When Lightning Strikes
Moving in to its 23rd year, Carlsbad Lightning Soccer Club shows commitment to providing an extraordinary, high-quality soccer program to all San Diego North County youth. While Carlsbad Lightning Soccer offers one of the strongest competitive programs for youth in the North County area, the club does not focus solely on the elite or premier player. Rather, leaders recognize the joy and love of the sport should be available to all children regardless of their skill level or financial ability. CLSC offers outstanding programs for all children using hundreds of volunteers in the Recreational and Challenger programs and boasts an exceptional professional coaching staff that supports the Competitive program. We recently caught up with Michael Duggan, the highly respected Director of Coaching for Carlsbad Lightning Soccer Club and quickly learned how the program has turned in to one of the powerhouses of regional soccer. His passion for the program was striking and it’s no wonder he has created a perfect storm.
What is the history behind the Carlsbad Lightning Soccer Club (CLSC)?
The soccer club is one of the oldest clubs in San Diego. It was originally formed over 25-30 years ago and was a recreational group. I came to the club 15 years ago. At the time it was semi-competitive/recreational club. We had parents and trainers working with the athletes during practices. Managers would coach the games on the weekend. Game day is the most important part of the game, so the success wasn’t there on the field since coaches were not consistent. There was a lot of ill feel with the club with the board pertaining to the rec/competitive side. As a result, a lot of people were unhappy. The club was in a poor state. Three-quarters of the group formed AYSO. This left the club in the state of wondering whether or not they should disband. That’s when Carl Higham, Glen Malone, and I decided to put a plan together, take it to the Board and see if it would work. At the time, we had 300 recreational players and 17 competitive teams. Basically, we have been raking away since then. We currently have 62 competitive teams, 1.350 recreational players, 6 players on the national team and 25 players on regional teams. We hosted the largest tournament with the Carlsbad Cup in late July. It took 10 years to get to where we are today.
What is the timeline for the recreational season and where and when are games played?
It starts in September and finishes in November and then we go in to our All Star season. Those All-Star teams continue to play in December and January. All of our recreational games are played right here in what we call South Carlsbad. Games are played every Saturday.
What will soccer players in the league expect to get out of the season?
They will get to know sportsmanship and what being on a team is all about. They will learn how to handle defeat and how to handle victory. Great friendships are formed and lots of fun is sure to be had.
How are teams formed to ensure teams are balanced appropriately?
At the end of the season, every coach nominates his or her All-Star players. Each team is given 4-5 All-Star players. These athletes are recognized by the League and given a medal. They come to our evaluation night where we put All-Star teams together. The players who make the all-star teams are evaluated as a level 3, others who make the roster are a level 2 and the rest of the players are a level 1. Each team is balanced with the same amount of each type of player. We find that this process works. Our recreational director does a fantastic job with coaches and division coordinators. They diligently go through every single individual player to ensure well-balanced teams.
What’s the difference between the fall Rec league and the spring Rec league?
Fall league is the larger league. The winter league starts in January and goes through March which is a much smaller league. We run it more like a World Cup where teams are given a country to represent. The league consists of 30 minutes of playing with coaches and 30 minutes of recreational play. In the summer, we host four week-long camps that focus on a wide variety of skills ranging from dribbling and shielding the ball to crossing and shooting.
Tell us about your Competitive and Elite programs.
Carlsbad Elite is a division of Carlsbad Lightning Soccer Club that focuses on college bound elite soccer players. The program offers players the unique opportunity to compete in the prestigious Coast Soccer League. It is definitely more of a commitment for the U14-U18 athletes. We also work with a program called Letics. It’s an online program that helps these athletes market themselves and their skills more efficiently to a wide selection of potential scholarship granting institutions. It keeps them on track on getting into the schools that they are interested in. It’s not just what they do on the field. Every kid is required to give time to the Letics program. This allows them to stay on top of school and athletics. We have two college liaison officers who manage the girls and boys side of the program exclusively.
You offer a program called “Finishing Fridays.” Please provide information on this program. Is it offered throughout the year?
This is a program for kids who want to work on extra soccer fundamentals. It is offered to all players in the program and those not in the program. It runs throughout the year. We have two coaches who oversee the program. We can have up to 150-160 kids in a week. $5/hour.
How does the CLSC run such an organized program?
To be honest with you, it’s completely due to our dedicated volunteers. We have an awesome board and members who are proactive with what they do and the time they give. Many hands make light work. Every small piece that you can volunteer helps our program tremendously. It’s not easy running a program as big as ours. We have three tournaments throughout the year as well. Basically, it comes down to communication. This is vital. Recognition is big too. It’s all about being one big team of people involved to make the club successful.
What is the biggest challenge the Program faces?
The growth of the program and trying to keep our program as professional as possible is certainly a challenge. Keeping our players on quality fields is also something that we face. We do our best to keep up with the amount of volunteers to keep Lightning running professionally. We don’t want to and we have never said no to anybody. We understand there are a lot of soccer programs in the community. We are just fortunate people want to join our program. I like to say we are a big club; I like to say we are a huge club, but we have a small club mentality. Our directors know every single player by name and what positions they hold. Everybody should have a face, a voice and be recognized for what they do in the program. Every soccer program out there has good programs. I invite you to choose your program. Try Carlsbad Wave or AYSO or even try out Encinitas. Everyone is different and everyone has different objectives and goals. Our goal is to provide an environment that is suited to the player and not to the team or the club.
We wouldn’t be where we are without our rec league, our theatre program. We always focus on keeping our recreational program as consistent as possible. It’s essential everyone has a fun time. The league is 100% volunteer run. We are one of the only few clubs that have coaches who have been through our training program. It’s important they are given the tools and materials to be as successful as they can on the field. The curriculum we use is our club curriculum that we put together in house. It teaches the kids how to play the game at a young age. It’s put together through a variety of games which actually teach the kids soccer skills. In a sense, kids in our program learn by having fun. Once they get in to it, they understand the concept of the sport and they can move up from there.
Are there any changes this season that players/parents need to be aware of?
The big change is the introduction of our Summer Nights College Showcase program. We hosted about 100 college coaches the last weekend in July. This is tremendous exposure and we expect to build on that and have close to 200-300 in the next couple years. We aim to make the college coaches welcome, ensuring they have quality players in which they are interested in recruiting.
How does a business or family sponsor a team? Who are the current League sponsors?
We have family sponsorships on the recreational side. Families and small businesses can sponsor a team and have their names on the back of their shirts. We are currently looking for a sponsor for our competitive team. We really need
a corporate sponsor. This sponsor would be represented on a national basis.
Does CLSC hold any fundraisers?
We have different fundraisers throughout the year. Opening Day is one of the biggest. Our tournaments bring in a lot as well. Our financial aid program gives back over $85K to players who are unable to afford to play at a competitive level.
How does one get involved with volunteering with CLSC?
We have a contact on the website. If you want to volunteer, please visit clsc.us. Someone from the club will reach out to them to see where they can dedicate their efforts.
What is the most rewarding part of being Director?
By far, just watching kids being better people. Watching kids go to college and be successful in the field they choose. It’s not about soccer. Soccer is the tool for making people better people. Making young children be young adults and go on to be successful parents. We have six coaches who went on to college, got degrees and then came back to our Club and now coach at our Club. That is so rewarding for me as the Director and as their mentor.
To whom, specifically, do you have to thank for the success of the club?
Courtney Chinn was the guy who gave us our right to start this club off. He was our first president. He mentored us and started our program. Unfortunately, he passed eight years ago from cancer. He was the ultimate soccer parent, the ultimate parent in general. He was the ultimate true person who I looked up to more than anyone. What he did with Lightning, the Federation, Presidio, kids, families, volunteers was unbelievable. He was a fantastic individual who I cannot speak highly enough of. He was the guy who put his faith in us. He refused to let us go under. Without him our club wouldn’t exist.
What is the most unique thing about CLSC’s program compared to others of similar nature?
We have three Directors who have continually worked together for 15 years. They know this program inside and out. It’s rare to be able to see three people work hand in hand for so long. We have the same vision and the same goals. We are always confident that our club has our vision in mind at all times. The turnover in clubs as far as director’s and assistant directors is huge. We have been the only three who have stuck together. Also, our Board…no one can match us on their dedication and zest for the club or even come close.
[tabs style=”1″] [tab title=”Lightning Soccer At A Glance”] Year of Establishment: 1990
Address: 7720 El Camino Real, Suite 2N Carlsbad, CA 92009
Phone: (760) 632-6966
Fax: (760) 632-6385
Mission Statement: The mission of Lightning Soccer is to provide all children in North County the opportunity to develop their love of soccer through an exceptional skill development program that emphasizes sportsmanship, personal development, and team work at all levels of the game.
Vision: The vision of LightNing Soccer is to inspire IN all players a lifelong passion for soccer.[/tab] [tab title=”Board of Directors”]Tawnya Clark – President
Judith La Bounty – Past President
Darin Predmore – VP Operations, VP Marketing & Communications
Lenette Posada Howard – Secretary
Skye O’Grady – Treasurer, Dir. Competitive
Clay Robison – Dir. Recreation
Julie Niendorf – Dir. Competitive Registration
Steve Valencia – Financial Aid
Michael Duggan – Director of Coaching
Glenn Malone – Director of Coaching (Boys)
Carl Higham – Director of Coaching (Girls)
Heather Hilliard – Director of Recreational Soccer[/tab] [tab title=”Leagues”] RECREATIONAL: Carlsbad Lightning Soccer Club is the longest established and largest soccer club in North County and has been providing top quality recreational youth soccer programs to the community for over 25 years. Players are offered a place to grow while having fun and building a love of the game. Unlimited growth opportunities are available for players of all skill levels. Under Coaching Directors Michael Duggan, Carl Higham and Glen Malone, Carlsbad Lightning Soccer Club has earned recognition as North County’s elite youth soccer organization.
COMPETITIVE: Carlsbad Lightning Soccer offers one of the strongest competitive programs for youth in North San Diego County. The focus is on developing competitive players at all levels of play, and is supported by a professional director and exceptional coaching staff.
ELITE: A division of Carlsbad Lightning Soccer Club that focuses on college bound elite soccer players. Carlsbad Elite offers players the unique opportunity to compete in the prestigious Coast Soccer League.[/tab] [tab title=”Tournaments”] Carlsbad Cup: Carlsbad Lightning Soccer proudly hosts the Annual Carlsbad Cup, a Class I Competitive Soccer Tournament for ages U8 to U19. Around 300 teams compete from all over the world in this highly coveted tournament
Summer Nights College Showcase: Carlsbad Elite Soccer proudly hosted the inaugural Elite Showcase, a Class I Competitive Soccer Tournament for ages U16-U18/19. This Summer Nights College Showcase, in conjunction with the Western Collegiate Development Association WCDA and presented by Adidas and Eurosport featured some of the nation’s top BU16-BU18 youth teams who recently competed in late July.
2012 November Nights Girls College Showcase: Carlsbad Elite Soccer is proud to host the 3rd Annual November Nights Girls College Showcase, a Class I Competitive Soccer Tournament for ages U16-U18/19. Presented by Adidas and Eurosport; this is the first showcase of its kind in the country featuring some of the nation’s top GU16-GU18 girls youth teams. Athletes will be competing on Friday and Saturday night & Sunday day over Thanksgiving weekend. [/tab] [/tabs]