Rec Sports Spotlight: Central Carroll wants 'you to volunteer'

It happens all the time. A child signs up to play a sport run by the local rec council. The parent thinks about helping out, maybe even coaching a team. But since that dad or mom knows nothing about the sport their kid's playing, they back off.

And the rec program doesn't get some needed help.


Central Carroll Recreation Council president Robert Freter believes many potential volunteer youth coaches are scared off in exactly that manner.

"All rec councils have the same problem, getting volunteers. People say they don't know what it takes,so they'd rather not (volunteer)," Freter said.

Freter thinks he has an answer to that. If they don't know enough, maybe the rec council should teach them.

And that's what Central Carroll has done for its soccer program.

This past spring, it hired Frank DiLeonardi, of Level 5 Soccer and Mighty Kicks. This business provides soccer instruction at day care centers, summer camps and other youth events. The resident of Baltimore County also trains players and runs coaching clinics for rec volunteers.

Since this spring, he's been assisting the Central Carroll youth soccer program.

If someone doesn't know the rules or strategy of soccer, he has handed out written material with the basics. If they don't know which drills to use in their kids' practices or how to run them, there is a handout with all the information they'll need.

Have a question? Email him, and he'll answer it.

DiLeonardi is a former assistant coach and goalkeeper coach for the McDaniel College men's soccer team. He also developed pre-and post game warm-up and cool down routines for the players and conducted practice planning.

He incorporates a lot of that experience into the programs he's developed for rec players and coaches.

Freter said that each of his soccer coaches gets a curriculum which addresses the skills the players have to learn and a plan for teaching these skills.

"There are practice plans and directions about how to run practices. There are explanations of ways to change things around to keep the kids interested and also discussions about what you should expect to accomplish at each practice session," Freter said.

Included are discussions of situations a youth coach might encounter and ways of resolving them.

"This makes it easier for coaches to relate to the kids.It helps the coaches to anticipate problems that arise," DiLeonardi said.


Armed with this guidance, coaches no longer run disorganized practices because they don't know what to do. It's all there in front of them in black and white.

Freter says he isn't yet sure if this education program has helped the Central Carroll soccer program attract more volunteers. But he is certain that it has raised the morale of those already there.

He thinks it is particularly important that these individuals realize that they aren't alone once they start working with their youngsters. The program's leadership has their backs as it were.

"The volunteers who are already participating are more confident coaches. We have eight or nine new coaches this fall, and they have already learned a lot," Freter said. "Anything you can do to support the volunteers you have or get new volunteers is a winning situation."

DiLeonardi ran a clinic during the spring for the program's volunteer coaches.

"I had coaches who went to his class tell me that they learned more there than they learned in all their previous years of coaching," Freter said.

Part of the instructional program is for the players themselves. The sessions are held for two hours on Friday nights. The youngsters are put through drills and exercises supervised by DiLeonardi along with McDaniel College soccer players.

Freter says it will take time for Central Carroll soccer program officials to know how much the training has helped. They will have to watch their players against good competition to see how much they have improved.

"We probably won't know until a year from now after they have advanced up into the next age group. It will take a full season for it to take effect," Freter said. “We want you to volunteer. And we will support you with education and training to help you succeed as a coach."