The Granite Rapids soccer program recently wrapped up its fourth year. We spoke with head coach Joel Newberg to get an overview of how it went. The season runs after the spring sports end, and goes until about July. This year there were three teams, U10, U12, and U17. They play teams from around the area.
The seasons went well overall, the teams all had winning records, despite the hurdle of being a relatively new program. About 45 kids were in the program this year. There’s a mix of those with soccer backgrounds, and ones just picking up the game. Cottonwood’s program started this year. Other area teams have been around for a few years, but there isn’t a huge soccer program in this area. It’s building. Some kids grew up playing soccer, either as a cultural aspect, or a hobby that interests them.
Newberg coaches the 17 year old team, and is the overall coach of the program. He teaches a fairly pragmatic approach. “If you learn to pass, you’ll win.” He focuses on having kids pass the ball up the sides, and then cross the ball to the middle and crash the net, which is a strategy that works all the way up to the professional level.
One challenge the team had to deal with is learning to communicate. Newberg reported, “We have talented kids, but we had to work on learning to play together.” The kids have great attitudes, and will often continue to play together for 30 minutes after practice ends. Newberg enjoys seeing the kids develop and improve. “This year we had three new players who had never played before. They worked hard and did fabulously.”
The teams are co-ed, and coaches do their best to ensure equal playing time. The point of the league is to give kids a fun summer program. The teams put on soccer clinics for younger kids (Age K-2) to introduce them to the game. The team also took a trip to see a United FC (professional team) game. Next year they are planning to add a U14 team, so the ages will be U10, U12, U14, and U18.