It's hard to imagine the growth of our UNITED program (and really the club as a whole) after just a few short season. I never would've believed that we'd scale from 0 to 15 Select sides (including 4 WDDOA Division 1 and Super 2 teams this cycle) this quickly. All while maintaining the strongest, most family-friendly Recreational program in the North Austin, Round Rock, and Pflugerville areas.
Yesterday was our club's first ever onsite fitting session and UNITED parent meeting. Thanks to The Soccer Corner and Joel Dulcey's entire team, the event was an overwhelming success. The WB Rec Center was jam packed with excited players and the excitement about the direction our program is headed was palpable amongst parents.www.thesoccercorner.com
Joel's crew was timely, professional, thorough, detail-oriented, incredibly well-organized, and friendly. The Soccer Corner far exceeded expectations in every way and it was great to have the UNITED coaches and WBSA board members present to help answer questions about the upcoming cycle. Perhaps most importantly given the event, the new WBSA kits and spirit wear look unbelievable. Our UNITED players + supporters across the entire club are going to look great on the pitch!
The club is thrilled to be rolling out a new digital portal that will make ordering uniforms (and spares / replacements) easier than ever. The Soccer Corner will also be adding new WBSA paraphernalia regularly, including items such as a variety of club t-shirts, custom hoodies, sharp looking polos, etc. Simply visit the link from our website and login to the MYUniform portal. You can also email our uniform coordinator with any questions or feedback.
We encourage families to mark the following dates on their calendars to stay organized during the upcoming season. More information about these events can be found by either visiting our Club Calendar on this website or our Facebook page.
We are pleased to announce that the new Select & Academy kits have been finalized for the WBSA UNITED teams. Feedback from players, coaches, and families was incredibly helpful as we made our decision between the final prototypes.
Unlike most clubs, the home and away kit shown below IS included in the price of registration. We will announce the date and location for the UNITED Parent Meeting shortly. Our uniform partners will be in attendance so that players can complete a quick fitting to ensure proper sizes.
In addition to standard goalkeeping kits, we'll also implement a consistent look for UNITED coaches. The equipment shown is optional for WBSA players but is not part of the standard uniform kit that is included with registration.
It's also worth noting that ALL WBSA families receive a 10% discount at Soccer Corner thanks to our partnership. They've also generously offered to bump that discount to 20% for coaches registered to volunteer for the next cycle.
Congratulations to the following teams for representing the club well and placing in these well known spring tournaments.
Several WBSA players attended the Houston Dash v Orlando Pride match last week. What an amazing experience it was for the families that made the trek over to Houston. It's hard to believe high quality soccer is thriving in the US, let alone in gorgeous soccer-specific stadiums.
The United 09-06G, Penguins, Magic, United 04G, United 11B, and United 10B teams were all represented as players got to walk the pitch prior to the match. The team mascot stopped by to personally sing happy birthday to one of our players.
Watching Marta - the all-time leading goal scorer in women's World Cup history - net 2 beautiful finishes was truly impressive. Perhaps even more impressive was seeing her and other superstars like Morgan Brian spend over an hour interacting with young fans, posing for pictures, and signing autographs for adoring young fans.
The kids will never forget a remarkable experience and the club is excited to scale these adventures (just like everything else) as we continue to grow this special club.
Contributed by Shelley Palmer (WB MUD)
Wells Branch has a long history of great things for kids to do and have fun like the upcoming spring camps including art camp, basketball and volleyball sports camps, and new to Wells Branch is robotics camp! Summer Day Camp is offered in weekly sessions for children in K through 5th (determined by the grade they completed for this current year.) Our camp counselors engage your child(ren) with creative activities indoors and outdoors based on our themed-weeks throughout the summer. Our long standing tradition has been to create a safe, interactive, and physically active day camp where children can meet new friends and participate in traditional and non-traditional games and activities.
Find current camp information at http://wellsbranchmud.com/parks-a-recreation/youth-programs
Spring break art camp this year is Mad about Mosaics. Campers, age 7-12, will spend 3 days creating designs from broken tiles, cut paper, bottle caps, and fabric. Kids will learn the history of mosaics and how various patterns are made. This is always fun and sometimes pretty messy. Tue - Thur March 14, 15, 16 12-3pm. You can see videos and the results of the children’s efforts at Wooden it be Wonderful Art Camps.
Dianne Kohler, artist, educator and longtime Wells Branch resident did some reminiscing over past art camps by going through her art blog. What I notice in Dianne’s stories is that part of the fun is running into issues and finding solutions together – that is a great way to learn.
Kids with paints! New location and everyone found us. Better ideas on how to make something. We are in full swing at art camp creating a galaxy of projects. Our clay didn't want to make but we worked it out with a lot more cornstarch and kneading and have space rocks to finish today, the bags are under way in many designs, we did the scratch out boxes entirely with crayons with great results and from what I saw of the space ships. Wow.
Wands and Dragon Eggs
We started off making wands; rolling paper into a wand shape is a lot harder than you expect it to be. Once they got the wand rolled the decorative part was easy peasy. Our dragon eggs took a little logistical planning but turned out really great. Then we drew a scene from "Lord of the rings" type room complete with a dragon and painted both. Book covers will have to wait until tomorrow.
Gnarled Trees and Witch’s Brew
For our Last day, Sean created the demo card solider for their last project, while we started off with our traveling gnomes! The kids had a blast being super creative with it, going from a runaway Gnomio and Juliet, to a wedding couple, a ninja, Michael Jackson in the forest, and many others!! After that they made ancient gnarled trees, and then we did our witch's brew! Lastly we did more calligraphy and created our own card soldiers and the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland!!
Swords and Heraldic Shields
What an incredible day. Can hardly wait for the pictures. I think the high point was the magic potion the beginner made or maybe it was drawing the unicorn or the swords and heraldic shields or the fantastic castles with working drawbridges. Only 1 more day of camp and our summer is over.
Campers were CRAZY about weaving today!! Between corn grinding and weaving, they were some of the happiest kids on Earth!
A Little Bit of Everything
Today we made weaving looms, and wove headbands/friendship bracelets, and then we made our own quilt squares. Some kids sewed theirs together, while others chose to glue theirs. After that they were back to weaving, until we showed them how to make spinning tops and ball-in-a-cup pioneer toys!
We made a fountain of suds and fiz with vinegar, baking soda, and powder paints, placed inside film canisters! Our rolling waterfall of color. Quoting MUD recreation Manager Matt Fuller when he saw the results: "You blew up skittles!"
Read more art camp stories: http://wonderfulartsncrafts.blogspot.com/
Wells Branch summer camps have many memorable moments also. Here is one of the stories that has been repeated many times:
Kevin Williams, the lead counselor with the Juniors for our Stuff-2-Do Camp recounts a memorable incident a few years back: Back in the days when Stuff - 2 - Do was only located at the Community Center our weekly theme had something to do with drama or the campers showing their talents. We planned an afternoon where we invited the parents to see the campers show off their talents. We had the campers sign up in advance. We had the audio and mics set-up. We had planned a nice production. On the day of the show, a little camper about the age of 6 came up to me asking to be put in the show. I told her that if we have time at the end, I would get her in.
The show started and it was going pretty good. I felt a tug at my shirt. It was that little camper again. She wanted to make sure that I would try to get her in to perform at the end like I said. I told her again that I would do my best. We had about 3 acts left and I hear my name being called, "Mr. Kevin! Mr. Kevin! Please make sure I get to sing. I really want to sing okay." This little camper reminded me.
"Yes, I will try. Pinkie swear!" I told her back. By this point we were behind schedule and some of the parents were becoming restless. The last act finished and I was beginning to send some campers to change into their swimsuits when that little camper showed up at my feet. "Now can I sing?" she asked with the puppy dog eyes and cute face.
"Oh yeah" I said. I announced that we had one more act. I announced her name and handed her the mic. To be honest, I was not expecting a polished delivery. I thought that she would sing a few lines from a Lion King song and be done with it. But she stops me, and hands me a CD, saying "play #3". Hesitantly, I place the CD in and selected song #3. The music starts, then she starts singing. I froze and this camper sang the best song of the show. She sang "Wide Open Spaces" by the Dixie Chicks. I believe everyone else thought that she did a fabulous job also based on the loud applause.
This little camper later became one of the councilors who runs the camp during the summers. Her name is Molly Weaver. To this day, when I see her, I still ask her to sing "Wide Open Spaces."
I'm not necessarily from the camp that complains about the "everyone gets a trophy" mentality. That said, I believe there comes a time when children aren't being setup for success (both on and off the field) by receiving participation awards past a certain age. I also feel strongly that any form of recognition needs to be genuine and deserved to mean something.
Here are some of the forms of recognition our 11U girls select team has implemented in attempt to wean off participation awards and pivot to forms of recognition that more appropriately match their development (and are hopefully more meaningful).
The "U" / MVP (Offense)
After every practice and game, the team helps me select the best offensive player in a given session. Goals and assists are great, but the player recognized should have made a broader impact (effort, leading by example, etc.). The recognized player gets to keep the "U" (meant to represent our "United" name) until our next session. They leave a lasting mark by also being awarded a sticker, which they are expected to personalize at home. It's effectively like a helmet sticker in football - difficult to tie to any single statistic, but hopefully obvious to teammates and coaches. At the conclusion of every season, the team nominates (via a Google Form with NO parent input) an overall offensive MVP that will get to keep the "U" when it's retired (making way for a new fresh "U" the following season).
The "B" / MVP (Defense)
The above-mentioned process is copied for the most outstanding defensive player in every session. The "B" was chose to represent our team nickname of "Bruisers" - one we adopted during our 4v4 days when getting the girls to play more aggressive was the primary focus for our possession-based "finesse" team. The "B" therefor is much more appropriate for our standout scrappy defender than the "U". In addition to the sticker awarded every session, an overall winner is nominated by peers using a Google Form at the end of each season to keep the letter.
Winning and final scores are a far distant priority in relation to our long term focus on "total player and team development". That said, we track goals and assists to inspire a killer instinct in the final 3rd and unselfish play respectively. Our girls have played way more aggressively as a result and (much more importantly) they motivate and support each other to improve through friendly competition. The player with the most goals at the end of each season is given a Golden Boot (read: old soccer shoe that's been spray painted). The top 3 for each assists and goals are also recognized as nominees.
Goalie is a thankless position that requires fearlessness and a unique mindset that few possess. We recognize everyone that had the courage to try the position and call special attention to the keeper that allowed the fewest goals per game with the Golden Glove. Just like the Golden Boot, the glove inspires healthy competition and encourages our goalies to push one another to keep "clean sheets".
Most Improved (Overall)
In addition to the Offensive and Defensive MVPs, the Most Improved Player award is peer-nominated. We spray paint a weight to represent the player putting in the most work (both at practice and on their own at home) to get better over the course of the season. I just happened to see the weight sitting in the garage, but I've considered items like a small hammer or lunchbox (i.e. the VT football team's "bring your lunch pail" mantra) as well. There are probably way better analogies to represent hard work, so please share.
Division & Tournament Awards
Long term player development is ALWAYS the primary focus, not winning or scoring a ton of goals at all cost. Playing high quality, possession-based soccer remains as the main goal. However, tracking progress relative to performances against top competition (in Select regular season play and postseason tournaments) provides benchmarks that help track team success. For example, finishing a place higher than seasons past, moving up a division, or being more competitive in a tournament are accomplishments we celebrate as a team. Built-in mechanisms, such as the top 2 teams in a division getting invited to CAYSA/WDDOA competitions, also provide something to strive for as a team. It can't be repeated enough though that total player development shouldn't be sacrificed within younger teams chasing team goals.
For the 11U girls in particular, we set very specific team goals at the beginning of this season (NONE of which had to do with our record). The form of recognition we tied to accomplishing those goals was to attend the GSA Force Fall Tournament - an overall team experience that means worlds more than any trophy to these girls (see sleepover picture below, taken during out last tournament).
Over the last 6 years Wells Branch has really stepped up planting new trees, starting with the Trees for Trails program that planted hundreds of trees.
Then we started the grow zone project that allows nature to do what it does best. There are over 50 little startup pecans, dogwoods and oaks, along the creek, over on the east side between Wells Branch Parkway and Wells Port.
Then we moved to clearing large invasive plants and planting Texas native trees in their place, we will have one more effort this winter and that should be the last of the big invasives inside Wells Branch.
We now have an arborist doing a tree survey and tagging effort along the green belt. The goal is to report any unhealthy trees and to help us plan to grow our tree canopy. The survey will give us data on what species we have and which ones we don’t, helping us define what species to plant based on our biodiversity goals. It will also give us insight into where planting may do the most good. The tree tags could be used by residents to notify the MUD office about downed tree limbs and the survey data will eventually be online, residents will be able to pull up data on a tree based on the number on the tree tag.
It’s great being outside, learning about our local plants and we want to share it with others. We have been changing the efforts of our Keep Wells Branch Beautiful events from mostly cleaning up and doing invasive pulls to an educational, family focused event where one can learn about our local flora, do scavenger hunts for specific plants and learn about how to care for plants. Bottom line, we want to grow the Keep Wells Branch Beautiful events in ways that our residents will truly enjoy. We would really like to hear what kind of events would be interesting to you. Would you and your children be interested in hikes where our arborist teaches us about trees or have a visit to the butterfly garden where you’re told about which plants benefit which butterflies? Send me an email with your interest and ideas. Spalmer@wellsbranchmud.com.
Find out what is coming up on the KWBB calendar: http://wellsbranchmud.com/parks-a-recreation/keep-wb-beautiful
The vast majority of our membership provides glowing feedback about the selfless volunteers that step up to coach their child's team. The retention numbers for our most loyal coaches + families insistent on returning to their teams each season both speak for themselves. On the contrary, a small number of our families will occasionally express concern at the beginning of every season and occasionally request a roster change. We'd implore everyone in those situations to consider the following.
It's important for our families to realize that "Rome wasn't built in a day". Even the most advanced players in the world are constantly pushing themselves to master their craft. Likewise, volunteer coaches all have to start somewhere and can only improve with practice. The club's most cherished volunteer coaches would be the first to admit they are a WAY better coach than they were that first season (and not nearly as good as they'll be in several more seasons).
The majority of our teams are highly recreational and ALL are led entirely by volunteers. Since we rely on heroic parents to make soccer possible in the neighborhood, the beauty is that ANY parent can (and quite frankly, should) get involved to drive improvement. If parents have strong opinions as to what the coach can be doing better, the club would be ecstatic to have these folks register as coaches and "be the change you wish to see".
One could argue "that's why I pay the club - so I don't have to coach". The reality though is that we offer ~20 practices, ~10 games, a uniform kit, practice uniform, referees, field space (not to mention goals, paint, etc.), trophies, club events, US Soccer fees and supplemental insurance while maintaining literally the lowest fees in the North Austin, Round Rock, and Pflugerville.
As a 100% volunteer-driven organization, every penny we raise goes directly into the players. We try carry the lowest possible balance in a "rainy day" fund, but otherwise improve the experience for our families in whatever way we can. So in truth, the one thing you are absolutely NOT paying for is coaching - all fees collected are effectively just "keeping the lights on" so to speak.
This all makes sense, but you still may not have the bandwidth or credibility to step up and coach your child's team. We totally get that! So how can you help your child get the best possible coaching if you aren't the coach? Well, here are the top 6 ways you can make a direct impact on the quality of coaching your child receives:
1. Direct coach towards the breadth of resources we have posted on our website in the Coaches Portal, including practice ideas and links to leading websites for new soccer coaches.
2. Manage administrative tasks like creating the snack schedule, field lining responsibilities, team pictures, and keeping parents informed throughout the season via email. You can also rally all the parents every practice to help setup and teardown equipment. Anything that gives your coach more time to focus on the players will directly help the players.
3. Ask all the parents to chip in $2 to purchase an introductory book on coaching youth soccer, which will provide creative practices ideas and pointers for working with children.
4. Encourage the parents to consider replacing 1 practice each week (or perhaps just once a month) with the FREE professional training sessions at Avila Creative Soccer. The club makes a sizable investment each season on behalf of ALL our players. Observing these sessions is also a great learning experience for new volunteer coaches, who can take notes during the session and learn from paid coaches.
5. If there are soccer savvy parents that don't have the bandwidth to be the head coach, you could help coordinate a rotation system. We have countless teams in the club that use a "coaches cohort" to make things more manageable on the parents with soccer acumen (or even just a gift for working with kids). Hopefully coaching every 3rd or 4th practice and assisting with games on Saturday is more manageable than leading a team solo. We also have a ton of strong older players in the club that may be willing to lend a hand at practices (perhaps in exchange for an iTunes gift card or other modest allowance).
6. Encourage your coach to pursue their national "F License". WBSA will fully reimburse the $25 expense to coaches. After ~5 hours of training (offered entirely online), coaches gain access to a 6-10 week practice curriculum that would literally provide enough material to get them through an entire season.
These are just a few ideas. Engaged parents can undoubtedly put their heads together to think of several other ways to help their child's coach provide an exceptional experience for all our players. Again, just like brand new players are learning as they go and will improve throughout the season - our volunteer coaches are in the exact same boat.
We’d encourage all our families to be as supportive as possible considering this (potentially very overwhelmed parent) is doing the best they can. Remember that this brave soul stepped up to take on responsibilities (and countless hours of volunteer work) that nobody else was willing to own.
Please also keep in mind that paying for professional instruction in an advanced (non-recreational) environment is not cheap. It's literally as much 10x the cost of recreational models like the one we offer in WBSA. You can learn more about those expenses by reading our previous blog post on Soccer Economics for the North Austin, Round Rock, and Pflugerville areas.
And finally, let's not lose sight of the fact that soccer is a game. The club's primary mission is to make sure young players are having fun, learning new skills, developing friendships, and growing as young leaders in our community. Hopefully we've given you a few actionable ideas to support your respective coaches in pursuit of these goals.
New this season, all WBSA players can try on uniforms before we finalize the order to get the size they want. We are partnering with Soccer Post in Round Rock on uniforms. They've ordered a set of example sizes of jerseys for players and coaches to try on for size.
All U8 and younger teams will be getting High 5 kits and need to ask for the High 5 samples to try on.
All U9 and older teams will be getting Joma kits and need to ask for the Joma samples to try on. When updating Got Soccer with your preferred size, also update the preferred # you want on the back of your jersey. If two players request the same number, one will need to pick a different number and will be contacted.
And, for our WBSA coaches, this season we will be purchasing nice, white Combi (by Joma) jerseys with the WBSA logo on the front pocket area and "COACH" on the back. You can also try on jersey samples at Soccer Post in Round Rock and pick the size you want. Just ask for the Joma samples to try on. You, too, will then need to update Got Soccer with your preferred jersey size.
If you miss these dates, WBSA will do our best to fulfill the sizes but we can't guarantee you'll get the exact size you want. WBSA must place uniform orders well before the season starts so that we've got uniforms in time for the first game. As such, we'll order the sizes requested via Got Soccer and then make size estimates for the rest of the players and coaches.
So, take a quick trip to Soccer Post in Round Rock at the corner of IH-35 and FM 620 in the shopping center with Sprouts, McDonalds, Starbucks and Kaleidoscope Toys and try on the jerseys! Soccer Post's hours are M – Sat 10AM to 7PM and Sunday from 11AM to 5PM.
If you've already registered this season and just need to update the jersey size, email the preferred size info to email@example.com BEFORE the deadlines noted above.
And, not sure the age bracket of your player (and whether they need to try on the High 5 or Joma jerseys)? More info here: http://wellsbranchsoccer.weebly.com/blog/soccer-age-group-mathematics