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Celtic & Rangers FC

News Detail

13

Apr, 2017

Olympia FC and Celtic Rangers Merge!

Exciting News for Olympia FC!


Background

Just 5 short years ago, 2012, there was major concern brewing in Heber Valley Soccer Club (Storm) over providing better quality training and coaching for the athletes.  The club was run largely by people who had limited soccer background.  I volunteered my services to the club to begin improving the service being offered to the kids.  There was a culture of disconnect among coaches and teams.  Each team was an island and there was little to no coordination between teams and the club.  Coaches were a God send, doing their best to provide a service many were providing for the first time in their lives.  We were so grateful for their willingness and sacrifice.  Unfortunately, there was no structure in place to provide assistance to them.  I believed things could be better for the coaches and the athletes.  I believed Coaches could improve with unified direction and that athletes would improve with some additional higher level training opportunities.

I was concerned that we were losing so many athletes 14 and older to clubs in Utah and SL county, and that we weren’t capturing enough young talent to carry forward quality teams.  I believed then, as I do now, that a product could be built to provide a haven for the average athlete and a path for the elite athlete simultaneously.  I pitched my plan to bring in more qualified coaches and trainers and to raise the prices by $75 a year.  Eventually the divide grew so large, and the abuse so strong, that those of us who believed a club could cater to both the average and elite athlete had to create a safe space for our parents and athletes who shared a similar vision.  A club for ALL athletes, of every level, striving to better themselves and having fun doing it.  


Olympia Begins

As a result, just three short years ago, 2014, we as parents, coaches, and athletes established a new club with an emphasis uniquely focused on player skill development, player character development, and athlete opportunity.  Our vision was aimed to serve athletes of all levels and backgrounds.  In that time, our effort has grown that collective vision from a club of 6 to now 20 teams.  Our valley, once having just 26 teams, now has nearly 50.  We credit this level of interest in soccer largely to the parents and athletes that were willing to stand up and share their voice regarding the quality of soccer available here in the Heber Valley.  Olympia stamped out a culture of family, community, and excellence that appeals to all levels.  We express our incredible enthusiasm for the future of our club, and for the opportunities afforded our kids as we move forward.  


Our Culture

Olympia FC is dedicated to becoming the very best for the kids it serves.  This commitment to quality and opportunity are paramount with every decision made on their behalf.  We continue to remain true to our community values, and are proud of our athletes and parents for demonstrating such values in soccer as well as in other aspects of life.  Our athletes have been involved in raising funds for wounded veterans, gathering supplies for the children’s Justice Center, assisting on multiple occasions at after school youth programs, befriending displaced refugees through soccer, volunteering at community gardens, and of course volunteering to referee and coach for the Olympia Rec programs.  Parallel to this demonstration of character, many of our athletes have also been selected for state Olympic Development programs, received selections to play varsity High School soccer as freshmen, and have received invitations to national and international ID camps.  In addition to these, we celebrate with each new juggling record achievement, and with each new skill learned by our kids.  All these accomplishments are nothing short of impressive and they should be acknowledged for their effort and achievement.  Truly we are building character through excellence.


Our Coaching

Our coaching staff has been dedicated to our athletes and continues to fine tune their craft.  Our staff has organized Salt Lake Community College teams to run a day camp for every child in the club, an intensive winter camp with coach Chad Liddle, and numerous training opportunities from our very own Director of Coaching, Mark Davis.  All these opportunities, are in addition to the excellent training received each week from coaches.  Our passionate coaches are the backbone that makes this club and its culture what it is today, and we could not be more impressed by their ability to work with the athletes, to unify them as teams, to set expectations high and to develop them into men and women of character.  We will continue to implement our coaching philosophy to provide the highest quality possible coach, to support qualified parent coaches with ready access to coaching resources, and to expect a unified and focused approach from all coaches to act in the best interest of developing athletes.  Our coaches deserve recognition for their achievements on the pitch and their success in the lives of our kids.


Our Journey to Excellence

Olympia FC has delivered on its mission to provide the highest level opportunities for the kids who choose them and a fun and positive experience for all.  This is not to say our teams and athletes have not had rough patches.  Becoming our best is not a journey filled with roses and compliments, but rather mountains to be climbed and challenges presented where roses, compliments and dreams are planted, made and fulfilled. Our experiences, whether rough or otherwise, provide the opportunities for us to become our best.  We can shrink from them or rise to meet them.  Undoubtedly, more difficulty lies ahead, but with proper perspective we can recognize that difficulty as the process of development to become our best.   We are proud of all our athletes and parents that consistently demonstrate such character in their lives and rise to the challenges they face.


Our incredible success in such a short time has earned us the attention of several distinguished soccer clubs throughout the state.  This increased awareness has provided another opportunity for advancement and solidification of our quality presence in soccer.  Through this process, we have made some important, and challenging observations regarding the future of the kids we serve.  We have discovered some areas of weakness and seek to fortify against those weaknesses.


Growing Challenges

We have observed, over the past 6 years, soccer in this small valley as well as throughout the state, and have seen the U14 and up group has needed some additional attention.  The reason for this is quite natural.  It is much easier for kids to participate at a higher level in multiple sports while they are young.  With age, it becomes more and more challenging for them to remain multi-sport athletes.  We are committed to serving all ages within our club and we will continue to reach out to improve the quality and quantity for all.  However, we have noticed a trend around this age where athletes begin to solidify their commitment to one sport or another.  We, Olympia, take some responsibility as we have encouraged multi-sport athletes in the youth of our club, and encourage them to narrow that commitment at their own pace.  Enabling this autonomy comes at a price.  Athletes sometimes choose other sports.  Our approach to this situation is one of confidence.  It requires great confidence to build a product that allows autonomy for kids.  We can never allow ourselves to be emotionally charged by a decision an athlete makes.  We must instead provide a setting that enables rather than restricts that autonomy.  


When athletes do choose other areas of emphasis we are frequently left with a partially dedicated squad, who have a lot of fun together but do not all share the same goals.  That they have fun together and enjoy playing is great, but that the seriousness of the matches they currently play is not shared by all, it creates a situation in which those who are more serious find themselves contemplating other options.  Athletes desiring to be pushed more, and to play at a higher level then choose to play for clubs outside our valley.  Our observation has shown this not to be a lack of quality coaching, but rather a disconnect among the athletes themselves as to the level of commitment they have to their craft.  Meaning, that the vision of where they want to take their soccer is not shared by all athletes on the team, and they begin to feel it is holding them back.  Our mission suggests we should aim to provide opportunities for all athletes along the spectrum of dedication to have a great experience in the club.  This means we cannot just write-off the group looking for higher opportunity nor should we focus exclusively on that population.  We need a structure that satisfies both.  As a result, we have reached out to some clubs and provided opportunities for athletes who choose to train with similarly dedicated athletes from another area.  The opportunity to train with more dedicated and higher skilled athletes has allowed those athletes to continue to feel challenged and pushed, and resulted in them being more satisfied to stay and play with their local team.  


A Few Solutions-the Beginning

This approach is a good start but does not go far enough to realize the actual beneficial development opportunities for kids.  As a board, we have not isolated our attention to one particular segment of our club, but continue to do all we can to build a balanced program that is first fun for the athletes, and second, provides opportunities for all ages to excel at their own pace without resistance.  To begin this higher development process, we have provided training opportunities from high level trainers immersed in the game.  Additionally, we have secured a relationship with a professional soccer team from the premier league in England, Stoke City.  We have brought in coaches and experts from all over the nation.  We have been able to do this because our connections are vast and deep.  And we have even secured local ID camps, as well as national and international elite ID camp opportunities for our athletes.  This approach has provided opportunities for kids they wouldn’t get in other clubs and has raised the value of our organization dramatically.  This appeal has allowed us to keep more talent in the valley.  This is evidenced by the fact that since the creation of Olympia the number of teams in the valley has grown from 26 to nearly 50.  We are proud to deliver such a great soccer product.   


Fulfilling our Athletes’ Dreams

We have seen the creation of Olympia FC as a very positive thing, and we have loved our experience these past three years.  We love our community, and we love the culture we have created.  We continue to create an atmosphere where the community can come together, play together and excel together.  Some might suggest the numbers of athletes that actually play in High School, college, or beyond are very low as justification for not providing greater opportunity for kids.  At Olympia we have never resonated with that message.  Our philosophy has always been that athletes should be provided the path to success.  Only then are they enabled to choose to fully pursue it.  We will never restrict the dreams, hopes and wishes of a child even if research and public opinion suggest the chances may be slim.  When a club is only designed to cater to average athletes they are saying they choose to ignore the elite ones and that isn’t right either.  All children and athletes of all levels deserve the opportunity to make of life what they choose.  Children should not be restricted in their hopes and dreams by a limited advancement philosophy.  We commit, as our philosophy, to foster a place for the average and the elite athlete.  This is my personal commitment to you, and our commitment as a board to the members.  We will continue to let the child athletes determine what they will do and how far they will go, and will do all in our power to guide them and to provide the resources to get them there.  Let us all set out to celebrate our children’s successes, whatever they choose, and let us all commit to enable rather than stifle their development.  


The Soccer Divide in Heber Valley

We are aware there has been an attitude of separation and divide in the valley over soccer.  It is important to acknowledge that the divide over soccer in the valley started before Olympia even came to be.  In fact, that divide was one of the major driving forces behind the creation of Olympia.  We are proud to say that our club philosophy holds no room for poor sportsmanship, for bullying or taunting others at school or elsewhere.  Our athletes have been shining examples of this.  Winning over others has been done with kindness, with graciousness and with a sincere desire to have others experience the same fun we are having here.  In an effort to unite the local soccer community we have met with several different leaders and have proposed various solutions which to date have come of naught.  We have done our homework.  We have spoken to parents, coaches and board members.  Parents, more often than not, are brought to a point where they say, “why not just build something new?”  We do not wish to go backward or start over.  Now it is time for us to take all that is great about what we have done and be a part of something even better.  


Together we can create that something better.  Our club has created significant waves in the state soccer world.  Starting over would push us back a step without fully solving the broader issue.  The broader issue is numbers… population.  The local population, even if clubs are combined, is not enough to provide continued quality for the commitment spectrum of kids as they age.  There is a dropoff of interest in soccer after the age of 14 in the valley.  Kids begin to dedicate themselves to things.  A natural divide develops between those who want to take soccer further and those who are looking at other things.  Over the past 6 years with my experience in HVSC and Olympia, I have observed the following scenario play out time and time again.  Once an age group gets to 14 there are so many other things pulling at the kids in the valley they start choosing.  This is not because they do not like the sport, but because they choose to focus more on one area.  There is nothing wrong with this.  The athletes need to have a system built around them that allows for them to make such decisions.  As much as I would love to say everyone will choose soccer, it just isn’t a reality.  As a result, the available talent pool is dramatically thinned.  We are then left with a team that has a limited number of dedicated quality athletes.  “Building something new and simply combining” could be a good thing, but is still not enough opportunity for our kids.  If we are to trade away what we have, it should be for something greater for the kids than they currently have.  Trading what we have ONLY for something even greater is exactly the philosophy we have used in determining how best to solve these difficult concerns.


Athlete Centered and Community Focused

We used this philosophy when discussing the possibility of a Celtic and Rangers FC merger.  This option appealed to us as Celtic and Rangers both field high level teams at every age group and gender and because they have chosen to remain focused on quality and community by not absorbing other organizations.  We sat down with their board and discussed what was needed and whether this could work.  We found that our values aligned and our commitment to player development was considered in line with their standards.  We discussed the value both clubs would experience if united, from improved coaching opportunities, player passing, and tournament teams, as well as State Cup rosters.  The philosophy of Celtic Rangers continues to be to remain small so as to guarantee quality and community feel.  This is not a club out seeking to absorb a bunch of other smaller clubs as we have seen done with some of the larger clubs in the state.  They will not be poaching our players.  This does not resonate with their philosophy.  This was actually a concern of theirs.  They liked the idea of Heber because it was close enough to be a community, but far enough apart to not feel like we were competing for the same athletes.  Keeping the organization smaller will continue to allow for community feel and family culture.  We love that kids of our valley can go to school together and play on teams together.  We are excited to provide this sustainable opportunity to support all athletes in our community and look forward to more cherished relationships without being forced to leave the community to further their game.  In this way we are providing a community focused and athlete centered option.


The Merging of Clubs

This option was, in our opinion, adding something great to make something even greater.  Emphasis should be placed on the word Adding.  Now our kids, who have worked so hard, will experience a boost in value by association.  Just a few associations we will garner is Jennifer Rockwood, Head Coach of BYU Women’s Team, Steve Magleby,  Assistant Coach of BYU Men’s Team and DOC Celtic Rangers.  We also gain the reputation of Ashley Hatch, a product of Celtic who now plays for the NC Courage and got her first cap in the USWNT  vs Switzerland match at Rio Tinto.  Rangers has been a club since 1982 and fields top level teams in nearly every age group.  The Celtic is well known as a top 5 club in the west, and also field top level teams in every age group.  They are doing things right by placing kids in college and beyond with each season.  We will be offering a delayed tryout date in Heber for kids from Orem and Provo area.  We are offering this because they turn away 50-60 kids per age group.  They have agreed to direct those that are turned away to their new Heber club.  This will buffer numbers in the club, even if we only get 5% of the kids that actually choose to come up.  There are many kids and parents that want to be associated with this quality organization and are willing to go to great lengths to make it happen.  We will continue to canvass the local communities for talent.  We have enjoyed a numbers bump from Park City athletes, a community of 15,000 people just 15-20 min away.  In addition, we now can enjoy a numbers bump from Provo Orem athletes, a community of 200,000 people just 20-25 min away.   Those age groups that have the need for numbers will be assisted in this way.  This will increase opportunities to play, improve numbers, and allow a wider opportunity path.  These strategies all place the choice in the athletes lap with far less resistance.


Value for parents and athletes

Some people have considered other options for their child due to team rank etc.  

There is a much greater value in joining with us as Celtic Rangers than leaving the brand association to play for a club with little to no brand recognition.  All the best athletes in the valley and the highest level teams in the wasatch back, should join with us.  It is in the best interest of the youth athletes to join with this nationally recognized brand.  As they bring their teams over they will be permitted to keep their current division standing, and we will only further that standing.    


It’s not just about which club at each age group has more “top level athletes”.  It’s about which club environment offers the best opportunity and affords more choice for the kids.  The club that offers the best opportunity and greater choice to the kids is obvious… Celtic Rangers.


It is okay to separate with a lesser brand to provide something better for the youth athletes.  It is up to us to reassure others considering the move that they and their child will be fine, that they will be embraced as they join with us and will have a great experience as have you and your child.


It is up to us to invite others to come Join with us as a top 25 nationally ranked club and an organization that places more collegiate athletes than all but 3 clubs nationally, and happens to be right here in Heber.  If a unified soccer front is desired in the wasatch back the solution is now right here, come join us!  Those teams that do come join with us are permitted by the state to remain in the same division.  Nothing will be lost, but much will be gained for all the kids by joining with us.


This merger is the perfect solution to all the above concerns.  It enables for a spectrum of commitment without asking those with higher dreams to sacrifice their interests.  It provides broader play and coaching opportunities.  Lastly, it provides an opportunity for the whole valley to unite under one nationally recognized banner and to put the attitude of separation and divide behind us by uniting as something greater.


The Best Solution for Heber Valley

In summary this merger provides the following benefits:

  1. Only solution in the valley that caters to average player and Elite

    1. Our promise is to cater to the average player without ignoring the elite player  

  2. Community Focused

    1. Kids that learn together still play together.  

    2. Better able to provide increased opportunities while still maintaining community value.

  3. Athlete Advancement Centered

    1. More Consistent Solution for athletes of all levels and skill

    2. A closer connection to those who understand the college scene.

  4. Athlete Autonomy

    1. Affords athletes the autonomy of sport selection with less negative impact to team.

  5. Deeper Trainer and Coaching Pool

    1. More opportunity for athletes to be exposed to higher level trainers and coaches.

  6. Numbers

    1. Gain in numbers and quality.

    2. Working referral relationships with a nearby community of significant population.

  7. Top 25 Club Nationally

    1. An immediate awareness bump becoming a top 25 club nationally.


We invite all our members to share this great news with everyone.  This is very big for soccer in the Heber Valley… We are leading the charge.  Thank you for welcoming and inviting all your friends and neighbors to come experience soccer as a united valley.  Tryouts will be held during the last two weeks of May.