Welcome Pilar Harris – Soccer Shots Office Coordinator

PilarHarris Welcome Pilar Harris   Soccer Shots Office Coordinator

I am pleased to introduce Pilar Harris as our new office coordinator! She officially started with us last week and is off to a quick start so far. Pilar will be as assisting our team and play a vital role in our daily operations. If you call call, email, or visit the office you will likely interact with Pilar.

Pilar has over 5 years experience in office administration including 2 years as an executive assistant with TNBA Youth Sports Academy in Orange County. She has her Bachelor degree in Sociology and currently volunteers at The Laurel Foundation as well as Create LA Arts Education Facility.

Our search to fill this position was long but we wanted to be sure to find the right person to represent our program. We are thrilled to have Pilar on our team and look forward to continued growth with her on board.

UPDATE: Many parents and schools got to know our previous office coordinator very well. Olivia and her husband moved moved to Portland for his work and Olivia is now working at Soccer Shots Portland. We wish Olivia and Steven the best of luck in Portland!

Please join me in welcoming Pilar to our team!

Reflections on Week 9…

IMG 7028 460x310 Reflections on Week 9...I try not to have favorites at Soccer Shots. There are certainly some games I like better (because they often run smoother), some character words are easier to explain, and some weeks the stars align and class just feels GOOD.

This week, week 9 at Cheviot Hills Park, was one of those weeks.

Week 9 is also one of the later weeks in the season, when you can really see the progress children have made over the course of the season. It’s amazing.

Here are some of the things I heard and saw this morning:

8:47am: Coach Matt, Coach Justin, Coach Steven, Coach Matthew, and Coach Mario talking about the plan for the day. What games will they play? How can they modify them to take them to the next level? What’s the best way to teach the chop move? Encouraging each other, and always learning from each other! Awesome!

9:15am: Coach Justin is leading the MINI class of 8 children, and doing a fantastic job! Every child is using their feet almost ALL of the time. They are listening, smiling, laughing, and have made so much progress since week one!

IMG 7016 460x310 Reflections on Week 9...

9:54am: Children from my PREMIER class are arriving; practicing power kicks, passing, and talking about what parts of their feet to use.

10:45am: The PREMIER class is scrimmaging (2 v. 2’s) to practice passing, and are showing incredible DETERMINATION and skill. We transition to a larger scale game (5 v. 4) and the grey team completes an absolutely beautiful “GIVE AND GO” pass for a goal!

11:22am: The CLASSIC class lead by Coach Steven and Coach Matthew dribbles under control around their race track, using the CHOP MOVE perfectly to stay inside soccer island. Impressive!

12:05pm: I receive a donation from a family for our Thanksgiving Food Drive. I ask the child (3 years old), “Did you get to pick out the food?” “Yes.” “Do you know what I am doing to do with it?” “Give it to some kids who don’t have food…” His father and I both smile, and I couldn’t love my job any more than in that moment.

The progress I saw today (and often see week 9) in all of the classes  at Cheviot Hills Park was truly REMARKABLE. I’m certain coaches and families at other parks and schools are seeing similar things!

Week 9 is one of my favorite weeks.

I left the park today with an incredibly full heart. So proud of my team of coaches. So amazed by the kids! So happy I get to be out there on Saturday mornings playing soccer, making a difference, and having FUN!

IMG 7018 460x310 Reflections on Week 9...

SSLA Leadership Announcement

AndyBaenaBW SSLA Leadership Announcement

I am pleased to announce that we have added a new position to our leadership team. This is a role that until this month did not exist but one that Alyssa and I feel is necessary in order for our program to continue to grow and improve.

Andy Baena joined our team two years ago coaching just a few classes per week. He was a good coach who had the skills we were looking for but also had plenty to learn. Fortunately he was aware of areas where he could improve, paid close attention to quality people around him, and was eager to learn and improve. This curiosity is a skill that he possesses to this day and one that is highly valued.

Just last year he accepted the position of Assistant Director and began showing serious passion, dedication, and growth within our organization. Coach Andy in one of the finest youth coaches in Los Angeles, no doubt. This is not just my opinion. Andy has the overwhelming support and trust of our team of coaches and directors. And according to the families and schools that we serve Andy is truly remarkable.

Andy is a leader. He leads by example, with the way that he conducts himself in every class with the children, every conversation with parents, and every interaction with our team.

Andy has the rare combination of just having “it” with the kids, charming the staff at the sites that we serve, and amazing the parents of the children in our program.

I am pleased that Andy is now the Executive Director of Soccer Shots Los Angeles. Andy will oversee all facets of the business. He will focus heavily on SSLA team leadership, this includes communicating and reinforcing the SSLA vision and core values, supporting SSLA directors, as well as coach recruiting/training/mentoring. In addition, Andy will oversee all accounts to ensure the development, quality, and performance at schools and parks.

Congratulations Andy. You have earned it. Now let’s get back to work!

SSLA Team Announcement!

AlyssaMcGarigal SSLA Team Announcement!

I have an important and exciting announcement to make!

Most of you know and have worked with Alyssa McGarigal (if you haven’t you will soon). Alyssa has been coach / lead coach with SSLA over the past 20+ months and is now stepping into a new role with us. Having completed her Masters in Counseling from LMU (graduation is next week, Congratulations!) Alyssa is now Director of Program + Community Advancement. Alyssa is a truly remarkable person and I could not be happier about this announcement. All of us will benefit from the expertise, dedication, and passion that she brings to our organization.

We have an amazing team and I am confident that Alyssa brings a set of skills that will advance our program to an even higher level.

She will be responsible for a number of projects, a few examples are:

1) Coach Development (Hiring, Training, Observing, Etc.).
2) Program Development and Research (Represent, advocate, and explain SS to current staff, schools, and organizations)
3) Develop and Oversee the development of camps and park classes.
4) Program Ambassador (Effectively communicate SSLA mission and vision to staff, parents, site directors, and other community members).

More details and information will come from Alyssa and myself in the coming days and weeks, if you have any questions please contact me anytime.

Please join me in congratulating Alyssa and welcoming her into her new role

The Little Things

(Guest post from Alyssa McGarigal, Lead Coach, Soccer Shots Los Angeles)

alyssa m 300x300 The Little Things

Back in the beginning of October, I started class taking attendance, and asking the kids, “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?” I got a few expected DisneyLands, a couple of kids said the beach, and two blew me away… One little boy, about 4 years old said, “To 7-11, and get a slushie.” Another little girl, same age, said, “To a field of flowers, and go picking.”

Too often, as adults, I feel like we forget the little things. I am out there to have fun with the kids, without a doubt.

But I’m often doing upwards of 10 things at once: I am a coach, a referee, a conflict resolver, a friend, a big kid, a nurse, a hug, a deep breath…

I try to be the best part of each and every kid’s day, in whatever way they need me to be. For some it’s the soccer, the games, the exercise, for others it’s the conversation, the high fives, the stickers or the stamps…

Towards the end of October, I experienced one of the hardest days I have ever experienced, and will probably be one of the hardest throughout my future career. We had a tragedy at the Elementary School I am interning at as a School Counselor. I walked out of school that day mentally and emotionally drained. I got in my car, and I drove to the park where I had about 10 minutes before my Soccer Shots class. I set up, I got ready, and I kept telling myself, I can do this.

It wasn’t until the kids got there, we circled up, and we started talking that I felt a little better. We raced across the field for warm up, we hopped around, we made animal noises, little by little, I started to forget the day that I just had.

CoachAlyssa SoccerShots 300x300 The Little Things

The exercise and endorphins, the laughter, the silliness, and happiness of this group of kids were heartwarming. All these things were the little things I needed at the end of a really tough day. Soccer Shots was my field of flowers, my slushie, that day.

In my year and a half with Soccer Shots, I have learned so much! I have gained so much respect and understanding for teachers who spend an entire day with our kids. I have learned an incredible amount from each group of kids: their perspective of the world, their culture, the things that are important to them. I have learned how to be a better teacher, coach, mentor, and person.

Whether it’s a field of flowers, a slushie, some exercise, or hopping around like a frog yelling “RIBBIT” at the top of your lungs; I have been reminded to take time and reflect on the little things, make the best out of any situation, and enjoy life. That’s why I do what I do, and why I coach for Soccer Shots; each class has some “little things” for everyone involved.

Remarkable Coaching

I would like to share with you all, the great things a parent had to say about our coaching staff. Truly remarkable!

Last week I was doing a 1 on 1 training session with a 3 year old boy for about 45 mins.

As I arrive the site the father approaches me and says, ” We don’t use words like good job, if you know what I mean.” I looked up at him and said “I do understand what you mean.” (In my mind, I thought, mmmm very interesting). I had to switch my style of coaching without doing so much positive praising.

So after having a day of coaching in the AM I had already dropped like 100 “good jobs” to children from the AM sessions. So it was a little tough to not say “good job” to the 3 year old boy. Of course I dropped like 20 “good jobs” in the 45 minutes. Lol.

CoachAlyssa SoccerShots 300x300 Remarkable Coaching

Now, the child also attends our Cheviot Hills park program on Saturday mornings.

The 1 on 1 session was successful and as I chat with the mom of the 3 year old boy she had many nice things to say about Soccer Shots.

The parent said that we prefers Soccer Shots over another intro to soccer program that they had tried because, in her opinion the Soccer Shots coaches know exactly what they are doing. The child had a season with this other program but did not enjoy it.

She went on to mention,

“Coach Alyssa is a great coach and teacher out there, she brings great energy to every session and my child has fun with her, I am happy to see that you guys teach more than soccer, you teach great values and skills that will be used in life.”

“Coach Charlie is great with the children as well and brings fun energy to every session.”

Great job out there coaches!!! You know you are doing something right when someone makes a remark about you.

Keep up the great job out there coaches and remember, the #1 rule is to have FUN!!

Welcome Coach Danny! (San Fernando Valley)

DannySanchez 232x300 Welcome Coach Danny! (San Fernando Valley)

Danny was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley and has been playing soccer since the age of 5. AYSO is were it all started, ever since the first day he first stepped onto the soccer field, it was love at first sight.

He has played in various soccer clubs including for his high school. Soccer has been a great influence on his life and has taught him great life skills, including commitment, teamwork, and responsibility that he uses to this day.

Danny is currently a junior CSUN, majoring in criminology.

“Soccer has helped me so much throughout my life, I am always willing to give back to the community, especially to our youth. And what better way then through the sport of soccer.”

Danny is excited to share his passion for soccer and to be a part of Soccer Shots.

Welcome Phil Bendik to the SSLA Team (South Bay)

PhilBendik 223x300 Welcome Phil Bendik to the SSLA Team (South Bay)

Lately, we have been very fortunate to experience an extremely positive response from preschools in the south bay and have been invited into a number of new schools! With this comes the need for new, yet experienced individuals to join our team! We have been searching for a coach for some time but have not been willing to settle on just anyone to coach for us. We are very particular about who we select to join our team. The search has ended and we are excited to introduce Phil Bendik!

Coach Phil is delighted to join the Soccer Shots team.

With over 20 years of youth sports coaching and mentoring, he is excited to share is experience and help mold the young lives of today so that they can become confident future leaders.

His passion for working with youth programs was realized years ago when he began working with the Torrance Recreation Department. He has enjoyed supervising sports programs, summer camps and even teaching pre-school! There’s no doubt that his time spent working with kids helped prepare him for fatherhood as he is a proud Dad to four wonderful children. Ranging in ages from 15 to 5, he spends as much time as possible playing, listening and laughing (the list could go on and on) with his kids.

When not on the field or spending time with his family, Phil enjoys classic movies, reading and witty conversation. In 2001, he caught the triathlon bug and soon after, completed his first Ironman in Coeur d’Alene, ID. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Biola University and is in the process of beginning his master’s degree in Clinical Psychology.

Thankful for the many opportunities and accomplishments that have come his way, Coach Phil is truly inspired by the success of others.

“There is no greater feeling than watching someone else cross that finish line and accomplishing their goals.”

Coach Andy Joins SSLA as Full Time Lead Coach & Assistant Director of Coaching

AndyBaena 259x300 Coach Andy Joins SSLA as Full Time Lead Coach & Assistant Director of Coaching

We have been extremely fortunate to have had Andy’s warm personality, passion for working with kids, and years of soccer experience as part of our team over the past couple of years.

And now we are very pleased to announce that Coach Andy Baena has agreed to join us as our full time Lead Coach, Assistant Director of Coaching, & New Business Development (Leagues/Partnerships/Bilingual Programs).

Originally from Manizales, Colombia, Andres “Andy” Baena has lived in California since the tender age of three. He remembers watching his father play soccer and it was then that his passion for the sport was born.

At the age of five, Andy started what would be his soccer career. By the time he reached high school, he was a part of several nationwide traveling teams. He then continued to play for two years at Los Angeles Mission College which led to being part of the first team in 2003 to be honored by the Western State Conference.

At this point in his life, Andy turned his attention to developing strong soccer players, spending time educating and physically training them.

In early 2012, Coach Andy took on the role of Assistant Director of Coaching as well as the responsibility to further develop partnerships with popular leagues, clubs, and bilingual programs in the local Los Angeles soccer world.

With several years of personal and professional experience in youth soccer development, Andy is looking forward to contributing and acquiring knowledge.

“I believe that positive youth development is extremely important to making the future a better place to live in.”

He also worked at a soccer store with almost 10 years of experience helping players from age two and up making sure they have all the right equipment to maximize their soccer skills.

Great friendships, discipline, and the meaning of hard work on and off the field are all lessons soccer has taught him. He enjoys helping children start their soccer experience in a fun, positive and healthy environment.

Andy now plays soccer for fun and is happy to be a part of the Soccer Shots team.