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Chatham Soccer League

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May, 2018

Volunteer Spotlight: Chip Millard

Chip Millard, a resident of Chatham County, stays busy with his work as an insurance agent, volunteering, and raising two teenagers with his wife Krista.  He is also slightly crazy about the sport of soccer. His enthusiasm for the game has led to volunteering with the local club, Chatham Soccer League. Chip serves on the board of directors, and coaches in the girls classic / challenge level programs.

We thought Chip would be an excellent choice to spotlight as a volunteer with Chatham Soccer League. Read below for our interview with him:

How did you get into coaching soccer? How long ago?

I got into soccer coaching the same way many volunteers get involved with youth sports. A few years ago the former Director of Coaching with Chatham Soccer League emailed me and said something like, “Congratulations, your daughter made the travel team, but there is no coach. You should do it, because if not, there will not be a team!” How could I say “no”?  I was apprehensive because though I played soccer, I had never coached soccer.

But there is world class education available to anyone who wants to coach. The coaching education comes straight from the U.S. Soccer Federation and is taught in NC by the North Carolina Youth Soccer Association (the NCYSA).  There is a pathway to education, to continue to progress, and this is the same pathway that club, high school, college and professional coaches go through.

Why did you say “yes” to it? Why do you still do it?

I said “yes” because I wanted my kid to play, and it seemed like a new challenge in soccer. I love how playing soccer, no matter how old you are, or your skill level, always allows you to “progress,” to keep working and improving. I thought soccer coaching may allow me to work on progression too, and it has.

I still coach because of two main reasons:

1. The youth players! The young women I coach are amazing young players, and I enjoy watching their successes on and off the soccer pitch. It is rewarding to see all they go through in a soccer season; working on new skills, making new friends, learning how to lead, rejoicing in wins, dealing with loss, and navigating the joys and frustrations of the soccer game.

2. The doors it opens.  A shared love for something is a great way to make new friends. Here is an example…. I am super curious, and have always wanted to get to know people in Chatham County, where I live, that are from a Latino background. But barriers such as language and culture seemed to prevent that.

But soccer, or futbol’, is an international sport everyone plays!  I have met so many people in Chatham County that have family origins in Central and South America through our shared love of this game!  Many of the best friendships I have made recently are with Latino friends, and soccer was the common denominator that allowed me to make those connections.

In season, how many hours a week do you suppose you devote to it? What is involved?

During a soccer season I probably spend 6-8 hours a week working with the team. That breaks down to 3 hours of practice, and 2 hours for our weekly match, and includes 30 minutes to an hour before each practice planning what we will work on. In the earlier part of the season we will work on fundamentals. Midway through we are usually working on something I have noticed we have experienced a deficiency in during a match.  Or sometimes I pick up an idea of a training or tactic to work on while I am playing in my pick-up game. 

There are also emails and information to send to the team, but technology like a “TeamSnap App” make those chores pretty easy.

What is the best part?

The best part of volunteering and coaching with Chatham Soccer League is the kids. The youth players, and their love for playing soccer.  They have a contagious enthusiasm for the “beautiful game” and I like being a part of that.

What are some of the challenges?

Parents!  Youth soccer seems to be such an anxious crucible for some parents. They may have big expectations of their child’s future in soccer, and maybe their kids don’t share that vision, but just want to have fun playing. Games are tough too. There is always a bad call from the referee, a parent on the other team yelling the entire match that you wish you could slug, and missed chances in the game your kid may have caused. And so instead of enjoying the game, everything can feel negative. That can lead to a few parents doing boneheaded things. Just go to the NCYSA web site and read some of the actions of parents across the state discussed in their Discipline and Appeals meetings!

(From my experience) Parents should do just two things on game day so that they and their families would find it all to be a more positive experience.  First, just watch the game as a supporter / cheerleader of the team, just like you would watch a professional game. Cheer, encourage, and clap, and keep your thoughts (on the referee, coach, game tactics, etc.) to yourself.  Second, after the game, say just one sentence to your child, “Wow, I sure love to watch you play this game.”  Then be quiet and listen.

Do you have a personal coaching philosophy? What is it in a sentence or two?

Youth players under your care, whether they know it or not, are there to learn new soccer skills and progress in a lifelong love of the game.  In practice we will work on improving our technique, our understanding of game tactics, our athleticism, and our desire for excellence as a team (our attitude, sportsmanship, etc.).  In games we will showcase what we learned in practice.  We will also use games as a classroom for dealing with real life; parents yelling, referees botching calls, extreme weather, frustrating play, and learn to deal well with those scenarios. If we do all those things well, then winning the game may, or may not be, a happy byproduct of our work. Club coaches that focus so intently on wins and losses set their players up for failure, even if the team wins a lot.

What is one thing parents of youth soccer athletes could do better?

I think parents must be concerned with more than just their kids in the soccer experience. I understand that everyone wants what is best for their own kids, I do too.  But that is too narrow of a focus.  When we as parents think of all the kids in the area, youth soccer grows by leaps and bounds! Here’s an example. I have a good friend in Chatham County who has two kids that used to play in Chatham Soccer League. A few seasons ago, the family decided to move to a bigger club, I guess for a new competitive environment, as their kids are talented players. But every time Chatham Soccer League puts the word out for volunteers to repair soccer fields, or volunteer at an event, my friend is there helping! Every time!  He wants the soccer experience to grow for everyone in Chatham County, where he lives. And he is helping make that happen.

How is the best way you have found to motivate your players to train, improve, progress?

Most coaches think a good mix of fun and competition is what gets youth players to improve, and I agree.

In the past few seasons I have focused on coaching young women who are middle school/high school age, and one thing I have found specific to them as motivation is getting each player on the team to lead.  Males seem to favor the top down leadership model, like you find in the military. Females seem to favor more of a network of leaders, each member leading in her strength. Last Fall I coached a U16 girls team with 18 players. Each of those young women led in practice, and our matches. Some led with their words, others led with their play, and some led in both of those. Giving those players the space to lead the way they did, their leadership is what made our team so successful. The players could see their input contributed to the team’s success, and they wanted to be at practices and games to contribute.

What do you see going well with CSL? What are some things it needs to improve / work on?

Chatham Soccer League always faces a unique challenge, which is geography. Other clubs usually center in a larger city; Chapel Hill, Sanford, Raleigh, and can offer soccer in a centralized location. But Chatham Soccer League offers youth soccer in a county that is 710 square miles and has smaller population centers that are spread out; Pittsboro, Siler City and the Briar Chapel area. Plus, Chatham County is a bedroom community, where parents are driving to Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh to work each day. They also shop there, etc., and think “why not just drive back there to have my kid play soccer?”  So CSL is here, providing great soccer, but so many kids play elsewhere. Thankfully, many Chatham County youth do play recreation, academy and travel soccer with CSL, and the many people moving to Chatham County each day Chatham Soccer League as a local soccer league to join and be part of.

Chatham Soccer League, like most youth sports organizations, is volunteer driven, and I think that is what is going well. There are many awesome coaches, administrators, field managers in the organization, volunteering their time to grow the league.  If you don’t believe me come out to a day of recreation soccer and see all the people coaching and helping kids of all ages learn and participate in the game! It makes me so happy to see it.

Volunteers may also be what CSL needs to work on, to continue finding people that love the game and want it to grow in Chatham County, to help with what CSL sees as the coming years of exponential growth.  Volunteers can coach, line fields, serve on the board, plan events, work to form friendships and get people of all backgrounds, and from all parts of Chatham County to participate in the game, etc.  There are many opportunities.

Do you play soccer? Do you have a favorite player? Team?

Yes, I play soccer almost every Sunday and Wednesday, in a local pick up soccer game I help organize. I have made so many new friends playing that game!  My favorite male player is Leighton Baines, a starting defender for the Premier League team Everton. I like how he defends, but also leads the attack many times from the defensive third (he has the most assists as a defender in the Premier League).  My favorite female player is Norma Duarte Palofox, a young player in the newly formed Liga Mx Femenil, aalso plays with the Mexico U-20 team.  She is an explosive forward that plays with lots of heart. I like how she always adds in fun to the hard work she puts in on the pitch.

As you can see, Chip Millard has a real passion for soccer and coaching, and volunteers so that new generations learn a lifetime love of the game.  If you share that same love of soccer, teaching the game, or helping to ensure the growth and success of a non-profit soccer club in a growing Chatham County, know there is a place for you within Chatham Soccer League!  Contact our Executive Director, Martin Slavin, with questions ( or (919) 205-9977).

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