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Soccer Shots set to move; national youth sports program has new Lower Swatara home on April 5

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 3/27/18

Soccer Shots — a youth soccer program for children across the country from ages 2 to 8 — is ready to move to its new location in Lower Swatara Township.

On April 5, the organization …

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Soccer Shots set to move; national youth sports program has new Lower Swatara home on April 5

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Soccer Shots — a youth soccer program for children across the country from ages 2 to 8 — is ready to move to its new location in Lower Swatara Township.

On April 5, the organization plans to unveil its new building at 1020 S. Eisenhower Blvd., to the rear of the Harrisburg Christian Performing Arts Center, which sold the land to Soccer Shots. The 16,000-square-foot headquarters is three times larger than its old facility on AIP Drive.

There are 26 staff members working locally for the program, but public relations account director Kerry Owens said they hope to grow to about 35 in the next several years.

The new building includes a youth-size indoor futsal court, an observation deck for families, an outdoor soccer field and open work spaces. Futsal is an indoor version of soccer played on a hard court.

The new space will be shared with Soccer Shots Harrisburg/York, the locally owned Soccer Shots franchise.

The Soccer Shots concept began in Charlotte, North Carolina, and it was brought to the Middletown area in 2001 before moving to Lower Swatara Township about six years ago.

Programs usually last for eight weeks, with sessions once a week.

“Our team is thrilled to unveil our new support center. We’re grateful to have reached a level that allows us to invest in our team, our franchise system and the local community through this facility. Soccer Shots has been, and always will be, about growth and positive impact,” Soccer Shots partner Justin Bredeman said in a press release. “Our new space will further facilitate such growth, support and learning among our team, our franchise partners, and the children we serve.”

Soccer Shots was created by Bredeman’s Messiah College teammates Jeremy Sorzano and Jason Webb in 1998. Bredeman became a partner in May 2009.

Soccer Shots has 190 franchises in 36 states and Canada with more than 300,000 children participating. About 10,000 children participated in 2017 in Dauphin, York and Cumberland counties.

In December, Soccer Shots was named the U.S. Youth Soccer association’s official program for 2- to 5-year-olds. U.S. Youth Soccer is the largest youth sports organization in the country with more than 6,000 local clubs.

Bredeman said they were thrilled after the announcement. The partnership, he said, will help form alliances between Soccer Shots operators and local clubs and share resources.

“Once kids age out of Soccer Shots, they can move on to the club level for more competitive play,” Bredeman said. “It’s an opportunity for us to cross-promote programs to families who want to get their kids involved in soccer.”

In a press release, U.S. Soccer CEO Chris Moore said that Soccer Shots is a leader in child development soccer for youngers ages 2 through 5.

“Both of our organizations share a common mission, which is to impact and foster the development of youth through soccer. Therefore, there is a great opportunity and potential within this partnership to continue to spread the impact of soccer to an even larger group of people,” he said.

Sorzano, Webb and Bredeman have been playing soccer since they were young. Bredeman started when he was 5 years old and growing up in Albany, Georgia.

“I moved around a lot growing up, so soccer was a means of easily finding camaraderie in new situations,” he said.

He became passionate about it.

“I enjoyed the constant action, the competition and the creativity,” Bredeman said via email.

“While I played a couple other sports growing up, soccer was the sport that stuck for me. I’m not sure why, exactly, but I can remember always reading about the great soccer players around the world and being consumed with watching and learning as much as I could about the game aside from also playing,” Sorzano said via email.

Sorzano and Webb decided to start the business after they observed that soccer programs for players younger than age 8 either didn’t exist or wasn’t developmentally appropriate.

“Rather than throw kids into a scrimmage they huddled and discussed creating a program that not only taught the basic skills of the sport, but also focused on building character and sportsmanship in a positive and engaging way,” Bredeman said.

Bredeman said that, compared to other programs, Soccer Shots is aligned with education standards and evolves as standards evolve.

“Children as young as 2 need structure balanced with fun, and that’s what Soccer Shots provides,” Bredeman explained.

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, has offered the Soccer Shots program.

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