I am sure by now you have noticed njtravelsoccerblog.com has gone dormant for a long period of time. You may not have known, that since the website’s launch in 2016, it has been solely owned and operated with the hope of benefiting the entire New Jersey youth soccer community.
In many ways this site has accomplished just that. It has brought opportunity for players, coaches, and parents to connect while highlighting the positives in the ever-changing youth soccer landscape. We have been consistently asked to post about team openings, tryouts, camps, and clinics, and are happy to support positive organizations now and in the future. However, in 2018, I personally arrived at an important crossroad in my life. One where decisions needed to be made for my family’s future.
For those who work full-time in the youth soccer industry, and to educate those who don’t, it is a grueling lifestyle. A seven day-a-week job, full of long weekends, late night phone calls, endless miles on NJ roads, and hours of administration work that nobody (not even my wife) can quite comprehend.
An outsider’s perception often views a professional youth soccer coach as a hobby, or a part-time job, when in reality a youth soccer coach holds incredible responsibility; working with kids in an effort to not just teach the sport they love, but critical life skills that will engrain in the student forever.
I have been in the New Jersey youth soccer industry as a full-time professional for ten years now. The last three years, also running njtravelsoccerblog.com on the side. I don’t believe at all that I am “burned out,” but could certainly see that potential one day, regardless of how much I love my job.
My experience in the industry has provided me a snapshot in which to analyze my future, and I now recognize the life that I desire is simply not possible as full-time professional youth soccer coach. Prioritizing my time, foremost with family and friends, has and will become increasingly difficult while working in this business. Parents receive and deserve a lot of credit for the amount of time they put into their child’s activities, but so should the coaches. They are also there on nights and weekends, possibly forgoing their own agenda and activities so they can support your child. It boils down to one simple question: Do you want to spend time with your family or your job?
This soul-searching has also painted a clear picture of what youth soccer has become. A BUSINESS. As much as I am grateful for this industry supporting my livelihood, it has become full of pitfalls which are consistently neglected and overlooked. The cost of everything is on the rise while groups of children are being removed of opportunity to be a part of something that will positively impact their lives in ways only team sport can provide. This will undoubtedly be a topic I write about in the future as njtravelsoccerblog.com morphs into an advocacy for coaching and ethical business.
I will certainly never stop coaching. I love the sport, can communicate and connect with kids, and understand the value of its platform. I am currently coaching at East Windsor PAL travel soccer (where I played as a kid) and am thrilled to be a part of shaping the future of their program. However, I am also currently enrolled in Gwynedd Mercy University’s full-time School Counseling program as I seek a Master’s Degree to become a certified school counselor. This is where the majority of my time has gone, and why the blog has been neglected. Life is full of choices, and I apologize for not answering SOOOO many emails, but priorities have been set. My goal is to be in a school setting by Fall 2020, supporting children in mental health and life skills within a diverse population.
This means njtravelsoccerblog.com will be in use, but how often I cannot guarantee. I am going to set a personal goal to work on the site once a week. That means either writing something opinionated, debatable, and/or solution-focused, or helping you post your positive club/team needs. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions. You can contribute as well! Write something up, I will proof read it, and pop it on the site for no charge!
I greatly appreciate everyone who has followed me on Facebook or Twitter thus far, as well as anyone who read to completion this personal manifesto. My hope is that you will continue to use this resource to your benefit while understanding parent education is a critical component of youth soccer, which connects all the way up to the men’s and women’s national levels.
I will leave you with this provocation….
The youth soccer industry is quietly becoming a reflection of society as a whole in that those born into opportunity are more likely to receive it. When in reality, we are working with children, who all deserve a chance to play team soccer at the highest level of their individual development.
Owner and Editor NJtravelsoccerblog.com