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Recently named Central Carroll Rec Council Volunteer of the Year Robert Freter thinks he has a way to attract volunteers to coach in the council's youth soccer program.

He's encouraged the group to bring in a college soccer coach to instruct parents who want to learn about soccer before they volunteer to coach. While that is an understandable position, Freter never let lack of knowledge stop him.

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About 14 years ago when his oldest son Grant signed up to play soccer for the then Sandymount Rec Council, his dad decided to help out.

"I went to a council meeting, and they needed someone to help out with the equipment. By the following year, I was running the program and have been doing it ever since," Freter said.

And what was his background in soccer?

"None. I had never played. My son wanted to play, and I was relatively new to recreation sports," Freter said.

He is no longer new to rec sports, and certainly not to soccer. He runs an in-house rec and travel soccer program that serves 650 children. He has also coached teams. Until a week or so ago, he was also president of the council's Soccer Club, a special organization consisting of the Central Carroll program's travel soccer teams.

And if all those soccer duties weren't enough, the Sandymount resident has been president of the entire Rec Council since he was elected to that office in 2012.

In 2008 when the Sandymount and Deer Park rec councils began their merger, Freter served on the transition team. He then took over the combined soccer programs which immediately doubled his responsibilities.

After the merger, there were 400 youngsters to handle instead of the 200 in his Sandymount program. It has grown steadily since then.

These days, the hours per week Freter spends on recreation volunteer work during peak times occasionally approach that of a full-time job. The peak comes during the registration period for fall and spring soccer as well as other sports. During that time, Freter must supervise the volunteers responsible for registration, scheduling, field reservation, finding coaches and a multitude of other tasks.

He says that the council's individual sports organizations pretty much run themselves once their seasons begin. However, Freter says he must work 20-40 hours a week during registration which is the most hectic time of year.

He says he does all of this for a couple of reasons. First, it's for his kids.

While Grant is now in college, his younger son Logan plays soccer as does his daughter, Hannah.

Second, it's for everybody else's.

"We have a good program for kids. I put a lot of hours into soccer [in particular]. I like it because it's a sport that anyone can play," he said.

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He wants to work toward several goals as rec council president.

"I want our programs to work together and help each other out. We need to improve communication and listen to what each other is saying," he said.

Like all recreation program directors, Freter also wants more volunteers. He hopes he has found a way to get them, starting with his specialty, soccer.

"I want to give [parent volunteers] an opportunity to learn. A lot of people won't coach, and they say, 'I don't know a thing about soccer.' So we brought in a technical coach with a college background last fall to teach our parent coaches. He came in after the season started but the coaches liked the sessions." Freter said.

While Freter acknowledges that he doesn't expect overnight success in attracting volunteers, he believes that parents in particular will be more willing to help with coaching if they have some soccer knowledge beforehand.This spring will be the first test of his theory.

Freter also wants to look beyond the boundaries of the Deer Park and Sandymount communities which make up the Central Carroll Recreation Council.

"I want to work with other rec councils on things like field usage and getting more volunteers to help," he said.

Freter, who was named the rec council's volunteer of the year nine years ago, said he was gratified at being named again this past October.

"The first time, I was surprised. This time, it was just satisfying to be recognized by people you work with," he said.

Council treasurer Lona Greensfelder is one of those volunteer co-workers who recognizes Freter's contributions.

"Robert does a lot. He runs the soccer program, and also tries to keep the council going as a whole. We didn't want to wait until he was gone to recognize him. We wanted to do it while he is still with us," she said.

A couple of weeks ago, he stepped down from the presidency of the Soccer Club citing the demands on his time.However Freter is keeping his positions as overall soccer program chairman and council president.

He says he'll know when it's time to leave.

"When the hours I put in are no longer satisfying, then you are ready to step down," he said.

He makes it clear he's not there yet. And his treasurer doesn't want him to get there any time soon.

"I hope he hangs around a lot longer," Greensfelder said.

410-857-7896

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