A History of the United Soccer Coaches Foundation 

 

THE VISION 

The idea for a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Foundation (now the United Soccer Coaches Foundation Committee) was first introduced by then-President Bill Holleman at a 1989 Board of Directors meeting. He spoke of the concept of a foundation during his president’s remarks at the 1989 Convention. In a meeting with incoming president Peter Gooding, Holleman expressed his desire to get the Foundation started and wrote a $100 check as an initial donation. After hearing about Holleman’s contribution, Hank Steinbrecher also wrote a check. The formation and organization of the Foundation was developed and expanded under later presidents.    

In 1989, the first grant, known as the Taos Soccer Project, supported coaching education and youth programs for the eight Native American pueblos located north of Santa Fe, N.M. This grant was not actually funded by the Foundation Committee, but by a vote of support taken by the NSCAA Board following a presentation made by Region VII representative Jay Engeln outlining the outreach initiative. Coaching education courses and youth clinics, taught by Engeln and Colorado College men’s coach Horst Richardson, were provided. Uniforms, balls, goals, and shoes were provided through support from the Soccer Industry Council of America. The Ford Motor Company provided vans to transport young players between the eight pueblos.

 

THE VISION BECOMING A REALITY

NSCAA FOUNDATION STANDING COMMITTEE APPROVED

Discussion about the formation of a foundation began in 1991 and continued until an organizational meeting was held at the 1994 Convention. An NSCAA Foundation Standing Committee was formerly established by the Board in January 1995. The initial committee consisted of Chair Ray Bernabei, Ron Broadbent, Miller Bugliari, Alden “Whitey” Burnham, Ray Cieplik, Mickey Cochrane, Bob DiGrazia, Engeln, Holleman, Robert Nye, and Karen Stanley. The Committee focused on identifying areas of need, writing a mission statement, and developing a Plan of Action. After the plan was completed, there was no formal Foundation Committee related outreach activity until the Cornerstone Campaign was approved by the Board in 2003.

 

FOUNDATION COMMITTEE RE-ACTIVATED

After the 2000 Convention Honor Award dinner, Engeln volunteered to reestablish the Foundation Committee once he completed his Board term as past president. Work began in 2002 to investigate the feasibility of re-activating the Committee. At the 2003 Convention, the Committee was reactivated, and the first formal meeting was held. Committee members present at the meeting were Engeln (Chair), Cieplik, Holleman, Warren Mersereau, Steinbrecher, Janet Rayfield (Board liaison), Gooding (Academy Staff liaison), Steve Veal and Chris Wyche (National Office Staff liaisons).

 

VISION WITHOUT FUNDING IS JUST AN HALLUCINATION

THE FIRST CAPITAL CAMPAIGN

In a July 2003 conference call, Engeln and Wyche outlined the Committee Mission Statement, areas of focus, and the proposed Cornerstone Campaign timeline. Following unanimous approval by the Committee members, this information was then shared with the Executive Committee in September 2003. The campaign was approved by the Board, and a silent campaign was initiated in December. The Cornerstone Campaign was presented to the membership by Cieplik at the 2004 Convention Honor Award banquet. The stated monetary goal of the Cornerstone Campaign was $100,000, which was achieved two years later.

The first formal grants from the Committee were awarded in 2005. The recipients were the Ames Soccer Club and Southwest Youth Services. In addition, the Committee continued its support for America Scores, Soccer in the Streets, and Special Olympics through a soccer jersey raffle at the convention and check-off boxes on the convention registration form. Also in 2005, Engeln represented the Committee and school principals at the Tsunami Relief Summit sponsored by former Presidents George H. W.  Bush and Bill Clinton and the Indonesian Ambassador to the United States. Engeln’s role was serving as chair of a subcommittee looking at how to rebuild both K-12 education and recreation programs (soccer) after the infrastructure was repaired.

In 2006, a unique project was proposed by the committee and approved by the Board (along with a grant to the Starfinder Foundation) to provide up to 29 unrestricted mini-grants of $500 each to NSCAA members directly impacted by the 2005 hurricanes in the Gold Coast region. In 2007, the named endowment fund initiative was introduced. Two years later, the first two scholarships were awarded from the Michael L. Curry Scholarship Fund and the Jerry and Marilyn Yeagley Scholarship Fund. In July 2010, negotiations were completed to merge the Walt Chyzowych Fund with the Foundation Committee and establish a named endowment fund in Walt’s name. The number of named funds has increased steadily every year. In 2022, there are a total of 29 established endowed funds.

 

THE CASE FOR SUPPORT

$1 MILLION DOLLAR ENDOWMENT CAMPAIGN

Following the success of the Cornerstone Campaign, the Committee began to explore additional ways to support its expanding outreach initiatives. Work began by the Committee in 2006 to develop a written plan for fundraising and, following the January 2007 Foundation Committee meeting, a proposal was presented to the Board. Doug Orr, a volunteer with expertise in development, played a key role working with the Committee on this endeavor. The fundraising plan included suggestions for new language in the mission statement; a second capital campaign; planned giving; and development of a “compelling case for support and urgency in justifying an endowment campaign.” Hank Steinbrecher was named as the honorary chair for the endowment campaign. The Foundation Committee proposal (an endowment campaign with a goal of raising $1 million dollars by 2020) was presented to the Board and was endorsed and promoted by NSCAA President Al Albert. The endowment campaign became a part of the NSCAA Strategic Plan, and the goal was reached in 2018 during Albert’s tenure as Foundation Committee chair.

 

THE VISION CONTINUES TO EXPAND

Albert has been instrumental in the continued growth of the now United Soccer Coaches Foundation. As the association president, he was a passionate advocate for the Foundation Committee. After he rotated off the Board of Directors, he volunteered to become more involved with the Foundation and joined the committee. His expertise in fundraising proved extremely valuable. He accepted an invitation from Engeln to assume the chair duties of the committee in 2012.

Under Albert’s leadership, the Foundation Committee continued to flourish with the endowment reaching the $1 million dollar goal two years ahead of schedule, increasing the number of named endowment funds, and establishing the Legacy Society. Legacy Society donors share their love of the game and the value of coaching education by ensuring support of Foundation Committee outreach programs for future generations.

As the outreach of the Committee expanded, the need to modify the structure and the size of the committee became evident. To better address the expanding needs, five sub-committees were established in 2012: Events (chaired by Jacquelyn Eskay); Fundraising (chaired by Albert); Grants and Awards (chaired by Engeln); Investment and Finance (chaired by Brian Greene); and Marketing and Communications (chaired by Mike Curry).

The first full-time Foundational Committee Development Officer (Jared Hedglin) was named to the position in 2013 with support from the New York Red Bulls organization (Hedglin worked from his office at the Red Bulls’ headquarters). He was followed by Amanda Mitchell in 2016, who worked from the association’s National Office in Kansas City, Mo.

Jerry Yeagley played a key role in helping to secure the Foundation’s first corporate sponsor. adidas came on board as one of the early named endowment fund sponsors as well as the Foundation Committee Reception event sponsor in 2013. The second corporate sponsor, Sub Air, added their financial support to the Foundation Committee in 2020.

Jeff Vennell (another association Past President) took over the reins of the Committee in 2019. CoachesGive has now become the formal fundraising arm of the Foundation Committee.

From 2019 to 2021, the Urban Soccer Initiative (supported by Target) had a significant impact on underserved urban communities with $372,000 in grants awarded. More than 2,250 scholarships were provided to coaches financially impacted by Covid-19 to allow them to remain active members of the association. More than 900 individuals participated in urban education courses.

Sara Kluba was named the third United Soccer Coaches Development Officer in 2020, providing support to the Foundation Committee.

A major focus for Vennell was increased representation and involvement of all United Soccer Coaches Advocacy groups.  In 2022, the Foundation Committee membership expanded in size to address this need and now includes 23 individuals including a designated liaison from the Board and two 30 Under 30 Program ad hoc members.

Since the reactivation of the Foundation Committee in 2003, only three individuals have served as committee chairs (Engeln, Albert and Vennell) and all five of the original voting members from the 2003 committee roster continue to serve. Three members from the NSCAA Foundation Standing Committee (Cieplik, Engeln, and Holleman) have been continually involved with the Foundation Committee since the early 1990s. The impact of the United Soccer Coaches Foundation Committee has been significant, with 243 scholarships and/or grants valued at over $455,000 distributed and 10 Good of the Game grants have been provided. The generosity of our donors does make a difference.

Coaches do indeed give back to the game they love. Thank you to all those that have donated money and/or time over the years. With your help, the vision that Bill Holleman had in 1989 has truly become a reality!