WILMINGTON, NC / MYRTLE BEACH, SC (April 5, 2018) – Wilmington Hammerheads Executive Director, Carson Porter and Coast FA Executive Director, Heyward Gulledge are excited to announce an innovative partnership between the two clubs that will improve player development and player opportunities for all members of both clubs.
The partnership will help strengthen the coastal soccer community by bringing together two significant clubs in the region. The clubs plan on working together to improve among other things, coaching education and player opportunities.
“In order to compete at the top levels of youth soccer and provide our players with consistent opportunities to play college soccer and beyond, we have to come together as a coastal community,” said WHYFC Executive Director, Carson Porter. “We now have a national platform in the ECNL, and I’m proud of this partnership and what it will do for our community.”
The Wilmington Hammerheads recent acceptance into the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) on both the boys and girls side of the program will serve as the top level of programming for both Coast FA and the Wilmington Hammerheads.
“This partnership starts with the relationships and trust we have built with the Wilmington Hammerheads,” said Coast Director of Coaching, Ross Morgan, “All of us believe that consolidating our player pools, working together as coaches, and competing in the ECNL create a pathway for our players that we did not previously have. The ECNL is not a program for all players, only the most committed players and parents should consider this option come tryouts.”
“I am really excited about this partnership, because throughout our discussions, what was always present from both Coast FA and WHYFC was the idea that we have to do what is best for our players,” said Kevin Johnson, WHYFC Director of Coaching. “Creating strong ECNL teams, working together to improve all of our coaches, and collaborating on ideas as we move forward will accomplish this goal.”
Coast Director of Coaching, Joel Banta added “the ECNL structure allows each of us to keep our SCYSA / NCYSA club teams in tact while providing additional high level matches through the ECNL schedule. Unlike the Development Academy, the ECNL allows some local training in Myrtle Beach and the players have the option to play high school soccer. In the past if we did not have a Coast team at the correct standard for an achieving player we would encourage them to tryout for the Development Academy or a SRPL team in Charleston or Columbia. Our new partnership with Wilmington will allow our achieving players to remain with Coast and also play ECNL.”
The partnership was informally launched last Wednesday night when current U.S. National U-17 coach John Hackworth put on a guest coaching session with players from both Coast FA and WHYFC.
“There are times when we get caught up in wins and losses and who is better than who,” said Porter, “but ultimately we are all working to improve the environment for our players, give them a great experience, and provide them opportunities to be the best they can be. It is a fact that we are stronger working together than apart.”
The Coast FA staff will bring interested players to the WHYFC Talent ID nights scheduled for April 18th and April 25th in Wilmington. This will formally launch the partnership and give the two clubs a chance to look at the player pool together as one. Decisions will be made on ECNL rosters later in the month of May.
“We all want what is best for our players,” said Morgan. “Bringing our communities together will have a significant impact on the quality of players and teams we are producing. We are excited to get started.