From Orange Wedges to the Women’s Premier Soccer League: The Butterfly Effect in Action banner image

From Orange Wedges to the Women’s Premier Soccer League: The Butterfly Effect in Action

How volunteering to help with my son's youth soccer team [very indirectly] led to an opportunity to re-imagine a WPSL soccer team's website

Aug 24, 2023 | Mike McKenna

"Soccer Isn't A Real Sport"

I'm fully convinced that the absolute, unquestionably best part of working in the business services world is the fact that I get to meet an endless supply of amazing people. A recent project launch led me to reflect on this truth—as well as to rediscover just how powerful and real the butterfly effect seems to be.

In (roughly) 1993, if my memory serves me correctly, my family was interviewed by the Middleborough Gazette, our local hometown weekly newspaper, as part of a series of articles highlighting local "sports families". We stood in front of our modest 1930's bungalow-style home at the end of our dead-end street and had our photo taken. We answered questions about which sports we coached (dad: baseball and soccer; mom: softball), and which we played (each of the three of us would eventually serve as high school captains of a variety of sports). Shamefully, I went on the record that day as declaring that soccer "was not a [real] sport." I'm not sure how sincere I was, but it certainly got a rise out of my younger sister Erin, who went on to play for and captain the Middleboro High School girls soccer team before repeating the same experience at Regis College.

I Was Wrong

Years later, as my two kids grew up and began to participate in youth sports, I had an opportunity to volunteer as a youth soccer coach. A few seasons of really enjoying that coaching experience, coupled with the 2006 FIFA World Cup™, (yes, that of the famous head-butt incident) and I was hooked for life. 

As the years went on, I was able to advance through the coaching ranks in our hometown, finding my way through the wildly complex tactical and technical requirements that are required for success. After a trip (and subsequent heart-breaking loss) to the state finals one year, I found myself as the league president. I kept moving along, riding my daughter's coat-tails, becoming a high school assistant coach, and now a college coach (my official, decidedly verbose title: Assistant Coach - Scouting, Analytics and Tactical Advisor). I've become deeply rooted in the sport, both in my community as well as in the college ranks. 

Vermont Fusion

My experience working with the Castleton Women's program has led to the opportunity to meet and befriend some truly wonderful people, chief among them Chris Chapdelaine and Eric and Sarah Perry, who run the Vermont Fusion soccer club in Manchester, Vermont. Through the connection between Castleton University and the Vermont Fusion, the team here at Shields SGF was able to create a brand-new website for the club--one that truly reflected the professionalism and essence of what the program is all about. From the Fusion website:

"We believe competitive soccer should be affordable for all players. Our club fees are lower than most other travel programs, thanks to financial support from our own Green Mountain Challenge Tournament, local area businesses, and volunteer time from parents and board members.

We are sensitive to the financial needs of our families and for that we offer a very giving scholarship program and multiple sibling discount for families with three or more kids registered during the same season. We encourage you to ask about this if your family is finding our fees a hardship.

Youth soccer should be inclusive for all players. We strive to keep all players who try out and make every attempt to not cut athletes. We will evaluate and assign players to the appropriate team where their skills can best develop and be successful. Fusion has multiple teams at some age groups and each team plays a full schedule. All players can improve their skills with the right teaching and a personal commitment to hard work along with a desire to improve. Teams receive extensive training and a competitive schedule so each player can improve throughout the season."

As someone who is firmly in the camp pitted against the current pay-to-play model of soccer in America, this is a mission and vision that I excites me and makes me want to put the full strength of my company behind. 

The Result

We were able to work with the Fusion to create a brand-new website, complete with a new look-and-feel and Content Management System. With an all-new look and feel that is much more true to the mission of the organization, and a far more powerful means of site management, the new Vermont Fusion site is one we can be proud of together. The icing on the cake: a great relationship and experience for both parties.