Keeping Kids Active Safe Engaged Healthy
A year of adaptation, resiliency, new programs and safety guidelines.
In 2020, amidst pandemic related adaptations, ASA kept these two outcomes top of mind. At the core of every decision we made was thoughtful consideration of whether the program, adjustment, safety guideline, rule, or item of communication would support health and wellness and help our community thrive.
Key to these outcomes are the physical health, emotional health, mental health and behavioral health of our participants, ages 2-adult.
ASA is committed to operating under the Sports Based Youth Development (SBYD) model. SBYD is a validated model of youth development that uses the delivery of sport intentionally and primarily to achieve positive non-sports-based outcomes. These outcomes include social emotional learning; critical pro-social relationship skills; better academic performance and educational attainment; and improved health and wellness.
Children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 years should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily. A 2018 study from Nationwide Children’s Hospital showed that just 5% of youth ages 5 to 18 reported meeting the federally recommended amount of exercise — 60 minutes per day. [Physical Activity Guidelines, Health.gov]
What a Year
Letter from Tommy Park, Executive Director
2020 was a year unlike any other. The year started with the most impactful Futsal Cup and Futsal League in club history. In March, a full season of in person programming was cancelled, ASA’s 50th anniversary celebration was postponed, priorities quickly shifted, the health and safety of our beloved community was threatened and during the early days of the pandemic we questioned whether kids would return to in person programming at all this year. Amidst the uncertainty and anxiety of the spring, I watched our community rally together, support each other, work creatively and tirelessly, and shift programming to meet the changing needs of children over the course of just a few weeks.
ASA has always been more than just a soccer club. At the end of 2019 we began focusing on measuring two overarching outcomes that encompass much more than winning games or teaching soccer skills:
— Improved health and well being of every ASA participant
— Alexandria is a thriving community because of ASA
These outcomes helped center and ground our actions, planning, and adjustments to programming. When we thought about adding non-soccer programming this year we considered whether the new activities would help us achieve these outcomes.
Our staff worked closely with state and local officials to determine appropriate safety protocols and monitored when it was safe to return to the field. The ASA family collectively raised $15,000 for Act for Alexandria’s emergency response fund, to support those in our city most affected by the pandemic. When asked, ASA launched new programs to help kids in our community stay active, while offering parents childcare to support their own welfare. ASA staff members stepped in to new roles to help ensure activities and programs were safe and that coaches were trained to follow new health guidelines or deliver non-soccer programming.
People of all ages struggled immensely this year. Without interactions at school, work and social time with peers it was more important than ever to provide safe and active outdoor opportunities to run, play, learn, grow, compete and MOVE with friends. With little historic precedence for operating programming during a pandemic, we questioned whether returning to play was viable. The overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants and parents kept us more energized than ever. Additionally, we didn’t see any community spread of COVID-19 from soccer activities once we re-opened.
As we transition to 2021 it is my hope that the world transitions back to some normalcy with kids in school, unlimited spectators cheering on the sidelines and mask-less coaches. Whatever happens though, I am confident that our team is prepared to adapt and move forward. Thank you for your support this year and I look forward to high fives, handshakes and congregating on the sidelines again some day soon.
2020 at a glance
FutsalFutsal Cup — Futsal League — ASA coaches attend a coaching conference in Baltimore
Futsal & TournamentsFutsal League — Feature Weekend Showcase — Academy winter practices — preparation for the ASK Tournament
ASK Full Sided WeekendMore than 100 U13+ girls and boys teams
ASK Boys Weekend CancelledU9-U12 tournament weekend
ALL ASA PROGRAMMING IS PAUSED
ASA goes virtual!Zoom workouts — Zoom tactical sessions — Zoom hangouts — & more!
Summer Soccer Camps beginAll camps are socially distanced, no physical contact
Camp ALEX launchesASA launches a multi sport and activity camp for kids ages 5-12. And, Futsal Ball Mastery kicks off.
School+ launchesASA launches an outdoor learning lab experience to provide virtual school support to kids in grades K-5th.
All in-person league play resumesRec League, Tots, Academy, Ball Mastery, Junior Academy and Adult League all proceed with safety protocols — masks, social, distancing, health checks & more
FutsalFutsal ID kicks off, OUTDOORS!
In 2020 we committed to keeping kids ACTIVE! Once the pandemic put a pause on in-person programming ASA got creative to keep kids moving. We stayed active via Zoom and later in the year we launched two new programs to give kids opportunities to MOVE, INTERACT, LEARN, & GROW.
The new programs, Camp ALEX & School+, allowed us to keep kids active in a safe environment and offer support to working parents.
Keeping Kids Active
The NEW programs gave kids the opportunity to stay active in safe & fun environments.
A multi-sport & activity camp hosted in partnership with Alexandria’s Department of Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities to meet the unique needs of the community in the summer of 2020.
“Our children really enjoyed being in camp and we noticed they were a lot happier and more energetic than they had been the rest of the summer when they were not around other kids as much, or as active due, to the pandemic.”
– Camp ALEX Parent
- Scavenger Hunts
- I Spy
- Olympics events
- Field Day competitions
- Obstacle course
- Talent Shows
- Soccer & other sports
A weekday activity and learning lab experience that aligns with virtual learning programs in the fall of 2020. Day and half day schedules supplement learning and offer child care opportunities for busy parents. After a successful nine week session the program was extended five more weeks through the end of the year. After the initial extension, this successful program was extended into 2021!
Monday camp style programming coincides with ACPS students asynchronous learning requirements. On Tuesdays – Fridays counselors help guide and facilitate virtual learning for each participant’s schedule throughout the week. They ensure kids are “present” for each Zoom class throughout the day and supplement down time and movement time with camp activities — games, crafts, puzzles, sports, playground time and more.
“We have never seen Jane so happy with any program before. There has not been a day that I pick her up and she doesn’t have a beaming smile on her face. ASA has amazing, talented, caring and professional staff who have provided such a vital service for the community and it’s children. We are beyond thankful.”
– School+ Parent
Programming in 2020 started off strong with the Futsal Cup, Futsal League, the Feature Weekend Showcase tournament, and the very beginning of the Academy season. When the pandemic cancelled all programming ASA committed to returning to play as soon as it was safe to do so. In July we cautiously and carefully relaunched programming and ALL ASA programs took place in the Fall.
It was our goal to keep kids healthy by offering a program for every age and skill level.
Keeping Kids Healthy
Keeping Kids Engaged
In 2020 it became more important than ever to keep kids engaged. Without in-person school, social interactions with peers, and responsibilities that come with a busy schedule, ASA set out to give kids, ages U13+, opportunities to work, learn and lead.
These initiatives developed skills beyond the sport of soccer, such as: communication, leadership, responsibility, adaptability, time management, money management & more!
Keeping Kids Safe
The most important part of returning to play was ensuring kids were safe and remained healthy. Our Operations Team worked tirelessly to stay on top of COVID-19 regulations, recommendations and research at the national, regional, state and city levels.
Throughout the year ASA opted to implement more conservative policies than recommended to ensure health & safety.
Keeping kids safe also meant helping families safely navigate registration, jersey distribution and more. ASA’s office administrators development an appointment system, created an in-person staff work schedule, organized contact-less drive through uniform pickup and more!
Despite a year filled with paused and amended programming ASA continued to support access to sport for every child interested in playing soccer, futsal or attending a camp.
Diversity, Equality & Inclusion
In June ASA committed to listening & Learning
We shared the following statement: "Alexandria Soccer has always been a diverse and inclusive community soccer club. It is all of our responsibility to take a stand against racism, and we can't call ourselves inclusive while staying silent on the social injustices in our country. We commit to listening and to learning. We commit to education ourselves, our staff and our coaches so that we can support our #ASACommunity and use our collective voice as a positive force for change. We stand against racial injustice."
We have created an action plan around the following:
- Establishing and sustaining a club community that shares the collective responsibility to address, eliminate, and prevent actions, decisions, and outcomes that result from and perpetuate racism.
- Eliminating inequitable practices and cultivating the unique gifts, talents and interests of every child to end the predictive value of social or cultural factors, such as race, class, or gender, on participant success.
- Respecting and championing the diversity and life experiences of all community members to support the club’s mission, vision, values, goals, and objectives.
- Acknowledging that racism is often compounded by other forms of discrimination.
Thank you to our Red & Blue Club Members for their generous support of ASA in 2020.
Thank you to our sponsors!
Thank you to our wonderful #ASAFamilies and our incredible #ASACommunity—thank you for your patience, adaptability, support and energy in 2020. You kept us going and inspired us to get creative and stay active. We’re looking forward to 2021 and can’t wait to see you on the field soon.