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After only two short weeks from the deflating news that WPS was suspending the 2012 season, we have been offered hope. This week WPSL announced the creation of an elite league which would include WPS teams. As describe in And They Play On, the Boston Breakers and the Western New York Flash have joined in. They will be joined by the Chicago Red Stars and FC Indiana. This keeps professional level women’s soccer play and players in the U.S. for 2012.

The chat will look to explore what this means for WPS, the players, and the game of women’s professional soccer in the U.S.

Q1: Women’s Professional Soccer

  • What does this do for WPS?
  • In what way may WPS benefit from this?
  • What impact does this have on the future of WPS?
  • What complications could come about from this decision?

Q2: The Players

  • What benefits do players get from this decision?
  • What decisions are players now confronted with?
  • What are the future considerations for the players?

Q3: The U.S. Women’s Professional Game

  • How is this a win for the women’s game?
  • Does this change the landscape of the women’s game? Why?
  • What does this mean for the future of U.S. soccer?

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.

The US Women’s National Team has been in the spotlight over the past month due to their domination in the CONCACAF qualifying tournament for the Olympic games. Most notably is the young talent that was on display in the final versus Canada where Alex Morgan scored twice and assisted on two more for the US. The youth movement is prevalent in the US national program, no more so in the next star on the scene– Morgan Andrews.Ryan Wood, editor at Our Game magazine,  had the opportunity to sit down with the rising star. We asked Ryan to join this week’s chat to discuss the article, the player, and the youth movement. You will find the interview on page 20 of the February issue.

A week ago,WPS released big news that the 2012 season would be suspended. Since then players have been vocal from posting elaborate blogs to tweeting concern, disbelief, and support. That ripple was felt as well by Our Game Magazine who had an interview feature with then new member of Sky Blue FC Manon Melis by Ciara McCormack. A funny story for the crew at the magazine came out of it (we’ll let them tell it though.) You will find the interview on page 5 of the February issue.

We here at Pitch Side View are excited to be partnering with Our Game again to bring you this chat. Make sure you check out these articles and others in the current issue of Our Game magazine.

Q1: The Youth Movement (Player profile Morgan Andrews) with Ryan Wood

  • What was is like interviewing the rising star?
  • Is her off-field personality different from her on-field personality?
  • How soon do you see her making the jump to the first team?
  • Give us some highlights of her career?

Q2: Center Stage (Manon Melis) with Ciara McCormack

  • Tell us what happened when you learned the news of WPS suspending the 2012 season?
  • What did you have to do to get the article ready to go for this issue?
  • What is next for Manon Melis?
  • What were her thoughts on WPS suspending the 2012 season?

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.

It feels great to be back in #WPSChat mode after a brief winter break!

Even in the off-season, exciting plays are being made. In this case, not by players but by Dan Borislow and WPS. Developments last week allow magicJack to play exhibition games this year, and avoid further legal action. Borislow was quoted as saying “It was a win-win-win here,” said Borislow via email. “I won, the league won and my team won. The fourth win is actually the fans and soccer.”  This week’s topic was suggested by longtime chat participant, unwavering advocate of women’s soccer, and Canadian through and through. Thanks to @Ingridium for the great suggestion!

Q1: Women’s Professional Soccer

  • How is this a win for WPS?
  • In what way may WPS lose with this outcome?
  • Will this confirm the detractors of the league? Why or why not?
  • What complications could come about from this decision?

Q2: Dan Borislow

  • How is this a win for Dan?
  • In what way might Dan lose with this outcome?
  • What are possibilities that Dan faces?

Q3: magicJack Team & WPS Players

  • How is this a win for the players?
  • In what way may the players lose with this outcome?
  • What does this mean for magicJack Team?

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.

On my last day at the 65th NSCAA Convention, I’m saying farewell but I’m leaving inspired. The last day turned out to be the busiest, and to have a little international flavor to it. It started with an awards breakfast for women’s soccer, next was a session on social media for college coaches, followed by a lecture on player development in Mexico. This was all before lunch time. The second half of the day  kicked off with the NSCAA All-America Luncheon, then a lecture on Japanese youth development, and ended with a session on Australian women’s soccer. Here is my recap of my last (and busiest) day at the NSCAA Convention.

I woke up bright and early to take in the women’s soccer breakfast in honor Sue Ryan, winner of the 2011 NSCAA Women’s Committee Award of Excellence. There was a healthy dose of laughs from every speaker that kept the mood light and entertaining. The comedic line-up featured Amanda Vandorvort (Co-Chair, NSCAA Women’s Committee), Paul Payne (NSCAA President), Alejandra Miller (Adidas Representative), Joe Cummings (NSCAA CEO & Executive Director), Tom Sermanni (Australian Women’s National Coach), John Daly (College of William & Mary Women’s Coach), and the woman of the hour– Sue Ryan (Stony Brook University Women’s Coach). Let’s just say Sue may have a second career in stand-up comedy. Although the laughs seemed to be non-stop, Sue’s acceptance speech truly hit home for me.

After the light hearted breakfast, I was pulled back into reality by a session on social media for college coaches. This lecture was presented by Janet Judge (Sports Law Associates LLC) where she brought light to the seriousness of how social media could be used to the detriment of a university and the athletic program. Coaches in attendance got the do’s and don’ts on the use of social media and also the ins and outs of social media for their student athletes.

Next was the lecture on player development in Mexico. The lecture was presented by Jose Enrique Vaca Pacheco (General Coordinator) and Juan Carlos Ortega Orozco (Technical and Tactical Coordinator). This was very interesting- the national program’s mission is more than just sports related. It aims to help improve the lives of their players and social concerns of the country. This seems like a daunting task but the governing soccer body is making great leaps to achieve these goals. It was uplifting to see what impact the game can have on a life and a country.

After leaving this great session, I made my way to the NSCAA 2012 All-America Luncheon which was packed. The mood of this reception was fun as Joe Cummings continued his comedic routine from the morning and was followed by Sunil Gulati (US Soccer President). The main event was Taylor Twellmen whose story is nothing short of inspirational. If you are not aware of Taylor’s story, please take a look here –  ThinkTaylor.

That may already seem like a full, exhausting day, but I was energized and excited for the next session. Tom Boyer (Director of Tom Boyer Academy) presented on the development of the Japanese youth system. If you watched the Japanese Women’s National Team win the 2011 Women’s World Cup, you saw the outcome of the system that set the team up for success.  Soccer has clearly become a way of life in Japan. The development consists of using pop-culture to reach young athletes through TV segments, cartoons, and comics to teach them technical skills. The technical skills are reenforced through camps and soccer-specific schools.

The last event of my 2012 NSCAA convention was a session on the changing philosophy and perception of the Australian Women’s National Team. Tom Sermanni, the coach of the Women’s National Team, gave a first-hand account on why a change was needed and how he made it happen. Known for being a strong physical team and playing “not to lose,” Sermanni focused on becoming a positive possession team and going after the win. After watching his team play in the Word Cup last year, the connection and progression is clear.

I plan to close my convention with a big THANK YOU to everyone at the NSCAA– not only for their hard work putting on this event, but more importantly for what they do every day of every year to drive forward a game I love. Looking forward to seeing everyone next year!

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.

Welcome to another special edition #WPSchat with our friends at Our Game Magazine.

Recent events have shone a light on the business side of sports– be it the WPS sanctioning or the NBA and NFL contract disputes. As I was reading the December issue of Our Game Magazine, I was reminded of the human side of this sport. The Letter from the Editor set this tone for me where Editor-in-Chief Tiffany Weimer talks about how her life has changed thanks to soccer. Throughout the issue, I kept seeing this theme from The Ali Krieger Story which chronicles one player’s inspirational story to Officially Famous that spotlights the best women referee tandem. These talented people may not have the chance to shine if not for the opportunities offered them by top leagues like WPS.

All too often, business takes the center stage in sports. In business, many times economics out-weighs social responsibility and humanity. In WPS, I’d go as far as to say the reverse is the case– whether we realize it or not. Should WPS fail, the impact will be more than one more failed business venture. There are real consequences in terms of the jobs of players, referees, front office staff, and coaches, not to mention the dreams of American youth, the progress of current players and the sport itself.

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

Q1: The Human Side

  • What does the possible closure of WPS mean for players?
  • What does the possible closure of WPS mean for referees?
  • What does the possible closure of WPS mean for coaches?
  • What does the possible closure of WPS mean for soccer programs, organizations, and camps?

Q2: The Progress

  • What loss in the gender equality of soccer and sports will be seen?
  • What loss in the progress and development of women’s soccer will be seen?
  • Will it be a step back or road block for the dreams and aspirations of soccer folks? 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.

The topic on everyone’s mind this week is the sanctioning– or should I say the “not sanctioning”– of WPS by the United States Soccer Federation (USSF).

Like any professional soccer league in the United States, WPS is up for annual review and sanctioning by the governing body USSF. A standard for sanctioning a division 1 league (highest level) requires the league to field a minimum of 8 teams. In 2011, WPS had six teams and the league was sanctioned as division 1 by receiving a waiver. With only 5 viable teams, they are once again applying for a waiver the 2012 season. The application is under review by USSF and the two parties continue to work towards an agreement.

The chat will look to get your thoughts on delayed sanctioning, the possibility of the league not being sanctioned or sanctioned as a different division, and what impact that will have for 2012.

Q1: Delayed Sanctioning News

  • What impact is this having on the WPS brand?
  • Will this build support for the league? Why or why not?
  • Will this confirm the detractors? Why or why not?

Q2: Sanctioned or Not

  • What impact will not being sanctioned have for WPS?
  • What impact will being sanctioned as a different division have for WPS?
  • What are possibilities the league faces?

Q3: The Future: 2012

  • As fans, what does the sanctioning mean to you? Why?
  • What impact does the sanctioning have for players and future players?

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.

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