that it can also be a thankless job. A job that adds hundreds of miles of wear and tear to your vehicle. A job that requires careful schedule coordination, passion and leadership. A job that requires time away from your loved ones. A job that demands resilience and adaptability on your worst days. A job that we are never fully ready for. Yet in the same breath, it is also a job that reminds us that the little things matter. A job that reminds us to pick our battles. A job that offers incredible opportunity and growth. A job that when fully committed, can become one of the most fulfilling jobs in the world! As I reflect on the past year, it’s hard to believe how quickly the time goes! As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing worth having comes easy.”
As you recall in my pre-season letter, 2019 continues to bring growth and change for CASSA. Our Fall Standings demonstrate that hard work truly pays off! For our U13 teams, this was the very first time these athletes played on the larger field with 11 on a side. While fun and exciting, it requires improved communication, endurance, enthusiasm, and skill. The U13 Boys, led by Adam Petty, bonded well and fought hard in Division 2 after moving up from Division 3 where they held a top spot last Spring. The U13 Girls, led in harmony by Chuck Carnes and myself, held steady right in the middle of our bracket as we have the last couple of seasons, which is a boundless showing of our girls ability to work together and remain resilient and strong despite six new players and a growing roster of 18! Both our U11 and U12 Boys teams, led by Eric McCarty and Dustin Ingersoll, won their divisions and will be moving up to Division 4 and Divison 2 respectively. Can we get a round of applause!? The U9 Girls, led by Rachelle Barker, have just started their journey with CASSA and we are thrilled to see this young group start to gain momentum! Thanks to Rachelle and Eric for stepping up to lead our two new teams! Last, but surely not least, our U14 Boys Premier team, led by the one and only Matt Johnson, has been showing up more dedicated than ever and making a name for themselves among much tougher competition! Congrats to all our teams!!!! We are honored to work among you! Coaches remember, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seed you plant.” -Robert Louis Stevenson
I tell my players to make sure and remind one another of their strengths and accomplishments so here are a few reminders of our club successes and challenges from the season.
Since July we…
- Successfully partnered with the British Soccer Camp through Challenger Sports for another well executed pre-season camp!
- Successfully partnered with area soccer masters and enthusiasts from The Soccer Rebellion, to host a fun and exciting 3v3 tournament at Skinner Field for all athletes in the community!
- Successfully certified all club representatives and volunteers under the new US Soccer Core SafeSport training program. This was not easy, and training took many hours!
- Setup all three fields in one day with the help of a few patient and hardworking volunteers, Adam Petty, Dan Buchner, Eric McCarty, and Rachelle Barker. Thank you!
- Organized and hosted our first annual Fall Kickoff night event at Beach Elementary!
- Executed another highly successful Speed & Endurance program thanks to Andrew Maki!
- Implemented a new uniform kit despite numerous challenges with Team Gazelle. Next uniform cycle we plan to vet out other options for better customer experience and order accuracy.
- Secured community and CSPS field space for all teams in a timely fashion, including use of Red Hawk Stadium for home games! We are working with the schools now on consolidating field locations and making much needed improvements for Spring – see below under Fields Improvements and Scheduling.
- Adjusted quickly and unexpectedly back to our paper form and manual fee collection process after being promised a new online software system, StackSports earlier in the summer.
- Managed through a scary and stressful outbreak of EEE (so much bug spray!), which mandated that everyone shift up their practice times to end before dusk with already limited daylight hours.
- Sorted out field scheduling challenges for our U13 teams with CSPS that had stemmed from lack of communication to CASSA but will no longer be an issue moving forward.
- Received news of a new GVSOA ref assignor who has yet to return our calls and emails that I know of, but we are actively addressing issues and no shows with GVSA and hope to have bigger fish to fry next season.
- As I like to say, we remain a small, but mighty organization and are heavily focused on future growth in terms of adding new teams, providing additional technical skills and specialized training opportunities, building our coaching resource base, and bettering our home fields.
Here are a few more very important reminders:
Winter Leagues: Please note participation is OPTIONAL for all Select teams. Coaches please ensure your team parents understand this and that any players who compete in other sports over the winter months know they will not experience negative consequences for opting out of indoor programs.
Sponsorships and Fundraising: For those who are new to our club, fundraising is vital to everything we do to help keep costs low and provide the best opportunities possible for our athletes. From Story’s sub sales and candy bars to the more recent car washes and Biggby cards, these are efforts that take quite a bit of work from our families and players and every little bit counts! Our Club is fortunate enough to have been offered use of Cedar Springs School District property back in the Fall of 2016 when our ties with Boomer and AYSO were dissolved due to legal reasons outside of our control. To ensure our teams have a “home” to play soccer, CASSA continues to focus on raising additional funds to secure fields of our own in the future. If you know of any businesses who would be willing to contribute corporate fundraising or sponsorship dollars for these efforts, please let us know. We’re also interested in speaking with anyone who owns or works for a business that offers land leveling, irrigation, hydroseeding, and sprinkler system installation services. CASSA has been going 20 years strong and we only plan to continue to grow and keep youth soccer alive in Cedar Springs!!
Field Improvements and Scheduling: Please know we are doing everything we can to enhance our shared fields. There is only so much within our control, but more to come as Dan and I are actively meeting with CSPS Director of Operations and Director of Human and Community Services to align on plans to execute improvements for next season. Although no changes can be promised at this point, we’ve proposed moving our U9/U10 and U11/U12 teams all to Cedar Springs Middle School, to utilize the existing field space as well as build out the are behind the tennis courts. This will allow our younger athletes to play in a consolidated space where parents can better manage pick up and drop off. The U13+ teams will continue to use the High School Practice Field near Cedar View up on the hill. We’ve proposed land leveling, irrigation, field widening, sprinkler system installation, and hydroseeding. This project will be a hefty one – upwards of $30,000 + with early ballpark estimates and would require significant volunteer help. More to come on this as these proposals are discussed internally at CSPS and feedback is provided.
Training Opportunities: One of the main additions for Spring and beyond we’d like to implement is a Friday night technical and foot skills training. This would require us to secure gym space at one of the local elementary schools and align schedules with all certified coaches to lead these training sessions. We have the best resources right under our nose! As far as a Speed and Endurance program for the winter, this is tentatively in works. In the meantime, we’ve partnered with SCOR, offering CASSA athletes a $20 discount, for the winter camps that will be held at the Sports Plex as well as a full ride for 1-2 goalkeepers from each team for the Goalkeeper training. More to come on CASSA training initiatives as we know this is of utmost importance.
Code of Conduct and GVSA Respect Campaign: We all have a responsibility to promote high standards. One of the biggest issues within GVSA is the behavior in and around the game. This includes the abuse of match officials and the unacceptable behavior of over competitive parents, spectators and coaches on the sideline. We ask our coaches to play their part and observe GVSA’s Respect Code of Conduct in everything they do. To guide behavior at all game sites, practices and other GVSA soccer events, a specific Respect Code of Conduct for the League, Clubs, Spectators/Parents, Players, Coaches and Referees is strictly enforced by GVSA and GVSOA and are part of GVSA and GVSOA’s bylaws and game day procedures. Each season we are given a score with the goal of reaching 5’s on all categories!
CASSA Annual Feedback Survey: Thank you to the 54 participants who filled out our annual survey! The Board plans to review feedback in detail at our next meeting on Sunday, 11/17. One comment asked about a text system – we can easily implement this if we are provided phone numbers along with service provider. If you’d like to receive text messages with updates from CASSA, please reach out and we’ll evaluate process for this moving forward!
Open Board of Director’s positions: Each board position has a 2-year term with a 3-consecutive term year limit (6). Please find our postings on Facebook or reach out to the board for more information!
Director of Coaching, Open (term flexible)
Fundraising Coord. – Story’s Subs, Open (term flexible)
Fundraising Coord. – Tryout Advertising Banner, Open (term flexible)
Contact at any time if you’d like to volunteer, offer additional suggestions, or bring any major concerns to our attention. Anyone is welcome to attend our monthly board meetings to discuss topics of interest. Schedule of meetings can be found on our website calendar.
Have a wonderful holiday season!