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Clubs Staying Connected: Philadelphia Ukrainians Club Feature

By Chris Massari, 04/02/20, 11:00AM EDT


“Coaching is not limited to the field and with today’s social media and technology, there is no excuse not to coach your players right now. You should be using every available platform out there to continue to coach your players. There’s no excuse not to be using the technology that’s out there,” said Dan Harmon, the Director of Soccer Development at the Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals.


As the country adjusts to the limitations placed by COVID-19, more commonly known as the coronavirus, many have not let this restrictive moment in time deter them from continuing with their normal lives. This means turning to the technologies offered in 21st-century living, to forge new innovative methods of communication, education and everyday tasks from the confines of their home.


In this week’s edition of EDP’s Clubs Staying Connected series, EDP highlights the Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals as one such club that is using the virtual space of the internet and distant-based learning to their advantage and continuing the training and development of their players without interference from quarantines.


“We’ve had very few requests for refunds which I think is directly attributable to this virtual coaching model and we’ve probably had a higher touchpoint now, than if we would be training regularly. We’ve improved our touchpoints and our communications with our players.”


This success Harmon explained, comes from three points of contact, “One, we have the Techne App. We have about 65% of club participation, with about 720 players on it. That’s a pretty good chunk of the club using it. So, we monitor our player’s and participant’s training and progress through the app. Two, between our different age groups and our college development group, we put out a weekly workout program. Each week these age groups have a pre-planned physical fitness program, whether it’s a workout, juggles or something technical, over and above the Techne App and is specific to their age group. Finally, on the college development program, we’re doing all of that, plus our coaches are having weekly one on ones with the players to check their college pursuit progress. Have you been reaching out to colleges? What are your top ten? What kind of contact have you had? Have you signed up for ID sessions? Et cetera, Et cetera. Between the three, we’ve been able to stay consistent in our communication and continue training, even in less than ideal circumstances.”

He then continued, “We did a webinar last week and we host a weekly coaches meeting. We have regular virtual coaches’ meetings and are making sure they are continuing to coach. If they’re continuing to coach, we’re keeping our members happy and making sure they feel they are still receiving the value of what they’re paying for. Even if everything is on hold right now. EDP has mapped out a future season. USYS has mapped one out. As long as we have a go-ahead from the government, play will eventually resume. Our coaches have been coaching weekly with every intention that soccer can resume at any time.”


This communication structure requires planning and teamwork, which Harmon says starts from the top and funnels down to the players themselves.


“We have our executive leadership team, which is our Director of Coaching, myself the Director of Soccer Development, our Executive Director, and our club registrar which is a closed-loop that centers around facilities, finances, and messaging. That’s the executive leadership team. Then you have the coaching staff and your coaching staff meeting, which include the Director of Coaching through all of the college development program directors to our coaches. That’s the second subset. And then you have the coaches to our teams, which is the third subset. And all of the layers have been open, transparent and inclusive. When a team sets up a college development meeting, they invite the executive leadership so we can bounce in and look in. When a coach sets up training, he also opens it up to the boy’s and girl’s side and the bookend age groups, whether it’s one age above them or one age lower to join in as well. We’re making sure every moving part stays connected to the other,” said Harmon.


Finally, on top of regular training and communication, the Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals are making sure to continue with their player’s Pathway to College, even if seasons are on hold all hosted through different webinars.


“We host webinars that are the coaches’ meetings and then there are webinars that for our college development programs, which feature college pursuit updates and reviews. We also have a third webinar, which is an open forum college night that we put together. We announced it on our social media and it is an online college panel through Zoom, that is open to all of our girl’s players and their families. We have a coach from Notre Dame, one from Indiana, one from the University of Washington, and one from Ohio University as well. We’re using it as an open forum where kids can ask questions to these college coaches and continue working toward their college goals.”

About EDP

Founded in 1999, Elite Development Program Soccer (EDP) is one of the largest organizers of youth soccer leagues and tournaments in the U.S. EDP operates youth leagues for boys and girls ages 9-19, conducts a Futures program for players ages 7-11, and operates U20/23 men’s and women’s leagues. EDP also runs over 20 tournaments each year.  The key emphasis for EDP’s leagues and tournaments is its Pathway to College™ programming which enables soccer players to reach their full potential with an emphasis on attending college. More than 3,500 teams participate in EDP’s leagues and more than 170,000 players compete in EDP tournaments annually. For more information on EDP, visit