Middletown is fast becoming the hub of youth soccer — adding a brand new premiere league to its recreation and travel programs — encouraging families from throughout Connecticut to enroll their children in this popular ball sport.
Still in its first year, Middletown Youth Soccer's premiere league is offering tryouts this June. Coach Zach Eddinger, who grew playing through the city's program, says this past fall the club added an elite squad to its Middletown Magic travel and fall soccer clubs.
A former starter for a semi-professional Soccer Team in Reading, Pa., Eddinger was also a 4 Year Starter at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania and Middletown High School, among his other accolades.
The league has two outdoor fields on Country Club Road and coming this fall, in the former Weekly Reader location on Long Hill Road, a third will be complete, Eddinger says.
"Middletown's recreation soccer club has always been one of the strongest in the state," Eddinger says. Between the three leagues, about 900 students are enrolled yearly and don the familiar blue and white uniform — the majority from Middletown, and some from Manchester, Marlborough, Shelton, Berlin, Rocky Hill, Haddam and Killingworth, Cromwell and Durham.
Word of mouth is all the advertising the program needs, Eddinger says.
Sporting Connecticut Academy Director Tom Shields, who is also Central Connecticut State University's Women’s Soccer volunteer sport psychology coach, says staff and player dedication has allowed Middletown's soccer program to thrive. He oversees the 6- to 11-year-olds programs.
"We are a program entirely vested in player development and have professional oversight. ... From our 5-year-olds who are experiencing their first taste of soccer to our U17 boys who compete in Division 1 of the state league, every child in our program receives developmentally appropriate coaching specifically tailored to their age and stage of development in a safe and secure learning environment that encourages expression, risk taking and problem solving."
Shields says Sporting Connecticut's ambition is also to make the academy program free for 6- through 8-year-old players who are just starting out. "Ultimately our commitment is to do whatever we can to raise the quality of the experiences available to the town/state's youth."
Shields coaches 9-, 10- and 17-year-old boy players and 9-year-old girls and runs a supplemental technical programs.
Several former Middletown Soccer players are moving on to college soccer next year, Shields says, at Post University in Waterbury and Ithaca College in New York.
"A number of players who passed through the Middletown Magic program over the years have gone on to play both collegiately and professionally including coaches Zach Eddinger and Jordon Russolillo," he says.
The most valuable skills learned from a childhood playing youth soccer can be carried into adulthood, Shields says. "Across everything we do, we strive for excellence and regularly enforce that the two things children can control are their attitude and application to any task."
Parents considering enrolling their children should know youth soccer advocate teamwork, sportsmanship and cooperation and encourages players to respect themselves, their teammates/peers and coaches.
Open soccer tryouts for children ages 9-12 is June 10 and ages 13-18 on June 17. Travel soccer tryouts run June 3-7.
For information, see
middletownsoccer.org or contact Shields at email@example.com or Jeremy Wilson at Jeremy@sportingct.com.