The latest guest on New England Soccer Journal’s “The Goal” podcast has been at the forefront of one of New England’s most successful clubs for over two decades.
FC Stars Executive Director and ECNL Girls Director Jason Dewhurst has been with FC Stars since the club started 23 years ago. This week, he’ll accompany several Stars teams to the ECNL National Playoffs in the area of Seattle, Wash. The playoffs will feature the age groups of U-13, U-14, U-15, U-16, U-17 and U-18/19, and will run from June 22-29.
Dewhurst joined host Matt Langone on the podcast to discuss the National Playoffs and also reflect back on another terrific season for FC Stars, which has two sides — FC Stars Blue and FC Stars White — competing each year in the New England Conference.
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Here are some highlights from our discussion with Dewhurst in the latest episode of “The Goal.”
On how the Stars approached the season:
Dewhurst: “It’s a tough season. It is a grind. The kids are in high school in the fall and then they come back. We really only have probably two to three weeks to try and get them ready for our first games in December. And then we have the showcase in Florida over January. So it really is about managing them, managing their load, especially after the heavy high school season.”
On the excitement level of the players to be going out to Washington:
Dewhurst: “It’s great. For some of the older ones, they’ve been there before. For the younger ones, it’s new to them. So maybe that’s why we were discussing it as coaches — kind of just put it in perspective for the younger ones just to calm down a little bit. Right now, we’re in the mode of obviously preparing for it, but making sure that we’re physically ready after the end of the season that we had. We went to the showcase in New Jersey, which is the national showcase over the Memorial Day weekend. We gave them 10 days off afterwards just to recover.”
On how the players handle the travel and being away from home:
Dewhurst: “It’s going to be interesting to see how the younger players handle it. I mean, the 13s, to be honest, haven’t really traveled that much this year. For them, it’s a long trip. It’s an exciting trip for them. And I think it is for the families, too. But again, it’s not easy going out there and not sleeping in your own bed, playing against teams from all over the country.”
On the process of getting the club to this point of success:
Dewhurst: “It was a slow process and it was organic, I would say. I think we’ve always had good teams, but I do believe that when we got our facility — we have four turf fields with lights right now in Lancaster, Mass. — and that’s where the majority of our central programs are. We obviously have our different regions around the state, too, but that, for me, was a game-changer in regards to our training environment, because we stress that the training environment is the most important thing. That kind of changed the mindset of the club. We weren’t reliant on different facilities around the state.”
On expectations for the National Playoffs:
Dewhurst: “We’re obviously looking to compete, because it’s the highest level and we’re looking to make it through the groups. That’s what it comes down to. With a group stage, it’s good because there’s four very good teams in every group. We kind of say if you win your first game, that doesn’t mean you’re going through. If you lose your first game, that doesn’t mean you’re going home. It’ll come down to the three games. Our goal is to make it through all of those groups.”
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