Way back in 2008, when the country was in the early stages of the greatest recession of our generation, my wife Alyssa and I were in our first full year operating Soccer Shots. After months of careful consideration we decided to purchase the 16th franchise in the Soccer Shots system (today, there are more than 100 franchises in the system).
We knew the challenge that confronted us, not just the odds that face all new businesses, but given the turbulent economic times we knew we had an extra steep hill to climb. Looking back, I think we were also somewhat blind to the odds (either consciously or unconsciously, I am not sure) as we only focused on succeeding. We had a business plan, financial projections, and the desire to do what it took to succeed.
Alyssa and I knew we wanted to work with children and in the field of education.
Given the importance of physical fitness in children and their ability to learn and excel in school, Soccer Shots seemed like a perfect fit. Having previous experience working for a privately run charter school, global agencies, local companies, and Fortune 500 businesses we also knew that we wanted to start something of our own. And an opportunity that would support the family that we planned on having and that would succeed or fail based on the effort, decisions, and dedication that we invested. And of course there is always some level of luck involved.
In early 2008, not a single child in Los Angeles had experienced Soccer Shots. This year 10,000 children will experience Soccer Shots. In 2008 it was Alyssa and I handling every task, starting every relationship with schools, scheduling every season, coaching every class, and completing all of the administrative tasks. We were very much learning day to day and improving little by little with the intent to survive and hopefully grow. Today our team consists of 11 full time salaried employees and 10-15 part time employees. Virtually every hour of every day of the week there is a Soccer Shots class running somewhere in Los Angeles!
When I think about the growth that we have been so fortunate to experience, I can’t help but think about the future and where Soccer Shots will be in years to come. As a small business owner my focus naturally shifts to looking ahead but it is important from time to time to reflect on the past and how we got to where we are today. Looking back I realize that from day one we have been very intentional about our vision for Soccer Shots and truly believe that this vision and our success are directly linked. Every decision that we have made has been answered by thinking about our vision and who we are.
Our goal has always been to offer a quality program for the families in Los Angeles.
This goal has not changed, however we have learned that in order to survive in an increasingly competitive market, we must continue to strive to be remarkable and that part of achieving this was identifying the ways to make our program truly unique.
What Makes Soccer Shots Unique?
Employees, Not Independent Contractors
Our directors and coaches are all employees of Soccer Shots. This means our entire team is covered under Workers Compensation and Disability and many receive health and other benefits. Many programs farm out services to independent contractors. However, due to the nature of our work with children and the quality we wish to uphold, we prefer the conservative path of fully trained and screened employees.
Character Development + Soccer
Character development is the foundation of our program. Our professionally designed curriculum is structured around our 10 character building words. Each class utilizes our innovative curriculum which extends beyond physical activity to incorporate values like respect, honesty, teamwork, and encouragement.
Family Owned & Operated Since 2007
Soccer Shots is owned by myself and my wife Alyssa. Together with our team we make every effort to deliver a remarkable program that children, parents, and schools will bene!t from and enjoy. As parents ourselves of two young children (Charles and Amelia) we understand the many needs of families.
Our primary focus is and always has been to serve the needs of the schools that we partner with. We understand the unique challenges and are experienced in meeting and often exceeding the expectations.
Trained & Certified Coaches
All coaches have successfully completed extensive group and one-on-one training by Soccer Shots. This means up to a couple of months of training alongside an experienced Soccer Shots Director/Lead Coach as well as ongoing professional development.
Squeaky Clean Records
Our entire team has successfully completed live scan fingerprint background checks through the State of California, certified FBI and Department of Justice agencies. Copies are provided upon request.
Early Childhood Education (ECE)
Many of our coaches have completed or are working toward fulfilling at least 12 ECE credits. We seek individuals with backgrounds in education and child development first. Soccer skills and experience are second.
Certified Mandated Reporters
Our entire team is aware that by law they are Mandated Reporters and are all certified by the California Department of Social Services. The safety and well being of the children are always top of mind.
At the schools we serve we offer scholarships & all-play policy in an attempt to include children who want to participate regardless of their ability to pay. Many schools have fundraisers throughout the year and we make donations, typically in the form of gift baskets which include certificates for a free season. Another form of fundraising for schools that we serve is an incentive where we give a portion of the registration fees back to the school.
Maximum Levels of Insurance
Soccer Shots is fully insured with above required levels of coverage.
“Our primary focus is and always has been to serve the needs of the schools that we partner with. We understand the unique challenges and are experienced in meeting and often exceeding the expectations.”
In the end, our vision is to offer an experience that will leave a lasting effect on the children and families that we serve.
- Ms. Lisa Findley, First Grade Teacher, Harrisburg, PA
I have a confession… I don’t always love theme weeks in school. As a first grade teacher, theme weeks mean taking at least 15 minutes each day to clearly explain the theme for the following day. That includes multiple (and repetitive) questions about the theme and giving or showing several examples of the theme. Secondly, each day is a new whirlwind of costumes, props and activities, of which you can imagine are totally not distracting to the learning process. Lastly, our “normal” routine might as well be thrown out the door. But however crazy these weeks may seem, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel when I see my students enjoying these literacy activities.
As you may or may not know, March 2 was Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Getting kids to enjoy reading was something that Dr. Seuss was passionate about. His philosophy and his books are why America’s teachers and the National Education Association selected Dr. Seuss’ birthday as the day to celebrate Read Across America. This past week in my classroom, we participated in several Read Across America activities including: Wearing t-shirts with messages, wearing mismatched/inside-out clothes, dressing like a book character, swapping books, and discussing our favorite books. As mentioned previously, these weeks are quite chaotic in a first grade classroom, but if it means that my students are focusing their attention to reading, then I am all for it!
Getting first graders to read has been one of the most challenging tasks in my life thus far. These fresh, young faces come to me in September and are so open and excited to read! With expectations of learning to read on the very first day of school (literally — that’s what they thought they’d learn first!), my students were sadly disappointed. Since then, reading is a constant struggle for many of them. I think we all, including myself sometimes, forget how difficult this task really is. So as this fun and silly week has come and passed, I noticed that many of my kiddos that really struggle with reading were having fun participating in the Read Across America activities. Each morning our school began with a student reading a Dr. Seuss quote to an unknown book on the morning announcements. My students excitedly screamed out the answer, thus beginning our wacky week. Throughout each day I chose to focus a little bit of our time reviewing the theme for the day and discussing how it relates to Read Across America. We took some time each day to “Stop, drop, and read!” and most importantly we talked about why it’s necessary to learn to read. Some of my kiddos want to be doctors, others want to be athletes, and not to toot my own horn, but others want to be teachers! Each occupation requires reading in some way, shape or form. But the one thing that I wanted students to understand this week was that reading should be fun! I always try to make reading fun, interesting or a learning experience.
This week may have been hectic for me, but if you ask my kids, they may respond with a different answer.
Food and I have a love-hate relationship right now. I’m a full on “foodie” in many ways — I love eating out, discovering new places and recipes, etc. But at the same time, I have seen the ugly consequences of food not meshing well with our bodies. This past August, I ended up in the ER, shaking uncontrollably and experiencing a “seizure-like episode” — a result almost certainly related to some allergies I had to food. This wasn’t all – my son, age 4, has recently been diagnosed with ADHD NOS, and a huge number of articles have come up on children with ADHD and how the symptoms are aggravated by certain foods.
All of the sudden, my love for food has been challenged to great lengths. My son now has a low, if any at all, gluten diet and absolutely no refined or processed sugar. I realized that having cooked tomatoes (fresh tomatoes are fine) and almonds of any sort are really hard on my body, so we have a lot of things we need to watch for as a family now.
I know that I join a long list of families with allergies and kids who probably are negatively affected by processed foods without knowing it. Nonetheless, as my child has birthday parties and holiday parties in his classroom, I can’t help but feel I need to make sure he still has a great time at these events without compromising his health. I believe as a Soccer Shots Director/Owner/Coach and as a mother, we need to not only advocate healthy living with an active life style of soccer, but also with the foods that we eat or offer, as well.
In this journey, I have found some healthier, guilt-free recipes that really are delicious, so I thought I would share them!
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or the seeds of 1 vanilla bean)
In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the almond flour, 1 cup shredded coconut, coconut flour, and sea salt until finely ground. Add the honey, coconut oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla. Process until a rough dough forms.
Form the dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in shredded coconut if desired.
For a no-bake treat, simply refrigerate until firm and enjoy!
For a more traditional meltaway cookie texture, place the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 250ºF for 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
“Everything good in my life has happened because of soccer,” says Bartley. “I’ve always played ever since I was 4 years old. It teaches me to make better choices. I’ve been able to volunteer more, get involved in the community, and it led me to this (Soccer Shots business ownership). It keeps me humble. I thought, ‘This is what I was meant to do’ — I found myself. Now I’m running a business, coaching soccer.”
It’s truly amazing what you can realize as an adult.
When Nelson Mandela passed away on December 5, I thought of his contributions to South Africa and the anti-apartheid movement, and his status as a world symbol for peace and unity.
But over the weekend, while browsing social media posts about the former leader, I was reminded of something that I had heard and was vaguely aware of: his love of sport. Mandela once said, “Sport has the power to change the world…it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand.”
I was so moved by that quote. It’s so true at Soccer Shots. Small children from disparate backgrounds are all one and the same on our ‘Soccer Island’ while kicking a ball around and cheering each other on as they shoot a goal.
I thought it was important to share what was behind Mandela’s inspirational words. It can be a great opportunity for a discussion with your kids on many topics, from acceptance to forgiveness.
South Africa was racially segregated, as many know. That segregation extended even into the sporting world. In 1995, Mandela joined a crowd comprised of predominantly white South Africans at the Rugby World Cup, where the Springboks, the South African team, was playing. They won, and Mandela presented the white captain with the trophy. This was captured in the 2009 film, Invictus.
It started a movement, and the Springboks’ success galvanized the entire nation. By reaching out with an olive branch, Mandela united his country around the sport. The jerseys, once-hated because they were seen as whites-only apparel, became ubiquitous on whites and blacks alike.
Captain Francois Pienaar said of that moment when Mandela handed him the trophy, “We didn’t have the support of 63,000 South Africans today. We had the support of 42 million.”
We’re always amazed at the power of sport (especially soccer) because it puts all countries on a worldwide stage, like the upcoming World Cup — but it’s incredible to think that a leader as influential as Nelson Mandela saw sports the same way. He not only realized this, but actually made use of this to bring about change!
- Annie Ferret, Director of Marketing and Communications, Soccer Shots Franchising
The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is upon us. With parties to attend, gifts to wrap and traditions to carry on, the season can get away from us before we have time to take a breath and really savor what this time of year is truly about. No matter your belief about the reason for the season, there is one common thread: ‘tis the season to care for one another. This is the season when we share gifts with friends and family to show them how much we care; when we lend our spare change to those ringing bells outside the mall or market; when we extend the father of three little ones some extra grace as he totes his squirmy ones through the store. This is the season we see the best in others, and share the best in us.
We haven’t escaped the hustle and bustle at the Soccer Shots headquarters in Pennsylvania. We’re hard at work making plans for the coming year with curriculum updates, marketing calendars and process refinements. But a few times each week, our team pauses to do a bit of “Santa’s Workshop” work in our warehouse – packaging Soccer Shots soccer balls and mailing them to Soccer Shots children around the country. This is the result of our annual fundraising event for our non-profit, Global Goals. We give Soccer Shots parents and guardians a chance to give a Soccer Shots soccer ball to a child as a holiday gift with a $20 donation to Global Goals, which directly impacts our partnership with the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success programs.
That $20 donation makes it possible for children living in underserved areas across the country to be a part of after-school soccer programs (Soccer for Success) making a positive impact in their lives. These programs are an extension of our Soccer Shots mission and our entire community feels privileged to be a part of this extra impact.
With each packaged soccer ball, we are reminded of the reason for the season, to care for one another: a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend or relative, a stranger, a child in a nearby city, our community, and those in far away places. Our team pauses, savors the season, and is grateful for the impact our Soccer Shots parents and guardians are generously making with these donations. Each mailed soccer ball represents another child with a safe place to play. What an incredible impact we get to be a part of each year!
At Soccer Shots, we are grateful to be a part of more than 80,000 families this year to serve more than 100,000 children through our programs nationwide. This season, we pause to recognize this privilege and thank those who make our impact possible. From our families to yours, happy holidays, and we look forward to seeing you all next year!
A word from Soccer Shots Director Zak Kraehmer, Soccer Shots Lancaster/Lebanon/Berks, PA
Soccer Shots Lancaster/Lebanon/Berks hosted a fundraising event for Global Goals on Saturday, Oct. 19 at Red Rose Arena, located in Lancaster. The event ran from 9 am to 11 am, and we ran Soccer Shots sessions every half hour.
I was really excited for this event because we were advertising and telling everyone we could about the event for several months. It was exciting to have such a great theme and a great cause for the event. Recognizing that U.S. Soccer is celebrating 100 years really piqued the interest of many families about U.S. Soccer and the game of soccer itself. This theme allowed us to transition into sharing more about Global Goals and what the mission of Global Goals is. Parents were supportive of giving toward the cause and supportive of Soccer Shots as a whole.
The sessions at our event all ran smoothly and the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Our coaches dedicated their Saturday mornings to making sure that the parents and children experienced great sessions. The smiles on each child’s face was priceless when they saw that they would receive a Soccer Shots balloon and an extremely tasty cupcake.
This is a firsthand quote from a parent of a seasoned Soccer Shots participant after attending the event:
“We attended the Global Goals fundraiser over the past weekend. For our 4-year-old, there was no question if she wanted to go; she told us she was going before we even asked! For her, Soccer Shots is more than just something to do at school or on the weekend — it’s a special activity for her. This weekend was a fun additional session for Rachel, in addition to what she has at school. This weekend added to the knowledge of the game of soccer, but more so to the continued education on teamwork, sharing, respect for others and respect for self. It’s neat to hear the coaches teaching the rules of the game and the rules for Soccer Shots are goals for life, not only for the actual game of soccer. For my husband and myself, it was a great morning of seeing our 4-year-old sharing and taking turns with her friends, as well as other kids she didn’t know, learning to listen to her coaches and most importantly, having fun! It was a great weekend also of celebrating 100 years of U.S. Soccer! If you haven’t had a chance to watch your child play at Soccer Shots, we highly advise you to go to a weekend session like this one. Your child will amaze you on what they learn about soccer and life!”
Global Goals was born out of a vision that the Soccer Shots franchise community could join together and provide opportunities for growth to disadvantaged children, through soccer, across the U.S. and around the world.
In 2011, we became a proud partner with the U.S. Soccer Foundation. The Foundation’s programs are designed to keep kids active and healthy. They guide children away from negative influences by providing them with safe and healthy places to play after school – the most dangerous hours of the day. Through our partnership, we aim to raise funds and awareness for children who live in these underserved communities throughout the U.S. so that they have convenient and affordable access to quality soccer programs that support their physical and personal development.
During the fall seasons in 2011 and 2012, local Soccer Shots operators donated a portion of each child’s registration fee to Global Goals/U.S. Soccer Foundation to build SportCourt playing surfaces at the B.R.I.C.K. Avon Academy in Newark, NJ, and Madrid Middle School in El Monte, CA. Children at both schools are now able to participate in the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success program on those surfaces. This program not only teaches children soccer skills, it also provides a positive mentoring experience with coaches.
In 2013, Global Goals fundraising was redirected toward the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s annual Urban Soccer Symposium. The Symposium brings together coaches and leaders from across the country who are making an impact in their communities through the game of soccer. In many of these communities, a child’s involvement in a local soccer program is the only alternative away from gang violence and drug or alcohol abuse. When the U.S. Soccer Foundation first approached Soccer Shots about the need for Symposium fundraising, we knew right away this was a no-brainer decision and made the commitment to extend our reach in this direction.
Take a look at the video below from the 2013 Urban Soccer Symposium and stay tuned to find out more about how to help us send more leaders to the Symposium in 2014!
- Vassili Cremanzidis, Soccer Shots spring intern, Georgetown University
As a graduate student at Georgetown University in the Sports Industry Management program, I enrolled in an internship class during my third semester. When I met Camilo, a district manager at Soccer Shots, I knew that’s where I wanted to intern. After spending January through mid-May with him and many others at Soccer Shots, I knew I had made the right decision to be one of their first interns.
Soccer is a sport like no other, which can bring people of any language, nationality or culture together. On top of that, children can also play this wonderful game. At Soccer Shots, they have taken it up a notch by incorporating an educational component to their sessions, making them unique and customized for every level — not to mention an added dose of fun.
Soccer Shots’ organizational structure requires daily communication throughout every level of the organization. With that being said, I got to meet most of the people in the company and have had a chance to talk with quite a few of them. The enthusiasm, respect and friendliness of everyone at Soccer Shots is like nothing I have ever experienced before. They have an unparalleled dedication to creating a successful program that meets all their objectives and doing everything the right way. They have taught me that in order to be successful, you must stay true to yourself, your mission and your core values. A mix of hard work and passion will lead you to the top of anything you want to achieve in life.
At Soccer Shots, I got to experience every aspect of the business: marketing, sales, human resources, administrative work, managerial work, etc. By learning from the people at the top of their respective industry, I have enhanced my skills in every department that will surely help me during my future endeavors.
I’d like to thank everyone at Soccer Shots for a wonderful time, the friendships I have made and the experience I have received. I had a lot of fun during my five months and perhaps one day in the future I will have the chance to be a part of Soccer Shots once again.
The following is an email from a godmother of a child registered in Soccer Shots Philadelphia.
“I just wanted to take the time out to say that I really enjoyed the idea of ‘Bring a friend to Soccer Shots Day’ this past weekend. I have my godson every weekend and I was overjoyed to find a program such as Soccer Shots to serve as a structured activity as well as a fun sport. My godson has two older siblings to compete with for attention at home and sometimes struggles to listen, seeks attention, and lacks confidence within the family dynamic.
My godson really started connecting with Coach Laura last week and did even better this weekend because his older brothers joined him for the day to play soccer (for ‘Bring a Friend Day’). He was thrilled and although he is the youngest of his siblings, he took the lead, showing them how to ‘tick tock’ the ball and only use feet to kick the ball around. He was on his best behavior setting such an example that even his mother who attended was very impressed that some of this discipline and structured behavior was a result of participating in this great program each week. Along with his older brothers and mother, his grandmom and two great aunts from Florida were in attendance. This really gave him time to shine and show them all what he learned. I also believe it boosted his confidence for him to show his OLDER brothers the ‘ropes of soccer.’ We were all so proud!
Just wanted to say thanks for the great idea as well as everything this program has offered this far. I look forward to each week!!!!”
Soccer Shots Franchising, LLC · 1401 AIP Drive, Suite 200 · Middletown, PA 17057