Adam Cooper on Joining Surf Affiliate Program and Developing Great Soccer Players
The Surf Affiliate program has expanded in Northern California to now include Walnut Creek Soccer Club. With a clear vision for the future and raising the level of player development, here is an interview with their new Director of Coaching, Adam Cooper.
Youth Soccer News: Adam Cooper is the new DOC at Walnut Creek Surf SC, Surf Nation’s newest affiliate bringing more than 3,000 youth soccer players to the Surf organization.
Read Related Youth Soccer News: WALNUT CREEK SURF SC JOINS SURF AFFILIATES
Cooper is also a highly respected college coach who is in his 17th season as head coach for the Gaels at Saint Mary’s College.
As Cooper transitions into the role of Director of Coaching, he is making swift changes to raise the level of player development at Walnut Creek and has recently hired 8 new coaches in the past three months to raise the bar on youth soccer training.
We’ve been able to bring in coaches with incredible coaching and playing backgrounds.
Our new coaches include Marquis White who has played in the MLS, coached the San Jose Earthquakes Academy, and been a Director of Coaching for other clubs. Kim Yokers is joining us who played with the U21 Women’s National team, played in the WPSL, and has been a Technical Director at another youth soccer club. And, Derricke Brown, who played at a high level Division I program and has won multiple championships with De La Salle High School.
Diane Scavuzzo: As both a collegiate coach and a youth soccer coach, what is the big difference between coaching youth players and coaching college?
Adam Cooper: There is not a lot of difference in terms of the actual soccer coaching.
The difference is on the management side, just because in college we’re helping our players prepare for life after school. A lot of times, you’re dealing with some life events and academia.
Also, at St. Mary’s, we’re with our guys pretty much six or seven days out of the week, almost throughout the year.
On the youth side, it’s a little different but the philosophies are the same.
You want to create a culture of fun and one that kids want to be a part of.
You definitely want to create that positive culture and environment — and, there’s no difference between the club and the college with that.
The most important thing is creating that culture. At the youth level, you’re starting with the 9-year-olds and 10-year-olds and you always want to foster that love of soccer.
You want these kids to fall in love with soccer and make it their number one sport, if possible.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the difference in the emphasis on winning?
Adam Cooper: At college, there’s a lot more emphasis on the winning, that’s for sure.
We’ve got to win at the college level.
At the youth level, the winning is different. You want to win in terms of soccer, but you’ve also got to win with everything; with the community, with the parents, with the players, with your coaches. It’s really just about the culture overall.
Diane Scavuzzo: I would think the college season is much more compressed than the longer youth soccer season, but you’re saying you are with your players throughout the year?
Adam Cooper: The actual fall season of college soccer is very compressed. Our traditional season is August through the middle or end of November, so the actual soccer piece is compressed, but we’re still with our guys all the time working on their academics, hanging out with them, talking about life stuff. We have team meetings afterward the season and team bonding all year.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why did you want the Walnut Creek Soccer Club to become a part of the Surf Nation — the affiliate program?
Adam Cooper: There’s a lot of reasons, Surf’s name is obviously a very well known national brand of soccer and the club itself provides, in my opinion, a platform for our players in Walnut Creek to play at a higher level and get more exposure. Everybody wants to play at Surf Cup. It’s one of the top tournaments in the country.
The Surf Organization has done a good job with their affiliations with EPL’s Manchester City as well as their curriculum, their player development, and their soccer culture. It’s fun to be a part of that. I think it’s something that our memberships can benefit from.
Diane Scavuzzo: How do you see thriving as a small club in today’s competitive youth soccer landscape? Do you see being part of a larger organization as a distinct benefit?
Adam Cooper: The landscape of soccer keeps changing, over and over with the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, ECNL, and with all these other different leagues. At the end of the day, it’s about figuring out what’s right for your club and what’s right for your membership and community.
What’s right for some clubs, isn’t right others. For Walnut Creek’s soccer club, it wasn’t just a matter of just trying to be part of something bigger, it was determining if this is a good fit for us.
Joining the Surf Affiliate program made sense for us — it will take our club to the next level of competitiveness and to the next level with the culture we want to create.
Diane Scavuzzo: When a youth soccer coach calls a college coach and says, “I have a player from Walnut Creek Soccer Club …. ” Do you think that that means more if they’re calling and saying they’re from Surf SC? Do you think that adds a layer of marketability?
Adam Cooper: I do. I think it does for sure. Absolutely.
I think it does because Surf’s created that reputation as a whole — Surf’s built up a reputation of being able to develop players.
At the end of the day, we still have to coach our kids and to do this, we’ve brought in a lot of big-time coaches with a lot of experience who fit the style and the play of the Surf brand.
Walnut Creek has been known as the big club and now we are looking to become more competitive.
Diane Scavuzzo: What’s your main goal for the next twelve months for your club?
Adam Cooper: That’s a really good question. One of our goals is to become more competitive and another goal is for our groups to be able to compete on a national platform.
We have a great recreational youth soccer program and it is an important part of our club. Right now, I’m developing a year-round recreational youth soccer program for the club.
We’re also developing a program for two-to-five-year-olds.
Diane Scavuzzo: How large is Walnut Creek Soccer Club?
Adam Cooper: We’re close to fifty teams on the competitive side of the club and then we’ve got another two-thousand player in our recreational youth soccer program.
And, I am just looked at our tryout numbers. We’re going to be adding new coaches because of the great turnout and that’s a good problem to have.
Diane Scavuzzo: When are the youth soccer tryouts?
Adam Cooper: Our younger age group 2018/2019 competitive tryouts are next week:
U9-U13 (2006-2010) Girls & Boys tryouts – Monday, May 14th & Wednesday, May 16th at Arbolado Park upper soccer fields, Walnut Creek.
- U9-U10 (2009-2010) 4:00pm to 5:30pm – Boys & Girls
- U11-U12 (2007-2008) 5:15pm to 6:45pm – Boys & Girls
- U13 (2006) 6:30pm to 8:00pm – Boys & Girls