Youngsters earn their soccer stripes at Sporting Lee’s Summit

Sporting LS Stripes

AUGUST 2016An important part of developing a successful youth soccer program is helping the youngest players start out on the right foot. Sporting Kansas City began their fledgling program – Sporting Stripes – last fall, first with a pilot program in Roeland Park, then moving to The Soccer Lot in the Crossroads.

Sporting Lee’s Summit’s affiliation with Sporting KC created an opportunity to merge their popular Lee’s Summit Juniors program with the Sporting KC Stripes.

“Soccer’s gotten so big in the last decade,” said Tyler McManus, SKC’s Manager of Camps and Special Projects Facilitator.

McManus, who came to Kansas City after studying Education at Ohio University, first got involved in youth soccer education in Chicago and was impressed with the soccer community in this area upon arrival.

“We saw Sporting Lee’s Summit Juniors and we approached them,” McManus said. “Stripes was perfect for this type of program. We realized we have a decent following and a staff that is passionate. They completely bought into the idea of what we’re doing.”

“The idea was to combine the best of both organizations,” McManus said.

And while there was some overlap between Juniors and Stripes, there were also ways for the two organizations to compliment each other.

Banner Sporting Lee's Summit“When we walked in the door, their program served three- and four-year-olds,” McManus said. “We have a curriculum for two- and three-year-olds. Their rec program begins with pre-kindergarten, but we have added an alternate option for kids who are not ready for the pre-K rec level team environment, so this is a good fit for both.”

McManus said the initial eight-week session was a success, calling the environment “awesome,” which allowed the organization to move forward with expanding the partnership.

The SLS Juniors Program was then rebranded to Sporting LS Stripes. Stripes is divided into three parts, with each part serving a different purpose, according to McManus.

“Our two- to three-year-old class is called ‘Argyle Stripes.’ This class includes parent participation,” McManus said. “The parents are on the field with them the entire time, helping facilitate the program, involved in the classes.”

For the youngest kids, the goal of Sporting Stripes is to get them active and have fun, but the program also helps with basic socialization and physical development goals.

“The two-and three-year-old instructions include a lot of repetition. It’s a mix of basic,
structured activities, with the kids performing one or two tasks that build into a progression,” McManus said.

The next level, “Sporting Blue Stripes,” is for three- to four-year-old soccer beginners.

“These kids are independent,” McManus said. “We want to create a degree of separation and don’t want the parents on the field in this class. The first day, coaches are greeting the kids before they enter the field and trying to get them to understand this is only for kids.”
Sporting Blue Stripes helps introduce some basic soccer skills to beginning players.

McManus called the tasks “half repetitive, with one or two new activities added per week.”
The final level, “Indigo Stripes,” is four- to five-year-olds, more advanced players.

“There are differences in their games,” McManus said. “They also get introduced to a scrimmage of the game of soccer. For most kids, it’s their first experience with the actual game.”

Indigo Stripes follows a similar training pattern with new activities added to the repetitive skills after a couple of weeks. After repetition from week one to week two, McManus said, in weeks three and four, they’ll have a different activity.

“It really depends on the class and depends on the coach, to determine if the kids have mastered this particular activity,” McManus said.

The program also helps parents learn more about training being a necessary part of the game, while the classes are mostly fun activities.

“Upon completion of the Stripes program, Sporting LS’s youngest players will be able to move directly into recreational and competitive programs with confidence,” McManus said.

“Sporting Lee’s Summit programs are recognized as some of the best in the region.”

“With this affiliation, Sporting Lee’s Summit has an option for their youngest players,” McManus said. “They can play soccer within the same program from age 2 until they get to the U18 Academy team. If they work hard, players can go from the Sporting LS Academy to the Sporting KC Academy. It’s the pathway to the pros. Sporting LS Stripes is the beginning.”

The Sporting LS Stripes program will operate this fall at Z’s Sports in Greenwood, MO. The program is split into two sessions. The first session, priced at $55 for each program level, will take place on Thursdays at 10:00 a.m., 5:45pm or 6:45pm, operating for four weeks from Aug. 25 to Sept. 15.

The second four-week session will be Sept. 29 to Oct. 20. Sporting is offering a discounted rate for kids who sign up for both sessions.

“People are excited about it,” McManus said of the reaction to this program, for which they are expecting to register between 100+ kids.

The offering is reflective of the area’s enormous growth in interest of youth soccer, as even the youngest kids get into the fun.

“Soccer’s the more popular sport here,” McManus said. “And I was amazed after doing camps, the kids, when they’re done, they thank the coach. I’d never seen that before. Other kids see them do that and it spreads. There’s some sort of appreciation and respect for soccer here that I’d not seen before.”

For more information about Sporting Lee’s Summit or to register for the Sporting LS Stripes program, visit: SportingLS.org.

Article by Marc Bowman.

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