Jensen Center Youth Soccer begins April 21: Jason Snyder is new program coordinator

By Brent Frankenhoff

With a highly successful 2021 season on the nearby athletic fields, the Jensen Community Center’s Youth Soccer program will begin play April 21, weather permitting. Last year, we were very excited about the opportunity to play on the Tomorrow River Schools’ new fields and are ecstatic to return to those same fields again this year. A special thanks to Athletic Director Shawn Groshek, soccer coach Bill Spees, and the school’s maintenance supervisor Robert Smith for their help in finalizing our plans.

This year’s program is coordinated by Jason Snyder. Originally from the Fond du Lac area, Snyder said he played league soccer through junior high.

“At the time, our school didn’t have a high school program, so my playing days ended there,” he added. “We’re very grateful that Amherst now has both a middle school and high school team. The sport has come a long way thanks to some dedicated individuals. Our kids have both played soccer since they could walk and have been a part of the Jensen Center program since we moved here. They also participated in PCYS and the middle school program over the last two years. Between that and Ted Lasso, soccer has become a big part of our lives. The Jensen Center program has meant a lot to us over the years, so we just wanted to help out.”

As this is written in mid-February, it seems as though spring is a long way off, but the spring thaw will be here before we know it, and the kids will all be full of energy and ready to run.

The Jensen Community Center Youth Soccer program provides just the outlet needed to get outside. Every spring, kids from 4K all the way through eighth grade look forward to building their soccer skills and getting exercise while having fun with their friends and classmates. In 2021, nearly 200 children participated in our program. Games are played Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings for five weeks starting April 21 and ending on May 21. It is the perfect break from indoor winter sports and leads right into summer vacation.

Snyder said, “The overarching goal for the program is to develop skill sets, understand the strategy of the game, have some fun, and, if we’re lucky, help the kids find a love for the game. For a lot of these kids it will be the first time they play any sport. The skills they will develop translate not just to every other sport but also to life in general. As parents, above all, we’re building people. Soccer is a great way to show them the value of teamwork, leadership, and hard work.”

The sixth-through eighth-grade teams end their season with a final tournament. The competition heats up, and they play their very hardest in hopes of a trophy or ribbon. The ice cream social on the final tournament day, May 21, is also something everyone looks forward to.

You can sign up online at jensencenter.org under the Events tab. The online forms are divided into two groups—K-8 and 4K. The grade each child is in this school year (2021-2022) is the one that determines which group they are in. You can also stop at the Jensen Community Center during normal business hours and fill out a form. The registration fee is $35 per child. Sign up by March 15 to guarantee a team t-shirt and to avoid the $10 additional charge for late registration. Scholarships are available upon request.

There are many teams that will need coaches this year. Even if you don’t have a child playing on a team, consider sharing your time and coaching a team. You do not need prior soccer experience to coach, just a willingness to make a fun and memorable season for some kids. Sign up here to be a coach

“Volunteers are an important part of the program,” Snyder said. “At the top of the list is always the need for coaches. If you want to make a difference in a kid’s life, this is one way to do it. Tomorrow River School Soccer Coaches, Linde and Pikka, have been gracious enough to agree to lead a coaching clinic in early April, and we’ll let all coaches know that date when it’s established. They bring a ton of experience and knowledge of the game to the clinic. All coaches should attend. Anyone on the fence about stepping up into a coaching role should know that the clinic will give them a kick start in the right direction.”

Snyder said that he’s hoping that, “the weather will cooperate and we’ll be able to have the fields ready for practices shortly after the coaching clinic. If there is a weather event that prevents games from being played, we will communicate cancellations via email and broadcast through WDUX, if at all possible, 45 minutes prior to game time. If possible, rain dates will be rescheduled on Tuesday evenings.”

One rescheduling that’s already known is that the games on Thursday, May 5, will be held on Tuesday, May 3, weather permitting, to allow for a home track meet.

The program is also looking for referees, adult or high school age, and these are paid positions. Snyder said that Linde and Pikka will also provide referee training, so all knowledge levels are encouraged to apply. You can sign up here to be a referee.

Additional volunteers are needed to help lay out the fields, move goals, and paint lines for the fields. “On the day of games we’ll need people to help keep spikes off the track, which will include retrieving balls from the track during games, keeping kids out of the long jump pit, and just general supervision of the facilities that our community has vested so much in,” Snyder added.

“If there is any baseball being played on the adjacent diamond, we’ll also need to keep a wide berth of the field and keep kids and their adults out of foul territory.”

If you are interested in coaching or becoming a referee or volunteering for the many behind-the-scenes tasks that make the season run, contact Snyder at (920) 284-8811 or jsopine@gmail.com. He can also answer any additional questions you may have about the program.

This program couldn’t happen without all the volunteers who donate their time and energy, as well as the sponsors of each team, and we appreciate every one of you. “It’s going to be a great year for the beautiful game,” Snyder said. “As a spectator, remember that these games are intended to be fun and encourage learning. Cheer on your favorite players and be a positive influence both on and off the field.”

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