International Soccer Network

"Your Source for the Beautiful Game"

ISN Stars of Coaching Presented by Korrio – October 2012

Chase Neidig is a Renaissance man in American soccer, having served in every single capacity in the beautiful game. He has spent time at the high school level, the pros, in grassroots movements, internationally, and now in the collegiate game. He has even served on the media and front office side of the sport. Simply put, Neidig has done it all.

One thing is always constant: Neidig’s love for soccer and his drive to make it work in America. An eternal optimist, the Grace College graduate is always looking for ways to positively impact the game. When he finds an opportunity, he follows through with tenacity and spirit. Whether it is leading charitable efforts to get soccer equipment to African youth players or seeking out local media to cover his teams, Neidig gets the job done. Why has he devoted his life to the sport? Because he cares deeply about the game and more importantly, the people in it.

Neidig, the current head coach of women’s soccer at Bluefield College in Virginia, started his coaching career at the high school level in Ohio and Indiana. During those coaching stints, he doubled their total number of wins in his first season.

“I believe there will always be a high school soccer system,” Neidig commented. “While it may continue to decrease in both the quality and the quantity of players, I do believe it still has its place in the social and physical development of high school student-athletes.”

While he was coaching at the high school level, his full-time position was with two professional soccer organizations, first the Cleveland City Stars and then the Dayton Dutch Lions. He was the very first employee at DDL and was responsible for developing all aspects of the club from its youth academy, professional team, Super 20′s, and W-League squads.

“We are at a critical stage in the overall development of the game in our country,” said Neidig. “We have an opportunity to become a ‘world leader’ in the world’s sport, but only if we critically and strategically develop our youth in a manner that is willing to take ownership at being the best.”

Neidig’s time coaching at the NAIA level has been incredible for all involved.

“Schools who participate within the NAIA can provide players with a chance to get an education and play college ball,” Neidig concluded. “As a result, you see a lot of raw, individually-skilled players with one or two dynamic players but not an entire program.”

Bluefield has experienced record-breaking success on both the men’s and women’s sides thanks to Neidig’s commitment as a coach on both staffs. This season he led the Lady Rams to their highest win totals in program history, not a small task to say the least, coming off a 2-16-1 record in 2011. Last season included zero wins in conference play.

All of this success had to start somewhere for a sport that would dominate his adult life. Many years ago, Neidig spent several years in the Gambia, where his love for the beautiful game was strengthened.

“I was in club youth soccer growing up, but I believe my experience as a child in a third-world country – always being around the game of soccer – is why I will always be in the game somehow,” Neidig commented.

His worldwide journey didn’t stop in Africa as Neidig would continue to play after college in the Czech Republic. He would spend time with Pisek FC, a third-division side just outside Prague before ending his short professional career due to injury.

Neidig’s experience in the media is also a great asset in promoting the sport on a national level. He has served as a broadcast commentator and analyst for SportsTime Ohio (STO), spent time in public/media relations, and most importantly founded the Tourbeau Sports Group (TSG).

TSG has brought attention to players, universities, and leagues around the country. Whether it is streaming games or finding the “diamond in the rough” at player combines, Neidig and his company have made a difference.

These “rough” players sometimes become world-class as was the case of Clint Dempsey. I can’t imagine a story that could be more inspirational to any American player as noted by Neidig:

“The face of America. Small town kid, from Texas. Traveled hours upon hours to travel to a big city to have the opportunity to play for a bigger club for more exposure as a youth player. His family spent more money than they had and invested in him and his development because they ‘saw something special in him’.

Went on to play at a small, Division I program, Furman University. A relatively unknown soccer program at the time, but he helped put them on the map, using the college game to draw more attention by being a very successful player, with a slight chip on his shoulder. Teams took a chance on him and he didn’t let them down. Still with something to prove, he went on to become MLS Rookie of the Year and has now made the switched to arguably the greatest professional soccer league in the world, the English Premier League.”

Players like Dempsey are great, but coaches like Chase Neidig will have an even greater impact on the beautiful game here in the States.

Korrio understands it is your passion for coaching kids that drives you. We also know that the less time you spend dealing with administrative, communication and automation hassles, and the more time you spend on the field, the happier you’ll be. And because you play a crucial role in our children’s lives, we want you spending as much time as possible coaching our kids. Korrio offers a modern approach to coaching by allowing new ways to communicate and develop a community on and off the field. Congratulations to the ISN Star of Coaching this month!

Spreading Love of the Beautiful Game to the Gambia

“In 2008, I went to the Czech Republic and I was sitting in this small cafe in Prague,” Chase Neidig, a sports developer for Tourbeau Sports Group, said. “There was a boy there and he wouldn’t talk to me; he didn’t know one sentence of English. But when I pulled out a soccer ball, his eyes lit up.”

Neidig wants to use that shared connection to help the Gambia, a small country in West Africa. His charitable organization, SoccerSphere, plans to go there, donate soccer equipment, run soccer camps and scout for possible soccer scholarship recipients.

Neidig has chosen the Gambia as the first destination because he spent his elementary school years there while his family did medical missions work in remote areas of the country.

“When you have a connection to somewhere, you want to touch their lives,” Neidig said. “I’ve always wanted to be able to go back and use the resources and network I’ve developed to give back in a humanitarian way.”

Neidig said that he wanted to give back because the Gambia already gave him so much.

“It taught me to not take things for granted,” Neidig said. “I didn’t know when the water would be running or when the electricity would be on. It opened my eyes to life.”

Neidig had been hoping for an opportunity to return to the Gambia for several years.

“The biggest problem was actually getting in to the country, making sure the visas were approved, talking to the right officials and things like that,” Neidig said. “I kind of just left it to fate.”

Fate came through. A former classmate of Neidig’s from the Gambia recently contacted Neidig on Facebook.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Neidig said. “It’s just fate.”

The classmate’s father is an executive with a top Gambian football team and has been able to help SoccerSphere acquire the documents required for entry to the Gambia. The classmate also offered to let SoccerSphere staff stay in his family’s home in the Gambia.

While in the Gambia, SoccerSphere hopes to do several things. First, it will take donated soccer equipment from the United States and give it to those in need in the Gambia.

“If you could only see their smiles on their faces when we hand them cleats,” Neidig said. “That alone says it was worth it to me.”

Second, it will run day-long soccer camps in the communities to which it gives equipment.

Finally, it will scout players in the Gambia and provide reports to college coaches.

“We won’t charge the coaches,” Neidig said. “We want [players] to get a scholarship, but we also want them to have a better life.” Many colleges have money set aside for international student scholarships, Neidig said.

Neidig acknowledges that things might be difficult on this first trip. But he sees the trip to the Gambia as a test run for future trips. SoccerSphere has connections in South America, Nigeria, Kenya and North Africa.

Clearly, Neidig has big plans for SoccerSphere.

“What better way is there to mesh people with different backgrounds together than with a common interest: soccer,” Neidig said. “When you develop something because of that, doors open.”

Notre Dame College’s Jacob Child on Trial with Montreal Impact

When one looks at the hotbeds of soccer in the United States, the great Northwest with the Seattle Sounders (MLS), to California and the Los Angeles Galaxy, to the East Coast where D.C. United (MLS) won three of the first four MLS titles, spring to mind.

The Midwest is often overlooked by the masses as a soccer hotbed. An easy picture of farms stretching further than the eye can see does not bring athletic, silky soccer players to mind. For Jacob Child, the Midwest, and Ohio was a great escape from his soccer hotbeds.

Heads were turned by the U.S. Men’s National Team at the 2010 World Cup, and over the last 12 months, the addition of new soccer-specific stadiums and franchises in the MLS, success of soccer in Ohio at the national level, is on a very short list.

With an estimated 67,000 registered soccer players in Ohio ranging at all levels, the numbers speak for itself. At the professional level, Ohio holds two outdoor professional teams. The Columbus Crew (MLS) finished second in the Eastern Conference and lost in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup title match. The Dayton Dutch Lions (USL-Pro) made great strides in their inaugural season, beating the top teams in its league and securing its first-ever Lamar Hunt US Open Cup birth.

The college level is where the topic shifts to the top of the conversation. It all starts in the north, in South Euclid, on the campus of Notre Dame College. The Blue & White went all the way to the NAIA National Championship, losing their only contest of the season in the Championship to Hastings (Neb.). The Falcons have become a headline program in the NAIA, as Michael “Mac” McBride’s side boasts a load of top local and foreign talent, including Jacob Child.

McBride is no amateur at producing winning teams, or players who make it to the professional level. Just this season alone, the Falcons broke nearly every major statistical individual and team record, snagged up the NAIA National Player of the Year and Regional Coach of the Year award.

In just 10 years, McBride has built a powerhouse program; the Falcons have made three consecutive NAIA National Tournament appearances and four in the last five years. McBride has coached 15 NAIA All-Americans, and numerous award-winning players. In addition, four of his former players – Tim Finklea, Nicky Jordan, Josh Neimeyer, and Frank Jonke – have gone on to play at the professional level.

“We are now in a fortunate position of regularly attracting professional scouts to our games,” said Head Coach Michael “Mac” McBride. “This helps us showcase the talented players we have in our program. We fully expect to see several of our players playing at the professional level in the near future.”

Child, a senior from Surrey, England studied in the youth system of Queens Park Rangers for nine years; his time was highlighted in 2003 as a member of the England U-16 National Team. Then suddenly as many aspiring youth athletes careers do, it faded. “I didn’t decide to be honest, it just came naturally. After opportunities failed in England the opportunity was here at Notre Dame, Mac got a hold of me and it all happened from there.”

Child, 22, is an English defender, started and played in a program-best 85 matches. In four years, the 6-1 defender has been a part of the most successful span in NDC soccer, as the Falcons went 72-10-5. Last year, he helped NDC win the American Mideast Conference title for the third consecutive year, and the program’s first National Championship appearance.

The story didn’t end on a cool, emotional evening in Orange Beach, Alabama losing in the NAIA National Championship match. Because yesterday, Child arrived in Montreal, Canada to begin a trial with the Montreal Impact. The Impact plays in the North American Soccer League (NASL) and will make the transition to join the MLS in 2012 expanding the top league in North America to 19 teams.

“To be honest, come my junior year I thought the opportunity to go on and play professional was over,” said the Falcons left back. “Therefore I had it in my mind to work extra hard and enjoy the last two season playing at a high level.”

The trip to the NAIA National Tournament exposed Child to over 20 scouts, coaches and technical directors from a variety of professional and developmental clubs from across the country.

“I’m delighted to be lucky enough to have that chance,” Jacob Child said. “It makes all the hard work from not only the last four years but my entire playing career worthwhile yet the hardest work is still to come. Also it allows me to acknowledge and thank the great efforts of those around me to help me get me to this point.”

“There is no doubt Childsy is talented enough to become a professional player,” McBride said. “He was watched by a number of scouts last season, and the feedback we received was very positive indeed. It’s great to see him now have the opportunity to prove himself at the next level. We all hope that performs well during his tryout with the Impact.”

Child will have the chance to show his skills over a five-day trial with the Impact. The Englishman will have little time to adapt to the playing speed and mindset at the next level, while using his high work rate and exceptional technical ability to separate himself from the pack.

“For me personally it’s become the norm,” Child said. “At age 11 I was thrown in the deep end with soccer and had to become accustomed to new people and new surroundings. Then I made the big move from England to the USA without ever seeing the states before. The same can be said for this, I like to think I thrive in these conditions as I have to prove my worth all over again and there is no opportunity to coast on reputations.”

Yes, this is Child’s next step. But surely his story won’t end here…rather the next chapter begins.