The latest guest on New England Soccer Journal’s “The Goal” podcast is an integral figure for one of the most respected youth clubs in New England.
Boston Bolts ECNL Director Sam Matteson joined the podcast with host Matt Langone for a compelling discussion that dove deeper into the spring ECNL season, how the league and the Bolts have developed over the years, and coaching at the club and college levels.
Matteson is a native of Stonington, Conn., and played midfield for Division 3 Mitchell College, before earning a master’s degree at the University of New Haven. He is in his seventh year with the Bolts, as he also coaches the 2007 and 2003/04 ECNL teams for the club, and this fall will be his third season as an assistant coach at Division 1 Holy Cross. He had previous coaching stints at New Haven, Bridgewater State University and Bryant University.
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Here are some highlights from our discussion with Matteson in the latest episode of “The Goal”:
On how the Bolts separate themselves from other clubs:
Matteson: “We believe with everything that we have to offer in the Northeast, with our pathways, and not just limited to USL Academy, and with what we have on the horizon, we will always be in a very good situation here in the Northeast.”
On the mindset that makes a player a strong fit for the Bolts:
Matteson: “I think they’re looking for a very competitive environment that they’re going to enjoy. I think that’s the No. 1 thing. They have to enjoy what they’re doing — if they do work hard at it, they’ll remain committed.”
On helping players balance gaining exposure for themselves and playing within the team concepts:
Matteson: “You tell them to focus on the game, the task at hand. We’re very lucky at our club. We have lots of coaches, who either still coach at the college level, or have extensive experience at the college level. So (the players) are exposed to us often and we’d like to think that we try and help them in the recruiting process as much as we can.”
On the progression of the ECNL pathway:
Matteson: “It’s a pathway we haven’t had forever, and it’s making parents realize that this might be a really good fit for your son. Maybe not for everyone, but for a lot of the players in New England that are playing at either very good public high schools, or very good private high schools, that this is a pathway that they can be very successful in.”
On how vital club soccer is to players these days:
Matteson: “I think good players can play anywhere. I think that’s for certain. And you see it. You see some kids that have only ever played at the high school level or the prep school level. For us, I think it is necessary. And it’s not just in terms of development, but also exposure. I do my recruiting — I will go watch high school games and prep school games. But after the fall, in the winter and the spring, you’re at the club stuff, the showcases, the national events.”
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