The world’s largest gathering of tracksuits will be in Baltimore this year, starting Jan. 15.
The bad news for casual fans is that there’s no MLS draft to let people shout slogans at each other this year. The other bad news is that United Soccer Coaches still doesn’t have a cool acronym, with “USC” taken by two universities. I’m still pushing “UnSocCo.”
The good news is that I’ll have a book signing. Details to come.
If you don’t have a credential, which can be a budget-buster unless your club is picking up the costs or you’re a respected media member, you should be able to follow along on Twitter to get some insights.
The schedule is out. Here’s a quick list of interesting sessions with the places I’m likely to be (not that you’re planning around me) in bold.
As usual, this is a day of meetings, exhibitor set-up and a few evening coaching sessions for those who plan to get some sort of certification.
5:30 p.m.: “Small-Sided Games to Improve Goal-Scoring,” with the always insightful UnSocCo coaching director Ian Barker.
Still a lot of meetings, but the coaching courses really pick up here, and we start to see some general-interest sessions.
9:30 a.m.: “The Past, The Present, and The Future of the Latino Coach and Player,” with Julio Serrano, the new chair of UnSocCo’s Latino Coaches Advocacy Group and the director of coaches at Heart of the City, which works to develop soccer programs for underserved communities in Waukegan, Ill.
9:30 a.m.: “Identifying and Developing the Future Female Player,” with U.S. Soccer staff. Please, WoSo media, make sure you have someone there.
9:30 a.m.: The Red Bulls will be talking about their youth-to-pro pathway.
(moved from Friday) 9:30 a.m.: “The Significant Influence Coaches have & the Role they Play When it Comes to Body Image in Their Players,” an especially timely session given the light shed on weight-shaming when runner Mary Cain went public
11 a.m.: “Sports as a Vehicle for Change” sounds kind of buzzword-ish, but the presenter is Haley Carter, who has walked the walk as a coach with Afghanistan’s women’s team and as an advocate for #VetsForGunReform (she’s also a decorated Marine veteran). Seems strange to get this far into a resume without mentioning that she played in the NWSL, but that’s just how impressive she is.
It’d be great to have WoSo people in the crowd, but this unfortunately conflicts with …
11 a.m.: NWSL draft
The early afternoon has a lot of sessions about coaching specifics and club management — valuable for those who have to make budgets work, but not something you’re likely to retweet from home.
2:30 p.m.: “Principles of Coaching In A Non-Traditional Setting” by two staffers from the U.S. Soccer Foundation, another group that walks the walk, even while they’re in a lawsuit with the federation.
(corrected) 2:30 p.m.: Society for American Soccer History Open Meeting. I’ll be presenting my book. And yes, “Open” means “open” — no credential needed. It’ll run two hours, and it’ll be worth it. (It’s not just me, of course. They’ll schedule some cool stuff, and you won’t find a group of more knowledgeable soccer historians.)
4 p.m.: “21st Century Soccer Schedule,” with a heavyweight trio of men’s college coaches — Maryland’s Sasho Cirovski, Stanford’s Jeremy Gunn and North Carolina’s Carlos Somoana — surely set to press the case for a fall-spring NCAA schedule.
4 p.m.: “Reality Check: The Barriers Women in Soccer Still Face, The Leaders Who Overcome Them, and How More Succeed,” again featuring U.S. Soccer staff. Again, I can’t wait to follow tweets from WoSo media here.
Also at 4 p.m.: I’m doing a book signing at Protean Books, not far from the Convention Center
(corrected) 5:15 p.m.: Bo Oshoniyi, one of the great personalities of early MLS, is doing a goalkeeper coaching session.
(corrected) 6 p.m.: Exhibit Hall grand opening. Come see the latest in soccer gadgetry and a bunch of exhibits for leagues, tours and tournaments. Soccer America will be there as well, and if I’m not doing my book signing at this time, I’ll stop by there a couple of times while I’m mingling. You WILL need a credential for this.
There’s an unfortunate conflict between THREE WoSo sessions:
9:15 a.m.: “Keeping Women in the Youth Game,” with a mix of college and youth coaches
9:15 a.m.: “Journey to the Pros,” NWSLPA Speaker Panel
9:15 a.m.: “Phase 4, We Don’t Care Anymore – Smashing Taboos and Busting Myths with the USWNT,” with English physiologist Georgie Bruinvels.
I hope someone’s lobbying to reschedule one or two of those sessions.
And for us youth soccer nerds:
9:15 a.m.: “Sideline Culture and Why It Matters: The Origins and Solutions to Parent Drama in Youth Soccer“
11 a.m.: “Coaching Players with Disabilities,” with UnSocCo’s Kate Ward and U.S. 7-a-side coach Stuart Sharp. I recently did a story on disability soccer.
A few areas in which the sports community at large is trying to make progress pop up after lunch …
1:30 p.m.: “LGBT And Allies Meeting: Conversations and Connections”
1:30 p.m.: “Ending Abuse Within Sport: How the U.S. Center for SafeSport is Championing Athlete Well-Being.” Soccer hasn’t had anything on the scale of gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar or the multitude of abuses reported in swimming, but the SafeSport database isn’t devoid of soccer coaches.
4:30 p.m.: “Repeat: Jill Ellis and the Road to World Cup 2019.” With someone named … hold on, let me check this … Jill Ellis.
Now we get back into some technical sessions, along with details of club management, but a few general-interest items are on the agenda:
(moved from Friday) 9 a.m.: “Elite Soccer Clubs and High School Soccer Programs: Working together to build Complete Soccer Players.” Maybe we should band together to drag some Development Academy people into the room.
11 a.m.: “Soccer in an Oasis: Rural vs. Urban,” with Dakota Alliance’s Frank Gurnick
11 a.m.: “FIFA Womens World Cup France 2019: Tournament Observations,” with former U.S. coach April Heinrichs and FIFA’s Patricia Gonzalez
11 a.m.: Laura Harvey usually does multiple coaching sessions, but this is the only one scheduled so far. It’s on attacking against a box midfield.
(corrected) 11 a.m.: “Inclusion Without Power: Black Soccer in America,” with 1996 gold medalist Staci Wilson, surely the most accomplished athlete who graduated from Northern Virginia science-and-math magnet school Thomas Jefferson HS. I hope she’s forgiven me for my misgivings about Crystal Dunn’s 1-on-1 defending.
1:30 p.m.: 1-on-1 with Jill Ellis. Not sure how this differs from Friday’s session.
(corrected) 1:30 p.m.: “Beyond Coaching: Understanding How Current Immigration Policy Affects Players Off the Field,” with attorney Mirella Ceja-Orozco
Nothing but sessions for coaches finishing up diplomas in 4v4 coaching and goalkeeping. The latter features a full morning and early afternoon with Lisa Cole.
I don’t see anything scheduled with Eric Wynalda, who seems to have soured on getting his message across. Another convention favorite, Emma Hayes, will be tied up coaching Chelsea.