by Bob San
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
The MapleBrook Soccer Association is starting a new program that offers youth soccer players a more competitive experience.
Longtime Maple Grove High School girls’ varsity soccer coach Ben LeVahn heads the new program, titled the Blast Jr. Academy. The program is for boys and girls ages 7 and 8 who are looking for a more competitive experience and maybe want to be a part of traveling soccer later. The program is designed for children who have played soccer before and are looking for a challenge along with a larger time commitment. Players will be taught more advanced ball handling skills, passing and cooperative team play, and the tactics and rules of the game in a competitive environment.
“The academy came about through on-going conversations with MapleBrook club leadership about providing an opportunity for young players that wasn’t being provided in the past for players in the community at-large,” LeVahn said. “There isn’t a program for this age level like this in the area that provides the level of excellence training/curriculum, coaching and the playing experience that we have with the Blast Jr. Academy. There has been a large amount of interest for a program like this in the past and we are now able to provide that opportunity for the kids. Parents and players who have had experience in our Little Blasters program are excited to continue to be a part of the excellence that is provided at MapleBrook Soccer. Players have the opportunity to have a friend on their team and we encourage groups from certain areas or schools to join together to continue a community concept. We have communication out to students across the entire Northwest Suburbs.”
The Blast Jr. Academy opened its registration recently and LeVahn said it received a lot of good, initial interest from people within the club, people who have participated in youth programs before, people who have soccer experience in other programs and also people new to the MapleBrook Association.
The academy’s kickoff date is May 5. It will have its training days on the Maple Grove Sports Dome turf on Sundays and play games on Wednesdays on the grass at Maple Grove Senior High.
LeVahn said it’s not too early for players age 7-8 to learn to be competitive.
“One of the concepts we teach is that the game of soccer itself is fun; we learn and improve through competitive play,” he said. “The game being fun is also an extension of us providing a positive, challenging environment where the players feel good about their successes and proud of their achievements. When players have more confidence in their soccer skills and abilities, they are better equipped to be involved in the game and carry this on through childhood, into adolescence, and even into adulthood with ‘the beautiful game.’ Children at this age are capable of much more than we give them credit for; they thrive in competitive environments. Ask a group of kids to do a relay race, they will be jumping out of their skin to try and encourage their team to win. Having a competitive situation isn’t bad; it forces us to improve our skills and decision making and this is what a lot of Blast Jr. Academy will be through training and games.”
LeVahn has coached the Crimson for 11 years and over the past six years he has spent more of his time with the younger players in winter and summer camps and training sessions. He also earned a United States Soccer Federation National Youth License last summer and is excited to put this new knowledge into practice with this new program.
Parents can register at maplebrooksoccer.com and click on the link “Blast Jr. Academy” on the left side. For questions about the program,
contact LeVahn at [email protected]
Contact Bob San at [email protected]