In April of this year, the Woodbury and REV soccer clubs announced plans to partner on a new organization that would “provide opportunities across all age groups and skill levels from Woodbury to Apple Valley, West St. Paul and Mendota Heights to Rosemount and Farmington and surrounding communities.”
This summer, the club announced their name (Salvo SC), unveiled their new logo, and announced their top staff – including new Tier 1 Girls Director Brian Kallman. We sat down with Brian to learn more about the merger and what it means for girls soccer in Minnesota.
Equal Time Soccer: The recent announcement described top staff on both the girls and boys side and you’ve been named the Tier 1 Girls Director for Salvo SC. Talk about what that role will entail.
Brian Kallman: As of now, I’ll be the head coach of one team and the assistant of another. I’m going to have contact with all the girls teams and maybe come in a run some sessions here and there. But for sure being involved with their coach, seeing how things are going, checking in on events – and I think we’ll look at doing a lot of similar travel events with all of our groups. So when I go to Rockford, or Chicago, or Kansas City, I’m not necessarily going to be there only for my team. I’ll be walking around and watching as many games as possible and having as many interactions with the families and parents as possible.
So will you take a team and stay with that same group all the way through their development or will you focus on a given age group?
Personally, I enjoy coaching the 12s, 13s, 14s, and 15s. The younger kids. Teaching them how to play on the bigger field. Teaching them the different moves and the style of play that I like to play or that we as a club like to play. So when I’m coaching the girls side I’ll typically be on the younger side and probably have a team for two or three years and then we’ll move them on to the rest of our amazing coaching staff.
Salvo was formed by the merger of Rev and Woodbury soccer clubs. Talk a little bit about the new club and which communities you’ll be looking to serve
Its’ gonna be better for both clubs as a whole. 1, I know at Woodbury and Rev too, your numbers don’t always work out well. So at Woodbury, we sometimes had a U18 team that couldn’t find enough players. So your options would be you can go play for another club or we’d have to turn kids away. With the merger there will now be more options for all ages and levels.
We’ll combine our top teams from U13 through U19s. On the girls side, we’re probably going to have two Salvo teams at every age group. They’ll probably play in Classic 1 or Premier. All of our Salvo teams will play in the newest form of the Midwest Regional Conference.
Both Rev and Woodbury had been a part of the new Twin Cities Soccer League. I’ve essentially heard two very different opinions about the Twin Cities Soccer League. Some people are really excited to have a place where there are higher quality games and maybe less travel time for the families in the metro area. Others have argued that it only makes things even more exclusive and narrows the overall player pool even further. Are you expecting Salvo to also take part in that league and what is your take on how an endeavor like the TCSL impacts development, access, and quality of play?
I love the TCSL and I love MYSA [Minnesota Youth Soccer Association]. The hard part right now is we don’t necessarily know where the top teams play. For instance my 2005 girls in Woodbury, we play in the TCSL. We went undefeated. We tied one game. There were some teams that my girls absolutely spanked. This was the first year, so they’re going to figure it out. There’s not promotion and relegation but it is based on how you did the season before. So some of the teams that didn’t win any games probably wouldn’t be allowed to play in the top league the next season. Over time that will sort itself out and you’ll be playing the top teams. Otherwise the top team in Minnesota is the Premier League or the Premier League 2 but that doesn’t start until U15. Ultimately, it’s on us to find the best competition we can find for our players.
From the Woodbury side, we don’t recruit players. There’s a lot of clubs that illegally recruit players. The players that show up at tryouts are the ones we choose from. Both REV and Woodbury have done an amazing job of developing their kids – of teaching them the right way to play soccer. Unfortunately, in the past, there have been players and coaches and parents who leave because they’re looking for the next highest thing. And now, with Salvo, we can offer the next highest thing.
You’re pretty well known in the Minnesota soccer community thanks in part to your long playing career with the Thunder, Stars, and MN United. How does playing at the professional level impact the way you oversee youth development?
That’s a great question. I was fortunate enough where in my playing career I had to work my ass off to get everything I got. Only one year in my nine years I was THE starter. The other 8 years I was fighting for my spot every single practice. Even if I played in games and played extremely well, I’d look and I wouldn’t be starting the next game. And the coach’s only answer was “it’s not always fair.” So when I’m here coaching 12 year olds, I can say “you’re here to work and you’re here to get better.” I tell the girls that I coach, you’re all nice girls, but when you cross that white line, now you’re a competitor. The little things like holding kids accountable and making them take leadership from a young age make a big difference.
Coaching is obviously a lot better these days than when I was growing up. I had parent coaches who had never played the game in their lives. It’s the little things. Always checking your surroundings. Where your opponents are. Where your teammates are before you get the ball.
There was a lot of talk during the last presidential election for US Soccer about what the country can do better in terms of developing the next generation of players. From the ground level, what do you think could be improved and what do you think works well?
I think clubs need to be a little bit more prepared, overall. Woodbury and REV have set curriculums. This is what we’re doing over the course of the year. We come up with lesson plans and they’re easily accessible to our coaches - even those who aren’t licensed coaches. They can get on a google drive and there are sessions there that professional coaches have put together. There’s a lot of clubs that don’t have that. If you lay it out there - even non-experienced coaches - if you give them all the tools and set them up for success, that goes a lot way. But we also just need to get the kids out there and be on the ball. Get them comfortable on the ball. We can teach them how to pass and combine play later. My five-year-old has now been in rec soccer and he keeps asking “when can I play real soccer? Where we try to win?” And I say “just work your hardest and have fun!”
The Salvo SC website says the club was created with the purpose of delivering the best holistic youth soccer development in MN from ages 4-21+. On the girls side, what does development in those upper age groups look like? Is it building a team for the WPSL another national league?
Details aren’t finalized yet, but we’re hoping there will be something in place for girls at that level.
This is obviously a few years out, but eventually, I think a lot of soccer fans hope that MN United expands the club to include a NWSL team. How would having a top level pro team like that impact development down the soccer pyramid?
I think that would be huge. Selfishly I hope they do it next year because my sister Kassey is taking a year off and she can obviously still play at that level. If you set it up well, it can be great. If you’re a Portland Timbers season ticket holder you can go to Thorns games. Right now, soccer has grown so much on the boys side because they have really accessible pro team with a better following so those kids have dreams and aspirations. “I want to play for the Loons someday.” My five-year-old tells me that. Just having that top level in the country in the market just helps you grow the game that much more. It gives them the opportunity to go watch the best players in the world playing.
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