Celebrating 50 Years of ASA: Programs

Leading up to the Golden Gala—ASA’s 50th Anniversary celebration on March 26, 2022—we are sharing interesting historical facts about the history of ASA. Check in each week to learn about the history of the club, what the early years looked like, who was involved and much more! [Here are the first weeks in case you missed them; Safe Places to Play, Access4All, Rec League, Org Structure, ASA Branding].

ASA was founded in 1970 and began offering a neighborhood based soccer league for boys in Alexandria. Several years later the club opened up programming for girls and added “Select” (travel / competitive) teams. For 40 years these two programs offered soccer programming in the fall and spring to participants ages 4-19.

In 2011, the ASA Board of Directors hired our first full time employee with the goal of further professionalizing the organization and broadening program offerings. We started by launching Tots soccer for 2-4 year olds and a “Challenge Program” for 7 and 8 year olds. These two programs kicked off a decade of exponential growth in the number of participants served, agility in organizational structure, development of program quality and national recognition for ASA.

(L) Coach Chris leads a Tots class, (R) A group of 2004 participants at Simpson during a supplementary training program.

In 2012 we launched a “Summer Training Series” (the first iteration of summer camps) and a “Winter Skills Series” (what is now Ball Mastery). Additionally we hosted our first ever spring break soccer camp and expanded the “Challenge Program” so that after four weeks of practices it culminated with a scrimmage fest (this program would eventually develop into Junior Academy). In 2012 we also facilitated our first Access4All programming. Over the course of two weeks ASA staff ran gym classes at ten elementary schools where they coached and interacted with 500 kids!

(L) Girls participate in a training program at Simpson, (R) Coach Jim and Ben lead indoor winter training.

A key theme in 2012, and throughout the following decade, was ASA’s commitment to developing and providing opportunities that served the needs of the community. Parents and stakeholders asked for winter options, spring break options, supplementary training sessions and soccer for additional ages and we made it happen.

In 2013 we hosted our first official soccer camp—the Advanced Strikers Camp was held at Simpson Field. In the winter of 2013 we also launched the first ever winter futsal league. The structure was a mix of teams and players loosely organized into competitively appropriate divisions to play against each other and learn about futsal. Spoiler alert — futsal was A HIT!

(L) Kids participate in a “nature walk” at summer camp, (R) Futsal competitors pick up speed.

Futsal ID was officially introduced in 2015 and international trips in 2016. The Access4All after school leagues were formally launched in 2017 along with residential camps in 2018. And in the past few years we jumped into adult programming so that we could offer opportunities for play after high school.

Most recently, in response to community needs during the pandemic, we created Camp ALEX and School+. ASA utilized resources we had (coaches, counselors, curriculum and equipment) to provide daytime activities (during the school year and summer) for kids while their parents transitioned to working from home. Camp ALEX, a multi-activity day camp, lives on and will be back this summer with more weeks of camp than ever before!

(L) Coach Tim kicks off a day at Camp ALEX, (R) Kids learn virtually during School+.

This sounds like a lot (and it is!) but throughout the years we’ve been strategic and thoughtful about developing programs that support our ultimate outcomes—keeping kids active and healthy, and positively impacting our community. Supporting this program development and expansion has been a small but mighty front office staff, alongside incredible on field staff and volunteer coaches, that continue to grow and improve and develop each year. In this very unique industry we’ve worked hard to maximize our team members in allowing each of them to grow and prosper while doing what they do best, whether that’s coaching, teaching, administrating, managing and more.

We can’t wait to see what the next decade holds! We look forward to supporting our community, coaching soccer and futsal, cheering on our participants as they grow and succeed, and ensuring that every child and adult gets the opportunity to play and enjoy the beautiful game.

p.s. We also host tournaments (as of 2022 we’re hosting seven tournament weekends a year!). We hosted our first tournament in 2015 and we’ll share more about our tournament series in the coming weeks!

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