President's Message

January 2014

Dear Mercer Island FC parents and players,

Mercer Island FC (MIFC) just completed another very successful fall season. We had nearly 1000 players participating on over 100 Micro and Recreational teams and 250 players on 18 Select teams. Currently, 13 of our Select teams are participating in post-season tournaments sponsored by the Washington State Youth Soccer Association. With state champions in various age groups in recent years,multiple other finalists and semi-finalists, and a pair of our U17 teams currently competing in the Regional Club League (the highest youth league in the state), opponents are well aware of the reputation of MIFC teams.

As we swing from winter towards spring, a number of exciting things are in the works. In partnership with the Mercer Island Boys and Girls Club, we just completed the 2nd year of the winter indoor Futsal league that is proving to be even more popular than we had anticipated. Registration is open for our very popular Friday Night under the Lights winter scrimmage program at the high school stadium that runs through the end of February. Registration is currently open for our Indoor Soccer at Arena Sports, Eastside FC RCL Juniors, and IAS Winter Academy with the Pros. We have begun planning for NPSL Spring Season for our Select teams and our Spring Player Development program starting in March targeted at the younger player who wants to work on their skills. Our Get Ready for Select program also starts in March and prepares players for Select tryouts later in the spring. As always, our Sundays with the Pro clinics in the summer and fall provide an opportunity for some additional work under the watchful eyes of our club trainers. As you can imagine, this amount of activity requires a great deal of organization and volunteer effort. Our board of directors is highly enthusiastic and motivated to make this another fantastic year.

One of the questions we get is "what makes MIFC unique?" My response is our focus on "Developmental Soccer". Helping families and coaches understand "Developmental Soccer" is a major goal for the Club the next few years, so expect to hear more about it. There are numerous authoritative sources of guidance for this developmental emphasis (e.g. US Soccer Federation, US Women's National Team program), and these sources are very consistent - Align what's emphasized to players in practices and games with what is developmentally appropriate for their age. Specifically, and in particular for players younger than 13, coaches and parents need to:

  • Provide positive reinforcement for mastery of individual skills, experimentation on the field, and experience playing all positions (yes, including goalkeeper)
  • De-emphasize tactical play at the younger ages (this is an area where coaches often spend much more time than they should)
  • Avoid adding pressure to win - players are plenty competitive without any adult input. This is not to say that players shouldn't receive guidance on what it takes to win - but it takes very little parental or coach pressure to push the fun out of the game for many players.

MIFC is fortunate to have such a strong partner in Eastside FC for Mercer Island players aspiring to play soccer at the Premier level in Washington State. A member of the Regional Club League (RCL), Eastside FC has been fielding some of the best Premier teams in the state for 42 years while developing players for collegiate, national team and professional careers. Several recent examples: MIFC and EFC alum Jordan Morris (2012 Washington State Gatorade Player of the year) now playing for the Seattle Sounders Academy team and Stanford University on a soccer scholarship. MIFC alum and current EFC GU18 goalkeeper Corey Goelz, named to the Washington State Class 3A High School All-State team. Finally, MIFC alum and current EFC GU18 player Marissa Hammerstrom also named to the Washington State Class 3A High School All-State team

MIFC has partnered with the International Academy of Soccer (IAS) to provide our Club with outstanding soccer professionals for our training programs and a number of our Select team coaches. IAS Executive Director David Addison has assembled a group of IAS coaches with many years of collegiate and professional playing and coaching experience. They are extremely enthusiastic and passionate about the game of soccer. We are the envy of the other EYSA clubs as none of them has a similar group dedicated to their club. From the Micro-soccer clinics, the Recreational player and coach training sessions, or the trainer role they play with some of our Select teams, the IAS team runs a fantastic program.

The Club's programmatic offerings change year to year based on the interest shown in different programs. Program descriptions are provided in the "Programs" section of the club website at http://www.mercerislandfc.org. Some of our programs and emphasis this year include:

  • Our continued focus on coach training and support, especially for coaches at ages U8- U11
  • Spring Training and Get Ready for Select Tryouts clinics this spring
  • IAS run Summer Boot Camp for players is offered for 2 weeks in August
  • Sunday Skills is starting a month earlier this summer, on 7/11
  • A closer alignment with the MI High School coaches and teams to see some great soccer and to help young players understand what it takes to play at the high school level.

In closing, I'd like to remind you that we also utilize many volunteers, from referees, to coaches and board members. If you would like to help out please let us know. We are always looking for more of us to help the kids enjoy and appreciate soccer and everyone has a skill that would help. I would like to express my deep appreciation for all the kids who make our club great. Also, to the parents, volunteers and staff who make this all possible. Soccer is a fantastic sport. It is healthy and fun. It teaches teamwork, decision making and sportsmanship. If we can pass on these skills to our children, we have all succeeded.

Toby Suhm, President
Mercer Island FC