While youth sports tournaments are about players, the coaching experience is important, too. A good coach cares about his or her players, and the coaches interviewed at this weekend’s NSC All-American Cup emphasized the benefits that the National Sports Center provides for young athletes.
Specifically, the coaches referenced the level of play at National Sports Center tournaments as placing among the venue’s best attributes.
“It’s a good tournament,” said Tanner Baker, coach of the U19 Boys Bemidji Extreme (Adidas). “Lots of good teams, good competition. That’s why we keep coming back.”
Brad Fewell, coach of the Minnesota Thunder Academy Boys U19 team, said he has seen the National Sports Center’s events improve in regards to competition since he coached his first tournament here in 2003.
“I think the level of play has increased over time which is always a good thing,” Fewell said. “You’re attracting a good level of competition.”
Brendyn Lafferty said that he believes watching older players at events such as NSC All-American Cup provides a good example for young athletes including members of his U12 Boys Greater Grand Forks Soccer Club.
“I have a brother on the team here and I’ve caught him looking at the older kids, just kind of in awe at how they play,” Lafferty said. “I think it’s really cool that they can see what they can be, what they could potentially play like. They can dream.”
The perk of being able to observe the best practices of those around you at NSC tournaments extends to coaches, too. Lafferty, in his first year coaching, has used the event as a learning experience for himself.
“Watching other teams and seeing how other coaches conduct their teams and how everything is put together, just that in itself is a good experience,” he said. “I can get out of my head and see a perspective outside of my club’s that is really beneficial.”
Lafferty came back to a larger point when discussing the positives of the big tournaments that the NSC is capable of hosting.
“It’s really cool that kids at this age can be in big tournaments, and it definitely helps them develop their skills,” Lafferty said.
Jake Traen, coach of the Blaine Boys U16 team, referenced the National Sports Center’s size as being useful for a different reason.
“I coach multiple teams so it’s nice having all these fields out here,” Traen said. “It’s easy enough to get around on a bike or whatever. It’s just very convenient to get from place to place.”
All the coaches had positive things to say about the National Sports Center’s service. Baker said the check-in process is “nice and simple,” while Fewell referenced the NSC’s ability to cater to different levels of competition, among other things.
“I think they market very well,” Fewell said. “I think they’ve got a good following, and they’ve been doing this a very long time. They’ve got the facilities for it, and everyone knows where to go for a good tournament.”
Coaches are always looking for strong tournaments that are well-run and will help their teams get better. Once they find them, they know they have an annual event that they can return to, knowing it will be a positive experience for the club. The National Sports Center is uniquely suited to put coaches at ease.
“I’ve enjoyed every single tournament I’ve been up here,” Fewell said. “It’s been great, and we’ll keep coming back, absolutely.”