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Youth Boys Mar 25, 2011

Loudoun Soccer removes Edwards from director of coaching for travel teams

By Charles Boehm

In an unexpected move, Loudoun Soccer have dismissed Director of Coaching-Travel Dave “Ted” Edwards and named Mark Ryan, director of coaching at Great Falls Soccer, as his interim replacement.

“Dave Edwards will be leaving the position of Director of Coaching- Travel effective Monday, March 28th. Dave will continue to coach his two travel teams and be involved in our travel training programs,” said an email sent to coaches and parents in the club’s travel program earlier this week. “Dave has been with Loudoun Soccer for 5 years [sic] and has made many contributions to our organization. We thank him for these efforts and wish him best of luck in his future endeavors.”

Edwards had held Loudoun’s DOC position for the past five years, during which time he oversaw a major overhaul in the club’s coaching structure and player evaluation systems. The Welshman, who is also the NSCAA (National Soccer Coaches Association of America) Technical Coordinator for Virginia, instituted yearly tryouts for all teams and gradually reduced the club’s reliance on parent coaches in favor of paid, licensed coaches.

“Myself and the then-technical director, Bill Stara, were implementing a number of new things. The board had decided it wanted to go to a more professionalized approach, so we took that professional approach, trying to gather a team of paid professional coaches to work with the parent coaches,” said Edwards in an exclusive conversation with Potomac Soccer Wire on Friday. “And as time went on, we eventually transitioned the whole program to have professional coaches at the A and B levels, and we have some professional coaches at the C and D levels as well.

“We formalized tryouts, we made sure that everybody understood that players can change a lot in a year and that the tryout process would take place every year, with a clean slate for every child to have the opportunity to make the appropriate team conducive to their ability.”

The moves ruffled feathers and prompted some players – and even entire teams – to leave Loudoun Soccer, but also helped spark improvements in player development and quality of play. While acknowledging the unsettling effect of the changes for some, Edwards pointed to the club’s steady progress as vindication of his moves and expressed pride in what was achieved during his tenure.

“I spent six years there and built up a great network of coaches. Obviously we’ve had a lot of success, particularly on the girls’ side, with the program, and long may that success continue for Loudoun Soccer. It’s not about Loudoun Soccer, it’s not about Dave Edwards. It’s about the kids, and the future opportunities we can continue to provide them,” he said. “We’ve instituted a number of technical training programs which have not only been very successful for the kids, but have also strengthened the infrastructure there. Hopefully that will continue.

“I’m one of a few coaches in the club that have had extended success with every team I’ve coached, from the midrange teams to the higher-level ones. I think my record within the club speaks for itself,” Edwards added. “The number of the kids who we’ve put through the program [who] have gone on to play college soccer, or even club soccer at big schools, has spoken for itself. A new DOC will come in and I’ll give them all the support I can, and while I’m working with Loudoun Soccer I will continue to give them 100 percent effort on the field.”

Edwards declined to delve into the specific details of his departure from the DOC position, but made clear that the final decision was the club’s, not his.

“There were some additional requirements as far as the contract. We were unable to agree on that,” he explained. “I wish Loudoun Soccer all the best. I’m going to continue coaching for them, and hope I can help them continue to achieve their mission and reach some goals that they have.”

Alan Foy, Loudoun Soccer’s executive director, would not discuss the specifics of Edwards’ situation, citing privacy laws, but listed six “strategic objectives” which are guiding the club’s course in 2011: financial management and efficiency, club and business management, fundraising,  quality of programs for player retention, community outreach and marketing/public relations.

“There’s every opportunity for Ted to remain part of our technical staff for a long time,” said Foy. “We’re excited about the club’s future. We’ve got a great program and we’re looking forward to moving on to the next level.”