Alan Roeder is the President of West Schuylkill FC. He created the club in 2013 for youths in West Schuylkill County, since the closest club to the area was over an hour away. His passion for soccer, and for developing youth players character and teamwork is why he is the AAA Share Your Journey contest winner.
Roeder grew up playing soccer. He played for Pine Grove Area High School and other club teams in his youth. When his playing days ended, he continued his passion for the game by coaching the teams he grew up playing for. In 2013 he had the unique opportunity of starting a club in West Schuylkill County.
Before 2013, the West Schuylkill County area had very few youth soccer organizations. Roeder saw the opportunity to begin a club in his own backyard. Roeder began West Schuylkill FC with the hope that the club would embody the ‘no one is better than the team’ mentality.
“It’s hard to build a team though character and teamwork. We’ll develop skills, but these core values for us are more important.”
West Schuylkill FC is a club that is different. Roeder based the club not on skill, or pushing for good results, but on the concept of being a team. , that is the first thing players learn. From there, players learn to develop skills and focus on game tactics. Teamwork and character are two aspects Roeder attributes to life, and the game of soccer.
“Soccer to me is the best sport there is. One player can influence the game, skill wise, but you need a team that plays well together to succeed.”
Team sports are a way kids can learn about the realities in life. All players that are a part of West Schuylkill FC learn valuable life lessons while playing the game of soccer. Learning about the appropriate character one needs in life, and how to work well with others, are two very important life skills. Roeder is grateful he can be a voice for youths to listen to as they learn about the sport of soccer and life.
“I’m happy I can provide the opportunity of soccer in our area, and teach kids the importance of our core values.”
In the club’s fourth year, West Schuylkill FC has 100 youth players from the U6 level to the U17+ level. The clubs coaches are all volunteer coaches who aren't parents of the players. All of the coaches reflect the clubs core values, and have a passion for soccer. So where will this young club be in the years to come?
“I would like to have 10 to 12 teams, but don’t want our culture to change because I don’t want it to hurt our core values.”
West Schuylkill FC is a growing club that prides itself on its ability to be like a family. Many of the coaches, Roeder included, support the local community by running offseason fitness clinics for youth athletes, not just soccer players. They also attend their player’s high school matches. The culture that’s been created is one they want to sustain as the club moves forward.
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.