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Soccer Shots grows, wants to build Lower Swatara headquarters

Press & Journal Staff
Posted 3/22/17

Press And Journal Staff

Jason Webb grew up playing soccer for Cedar Cliff High School in Cumberland County, and he played well enough to continue competing as an adult, first with the team at …

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Soccer Shots grows, wants to build Lower Swatara headquarters

Coaches Julie Barton and Anthony Calvano work with youngsters during a Soccer Shots program.
Coaches Julie Barton and Anthony Calvano work with youngsters during a Soccer Shots program.
Posted

Press And Journal Staff

Jason Webb grew up playing soccer for Cedar Cliff High School in Cumberland County, and he played well enough to continue competing as an adult, first with the team at Messiah College and then with the professional Harrisburg Heat and the Charlotte Eagles. After his career ended, he wanted to share the sport with children.

With his former teammate Jeremy Soriano, Webb created a business that provides quality soccer programs for children ages 2 to 8, called Soccer Shots. He zeroed in on an age group he felt he could serve well.

“It was an age group that I was interested in working with, and an age group that had not been prioritized when it comes to good coaching,” Webb said. “I was the original coach.” He still does some coaching for local programs today.

Soccer Shots trains its coaches for a curriculum appropriate to the age groups it serves. Webb said Soccer Shots coaches are “just people who are awesome with kids that age.”

During college, he was one of the players involved with soccer camps on the college campus, and his professional teams often held clinics for younger players before their games.

The concept first began in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Webb brought it to the Harrisburg area in 2001. He said when they began the program, they had no idea how fast it would grow.

About 10,000 children in the area (Dauphin, York and Cumberland counties) will participate in Soccer Shots this year, with 300,000 children participating this year with 170 Soccer Shots franchises in 34 different states.

“We discovered there was a niche in quality programming for children,” said Webb, who serves as the vice president of strategic partnerships of Soccer Shots.

“We’re a clinic-based, typically mobile program children’s soccer experience,” Webb said. About half of the children participate through school partners, which include many childcare providers visited by Soccer Shots coaches. For instance, Discovery Kids, located on Oberlin Road in Lower Swatara Township, offers the Soccer Shots program.

Soccer Shots also has public programs with other partners, such Derry Township Parks and Recreation, which offers Soccer Shots during the summer at Shank Park.

“We hope to offer something in Middletown, too,” Webb said.

While introducing children to soccer, the Soccer Shots program introduces character-building concepts like respect, teamwork and appreciation with a curriculum aligned with the early learning childhood standards set by the state Office of Child Development and Early Learning. The office reviews curricula from private groups to help them align with the standards, however, it makes no endorsements.

Soccer Shots first was based in Middletown and moved to Lower Swatara Township about five years ago. The company is now looking to move to a new site at 1000 Eisenhower Boulevard in Lower Swatara to the rear of the Harrisburg Christian Performing Arts Center and build a 13,460-square-foot structure.

Initial plans stalled late last year after several variances were not granted by the township’s zoning hearing board. It granted a variance for lot size but not for buffer zones and setback distances from property lines.

The planning commission approved with conditions a new plan from Soccer Shots, and now it must go before the full township board of commissioners, which could happen in April.

About 20 to 25 people will work at the new corporate headquarters building, Webb said. Currently, the company has 18 full-time employees, with two in North Carolina. Most of those based in this area manage the corporate side of the business and are not involved with local programs, Webb said.

Visit Soccer Shots online at soccershots.org.

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