RSA coach Matt Richman, who is entering his sixth season in RSA this fall, instructs his Division 5 boys team at halftime. Richman has also served on the RSA Board since 2009.
Sometimes, just watching from the sidelines isn’t enough. Over 150 Ridgewood parents step forward each year to lend a hand and lead a team. RSA is fortunate to have a handful of dedicated parents who have volunteered to coach for more than 10 seasons.
In 2003, Paul Gluckow signed up to coach for the first time. His first grader was excited and so was he. “I was teamed up with someone who had coached in RSA previously and he was great about showing me the ropes,” Gluckow said. “It was a wonderful experience to make sure the kids were having fun while learning a bit more about soccer in what was, for many of them, their first soccer experience.”
Paul Gluckow, right, a lawyer in New York City, takes time to coach his son's Division 3 Ridgewood Soccer team at Somerville School.
Gluckow’s first soccer experience happened early. He started playing as a kid in Neptune, N.J., and continued all the way through college at Notre Dame, appearing in 39 games. “But I did not have the opportunity to do much coaching until RSA,” Gluckow said. It was at that point that Gluckow attended a pre-season coaching clinic run by RSA.
“The clinics are very helpful, especially in providing specific ideas for games and activities to use with the kids,” Gluckow recalled. “It’s important to have a plan before showing up.”
In addition to clinics, RSA supports volunteer coaches by hiring professional trainers to conduct weekday practices. For Gluckow, a lawyer in Manhattan, that means he doesn’t have to race home from work for mid-afternoon practices. “It’s worked out well for 10 years,” Gluckow said. “RSA is great in this regard because, with the younger kids, you really only need to be there on Saturday.” It was especially helpful as Gluckow took on coaching three of his five children in RSA.
For Jason Naskiewicz, another RSA coach who started 10 years ago, his hour-long commute and international travel never conflicted with coaching. “RSA provides a lot of help to parent coaches,” he said. ”Having the trainers during the weekday practices means you can always fit coaching into your schedule.”
Coach Jason Naskiewicz, who has volunteered in RSA since 2003, talks to his subs during the match.
Naskiewicz said that coaching in RSA is more about attitude than aptitude. “It’s about keeping the kids involved and interested, rather than working a great strategy and team formations. RSA really is about the kids having fun.”
By now, Coach Gluckow may have more soccer experience than many, but he said parents with less experience shouldn’t hesitate to volunteer. “I’ve coached with lots of parents who do not have a soccer background and it’s worked out great. Especially with the younger kids, enthusiasm and a genuine desire to work with the players is much more important than technical soccer knowledge.”
Gluckow said his kids really enjoy having their dad be the coach. ”It’s definitely a great opportunity to bond with your son or daughter by coaching them in any sport. As our kids have grown older, I’ve certainly embarrassed them with some of my sideline antics, but I think they still enjoy playing on a team where I am one of the coaches.”
Beyond bonding, there are other benefits. Coaching in RSA inspired Naskiewicz to start playing again. “It was definitely worth it. Coaching actually got me back into playing for the last five years, so for me it worked out great as well.”
Above all, Naskiewicz’s first priority is how his players feel when they walk off the pitch. “We had some undefeated seasons and some where a tie was great. At the end of every game, if the kids go home with a smile it is a win.”
For the fall 2013 season, RSA invites you to volunteer. Please register to coach at the same time you register your child.