NORTHAMPTON—In collaboration with the Northampton Parks & Recreation Department, Northampton Soccer Club (NSC) and the Northampton Youth Soccer Association (NYSA) are merging. The new entity, Northampton Soccer, has also named a new home field in Florence and hired new coaching directors, announcing that these changes will provide school-aged children and their parents with a more integrated travel and recreation soccer experience and more convenient field access.
Northampton Soccer, as it will now be known, has also brought on board coaching directors Mark Platts, Smith College’s soccer coach, and Jen Simonetti, Westfield State University’s assistant soccer coach.
For the last quarter century, NSC and the NYSA have been running parallel soccer programs. NSC has run the town’s travel soccer program for competitive play in the Pioneer Valley Junior Soccer League (PVJSL). NYSA has run the local recreation league for children to play against Northampton teams and recreation squads from neighboring towns like Hadley and Southampton.
Northampton Soccer will now be managed by the Northampton Soccer Board of Directors.
“Both competitive travel soccer and local recreation soccer programs will continue, but the merger will make it easier for soccer families to find the right team for their kids,” said board president Helen Kahn, previously president of the NSC board. “The continued collaboration with the Parks & Recreation Department will make our soccer programs even stronger.”
Hosie Baskin, former president of NYSA who has now joined the Northampton Soccer Board of Directors, said, “With the merger, we will still have a full recreation soccer program in the fall, but it will be much easier for kids who want to play spring travel soccer to participate. Having the two programs in a single organization will make it easier for kids to find the right level of play and be informed on one website about tryouts and the registration process. The coaching directors also will help us offer the best coaching possible at all levels.”
The home fields for Northampton Soccer travel teams will move to the new Florence Recreation Fields at 157 Spring St. after decades at the Oxbow. Other city fields will continue to host multiple practices and recreation team play.
“We are excited for this collaboration, which provides the chance for a continued partnership with even more opportunities for a positive soccer learning environment and experience,” said Ann-Marie Moggio, director of the Northampton Parks & Recreation Department.
There’s a background to this use of the field, Moggio said, adding, “About nine years ago, we began the process to locate space to provide more recreational opportunities to our community. One of the main impetuses to build the Florence Recreation Fields was to alleviate Island Road traffic and the heavy usage of the Oxbow fields by soccer teams. We are super excited to begin play on the new fields with Northampton Soccer starting this spring.”
Platts and Simonetti will provide a hands-on approach at weekly practices with each team, and they will run summer and winter club-wide clinics.
In addition, the new coaching directors will provide practice plans and coaching instruction for both travel and recreation team soccer coaches. Platts and Simonetti, who are married to each other, have experience coaching at the NCAA level as well as experience in other states as coaching directors for youth soccer clubs and running high school soccer clinics.
“It’s exciting to be able to contribute to the local soccer community through Northampton Soccer,” Platts said. “Jen and I are firm believers in developing kids’ technical skills individually while teaching them the right way to play soccer from a young age. We are also passionate about helping educate parent coaches in how best to support their players’ growth at each age group.”
The mission of Northampton Soccer is to promote youth soccer player development in Northampton and its surrounding communities through the offering of an advanced, competitive soccer program; to promote the sport of soccer in the community; and to develop sound bodies, keen minds, positive competitive attitudes and the spirit of teamwork and good sportsmanship.
New players and families are welcome for fall of 2016 and summer soccer clinics, which will be announced shortly. Tryouts for fall travel soccer will be in June and registration for recreation soccer will also start in June.
For more information, visit northamptonsoccer.org.