Wednesday, August 6, 2014 was Training #1 for FC Wisconsin Eclipse "Program 3." On a beatiful sunny day in Milwaukee, teams at the U14-U18 age groups held their first trainings of the fall season, new players were welcomed to the club, and the journey to the 2015 ECNL Play-Offs began.
At FC WI Eclipse, every decision in club structure, staffing, and methodology is made with 3 priorities (in order): (1) Player; (2) Program; and (3) Team. This order first reflects the club's laser-like focus on the long-term individual development of each player. The emphasis of the Program taking priority over any team recognizes that, in order to maximize long-term potential, players must be trained in pools of multiple age groups, and players should be frequently training or competing across age groups. Clubs and coaches locked into a team-driven mentality frequently have misguided short-term emphasis in goals, training, and philosophy.
With a Program-Before-Team mentality, the club recognizes that each year in the club's history will be unique, with different players creating a different Program. Just as the players of Program 1 (2012-2013) were unique as the trailblazers that helped found the club, every year the current players in the club can create a story unique to their Program. And the players in Program 3 have started the year brightly.
"After only a week, you can see a clearly different mentality and culture already this year," said staff coach Andy Lee. "The first year of the club was about introducing the culture of achievement and excellence that is required to be successful in the long-term, and just establishing the club generally. Last year was about player's buying into the culture, and struggling to meet the standards on and off the field consistently, every day. You can see already that this year will be special - the attitudes and standards have been internalized."
"The leadership in the club gets stronger every year," said Director of Coaching Christian Lavers. "As we start Program 3, we have a group of coaches that have been with the club for several years and work together better every year. We have players that have been in the club longer - and who really can help the new players and the next generation understand what the club is about. It is really exciting. We are setting up a culture and atmosphere where success is inevitable."
"There is definitely a buzz around training," said staff coach Joana Bielefeld. "This environment is so much different than any youth environment I have seen or been a part of - and I think it is tremendous for the players. There will be stars coming out of this club."
What story will be written by the players in Program 3?