WAGS Member Club Profile Series - Lee-Mt. Vernon Sports Club
NOTE: In celebration of our 40th anniversary, WAGS is kicking off a Member Club Profile Series with Lee-Mt. Vernon Sports Club, a longtime WAGS member club and a member of the WAGS POD program.
At present, 10 clubs are participating in the POD program, a “club-centric,” non-results-oriented initiative which stages U-9, U-10 and U-11 age group matches at the same venues on a club-by-club basis to foster an improved coaching and player development environment. Using a club pass system, players are able to move up and down in levels to maximize their growth and progression and develop their skills in the optimal manner.
More club profiles will follow in the months ahead, along with a range of other commemorative events planned throughout the year.
FAST FACTS ABOUT LMVSC
Approximate number of players: 3,000
Location: Alexandria district of Fairfax County, Va.
Mission Statement: “To provide each player the opportunity to play soccer in a safe, supportive and challenging environment that fits her interest and ability and emphasizes enjoyment and skill learning for players to reach their full potential on and off the field.”
Lula Bauer - Executive Director
Esteban Maldonado - Director of Youth Development, Soccer
Kyle Morsink - Director of Developmental Academy, Soccer
Notable club alumni: Andi Sullivan (U.S. youth national teams, Stanford University), Caroline Kelly (Virginia Tech), Sandor Bustamante (UE Cornellà academy, Spain), Christian Rodriguez (U.S. youth national teams, D.C. United academy)
Phone contact: (703) 799-1112
Notable quote from club website: “Our number-one priority is to romance the youngsters, to make them love the game. Let them enjoy every minute for its own sake. Let the rewards be the sheer joy of the play. Wherever feasible, keep the emphasis on winning or losing out of their way. Let them just fall in love with the ball and the comradery and with the challenges they represent.”
Video - Development Academy
Video - Camps
Sandor Bustamante News
Mavis Derflinger News
College Recruiting and High School News
The youth soccer landscape has changed a great deal since Lee-Mt. Vernon Sports Club's birth nearly half a century ago. Yet the Northern Virginia club remains committed to the same hometown, family-friendly approach that has drawn many thousands of participants from all walks of life to its programs over the years.
Based in an extraordinarily diverse area in the southeast corner of Fairfax County, Va., LMVSC's core region includes two large military bases, blue-collar neighborhoods and immigrant enclaves as well as leafy suburbs along the Potomac River and the Interstate 95 corridor. A long-running emphasis on inclusiveness, affordability and technical development seeks to offer a wide range of youth soccer experiences for participants.
“Lee-Mt. Vernon is a community-based club,” explains Lula Bauer, the club's executive director. “We're unique and we try hard to provide opportunities for everybody to be able to play at their level, no matter what their financial situation is.
“If you go to the grassroots and say, 'What is the mission of your club?' – that's player development. We're here for the kids, and to develop the kids not just as soccer players but good citizens. If you look at it that way, it focuses you to stay the course. So we're just developing good people, good soccer players and I think our record shows it.”
LMVSC host an Under-8 academy program and participates in the WAGS PODS program for careful technical development at an early age. Going even further back, parents can enroll in the Soccer TOTS and Little Patriots programs to expose their little ones to the sport's basics as early as age two.
The club also runs a large recreational program designed to introduce the game to children in an enjoyable environment close to their homes and schools, with avenues for motivated players to rise into a travel structure if they so choose.
“The philosophy and the premise was to form teams based on schools and neighborhoods, and not run drafts and do evaluations but to let the kids play,” said Bauer, a veteran coach who has been involved with LMVSC for some 25 years. “Let the kids play with their classmates, their neighborhood friends. Romance them and let them fall in love with the game while they're learning.
“So that was the foundation, and that grew and we started adding on younger and younger age groups and then we moved on to travel.”
Bauer and her colleagues acknowledge that on the crowded, competitive Washington, D.C.-area landscape, there are bigger clubs with a wider national reputation for players and their families to choose from. But LMVSC feel confident that their programming fills important needs across the spectrum of elite youth soccer.
“One of the reasons for adding a travel club was that we felt the younger age groups should be spending time at home playing with their friends and not in the car, traveling an hour and a half to two hours round-trip for a travel practice,” says Bauer. “So we offer travel to a large community.
“Lee-Mt. Vernon offers programs to help players get to the next level. We have been instrumental in a number of players playing Division I, Division II and Division III college soccer,” she adds. “Once it gets to the high school age groups of travel soccer, nine times out of 10 parents and players want to get to that next level. They want to play in college. I believe that Lee-Mt. Vernon gives them that opportunity, gives them programs to do just that."
LMVSC's membership includes a sizeable Latino contingent, the product of a concerted, long-running outreach effort to connect with a segment of the population which has all too often been excluded from the traditional youth soccer experience in the United States.
Bauer credits this success to a three-pronged approach based on transportation, cost and organization. LMVSC team members coordinate so that all players have means to travel to and from practices and games, while affordability and ease of access are stressed throughout the registration and scheduling processes.
The origins of the club's soccer program actually date back to a 1969 conversation between parents at a baseball game, and LMVSC still offers options beyond soccer, in the form of a basketball program. In fact, participants are encouraged to explore other sports and find benefits for their soccer skills, in a stark contrast from the early specialization trend found elsewhere.
“It was the best thing we could've done because it's great cross training for each other,” said Bauer, who also works in LMVSC's basketball division. “One of our club's former players is Caroline Kelly from West Potomac [High School], she is a goalkeeper at Virginia Tech – every year she plays basketball and I think it attributes to her reaching that position. I do encourage cross training in the offseason; I don't think we should pigeonhole kids.”
Founded in 1974 by Mavis Derflinger and Rael Vodicka, the Washington Area Girls Soccer League is one of the premier girls' soccer associations in the United States. Today's membership includes some 600 teams from across D.C., Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, competing in a variety of divisions ranging from Under-9 to Under-19 age levels. The WAGS Spring 2014 season kicks off on March 29 and will feature upwards of 600 teams from across the Mid-Atlantic region from the U-9 to U-18 levels.