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The future of women’s soccer in the United States of America was volatile when WPS made the decision to suspend the 2012 season due in part to resolving legal disputes. This period was short-lived as two established leagues positioned themselves to fill that gap. The WPSL has filled the demand by pushing up the date to create their Elite league by a year, bring in former WPS clubs the Red Stars, the Breakers, and the Flash, and having the teams sign talented players from the WPS. The USL W-League already had a pro league but are now able to increase the talent pool by signing former WPS players. Both leagues will start play in the week of May 7th. But does this mean the future of women’s soccer is safe?

The chat will look to explore the future all be it without a time machine and answer what does the future of US women’s soccer look like at the professional level, college level, and youth level.

Q1: US Women’s Professional Soccer

  • Is there enough demand to support two leagues, possibly three (return of WPS)? Why or why not?
  • Could or should there be inter-league play?
  • What impact does this split have on the structure of professional soccer and feeding system for the national team?
  • What complications does this create for players?

Q2: College Level Women’s Soccer

  • What impact does having or not having a professional league have on the college game?
  • What new decisions are players now confronted with when deciding their future after school?
  • What impact would be felt by athletic programs at universities?

Q3: Youth Level Women’s Soccer

  • What impact does having or not having a professional league or role models have on the interest of youth toward the game?
  • Does this change the landscape of the youth women’s game? Why?
  • What is the trickle down impact that could be felt by youth organizations?

Join us on Monday at 8pm ET to throw your thoughts into the mix. Just log on to TwitterTweetchat, or Tweetgrid, and use the #WPSchat tag.

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My second day at the NSCAA convention was all about the player. The first event I attended focused on the differences in coaching female versus male athletes. Then I learned about a new product by Korrio that supports player safety. But the highlight of the day was seeing players have their dreams fulfilled by being drafted into the WPS. Here is my recap of Day 2 at the NSCAA Convention.

I started the day at a lecture about effectively coaching female athletes presented by Vanessa Martinez-Lagunas, a FIFA women’s soccer instructor. This session really broke down the differences from a scientific basis and first hand experience . Vanessa was diligent in providing concrete information as well as practical ways for coaches to handle and coach to the differences in female players. I was impressed with the presentation and delivery. Anyone attending that session should feel confident about coaching female players.

I took a break from the lecture schedule to meet with Steve Goldman, the CEO of Korrio. They are adding to a new tool to their existing youth sports platform that helps manage player safety. The Computerized Cognitive Assessment Tool (CCAT) by Axon Sports will allow families and sports clubs, teams, and leagues a convenient way to manage concussions in young athletes. The platform allows leagues, teams, and clubs to require a baseline test during registration. This test sets a standard for each individual player, keeping track of their behavior before a concussion or head injury. In an instance where this test hasn’t been done, it is near to impossible to determine that child’s state of mind prior to them getting the concussion. Prior to CCAT, a parent would need to schedule an appointment with their child’s doctor to get a baseline test done– imagine fitting that into your already busy schedule. With concussions on the rise (1 and 10 athletes will experience concussions this year ) Korrio is taking a lead in helping leagues, teams, clubs, and parents conveniently manage player health and safety.

The day ended with a bang– the WPS draft. It was touch and go for a moment (the internet crashed), but that turned out to be a tiny blimp on the radar. The room was brimming with energy and excitement  as players and teams started to fall into place. WPS CEO Jennifer O’Sullivan lead the way and I believe this signifies a lot of what is to come; with the challenges she and the league have faced thus far, they’ll need to maintain that positive outlook to keep prevailing. Speaking from the live event side, this year’s draft was a step up in the right direction from last year. The commentary and interviews with players and coaches in between breaks were interesting and insightful.

Tomorrow is the my last day of the convention and though I don’t want it to end, I’ll make sure to enjoy every minute!

The NSCAA convention is like a gathering of the collective coaching mind. As a soccer enthusiast, it is comforting to know that the future of the game is in such good hands with an organization like the NSCAA leading the way.  I’ll be posting my thoughts about the convention every day, and tweeting out live too. If one thing has become clear after my first day here, it is that coaches at all levels are putting the best interests of their players first. Here are some the highlights from Day 1 of this exciting convention.

The first event of the day delivered everything that I could have hoped for from this convention– a lecture on the importance of the development of mental coaching. The panel consisted of four college coaches and a doctor of Nuero-science. The two coaches from the men’s side were D. Masur from St. John’s and J. Martin  from Ohio Wesleyan, and the two coaches from the women’s side were A. Dorrance from North Carolina and J. Rayfield from Illinois. The coaches discussed their views and methods on training and developing players mentally while Dr. R. Tarer backed their methods with scientific fact. The room was packed—there was standing room only. It was great to see everyone taking this seriously and learning from these experts. This can only make one feel comfort that these coaches have but one interest – developing people.

The next event, though not as focused on the mind, also pointed out that the coaches here are forever learning. This event was a lecture on scouting for the U.S. Women’s National Team for the 2011 World Cup. Marcia McDermott, Assistant Head Coach for the USWNT, and Janet Rayfield, Head Coach of Illinois, lead this lecture. Janet was a scout for the USWNT during the World Cup and shared her experience. I was impressed by the care that she and the other scouts took in their task – it was interesting to see how this then translated to the pitch. You can see this reflected in the success of the team on the field. Every member of USWNT saw the larger picture.

This next event was the low for the day. The lecture topic was propelling the women’s game forward with a panel including Jennifer O’Sullivan ( CEO of WPS), Jim Gabarra (Head Coach of Sky Blue FC) and Leslie Osborne from the Boston Breakers. Why was this a low point? Because the event was cancelled . A shame, because I think it would have been a terrific learning environment for everyone here. You can’t tell me this didn’t have great potential.

I wrapped up the day with an award reception for college coaches. I won’t bore you with the details– we all know how award ceremonies go. The best highlight was the focus on the ethics of the game and awards given for outstanding performance. It was a great way to close out the day.

At the end of Day 1, I’m energized. The NSCAA has issued coaches, players, and soccer fans a challenge to live up to some high standards—to develop not just great players but great people. By sharing their knowledge and dedication, we’re all in a better position to meet this challenge. I’m on board. Are you?

It is hard to believe that the 2012  draft is less than a month away. Just last week, the WPS site released a list of top picks for the 2012 WPS Draft  in run up to January’s events. And this gives us an opportunity to look at how these new players can affect the league.

As the 2011 season played out, many WPS teams became aware of their deficiencies and one of the key ways to address them is in the draft. In years past, WPS draft picks have made big impacts for their teams, in the league, and in the world of soccer. 2010 WPS rookie of the year Ali Riley was the right fit for FC Gold pride, helping them win a championship. 2011 Rookie of the year Christen Press was a top 5 leader in the league for scoring. Overall #1 picks Tobin Heath and Alex Morgan have been stellar in international play, helping the USWNT to be one of the best in the world. The draft has proved that women’s college soccer programs develop quality players that are WPS ready.

The chat wants to know where you thought teams needed to improve from the 2011 season, which college players you think will stand above the rest, and who has the ability to come out strong in their WPS debut to bring balance and improve team performance.

Q1: The 2011 Season

  • The Beat: where do the need to improve most from the 2011 season?
  • The Breakers: where do the need to improve most from the 2011 season?
  • The Flash: where do the need to improve most from the 2011 season?
  • The Independence: where do the need to improve most from the 2011 season?
  • Sky Blue: where do the need to improve most from the 2011 season?

Q2: The Prospects

  • Which players have the talent to make a big impact on WPS in 2012?
  • What are your top 5 picks coming out of college?
  • Who do you think will be in the running for the 2012 WPS rookie of the year?

Q3: The Perfect Fit

  • Which college players fill the gap for your WPS team? Why?

Join us on Monday at 8pm ET to throw your thoughts into the mix. Just log on to TwitterTweetchat, or Tweetgrid, and use the #WPSchat tag.

A sport’s off-season wouldn’t be complete without discussions about free agency and signings. And there may be plenty of talk– 84% of the leagues players from last season are free agents (110 out of 131 rostered players, including all magicJack players).

As a fan, this is one of the best and disconcerting times as we see some of our favorite players on the team stay and others leave. We also see new additions added to the team, wonder how they will fit in, and what their impact will be on next year. It is a time when the fan may be the GM for their WPS team– hypothetically, speaking of course! We may build our dream team, letting our creative minds loose.

The chat will look for you to jump into your fantasy GM shoes and build your team.

List of free agents by team roster (click link to view team roster):

Atlanta Beat

Boston Breakers

Philadelphia Independence

Sky Blue FC

Western New York Flash

Q1: You’re the GM (choose your favorite team)

  • What players from last season would you look to re-sign? Why?
  • What free agents from other teams would you look to sign? Why?
  • What are your goals for the team this season? How do your signings reflect that goal?

Q2: The International Players

  • What internationals currently not playing in WPS would you like to see sign with a team? Was there a player you were impressed with from the 2011 WWC?
  • What are some of the obstacles for internationals playing for WPS?
  • What are some of the benefits of having an international player on your team?

Q3: Free Agents

  • Who are the top free agents available?
  • Is there a free agent player that the league needs to keep? Why?

Join us on Monday at 8pm ET to throw your thoughts into the mix. Just log on to TwitterTweetchat, or Tweetgrid, and use the #WPSchat tag.

Events over the past few weeks have got us thinking. Sports have the opportunity to transform, to unify people as a team and as a community. At the same time, these programs can cause real harm when leaders, players, and coaches fail to keep perspective.

With last season squarely in our rear view mirrors, we now have the time to reflect. We cheered on our favorite WPS teams and players, we celebrated a dramatic Women’s World Cup. But at moments in the past season, some may have found themselves asking what was taking precedence– the desire to win/save face or the desire to act with integrity. The chat will look at the impact of these moments on a sport, league, team, and player, if it differs depending on the allegation and what role the offender holds, and if the handling of the allegation is the most important part.

The chat will look to get your thoughts on WPS year three’s turmoil, leaving no stone unturned.

Q1: Dan Borislow’s Antics

  • What is the impact of this on WPS, magicJack team, and players?
  • Did WPS handle the antics properly? Why?
  • What are preventive measures that could be put in place?
  • How did Dan being an owner impact the handling of the antics?

Q2: The Treatment of magicJack Players

  • What was the impact to the players and the team?
  • What measures could have prevented this?
  • Did WPS handle this properly? Why?

Q3: Player Missteps

  • What is the impact of a player stepping out of line?
  • Does the impact differ depending on the player’s stature or role? Why?
  • Should WPS or the teams have punitive measures put in place? Why?

Join us on Monday at 8pm ET to throw your thoughts into the mix. Just log on to TwitterTweetchat, or Tweetgrid, and use the #WPSchat tag.

This week WPS  terminated the magicJack franchise, leaving the league with a total of five teams.  The team roster wasn’t short on high-profile names; including USWNT members Abby Wambach, Hope Solo, Christie Rampone, and Megan Rapinoe and WPS rookie of the year Christen Press. After leaving the D.C. area, the fans and community of this team are once again without someone to cheer for. The league again goes through turmoil in the off-season. With magicJack gone, where does that leave the players, the fans, and ultimately the league?

The chat  will look for your thoughts on the impact to the players, the fans, and the league with the closing of magicJack.

Q1: The Players

  • What happens to the high-profile players?
  • What options do the players have outside of WPS to play?
  • Does this make other professional leagues more appealing to players?

Q2: The Fans and Community

  • Where does this leave the fans of the team?
  • What impact did the team have on the community of southern Florida?
  • How does this impact the soccer community?

Q3: The League

  • What impact does the closure have on the league’s brand?
  • What does the league need to do in order to bounce back?
  • What message is the league sending by the closure of magicJack?

Join us on Monday at 8pm ET to throw your thoughts into the mix. Just log on to TwitterTweetchat, or Tweetgrid, and use the #WPSchat tag.

Welcome to another special edition #WPSchat with our friends at Our Game Magazine. We’ll be discussing two articles from the latest issue.

Ever wonder what a professional athlete goes through in the off-season to prepare for the upcoming season? The article Rest and Recovery, Regeneration: Preparing for Next Season in this month’s Our Game Magazine tells us how the best of the best get ready for the season ahead. The chat will discuss how a player treats off-season training impacts their performance during the season.

At the highest level of women’s soccer, the performance gap between the national teams is closing and closing fast. American universities and soccer programs offer international players an opportunity to train that remains unparalleled. The article Living and Playing the American Dream in this month’s Our Game Magazine covers the experience of several international players who are playing the game they love and continuing their education. The chat will look at this opportunity presented to international players and how it impacts the game at the highest level.

We here at Pitch Side View suggest you check out these articles and others in the current issue of Our Game Magazine.

Q1: Next Season Preparation

  • What impact does training in the off-season have on a player’s conditioning for the up-coming season?
  • What are the benefits or detriments of playing year round for a player?
  • What is the best approach to off-season training– team or individual training? Why?

Q2: Living and Playing the American Dream

  • What impact does international recruiting by US universities have on the development of the US game?
  • Do you see international players learning and developing under US university soccer programs as a benefit to the game? How?
  • In recent years, the disparity in play at the highest level has closed. Do you think there a connection correlation between this and the rise in international players playing for US Universities? Why or why not?

Join us on Monday at 8pm ET to throw your thoughts into the mix. Just log on to TwitterTweetchat, or Tweetgrid, and use the #WPSchat tag.

The WPS lost a major influence and legend in women’s soccer this week when coach Tony DiCicco retired from the Boston Breakers. He is best known for coaching the US Women’s National Team to Olympic Gold and a World Cup Final but he has influenced the game in other ways. He founded SoccerPlus, is a respected commentator for the game, and filled a commissioner role for the WUSA. You can’t mention women’s soccer and not immediately think of Tony.

What is next for Tony?

This week’s chat will look back at Tony’s career in the women’s game, the impact his retirement will have on the WPS, and what could possibly next for the legend.

Q1: Tony’s Era

  • What impact did Tony have on the US Women’s National Team?
  • What hole has his retirement left in the women’s game?
  • Is there anything he needs to accomplish in order to solidify his status as a legend?

Q2: Life in the WPS without Tony

  • What does Tony’s retirement mean for the league?
  • How will Tony’s WPS coaching career be remembered?

Q3: Tony’s Future

  • What is next for the legend?

Join us on Monday at 8pm ET to throw your thoughts into the mix. Just log on to TwitterTweetchat, or Tweetgrid, and use the #WPSchat tag.

The WPS 2011 off-season is underway. As in any professional sports off-season, this is the time of talk– when the slightest development sparks endless opinion. Discussions of the WPS will range from players to the top of the league office. The talk will include player salaries, league and team stability, the resignation of CEO Anne-Marie and her replacement to be, new scheduling conflicts, roster changes, and much, much more.

And why shouldn’t the talk get started with and by the fans on the #WPSchat?

This week’s chat will look at the player salary ceiling and floor, the stepping down of league CEO Anne-Marie Eileraas, and the expansion of the league.

Q1: A Ceiling and/or Floor for Player Salaries

  • What are the benefits of a ceiling and/or floor on player salaries?
  • What could be the repercussions of instituting a ceiling or floor?
  • Who benefits from the type of financial change?

Q2: Anne-Marie Eileraas Stepping Down

  • What does this do for the already volatile league image?
  • How will this be seen by investors and sponsorships?
  • What impact will the period of hiring have on the league?

Q3: The League Expansion

  • Where and when should the league look to expand, 2012 and beyond?
  • What type of expansion should the league adopt (brand new franchise or existing organization adoption)?

Join us on Monday at 8pm ET to throw your thoughts into the mix. Just log on to TwitterTweetchat, or Tweetgrid, and use the #WPSchat tag.

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