After a long gestation period the SOCA Field House capital campaign has begun, and excitement around the club is palpable. Centrally located in the award-winning Belvedere neighborhood, just off Rio Road, this club changing project will become the home base for SOCA players and families.
Response to the initial fundraising presentations has been enthusiastic, with pledges and donations eagerly contributed to the effort. Attendees have been engaged, inquisitive and ultimately supportive of the plans to build the club’s own indoor facility and offices.
Design of the project, provided by Stoneking von Storch Architects, includes key functions to enhance the experience of all SOCA players and families. The primary feature is the 60 x 40 yard turf playing field, which can be used as an official game field for SOCA league play. The large playing space can be divided into either two or four official futsal courts, separated by drop-down netting, providing spaces for training and matches for both youth and adults.
Players of all ages and levels will have opportunity to play at the sparkling facility. Winter indoor use by the youth and adult WISL leagues are major elements, but a year-round program of use has been drafted to include practices, camps, clinics, league play and tournament play. New programs have been proposed to fit niches such as athletic performance enhancement, individual training, adult tournaments and a summer league for high schoolers.
Supporting the field activities are locker rooms, meeting rooms, a fitness training room, an athletic trainer’s office, along with all the required storage and operational spaces. A key component is the inclusion of a café to serve concessions and refreshments suitable for both players and spectators. An elevated mezzanine will surround the field so that interested observers will have a premium viewing vantage point throughout.
Coaches and referees will also benefit from training and education sessions conducted at the Field House. Meeting spaces with audio-video capability will enhance the education environment.
“We designed the Field House to serve all of our members on a year-round basis,” said Bill Mueller, SOCA’s Executive Director. “The project tag line is ‘A Home for All Seasons’, and it is truly that. It will be the club’s home base and a home for our players, coaches and families. We’ll be able to use it in all weather and light conditions. We’re really excited how the club culture will be enhanced and we’ll be able to solve some of our field shortage concerns and our inclement weather complications. We’ve outlined foul weather training scenarios which allow for otherwise lost sessions to take place.”
SOCA staff and designers visited several indoor facilities around the state to learn and to compare ideas. The SOCA Field House will be the largest of the indoor soccer facilities, and will be the most comprehensive in nature. Mueller pointed out a few key differences.
“First and foremost the Field House project is for all our club members. SOCA is a community service organization and the Field House will help us to serve our soccer community even better. All the other projects we observed were for-profit ventures whose prime motivation is to generate income. As a not-for-profit organization SOCA’s prime motivation is to grow the sport, develop great soccer players and to include all interested players in that pursuit. We have developed financial models to demonstrate that we can offer great developmental programming in the Field House affordably. This will not be a facility available only for those who can pay a privileged rate. We truly believe that the project will enrich the lives of our players and families by being welcoming, of excellent quality and providing comprehensive opportunity for all our member groups.”
The facility will feature natural lighting during daylight hours and natural ventilation during transitional periods of the year. Large translucent panels will capture natural light and roll-up walls will allow fresh breezes to refresh the space during mild weather. The space will be fully conditioned during harsher weather conditions, with circulation augmented by massive ceiling fans. Energy efficient lighting will make the space usable long after dark.
With fundraising underway at the grass roots level, SOCA leaders are impressed by the response and will be taking the fundraising effort to other community members outside the club.
“We’ve assembled a great fundraising team,” enthused Mueller. “John Gobble is our Chairman and he has put together a group of notable, energetic community leaders to get the project built. More team members are being identified to join the effort. We’re so glad to be talking to our folks and to be underway.”
The project is expected to have a $5 million price tag, and take about 12 months to build once construction has begun. The project timeline includes a year for fundraising.
“Our goal is to get financial support from every SOCA family who is capable of contributing. We will be taking our campaign to many folks, but getting buy-in and support from club members is essential. And the response so far has been great. We are eager to tell our story to everyone because the project and the work that the club does is a great story to tell.”
SOCA staff and team members will continue to make presentations throughout the club. Upcoming sessions are planned with youth and adult members. Persons interested in viewing images of the project can learn more at the “Belvedere” tab on the SOCA website.
To simply say that soccer in America is growing is an understatement. More fans turned on the TV to watch World Cup 2014 matches on ESPN and Univision, with millions more turning out in parks and restaurants around the country, than ever before. Fans tune in to watch the English Premier League airing on NBCS each weekend. The MLS continues to grow and become increasingly stable. The growth in the game is evident in SOCA’s adult leagues as well.
It is well known that SOCA offers a wide variety of youth soccer programming for over 4000 youth players but what may not be as well-known is SOCA also has a growing adult soccer league. SOCA’s adult league has been growing at a rapid pace the past few years. SOCA offers two main season’s playing an 11 v 11 format in the Fall and a Spring and two supplemental seasons, 5v5 in the Winter Indoor Soccer League (WISL) and Summer league which is played in an 8v8 format. The Over-40 Division always plays in an 8v8 format.
Since 2012 SOCA’s adult league has grown from five divisions made up 45 teams and 738 players to the current Fall season line up that has seen a jump to seven divisions with 58 teams composed of 1053 players. The biggest growth has taken place at the Co-Rec level, where an additional two divisions have been added during the past two years.
“The growth has been impressive; I think we can attribute the growth to a few things. Charlottesville is such a great soccer community with UVA men’s and women’s soccer in town and both having a lot of success coupled with the success we’re seeing with our US National teams at World Cups. Soccer has exploded over the past 15-20 years and now all those youth players have grown up and graduated high school or college and are looking to continue playing the game. I also believe SOCA does a good job of providing a great service for those who want to play and live active lives through soccer. We offer so many levels that there is something for everyone who wants to play the game”, says Jason Moore, SOCA’s Adult League Coordinator.
Moore goes on to say “Each year has seen a steady growth of teams and players and it’s not just from Charlottesville. We’ve seen an increase of players from outside the immediate Charlottesville area. It’s been fun to see new players and new teams each season. We have a mix of new teams and teams that have been around for many years.”
SOCA’s Fall season is heading into the home stretch with the regular season winding down and play offs scheduled into November. SOCA’s Adult Winter Indoor Soccer League will open up registration on November 3rd in preparation for the WISL season, kicking off January 4.
Be a part of the growth of soccer in the Charlottesville area. Soccer is a great way to stay a part of the game, meet new people and get some great exercise!
If you have any questions about the SOCA’s Adult Leagues, please contact Jason Moore at Jason.Moore@SOCAspot.org
Three of SOCA’s Elite teams spent a portion of the holiday season competing in the renowned Disney Showcase tournament in Orlando, Florida, where each achieved notable success. The nationally famous event attracts top teams from around the country and from around the globe. This ultimate youth soccer showcase is fiercely selective, with most teams considering acceptance a mark of honor. Success at the tournament indicates the high quality of the SOCA squads on a grand scale.
To start the holiday event, the SOCA boys U-18 and U-16 Elite squads traveled together by bus December 26-31, departing in the wee hours after Christmas dinner; while the U17 girls flew south December 30 and returned January 4, with hardware in hand.
SOCA’s senior team opened the competition against the reputable Dallas Texans, earning a scoreless draw. The match would be an indicator of the demanding level of play to be expected in the bracket. In the second match SOCA faced the exceedingly speedy and technical SAA Real Madrid from Miami, Florida. The scintillating match was played at an uncommonly high pace, forcing both teams to compete at the limits of their technical and tactical abilities. With the score tied 1-1, SAA managed to steal a goal against the run of play off a corner kick in the 80th minute. SOCA then had to press the match and gave up a third goal on a stellar long distance shot in added time. Needing a win to advance, the SOCA squad jumped all over a rugged Force FC squad from Michigan in the third match, earning a convincing 3-1 win. SOCA Elite was prevented from advancing to the play-off round by a surprise upset in the other final group match. For full group results follow this link: http://events.gotsport.com/events/results.aspx?EventID=32215&GroupID=284747&Gender=Boys&Age=18
The VYSA State Cup vice-champions earned another challenging second place finish against regional rivals. In group play the SOCA Elites cruised to three consecutive 2-0 wins against Maryland United, SYA (VA) and North Carolina Alliance. The team hit full stride in the third match with a comprehensively high quality performance, thus earning the right to play in the championship match on December 30 against Charlotte United (NC). After a dream start, SOCA was up 1-0 at five minutes, and looked set to control the match. Charlotte bounced back two minutes later to knot the score. From there the match was a see-saw battle with Charlotte notching the final goal and the 3-2 win in added time. SOCA carried home the silver trophy, looking forward for its next chance at gold. For full group results, follow this link: http://events.gotsport.com/events/results.aspx?EventID=32215&GroupID=284723&Gender=Boys&Age=16
After recovering from travel, the SOCA girls earned a tough 1-0 win in their opener on New Year’s Eve against a very dangerous PA Classics team. It was a great way to cap off 2013, and look ahead to 2014. In their New Year’s Day match-up, SOCA fell 2-1 to North Carolina Alliance in a game the girls felt they could have won. Taking out their frustrations in game three, SOCA drubbed Jersey United 6-0, sending the Elites through to the consolation match on January 3. In the play-off SOCA was able to out-wit and out-battle Challenge SC (TX) for a 2-0 win and thus claim the bronze trophy for their group. For complete standings and results follow this link: http://events.gotsport.com/events/results.aspx?EventID=32216&GroupID=284781&Gender=Girls&Age=17
The combined record for SOCA at the exclusive event is seven wins, one tie and three losses, an impressive showing for the local club. The great competition, first rate facilities and quality services associated with the event, along with the huge attendance by college coaches, makes the Disney Showcase highly desirable for any serious club.
SOCA’s Executive Director, Bill Mueller, coached the U18 squad and traveled with the U16’s, seeing them in action. Mueller enthusiastically praised all three teams. “I am really pleased with the event and the terrific performances of our players. Our teams were able to do very well on the field, but of equal importance they showed great maturity and responsibility throughout the trips. As a club we can be very proud of our athletes. They performed well, behaved exceptionally, and represented all of us with class and distinction. These are the type of experiences that develop great players, build great teams, and enhance the reputation of great clubs. All the players and families are to be applauded for their efforts and performance.”
SOCA’s Director of Coaching, Dan Ensley, coached both the U16 boys and the U17 girls, guiding them to their successes.
The SOCA boys and girls U18-U15 Elite teams will next compete in the CCL Winter Showcase, February 7-9, in Richmond, VA. The event will nearly bring to a close the CCL league season for the high school aged teams, with only one final match-up against Freestate (MD) remaining.