St. Louis Scott Gallagher Soccer Club

SLSG Juniors Program and Leadership Initiative Working Together

SLSG Juniors Program and Leadership Initiative Working Together


“Giving isn't just about making a donation. It’s about making a difference!”

~Cathy Calvin


“Giving back” is just one of the many themes that has been driving both SLSG programs, The Juniors Program (SLSG’s Developmental Program) and The Leadership Initiative.  The Leadership Initiative is a program that centers itself on the mission of increasing the number of female role models in the SLSG community through coaching and leadership specific discussions.  And one of the Leadership Initiative’s biggest supporters over the past year has been SLSG’s Juniors Director, Matt Stichling, aka “Stich”.  Stich has found an amazing way to help support both the mission of the Initiative and a need that current players may have by affording them an opportunity to “give back” and impact younger kids' lives all the while earning extra spending money.


“I am a big fan of what Scott {McDoniel} and the other directors are doing with the creation of The Leadership Program” Stichling said in a recent chat about the Spring Juniors Program, now in full swing.  “This spring, in addition to the WWT Soccer Park and Athletic Center both located in Fenton, the Juniors Developmental Program has approximately 800 participants all over the Metro area including the school districts of Lindbergh, Parkway, Rockwood, and Pattonville.  There is so much opportunity to impact a younger person’s life through the game. It is one of my passions, and I want others to be able to share in that passion.”


Last week, opening week for the Juniors Program, SLSG hosted eleven (11) different soccer sessions at eleven (11) different locations and used a coaching staff that included over 50 current SLSG players, 28 of which were from the girl’s division and very much a part of The Initiative. When asked about the impact in numbers, Eric Schmidt, Assistant Juniors Director, calculated the influence to be quite massive. “I would say that between the 28 girls that were a part of the staff this past week, they coached and worked with between 400 to 450 young players, all between the ages of 2-6.”  Hannah Smith, a U17 ECNL player and Eureka HS standout, has been on the Juniors Staff for several years now and absolutely loves being a part of the program.  “I love that I get to be a role model for the younger kids in the club by being on the Juniors Staff.  And I am proud to be a part of an organization that teaches kids values through sport and that soccer is more than just a game.”


“For me”, Stichling went on to say, “What is probably the most special twist to this story, is that the majority of the young ladies who are now coaching and teaching in the Juniors Program as staff members, actually started their soccer playing career at SLSG, as part of this very same program.” The Juniors Program is not only a recreational soccer program that promotes healthy activity for children and in many cases provides young players with their first kick of a ball, but this program is a springboard, for most, into the world of select soccer and the Competitive Levels of SLSG.


SLSG full-time staff member, Lauren Nuelle, charged with keeping each of the Juniors Programs sessions staffed appropriately, is especially excited about making the connection between the Leadership Initiative and the Juniors Program.  "The Leadership Initiative, in my opinion, is really important for the club.  I think it's critical for young girls in the Juniors Program to see females in coaching and leadership positions.  And in turn, I believe by giving these coaching opportunities to current SLSG players, they learn valuable lessons in leadership and communication."  One of the Program's star pupils as of late is Autumn Jackson, current member of SLSG’s U16 ECNL team, one of the top teams in the country at her age.  “I am extremely grateful to be working in the Juniors Program,” exclaimed Autumn.  “I remember having so much fun as a player in the Juniors Program, and it’s really when I began to fall in love with the sport. I hope I can help kids learn a little bit, have fun, and grow to love soccer just as my Juniors Program coached did for me years ago.” 


Autumn has been working alongside several other SLSG-mates. Approximately 25 of the 28 female staff members this past week currently play for SLSG. Maddie Clark, another current player, a member of SLSG’s U16 ECNL RL team, also had great things to say about the opportunity.  “I’m humbled that the club gives not just myself, but many of us players, the opportunity to learn about being a leader and a role model for younger children.  I think it’s important that we give back, and maybe share some of what we have learned from our coaches to younger players of SLSG. And we are able to do this through the Leadership Initiative and the Juniors Program, it’s really very cool and I’m really proud to be a part of it all.” 


The Juniors Program is always looking to afford opportunities to hard working, dependable individuals who wish to teach, coach, motivate, and help to instill a love and passion for the game of soccer.  If interested in helping in any way, please contact Matt Stichling at mstichling@slsgsoccer.com.