Urban Soccer Symposium

This event provides a unique crossroads for youth sports practitioners, administrators, coaches, students, and community members to envision a world where all young people have the same access to high-quality sports programming.

Thursday, March 25

Click on each session for more information and be sure to check back often for more exciting announcements!

12:30pm-1:30pm EST

Kaig Lightner, CEO and Gender Diversity Consultant, Quantum GenderTransgender and nonbinary identified youth are coming out about their identity at an increasing rate. This introductory session will dive into a very complex topic with an experienced club leader and coach, who is Transgender, guiding you through the basics. You will learn gender inclusive terminology, how to recognize and address transphobic and sexist language on your teams, and how to create gender inclusive policies.

Diana Cutaia, Founder, Coaching Peace

This workshop will discuss the notion that community care is our truest form of self care. So how do we create and support compassion as a collective?

Cynthia Mejia, Training Manager, U.S. Center for SafeSport

Mariah Sloat, Training Manager, U.S. Center for SafeSport

The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed our world. It has subsequently changed how abuse happens and how communities work to prevent it. This workshop will equip attendees with an understanding of how to both identify and prevent abuse (considerations for in-person and virtual settings) from occurring as well as how to best respond to disclosures of abuse in a trauma-sensitive manner.

David McGoy, Founder and President, ASSIST Development Consulting

As the coronavirus pandemic persists, fundraising planning continues to be extremely uncertain. Many nonprofits are still struggling to find ways to replace lost event revenue, keep donors engaged, and expand their donor markets. In this session, participants will delve into the research around donor mindset, current trends in institutional and individual giving, and promising practices to help them create fundraising plans that are flexible, practical, and achievable over the next year.

Fritz Ettl, Assistant Professor of Human Movement and Health Science Education, Bulter University

Brooke Kandel-Cisco, Dean of the College of Education, Butler University

Soccer is uniquely positioned as a host for an audience of young athletes representing a variety of cultures and language backgrounds. In the context of youth soccer in the United States, many coaches work with athletes who are learning English (ALEs). While this presents tremendous opportunities for coaches to impact youth in meaningful ways, we must also ask “How have coaches been prepared (formally or informally) to address the language needs of the populations they serve?” In this workshop, we offer that coaches can and should be intentional about addressing the language needs of the populations they serve and we will share language-supportive coaching practices coaches can use when working ALEs.

1:45pm-2:45pm EST

J.T. Dorsey, Executive Director, J.T. Dorsey Foundation

Vince Ganzberg, Education Content Coordinator, United Soccer Coaches

Michael Vaughan-Cherubin, Director of National Program Expansion, U.S. Soccer Foundation  

The Urban Soccer Diploma was developed as a joint venture between the U.S. Soccer Foundation and United Soccer Coaches. The goal of the Diploma is to develop coaches to better serve players in non-traditional soccer communities. During this workshop session, presenters will review pieces of the Diploma, focusing on developing a deeper understanding of the “Youth That We Serve,” and “Best and Promising Practices for Coaching in the Non-Traditional Setting.” Attendees will leave having thought through their own soccer context, and the application of a 6-Step framework for practice sessions. Following this workshop, attendees will have the opportunity to take the full Diploma in an online format.

Nick Wigmore, Director of Programming, Athlead

As coaches, we spend a lot of time developing technical and tactical skills but often not enough time developing the social and psychological characteristics of our players. While these attributes are key for all players, they are even more important for those from underserved communities facing challenges like childhood trauma, unconscious bias, internalized negativity, or have been deprived of opportunities to learn these skills in formal settings such as team environments or classrooms. This workshop will discuss how to create programs that maximize opportunities for young people to develop social and emotional skills that will help them on and off the field.

Deborah Shapiro, Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health, Georgia State University

Harlon Matthews, Therapeutic Recreation Specialist

Children with physical disabilities are often sidelined and not included in competitive team sports. This workshop will introduce participants to the adaptedSPORTS® model promoting integrated, accessible sport programming, best practices for community-school partnerships, an understanding of how soccer, basketball, and football can be adapted for children with physical disabilities and resources to help practitioners acquire coaching skills and build capacity in their respective communities.

Anne Valik, Founder and Managing Partner, Commonality, Inc.

Community wellness can be best advanced when many different types of organizations collaborate, but the practice of forming strong partnerships can seem complex. This interactive session will examine the real and perceived barriers that exist in the process of developing successful community partnerships, and highlight the critical steps necessary to begin partnership conversations in one’s own backyard. Attendees will leave with a foundational roadmap to support partnership creation back home.

Charity Blackwell, Director of Arts and Creative Education, DC SCORES

Bethany Henderson, CEO, DC SCORES

How can you unleash the full power of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive team to advance equity? Enter Brave Spaces. This highly-interactive writing and performance workshop provides hands-on experience in what it feels like to bring your full self to your work, whatever your professional role. Meaningful learning emerges as participants get hands-on experience with intentional, collaborative norm-setting and being vulnerable in professional environments.

3:00pm-4:00pm EST

Karla Thompson, U.S. Soccer Coaching Educator

Join us for a panel discussion with minority female coaches. Learn about their unique journeys and hear their perspectives on the future of underrepresented females in the game in the United States.

Diana Cutaia, Founder, Coaching Peace

Alejandro Vilchez, Trainer, Coaching Corps

Workshop attendees will gain tools to create a team culture that is inclusive of all lived experiences. Come learn the PACT framework (Perspective, Align, Connect, and Think) where we will discuss how to create meaningful connections with young people, seek to understand their experiences, and develop positive outcomes with each player.

Audrey Shaw, TrueSport Outreach Education Program Lead, TrueSport/U.S. Anti-Doping Agency

For nearly a decade, TrueSport has partnered with youth sport organizations across the nation to transform sport into a life-changing, value-driven, powerfully positive experience that sets young athletes up for success beyond the playing field. In this workshop, attendees will learn how to promote respect and accountability on their team through a trauma-informed lens, capitalize on peer pressure for good, and cultivate effective and positive leadership skills in their young athletes.

Pranav Kortari, Founder and CEO, Revolution Impact, LLC

Sara Guderyahn, VP of Community and Executive Director, Chicago Blackhawks Foundation

Sound performance measurement practices in youth programming are often an obstacle for many organizations. It has become an even more significant challenge in 2021. This session will focus on how the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation adapted their youth programming and measurement approaches for a virtual world. Presenters will focus on the planning work done with Revolution Impact. Participants will walk away with helpful practices and resources to develop measurement approaches for their programs today and in the future.

Samuel Azout, Founder and Chairman, Fútbol Con Corazón 

Silvia Haba, Executive Director, Fútbol Con Corazón USA

Since 2007, Fútbol Con Corazón has developed and implemented an impactful model that promotes systemic change through community engagement. We have experienced the power of soccer to change individuals and transform communities. In this workshop we will highlight the model’s key points and best practices in order to foster youth leadership focused on communities’ social development and share community empowerment tools through participation models around soccer.

5:30pm-6:30pm EST

Sam Faeder, Director, Mindful Sports

As youth sports coaches, learning mindfulness is a great tool to navigate the stressors of working with young athletes (and their parents). Mindfulness training through sports is a cost-effective, universally accessible modality for children to learn to form better relationships with difficult feelings while engaged in their favorite fun athletic games and activities. This workshop introduces the basics of mindfulness and reviews several strategies to begin teaching mindfulness to athletes.

Colin Schmidt, Founder and CEO, America SCORES Bay Area

Nothing is more important to the sustainability and growth of our organizations than leading people with capacity to become financial supporters. If we don’t have donors, we fail. We fail our staff and the participants who benefit from the services we provide. This workshop will discuss how to convert fans of your organization to become donors while highlighting three practical steps of a successful closing so that you can create a template for your next prospect conversation.

Eli Wolff, Director, Disability in Sport International, Power of Sport Lab 

Steve Wittek, Senior Manager, Sports Training and Competition, Special Olympics Florida

Moderator: Michael Vaughan-Cherubin, Director of National Program Expansion, U.S. Soccer Foundation

In considering the concept of Play Equity, it is imperative that we look deeper at how our programs can be fully inclusive of individuals with disabilities. This workshop will feature a panel of speakers who offer various perspectives about what disability equity in soccer is currently, and what it can be as we grow forward. We will discuss tools, tips, and best practices for programs of all levels with the goal of creating a more equitable experience for all players.

6:45pm-7:45pm EST

Chris DeTrinidad, Physical Education Specialist, Stratford Schools

Coaches and educators alike have shifted their strategies and approaches to ensure young people still had the opportunity to connect and have fun during unprecedented times. While we plan for a future that will look different, we envision that virtual options will continue to be part of every coach’s toolkit. Join seasoned coach-mentors who have demonstrated resilience and innovation to ensure their youth maintained their passion and excitement for sport throughout the pandemic. Attendees will learn promising practices in creating a safe environment for all players, and ways to address challenging behaviors to foster and deepen connections.

Mary Teeter, U.S. Soccer Director of Development

Jake Oher, U.S. Soccer Director of Major Gifts

Sean Shapiro, U.S. Soccer Major Gifts Officer

Kevin Peach, U.S. Soccer Major Gifts Officer

Let’s face it. Asking someone to donate to your organization can be intimidating! This working session will break down the easy steps for you to nail the ask and get the ‘yes’ you need. Gain confidence in fundraising by learning how to prepare for the conversation, key phrases that will increase your comfort-level, and best practices in speaking with donors. Fundraising can be a critical component of a healthy organization, but only if you succeed in your ask. Join us to learn how.

Margaret Domka, PhD Student, Former FIFA and Women’s World Cup Referee

Danielle Rudy, Student, Clemson University

Scarlett Lawhorne, Student, Clemson University

Elizabeth Atchinson, Student, Clemson University

Clemson University Paralympic Soccer has trained nearly 400 veterans with disabilities to be coaches, mentors and to work with youth with disabilities. This workshop will discuss ways to engage a generally underutilized population to teach the game of soccer to youth and provide opportunities in soccer to youth with a variety of disabilities. Based on the outcomes of our veteran training, veterans can become integral contributors to their local soccer organizations and role models for athletes.

Anna-Lesa Calvert, Manager of Professional Development and Diversity, Hodgson Russ LLP

In working with diverse youth, we have focused on cultural competency to ensure our players feel included and accepted. In striving for competency, have we unintentionally created a scenario that prevents inclusion? Come learn about cultural humility, how it can help combat implicit bias, and how it can create a more inclusive environment for your players.

Friday, March 26

12:30pm-1:30pm EST

Prospero Herrera, Senior Manager of Community Development, NYCFC

Gissell Gonzalez, Associate Coach, City in the Community

City in the Community (CITC) uses the power of soccer to promote health, education, and leadership development, while fostering safe communtiy spaces. During this session, CITC will walk participants through their life skills curriculum and workshop different ways that youth voice and choice can be leveraged to enhance program impact.

Jordan Johnson, Verde Leaders Director, 4ATX Foundation

Pepe Rangel, Verde Leaders Program Coordinator, 4ATX Foundation

Kaitlin Swarts, Vice President of Community Impact, Austin FC

“You’re late! Get on the line.” Punitive coaching is far too common in the sports world with long-term negative effects on players and their love of the game. This workshop will discuss how to create a welcoming environment through Restorative Practices, an Indigenous approach to community-building that empowers youth to create authentic relationships focused on empathy, accountability, and respect. Using this framework, participants will explore innovative coaching techniques, understand alternative discipline strategies, and learn how to incorporate it all into their curriculum.

Rob Smith, Founder and Executive Director, Youth Sports Collaborative Network

Stephen Minix, Managing Director of Strategic Partnerships, UpMetrics

Andrew So, Executive Director, South Bronx United

In this workshop, panelists will show how program impact data can be used effectively to advocate for more supportive government policies and increased financial resources. Session includes two case studies — successfully overturning a New York City ban on field permits for youth sports this fall, and testifying with SBYD survey data before the Washington, D.C. City Council to preserve after school funding during the pandemic. Further, session will explore how research can generate impactful data driven stories for SBYD programs. Attendees will obtain a deeper knowledge on how to turn challenging situations into collaborative, data-driven opportunities.

Steve Culbertson, President and CEO, Youth Service America

Karen Daniel, Vice President of Programs, Youth Service America

Young people have always been at the center of social change in the United States and around the world. They bring incredible energy, commitment, idealism, creativity, and peer influence to the biggest problems facing our planet. We believe that the key to engaging them is to meet them where they are, or better said, doing what they love. This workshop will guide participants in Youth Service America’s youth engagement model – Spark + Fire + ASAP – providing youth with the tools they need to become community assets before they grow up.

Mirella Ceja-Orozco, Immigration Attorney, Ojala-Barbour Law Firm, PLLC

This workshop will help explain what the DACA program is, how it impacts ‘DREAMer’ players on and off the field, and what they can expect to change in 2021 as the new administration takes office. Our focus will be on providing an un-biased explanation of the DACA program itself and what it can provide to players as they continue developing their skills for collegiate and professional careers. Attendees will walk away with a more mindful approach to the topic, logistical tools and tips, as well as a deeper understanding about how to navigate considerations for their players and families.

1:45pm-2:45pm EST

Matt Sperry, Training Specialist, Northeastern University, Center for the Study of Sport in Society

Trash talk seems to be an unavoidable reality on the field and in the locker room. Be it as a child, being told to stop crying and suck it up, or as an adult, trying to unsettle your opponent. How does this affect our sports culture and our children’s development? What lessons are we teaching our athletes? What are the potential consequences? Is there a silver lining? And is there a better way? This workshop will address the role of trash talk in our society as we seek to answer these questions and participants will walk away with a collection of tools and language to respond in a different way.

Kaig Lightner, Founding Executive Director, Portland Community FC

When soccer shut down completely in March 2020 due to Covid-19, Portland Community FC saw an unexpected opportunity – to shift funding and resources towards the immediate needs of the 60+ underserved families within the club. The club implemented two brand new programs designed to get food on the table and keep roofs over the heads of its players. Learn directly from PCFC’s founding Executive Director about how the club utilized its existing social hub structure to make this pivot a success.

Alex Bard, Director, Safe Places to Play, U.S. Soccer Foundation

Julia Day, Director and Team Lead, Gehl Institute

Eduardo Zamarripa, Soccer Market Manager, Musco Sports Lighting

Throughout its history, the U.S. Soccer Foundation has been a leader in the built environment space, bringing new play spaces and field enhancements to communities nationwide. With a focus on the “mini-pitch,” the Foundation provides an innovative solution for communities where space is at a premium. These small, customized, hard-court surfaces are perfectly suited for organized soccer programs and pick-up games. Vital to the creation of these mini-pitches is the ability to ensure each project is inclusive as well as physically and emotionally safe for its community. This session will focus on the Foundation’s Safe Places to Play program, its vision for the future of inclusive and safe play spaces, and how to imagine and plan for these projects in your neighborhoods.

Nancy Murphy, Founder and President, CSR Communications

Does organizational planning seem like a fool’s errand given all the uncertainty and change? Do you feel like priorities are constantly shifting and you can’t keep up? Using case studies, critical reflection, and active experimentation, participants will learn the agile planning framework, compare it to traditional strategic and annual planning, and apply the framework to address their current priority-setting and resource allocation challenges.

Juan Adame, Assistant Director, Segundo Barrio FC

Sarah Nollner, Director of Marketing and Communications, El Paso Locomotive FC

This workshop presentation will explore some of the opportunities and challenges for professional soccer clubs and grassroots organizations to collaborate and support each other. El Paso Locomotive FC, a USL affiliate, was founded in 2018 and from the start was committed to engaging the community. Segundo Barrio Futbol Club is a small nonprofit that provides soccer programming for underserved youth. The presentation will look at community engagement from both the pro-team and grassroots perspectives and offer participants insights on how to collaborate successfully in their own communities.

3:00pm-4:00pm EST

Sari Rose, Director, NC Fusion Foundation

Brittney Pinkerton, Student, UNC Greensboro

Cody Sanders, Associate Professor, University of Virginia

Claire Newman, Student, UNC Greensboro

We have all heard the phrase “What’s wrong with today’s youth?” The answer is nothing. Cross-aged peer coaching programs are a unique approach to positive youth development. Our programs serve a dual purpose of engaging young participants while also empowering high school aged students as leaders in their community. Participants will leave with enhanced knowledge about the Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility (TPSR) model including the five levels, daily format, and our implementation strategies.

Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, President, FundPlay & Head of Community & Impact, LeagueApps

We believe that equitable sport is born from grassroots leadership. Critical programs like FundPlay support access to soccer play opportunities for kids in underserved communities. This workshop will discuss how these programs would be best served through an expanded commitment to communities by helping build minority and women-owned soccer organizations. Participants will leave with a reimagined youth soccer culture which aims to build a better world for generations to come.

Linda Schiermeister-Gess, Director of Programming, Strive: How You Lead Matters

In February 2020, six community-based organizations came together to create the Delaware Athletic Alliance. The Alliance seeks to build, invest, and support statewide Sport-Based Youth Developmet (SBYD) programming, to ensure programs are better equipped to serve individual and community needs and attack systemic challenges to improve city, county, and statewide health. We invite you to come learn about the Alliance and our model as we share organizational processes, strengths, and challenges.

Sarah Wolfer, CEO and Founder, Girl Boss Sports

Jennifer Christmas, Director of Operations, Girl Boss Sports

96% of female C-suite executives played sports as teenagers; however, with girls dropping out of sports at 2X the rate of boys, how can we expect young women to receive the skills, courage and confidence to pursue leadership opportunities without first disrupting this trend? While there are many factors impacting these realities, Girl Boss Sports believes that a key strategy to keeping girls in sports is to provide them with role-models who they can see themselves in and who understand how to find success on and off the field. This workshop will discuss creative strategies for recruiting more womxn coaches to develop our future generations of female leaders.

5:30pm-6:30pm EST

Yael Averbuch, Former USWNT Member, Creator of Techne

Many young people across the country don’t have access to high quality soccer training, and often don’t have the tools and/or motivation to develop their individual skills on their own. The Techne Training System, created by Yael Averbuch, aims to bridge that gap through an app that brings professional coaching directly to the player. Learn how you can utilize Techne to guide your players through developing their individual skills at home, and foster competition and community among your team.

Kim Turner, Project Director and Senior Staff Attorney, Legal Aid at Work – Fair Play for Girls in Sports 

Our Fair Play workshop will provide key information on how to instill greater, lasting gender equity in youth sports programming so that girls in your community can get into the game for a lifetime of success. Nationwide, girls are experiencing fewer opportunities to play and oftentimes those opportunities are inferior compared to boys’ programming in the same community. Despite the challenges that exist, gender inequity can be assessed and remediated with simple, approachable, and common sense-oriented steps. During this workshop, attendees will obtain key tips for recognizing and overcoming inequity.