Inside Events: US Club Soccer
19 Apr, 2017By: Mary Helen Sprecher
An Interview with Justin Peterman, Director of Events, and Tyler Heffernan, Director of Communications
US Club Soccer is an organization committed to the development and support of soccer clubs in the United States. It is a National Association member of the U.S. Soccer Federation. US Club Soccer believes clubs are the vehicle through which players are developed, and that the organization should help facilitate club development throughout the country. The organization registers players and staff, provides insurance coverage, provides and sanctions competitions and events as well as a variety of other programming for its members.Through US Club Soccer, all of a club’s programs – rec, youth competitive and adult – are able to be united under one organizational umbrella, creating a “members for life” culture within each club.
Sports Destination Management: Obviously, soccer is huge, but is there a busy season for US Club Soccer?
Tyler Heffernan: Summer is our busiest time. We have our Regionals with 100 to 250 teams in June. In July, the national championships are on in consecutive weekends in Indianapolis.
SDM: What other events do you have to plan?
Heffernan: We have training camps – our next one is in Westfield, Indiana. There will be three of those throughout the year: one in spring and two in the fall. In summer, we’ll hold four coaching education courses. It’s a pretty good flow throughout the year.
SDM: What are the trends like in membership and registration?
Heffernan: Our registration grows from year to year but our events don’t change. Our Midwest Regional, for example, has grown to 250 teams. That is up from 150 to 180 teams.
SDM: What factors go into site selection like for your events?
Justin Peterman: We like to use the best facilities around we can find; we have to take into consideration field availability. So for a 150-team tournament, you’ll need about 26 fields. In those cases, we need to use the biggest facilities possible. We’re always searching out places. Sometimes, though, it just comes down to who we’re familiar with, although there are multiple things to take into consideration – the hotels in the surrounding area, support, number of rooms available if people are coming in from out of town. So for example, if there is something in California, we are going to have teams coming in from Southern California, Arizona, Colorado – it’s not just the locals who are participating.
SDM: What other factors are brought to bear on your site choices?
Heffernan: This may not be the number-one prerequisite, but we certainly are aware that families are traveling to these events too. We like to pick somewhere they can come in early or extend their stay later – for example, in Chicago, we saw a lot of teams going in and doing the touristy things in Chicago if they were eliminated from the competition. In our event in Aurora, Colorado, we saw a lot of people going to the mountains.
SDM: Do you receive information from various destinations?
Peterman: Yes, we do. We are interested in those sorts of things. When we look at them, we’re going to be seeing how many fields they have, what they’re close to and so on. We do onsite visits and check out the hotels, the town around the facility and so on.
SDM: Does US Club Soccer employ a stay-to-play policy for its events?
Peterman: Yes – we implement that for all events. We also have a housing provider who is one of our partners.
SDM: Does the presence of a local league or club help in the selection?
Peterman: It’s a plus. We can really use the people onsite. They can reach out to the local club or facility and ask about volunteers, referees, field marshalls and so on. The more of those we have, the less we have to do. It’s really helpful for us to be able to help more on the administrative side.
SDM: What benefit does membership in US Club Soccer bring to its members?
Heffernan: One of the things that Kevin Payne, who is our CEO, has done is make an effort for us to be a service organization. We have a half a million members. We want people to say, ‘My US Club Soccer membership gets me a lot of great things’ – and then have tangible benefits people can point to.
SDM: One of the things US Club Soccer offers is training programs for coaches
Heffernan: Coaching education has always been an emphasis for us. We’ve part with La Liga for those coaching programs, and we rolled out courses starting in 2016. Throughout seven courses, we’ve seen 900 coaches become education – and those are for smaller events.
SDM: What are the numbers like?
Heffernan: In terms of coaching courses, the biggest was last year, when we had more 250coaches participating.We look to host them six times a year or so. We’ve also been approached to run them online and we’re looking at that because it’s an opportunity to be more accessible.
SDM: Do you do any streaming of games presently?
Peterman: We do a little live streaming using streamsports – they do a great job for us. In the past year, we streamed three games and we saw a lot of traction from it. We love the idea of doing it so that if someone can’t make it to Indianapolis to watch, they can still it at home.