SLYSA is one of the finest organizations of its kind in the country

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Updated: July 10, 2014
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“You have to adapt to situations, in the game and in life. We do a disservice to kids by trying to teach them a particular method but to rather how to make their own decisions. Coaches shouldn’t be joy-sticking players because players aren’t learning. Always an emphasis on having fun and growing to love the game,” says Jim Bokern of Ajax St. Louis SC in an interview with Ole Olsen for SLYSA.

Club Name: Ajax Saint Louis SC
SLYSA Member (years): Six
Geographic Area served: South City
Age Groups served: U8 to U18

Tell me about your Club (‘elevator pitch’)
A community-based club focused on area families that emphasizes the need for kids to participate in multiple sports and activities.

How is the Club approaching player development (by age group)?
For the U8 to U11 the kids will spend time on 1v1 efforts, ball touches and game time.
For the U11 to U14 age, advance to 4v4 and additional ball skills.

You have to adapt to situations, in the game and in life. We do a disservice to kids by trying to teach them a particular method but to rather how to make their own decisions. Coaches shouldn’t be joy-sticking players because players aren’t learning. Always an emphasis on having fun and growing to love the game.

How do you measure the development (by age group)?
We’ve never had a kid quit soccer in our six years of existence. If all of our players go on to play High School soccer, to me that’s a success. If a percentage go on to play college soccer, that’s even better.

Discuss goal-setting within the Club?
A list of expectations are shared with the parents at the beginning but ultimately the overall goal is building a love of the game.

What role does competition have?
An anecdote around 3rd minute in audio interview – For the final group game at State Cup, the team had a 22 players rostered but on the last day of group play, only 13 were available due to injuries, vacations and other conflicts that can arise. A couple of younger boys were brought up and the team fought hard but were shut out. Despite that, the game ended with Coach Bokern having the water jug dumped on his head (picture).

Is there a Recreational or Competitive team choice within the Club? At what age group?
The Club initiated an Academy program last year that began with U12’s last year with tryouts and selection of an 18 player roster. Specialized training was offered and the team went on to win the U13 President’s Cup title last year.

What role does SLYSA play in achieving your Club goals?
I’ve been a member for over thirty years and Ajax St Louis SC has been active all six years of our existence. With experience in New York and Chicago, I think SLYSA is one of the finest organizations of its kind in the country

What Tournaments will you be participating in this season?
Our annual 4v4 tournament, the St Louis Hills tournament had 130 teams last year and it grows every year. Did we mention it’s a few blocks away from Ted Drewes :)

What is the biggest change you’ve seen in the St Louis Club environment?
When I started playing, there was only one team in every age group with Busch SC. The growth of teams and clubs seems to have spread the talent across multiple teams.