1. The Celtic Way
"Let us say that you and I coach two teams with kids that are 10,11 and 12 years old and are all about equally good. You try to teach them to play good football, a passing game with a tactical basis while I tell mine only to play long balls and try to shoot. I can assure you that [at first] I will always win against you, by using your mistakes. Break a bad pass and score a goal. If we however continue with the same training methods during a three year period, you will most likely win every game against us. Your players will have learned how to play while mine haven't. That's how easy it is" - Laureano Ruiz, the man who laid the foundation for the playing philosophy at Barcelona
In a nutshell, we aim to have our teams follow this approach. While it's of course fun to win, the manner in which we get results is far more important than the result itself. At Celtic, teams are encouraged to build out from the back and be patient in possession. Players are encouraged to express themselves on the pitch and enjoy having the ball at their feet. Coaches are supported in their quest to help players reach their potential, and we as a club are steadfast in the long-term development of players taking precedence over the short-term gratification of a positive result for the team.
2. The Celtic Community
Seattle Celtic is special because of our wonderful community of players, parents and coaches. On our home page we state that "we strive to provide the perfect mix of energy, passion and expertise" in our approach to coaching, and we are so fortunate to have such great coaches, and more importantly great people representing our club. The passion our staff have for the club and the game of soccer is unparalleled and never more evident than during the weekend of summer tournaments (or any given weekend for that matter), where there is often as many of 8-10 coaches in attendance on the sideline supporting each other's teams long after their own team has finished for the day.
Continuous education is very important to us and our coaches possess formal coaching qualifications from UEFA, USSF, USC and the FAI. Over the past year coaches have travelled to Ireland, Northern Ireland and Philadelphia as part of their coaching development and we also run a yearly in-house coaching seminar at Magnuson to ensure all coaches are well versed in the Celtic Way of coaching.
From Monday to Friday, Celtic HQ in Eastlake is a soccer hub like no other. A typical day will begin at 9am with coaches working on match reports, discussing player development, updating and refining our core and junior curriculums, watching game footage from the weekend and planning sessions. Most days, from 12pm-2pm live action from the Champions League or EPL will take center stage, after which the final few items on our to-do lists are taken care of and we head to Magnuson to commence our coaching day. While our childhood dreams of playing the game professionally didn't materialize, each of us are thrilled to be doing the next best thing in coaching, and our love and passion for the game definitely shines through in how we approach every day!
In terms of communal experiences, one of the biggest events of the year is our Sounders Celtic Day. On May 11 the Seattle Sounders host Houston Dynamo with every player in the club receiving a free ticket for the game. We will also have a draw in late April for some fantastic player experiences with 21 Celtic players walking out with the team, 50 Celtic players high-fiving the teams in the tunnel and perhaps most exciting of all, 240 players getting an opportunity to play on CenturyLink Field before the game, in the shape of three one hour world cup tournaments. The Sounders have told us that no other club has an event quite like it and it promises to be an unforgettable experience!
Each year we also partner with UW to host club nights with their Men's and Women's soccer teams and on April 5 Celtic players will be ball girls for the epic match up between Reign FC and the UW Women. Our players are very lucky to have such a high level soccer program on their doorstep and we encourage them to get along to Husky Soccer Stadium as much as they can throughout the year to learn from some of the best college players in the country.
We also host an annual Celtic Cup Tournament where every club in the state is welcome to participate, Celtic Gives Back volunteering events, Champions League watch parties, fun social media campaigns (Skillsmas, Favorite Soccer Memories) and competitions (various juggling challenges) as well as an annual Community Day for all our families in August to help keep community spirit strong throughout the club!
3. Our Location
Magnuson Park sits along the shoreline of Lake Washington in northeast Seattle, and at 350 acres is Seattle's second largest park. It is also the home of Seattle Celtic. The vast majority of our practices take place at Magnuson and we feel having a central base is crucial to fostering the community spirit we are so well known for. With three turf fields, as well as enough space for eight grass fields on the upper and lower meadows, Magnuson serves as a one stop shop for multi-player families, and also greatly helps facilitate neighborhood car pools. With ample parking, a dog park, various trails, an indoor soccer facility and the tennis center cafe next to the fields where players can do their homework before practice, our club is blessed to have such a fantastic location to call home.
4. Most Teams in Washington State for Spring 2019
In the spring 2012 season we formed three teams (B98 Green, B98 White, B01 Green) to meet the minimum requirements needed to enter the Puget Sound Premier League. Our April 2013 tryouts was the real tipping point for the club and saw us almost overnight go from nine teams and 100 players to thirty teams and 400 players. Since then we have steadily grown each season to the point where in the spring 2019 season, we have 94 teams competing, which is the most of any club in Washington State. None of this would have been possible without the positive word of mouth among our soccer community, and we are eternally grateful to everyone who has shared their Celtic experience with friends.
Having age groups with as many as nine or ten teams means we can provide a team for players of every level, from the player who lives and breathes soccer, to the player who enjoys the game and being part of a team (but whose life does not revolve around soccer). It also provides opportunities for ambitious and hard working players to make their way up the levels and play on the highest team possible.
Of course having the most teams isn't necessarily the most important thing, but we feel that going from having the least amount of teams in 2012 to the most by spring 2019 speaks volumes for the quality of our program and the satisfaction of our members. With growth comes challenges in continuing to foster such a close knit environment. However, as a club we've made it our goal to be familiar with every player and know as many players' names as possible, which is of course made easier by how present our coaches are on the sidelines at the weekends.
5. Our Micro Academy
Our Seattle Celtic Micro Academy which caters to players aged 4-6 provides professional coaching to beginner players in the hope of sparking a life-long love for the game of soccer. Throughout the year, we offer six week programs which serve as an introduction to Seattle Celtic for young players who wish to eventually join our Development Teams. Each Micro Academy Program will have a fun weekly theme to help keep the children motivated and excited to play. These fun games will help introduce soccer fundamentals such as ball control, passing, dribbling and teamwork. And the best part of it all - if your child is new to Celtic, their first six week program is free of charge!
At this age it is often said that kids play near each other but not with one another and in this regard we've been thrilled with how our coaches have helped such young players see the value of passing and moving, and playing as a team. Such has been the progress of players from this program, that the majority of those on our Micro Academy Director Phil Duncan's talented B2011 Green team are graduates of the Micro Academy!
6. Elite Level Competition
As a club we are constantly striving to find a challenging level for our most competitive teams, from playing a year up in regular season league play, to participating in the Crossfire Challenge and the Rainier Challenge, Washington State’s highest level tournaments. Three of our older boys and girls teams have recently competed in the top brackets of the Las Vegas International Cup alongside teams from Germany’s Bundesliga (Borussia Monchengladbach) and Northern Ireland’s National League team. Last summer we also made our debut (B06 Green & G06 Green) in Surf Cup, the most prestigious youth tournament in the US, with our B06s reaching the semi final of their division. In 2019 eight of our teams will be competing (G03/04 Green, G05 Green, G06 Green, G07 Green, B08 Green, B07 Green, B06 Green, B05 Green) and we’re delighted that our players will have a chance to compete against the best of the best across the United States.
With the exception of players on U11 and older Green (A) teams who are year-round, all other players have the option of selecting which season they wish to play. While the majority of our players do elect to play in both the fall and spring season, as well as summer tournaments and team camp, some who have other activities in particular seasons decide to opt out for a period of the year. Players also have the option of participating in supplemental training (more on this below) during the winter months when teams aren't training. Giving players the choice as to whether they want to play for 12 months of the year or simply 3-6 months means we can reduce the financial barrier of entry inherent in the other major clubs due to the necessity to commit to year-round play. Another area that makes us unique is our uniform policy, which is roughly half the cost of other premier clubs, with a change in gear every three years rather than the biennial switch made by others. When we formed we felt that making the up front cost more affordable would be much more attractive to people who weren't sure if they wanted to make the time and financial commitment to premier soccer, and we're delighted that the majority of players who decide to try Celtic for a season remain with us for the duration of their soccer careers!
One of our aims at Celtic is to be as competitive as we can possibly be and play the most attractive soccer in the process. Therefore if a talented player wants to play for Celtic but doesn't have means to pay for program fees, we typically waive the fees and cover the uniform ourselves. The scope in which we have been able to provide scholarships has been relatively limited up to now (typically a player or two at each age group), but we have recently set up a Seattle Celtic Foundation that should enable us to expand the number of players we can support.
8. Supplemental Programs
We have a vast array of supplemental programs for players who can't get enough of the beautiful game, from our free goalkeeping and freestyle soccer programs, to our winter SAQ, futsal and post-season skill sessions. Throughout the year, we also run a variety of camps, ranging from a focus on shooting/finishing and ball mastery, to our team and elite player camps.
We also regularly have scouts for the Seattle Sounders in attendance at our games, with four of our B06s being invited to train and play in the Sounders Discovery Program last year, in addition to their club commitments with Celtic. Each year we have an excellent representation of Celtic players on the Washington State EPD program, and given the talent coming through we expect 2019 to be the biggest year yet in this regard.