Petro Club Weeks: Garden City Centennial SC
May 05, 2014 | by Ken Ilchuk
Founded in 1969, the Garden City Centennial Soccer Club set out to provide the youth of the community with a positive experience through the game of soccer. Through steady growth over the years the club now has more than 2,000 registered members and is the largest youth recreational activity organization in Garden City.
Like most clubs, the foundation is built in the intramural program, where four main principles guide the experience - everyone plays, balanced teams, positive coaching and open registration. From there, many players move on to the travel program. In addition to numerous team successes, the program has yielded a number of top collegiate players, including Emily Menges, a recent star at Georgetown University and 3rd round draft choice of the NWSL’s Portland Thorns.
GC Centennial also sponsors a Senior Division, led by 2013 LI Soccer Player Hall of Fame inductee Paul LeSueur, a TOPSoccer program for special needs children, an intramural referee training program, and a scholarship program. But one place where the club stands out is through their Developmental Program for U8 and U9 players.
Focused on skill development in young players, the initiative is part of the Nassau Development Program (NDP), which is a cooperative partnership of several village soccer programs in Nassau County. Started in 2010 for U9 players, initial success quickly led to the formation of a U8 division. The NDP is not a league, but rather a cooperative training program between several communities. Emphasis is placed on player development and technical skill work, as well as basic positioning and the teaching of fundamental game situations. Players take part in a weekly training clinic with certified trainers on Friday afternoons and then play in 4-6 scrimmages over the course of the season. The results of those scrimmages are not reflected in game scores or standings, but in individual player development. The scrimmages are simply an opportunity to practice the skills they learned in their training sessions in game-like situations.
Another benefit to the program is a “quiet coaching” philosophy for coaches and a zero tolerance policy for parents and spectators that encourages players to play freely and think for themselves out on the field, a critical component in higher level play as the players get older.
Garden City is a bit unique in that they have an open registration policy for this developmental program, as opposed to selecting players, allowing any player registered in intramurals to be part of the developmental program.
All of these programs clearly point back to the original club mission to create positive experiences through the game of soccer. In Garden City, Centennial SC has created an environment of fun, learning, skill development and competition that has established them as one of the largest and most successful soccer clubs on Long Island.