Strength in Numbers

Elkhorn Soccer Club puts an emphasis on people

With more than 1,900 kids participating annually, Elkhorn Soccer Club has become the second largest soccer club in Nebraska. That kind of growth is exciting but doesn’t come without challenges. However, with a new executive director in place, a dedicated staff of both new and long-time coaches, and a proven method for building player skills, the organization is focused on carrying out its mission: to have an important, positive impact on the development of kids.

The club’s executive director, Rob Herringer, has played, trained, and coached soccer his entire life, beginning as a child growing up in Bellevue. He played soccer at Benedictine College in Kansas, went on to coach soccer there, as well as held positions as the state director of coaching for Kansas and as a national staff instructor for the National Soccer Coaching Association of America. When approached about the position with Elkhorn Soccer Club, Herringer said he felt it was the right fit. “I really wanted to be able to give back to the community I grew up in and have an impact on kids in Omaha,” he said.

With his own experience and having worked with some of the best coaches in the country, Herringer was ready to step in. And the club was ready for the change. Lori Scott, who has been an administrator with Elkhorn Soccer for more than 10 years, said they had grown so big by 2014, they needed more staff and organization put into place. “We had a lot of momentum and needed someone with the coaching knowledge and knowledge to run a large club,” she said. “We were so lucky to find Rob, and the timing was perfect.”

One of the strengths Herringer has brought to the program is the addition of the Coerver Coaching method into ESC’s curriculum, which is the same method he learned throughout his soccer career and is used in many other national programs. Coerver is focused on developing technical skills in players, especially within small groups, which is what players face during game situations. “If we can develop technical skills in kids ages 5-14 and help them be the best players they can be, then they will be successful for any team, club or coach,” Herringer said. 

But the Coerver method isn’t the only thing he’s brought to the club. He knows that a club of this size requires the right kind of people—people who are dedicated to working with kids and their development. “If you start with good people, you can turn them into good coaches,” Herringer said. “Families are trusting us with the development of their children, and we take that seriously.” A large part of his job is training and educating the club’s coaches. He provides clinics and symposiums where he brings in coaches from national programs. “We hold our coaches to a higher standard, because we’re developing people first and soccer players second,” he added.

With the right staff in place, Herringer said they are hoping to bring new aspects of soccer to Omaha. However, one area they are still challenged with is facilities. The club is fortunate to own its own fields off 233rd & Maple Streets, as well as have access to Ta-Ha-Zouka Park, Bethany Lutheran Church in Elkhorn, and partner with Elkhorn schools for indoor gym space, but with more than 100 kids playing on any given night, they are at capacity. “We’re running out of space for what we’d like to do going forward, and we need to have facilities that reflect the professional nature of this club,” Herringer said. “We’re making efforts for those necessary improvements but still need to be fiscally responsible.”

These challenges are the result of success, so Herringer and Scott are confident that the club is headed in the right direction. “We’re getting better and better every day,” Scott said. Change isn’t always easy, but everything ESC is doing is to serve the needs of kids of all ages and abilities. “We hope that what we’re doing can serve as an example to other clubs,” Herringer said. “We’re getting the right people in place, we have the right structure, and we’re very organized. We have an amazing opportunity to have a dramatic impact on the lives of our kids.”

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