As the Vice President of Marple Newtown Soccer Association, Pat Henigan has helped develop countless youths both on the soccer field and in the classroom. Henigan’s contributions to the youth soccer community were more than enough to name him this month’s AAA Start Your Journey Contest winner.
Similar to many of the kids he now coaches, Pat began playing at soccer at an early age. His soccer career as a player started in the backyard against his two brothers and continued all the way through college, and even to this today lives on recreationally. His passion for the game is one that has proven a timeless affair, and that’s something he has always advocated.
“I tell the kids I coach I’m 57 and I am still playing, and my goal of coaching them is that when they’re 57 they still want to get out and play.”
Pat’s relationship with soccer is one that has evolved over the course of his life, with each new chapter introducing him to a slightly different perspective on the game itself. After his time competitively on the soccer field came to an end, Henigan was given the opportunity to coach his children’s travel teams.
“I coached my sons and daughters’ teams in travel and going to tournaments – whether they were overnight trips or just weekend things – I thought was very beneficial socially as well as from a soccer perspective,” Henigan said.
“Just the time you spend in the car with your kids can be challenging, but is also very rewarding,” Henigan added with a joyous chuckle.
The kind of family bonding opportunities that arise from being part of a travel team are unparalleled, especially when it involves a parent and his child hitting the road for an adventure together.
“Just great times being at hotels and hanging around the pools with the parents and the kids and not necessarily talking about soccer, but really getting to know the parents and the kids – that’s cool,” Henigan said.
Marple Newtown Soccer Association (MNSA) is a youth intramural and travel soccer program aimed at developing young soccer players, and the non-profit organization has been a partner of Philadelphia Union since the MLS club’s conception in 2010.
A firm supporter of the Union himself, Henigan recognized the potential inspiration of bringing youth soccer to live MLS action by bridging the two organizations.
“I believed that a large part of kids getting excited and learning the game, is actually in watching games, and we just saw it as another avenue – aside from television – as a great opportunity to not only get the kids down to the games, but also letting our coaches take advantage of the chalkboard sessions and coaching clinics that they have had,” Henigan said.
This story is part of AAA’s “Start Your Journey” campaign, an effort – in partnership with the Union – to help celebrate families’ journeys in support of their young athletes…the long road trips, all-weekend tournaments, and the special bonds that are formed from the extensive time on the road. Each month, the Philadelphia Union and AAA will select an individual within its soccer network to develop a feature story on their path to success in association with the game of soccer. Additionally, fans are encouraged to share their own stories via social media using #ShareYourJourney.