Monday, November 16, 2015

CASL Night at the 'Canes

by Katharine Eberhardt, CASL Business Development Director

I hope you will join me this Friday (Nov. 20th) for CASL Night at the 'Canes. Afterward, you will be invited down onto the ice for a CASL group photo. For CASL families and friends, tickets start as low as $25! Purchase your tickets here: 

Here's a little bit about why I love the Hurricanes, and why I'm excited to support them on Friday: 

In a past life, I used to work for the Carolina Hurricanes in the Community Relations department and the Kids 'N Community Foundation (the charitable arm of the Carolina  Hurricanes). I was immersed in an organization that was committed to using professional sport to improve the lives of children and their families in North Carolina. 
Me with the Stanley Cup in 2009

Each year through their Foundation, they award more than $500,000 in cash grants to deserving non-profit organizations who focus on the health and education of underserved youth. Recent grant beneficiaries have included InterAct of Wake County, State Games of NC, StepUp Ministry, Chrildren's Flight of Hope, and many more wonderful organizations. 

In addition to their cash grants, the team hosts toy, food, school supply, and military supply drives to provide much needed materials to our local community. They also send their players into the community to help brighten the spirits of children in the hospitals during the holiday season.

Some of their players carry out community initiatives on their own, too! Captain Eric Staal and his brothers created the Staal Family Foundation. Locally, Eric and his brother Jordan (who also plays for the Hurricanes) host children fighting cancer and their families in a luxury suite. Cam Ward, the goalie, also operates Cam's Champs - a free luxury suite experience offered to youth sport organizations and athletes who have special needs. 

All of this doesn't even take into account the great in-game experience you get - once you get to a game, you'll want to go back!

I could go on and on...My experience with the Hurricanes cultivated a passion in me to think about how we at CASL can help our community. Through the game of soccer, we provide youth a safe platform to develop and grow (and stay active!) on a day-to-day basis. Our financial assistance program helps open up this opportunity to hundreds of youth. We have created a charitable tournament held in January that provides 100% of funds raised back to the organization. In the past two years, we've raised more than $20,000 for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. We will be announcing soon the beneficiary for the 2016 tournament. 

I look forward to cheering on the 'Canes on Friday for all these reasons and more, and I hope to see you there!

Buy your tickets here:

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Coaching Education: A priority at CASL

I've decided that I want to write about things that you might not know about CASL - blog posts from here on out might be a fun fact about our staff, a player spotlight, business operations insights, or anything else that might be of interest. It's my goal to give you a behind the scenes look at CASL - a view you likely can't get from the sidelines.

I am fortunate to work with some amazing people and companies in my job at CASL. Most of my day-to-day responsibilities revolve around finding ways to connect with like minded individuals who believe in what we do and share a vision for how we can all help make our community stronger.

For me, the belief in CASL and the outcomes it can have on young people isn't far-fetched. I am a product of CASL (I played Recreation, Challenge, and Classic at CASL from age 7-18 - proud '02 CASL Alum). I've seen the lasting impact that team sports and quality coaches can have (we all have those coaches who we loved to play for - win or lose). I still remember my first coach - Coach Forcum with the Falcons (pictured below) - who introduced me to the game and instilled a love right away. My Challenge Coach, Coach Currrier, who took a chance on a 10 year old girl and put her on a boys' Challenge team (back when this was allowed). The list goes on and on, I can talk about positive memories that all of my soccer coaches left on me. We rely so much on our our coaches to provide this positive youth sport experience for our players.
Me with my first CASL team, the Falcons  (circa 1992)

Coaching Education

Ever since Gary Buete came to CASL over a year ago, one of his main priorities has been coaching education across all levels. In the past year, I can honestly say we've made a lot of progress on providing coaches the resources and opportunities to be successful (a few highlights below).

  • Recreation Coaching License: Recreation Director Brett Malone offered the first CASL coaching certification course for our recreation coaches this fall. He had an amazing turnout of coaches who are invested in their role as "Coach". 
  • Recreation Practice Plans: Brett Malone and David Rodriguez (Assistant Recreation Director) worked all summer to put together a Recreation curriculum so that our volunteer coaches are equipped with practice plans, tips, and player development focus areas. They a
  • Challenge JDP: This past year, Damon Nahas, CASL's Technical Director, worked with Challenge Director Bryan Farnsworth to offer the first Challenge JDP (Junior Development Program) sessions. This coaching education initiative provides our challenge coaches the opportunity to learn about CASL's coaching philosophy. Coaches leave with tools needed to evaluate players, execute meaningful training sessions, and collaborate with each other. 
  • Player Development Manual: Sean Nahas, CASL's Director of Player Development/ECNL Director, was tasked to create a player development manual to be used across CAYA, Classic, and ECNL/Academy. This is as much a benefit to the players as it is to the coaches, who are now all on the same page. For example, all U8-12 coaches now know exactly what is expected of them and their players. The manual provides tips to coaches on how to ensure they are providing the best player development environment for their players.  

Community Support

If it weren't for the generous support of our corporate community, many of these initiatives would not be possible. For that reason, I want to share some insights into a few of our sponsors whose support allows for your (you and your family's) experience at CASL to be improved. I'll be sharing a lot more as the season goes on! 
  • Sheetz: Sheetz was a sponsor of our labor day tournament this year. As part of their sponsorship, they donated ALL of our referee lunches on both days of play. Money we would have spent can now be saved for our programs! 
  • Dick's Sporting Goods: Dick's Sporting Goods is always willing to help. Whether that was offering discounts to our families all summer long at sizing events, providing every Recreation coach with $20 Bonus Bucks to help get them ready for the season, or giving our Friendship Cup players a drawstring bag, Dick's Sporting Goods is a faithful friend of CASL. Their sponsor support also allows us to recognize sportsmanship each season! 
  • Sky Zone Raleigh: I've gotten to know Julie and Bob Russell at Sky Zone Raleigh over the past year. Their generosity astounds me, and they are all about promoting healthy, fun, and active living. You've probably seen the Sky Zone fitness center at WRAL Soccer Park, but I would encourage you to check out their trampoline park - all CASL members who wear a CASL shirt can jump for just $10! They are also having a birthday special - book before October 31 and all attendees receive a free pass - check out this cool video about birthdays at Sky Zone:  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hamilton Sportsmanship Award Night a Success

Wow - I've clearly been on a hiatus this spring from the blog. It's been a busy soccer season over at CASL, but I look forward to getting back in touch with all of you this summer!

Hamilton Sportsmanship Award Night

I'm reintroducing myself to the CASL blog world with this blog post about our most recent Hamilton Sportsmanship Award night, presented by Dick's Sporting Goods. On Saturday, May 16, we recognized 140 of the sportsmanship award nominees at the Carolina RailHawks game. You can see a full list of all winners here. 

The night started off with players coming by the CASL tent to pick-up their certificate and commemorative gift pack. CASL CEO Gary Buete, Cindy Hamilton (the daughter of the award's namesake, Pat Hamilton), and our mascot, Cleats, were on hand along with our enthusiastic staff to help congratulate the winners. Thanks to Planet Smoothie, each sportsmanship award winner also got treated to a free smoothie prior to the game! 

Our players went home with the certificate, a CASL/Dick's Sporting Goods Tumbler, some trendy CASL/Dick's Sporting Goods sunglasses, a gift card to Dick's Sporting Goods, and an additional free smoothie coupon! They also went home with a memory of being recognized at halftime in front of a near record crowd at the RailHawks game - we paraded onto the field at half-time, as the cheers from the stands helped congratulate these winners for their outstanding displays of sportsmanship this season. As one mom mentioned to me, "it was an experience my first grader, nor I, will soon forget." All of the winners squeezed together on the field for a commemorative photo as well. 

Group photo with all of our Hamilton Sportsmanship Award Winners! 
Oh, and did I mention that some of our U8-U12 (girls) winners were surprised with a FREE entrance into the TeamFirst Camp (Thanks Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC!) hosted by Mia Hamm on June 21 as an added bonus to their awesome sportsmanship?!?! You can pledge to live fearless with BCBSNC for a chance to send your daughter to this camp hosted at WRAL Soccer Park:  

The CASL Tower was packed on Saturday, and everyone showed their #CASLpride all night. We had more than 330 players nominated this spring by their coach or teammates, and we were thrilled to be able to provide this experience to our players. We've seen this number grow each season, and our goal is to have 100% participation from our coaches in the future. 

Thanks, again, to Dick's Sporting Goods and WakeMed Health & Hospitals, who sponsor our good sports! 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Free Food, Discounts, and More!

On snow days, I think we all sometimes look for a little distraction. Today, hopefully I'll share a beneficial distraction with you. I wrote earlier this month about the spring virtual discount/promotion bag we put together for our CASL families. We offered the opportunity for our sponsors and local community supporters to put together digital promotions, and we put them all into our "virtual event bag". 
A Sneak Peak into the Virtual Bag

We wanted to test it out this spring. If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to take a look into the bag. The companies that have put something into the bag are all financial supporters of CASL. In turn, their support (whether it's through a field sponsorship, jersey sponsorship, tournament sponsorship, or other sponsorship) helps us maintain and improve our services to our players, coaches, and families. 

Sometimes you might play on Dick's Sporting Goods field or notice the SportClips logo on the back of your kid's jersey and wonder why they are there. They are there because they believe in what we do at CASL and in the positive influence a youth soccer experience can have on all of your children and the community. I am fortunate to work with these companies on a day-to-day basis, and it's truly rewarding to witness their corporate generosity. With that in mind, if you ever get the chance to return the support of these (and all of our generous sponsors), I encourage you to do so. 

Below is a list of all the companies and highlights of the promotion/deal they are offering CASL families in the Virtual Bag. Don't be alarmed if you are prompted to "sign in" to the platform - this just allows us to maximize the benefits of the platform and track the activity on the page so we can be more informed moving forward. 

Enter the Virtual Bag Here

PassHat: Collect money for gifts and dues with this simple tool (they also have a partnership with the team management app TeamSnap!) - PassHat is offering CASL members a 50% discount off already low service fees. 

Kitty Hawk Kites: CASL members can save 15% on hang gliding at the OBX (sure sounds nice on a day like this, right?!)

Sky Zone Raleigh: Wear your CASL or CAYA jersey/t-shirt into the indoor trampoline park and jump for only $10!

Orthopaedic Specialists of NC: $10 Sports Physicals

Carolina RailHawks: Buy Season Tickets in the month of Feb. and receive a free autographed mini-ball!

SportClips: Free HairCut for New Clients

Crown Trophy of Raleigh (your CASL Awards supplier) is offering a FREE coach gift

Kanki (Crabtree Valley Mall) is offering a buy one adult entree, get one kids' entree FREE

Newcomb & Company: 10% off annual HVAC Maintenance Agreement

The FishRoom: the Triangle's premier aquarium store

Dragonwing Girlgear: 20% off sports bras, compression shorts, and more!

TriSure: Managing Risk from a Unique Perspective. Yours.

CiCi's Pizza: Free Kids Meal

KitKeepers: Happy Mom by KitKeepers

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Exclusive CASL deals coming to your inbox very soon!

As we get ready to kick-off the spring season (some of you may already be playing), I wanted to pass along a cool opportunity coming to your inbox next week. 

  • Be on the look out for a Virtual Event Bag link to access exclusive deals for CASL families from our generous corporate sponsors and community supporters. This link will be distributed to all of our CASL families on Friday, February 13th so be sure to check your inbox.
We are going 'GREEN'! This is the first year we are using the Virtual Event Bag platform to pass on coupons and promotions as well as CASL information to you in a concise and efficient manner. We encourage you to download these coupons/promotions and support the companies whose CASL sponsorship helps us serve you better. 

Download the full 20% off storewide coupon from Dick's Sporting Goods
through the Virtual Event Bag opening February 13th 
Sneak peaks into the Virtual Event Bag:

  • Dick's Sporting Goods/CASL Shop Weekend Coupon for 20% off throughout the store - you'll get to download the coupon and redeem it any  Triangle location Feb. 13 - 15. This is a great opportunity to restock your soccer equipment and any other sporting goods needs before the season gets underway! 
  • CASL Golf Tournament Registration - The spring golf tournament is set for April 20 at Prestonwood Country Club. Be sure to reserve your spot or foursome early. All funds raised will support the Goal Assist Fund, which supports player financial aid, soccer outreach, coaching education, and facility maintenance. 
We'll release some other teasers soon, but the only way to access these great deals is to click on the Virtual Event Bag link in your email inbox com February 13th. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

'Tis the Season

The Salvation Army of Wake County is no stranger to helping families in need. In a single year, the Salvation Army provides more than 10,000 nights of shelter, helps more than 116,000 individuals, and serves nearly 50,000 meals each year. 

The holiday season is no exception. This year the Salvation Army of Wake County registered nearly 9,000 children to be part of the Christmas Cheer Program. Through this program, children receive new clothing, toys, and stockings. Volunteers and donations help provide a special Christmas for these children. 

The U10 CAYA Black North Girls, coached by Jason Wolfe, had their winter team party this past December weekend. In addition to spending time together and celebrating a great season, the team put together stockings for the Salvation Army's Christmas Cheer program. They also had a little creative fun putting together gingerbread houses! 

This kind of spirit is certainly contagious. Please share with us any community service or support efforts you are providing this holiday season, either as an individual or a group. We pride ourselves on being a committed community partner. We are nearing the end of the year and we are proud to say that through this team's service effort, we have documented our collective 40th service effort in the community! Check out all that our club and our players have done this year to to give back to the community that has supported us for so many years. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Hamilton Night at the RailHawks game

written by Chelsey Stark, CASL intern

Despite the November rain, wind and cold weather, almost 150 Hamilton Sportsmanship Award winners and their families came out to the RailHawks game to be recognized for their outstanding fall seasons as exemplary sportsmanship role models. Thanks to the generous corporate support of Dick's Sporting Goods and WakeMed Health and Hospitals, these players were treated to a special night at the Carolina RailHawks last home game of the season. 

Named in honor of Dr. Pat Hamilton, an advocate for the development of youth soccer in North Carolina, the Hamilton award is presented to an individual from each team who is a standout not only on the field, but off the field as well. CASL emphasizes the importance of growth and development of young adults, teaching sportsmanship traits needed to be successful in life, not just the game.
one winner proudly taking her picture
With hot chocolate in our arsenal, Hamilton Award winners, families and friends corralled around our tents to receive their certificates and gift bags while enjoying a cup of liquid warmth before the game. Dick's Sporting Goods was on hand to help congratulate the award winners with additional free giveaways. Each sportsmanship award winner also received a free ticket to that night's game. The CASL Tower was packed with sportsmanship award winners and their supportive coaches, teammates, friends, and family.
Cleats leading the parade of champions down the final stretch of applause and cheers!
Luckily, the weather held off for a much drier 90 minutes as the RailHawks took to the field. In a game where the RailHawks needed a victory against Minnesota to advance to the post-season NASL Championship, the excitement of the game was at an all-time high, along with attendance. The first half closed with a 1-0 RailHawks lead.

At half, Hamilton winners lined up to start their parade around the stadium to high-five and wave to the large crowd. Cleats, CASL's mascot, was on hand to lead the parade of award winners. Many of them could look up to the videoboard to see themselves recognized on the big screen for all to see. These athletes demonstrated tremendous character, leadership, integrity and respect toward their coaches and fellow teammates for the Fall season, qualities that deserve high recognition.

The line of athletes snaked back to the field exit, and it wasn’t too much longer before the game turned into a spooky day-after-Halloween phenomenon with a power outage and only the videoboard to shed light on the stadium, delaying the second half for 30 minutes.

The RailHawks finished their 2014 NASL regular season with a 2-2 tie, and to their fans dismay, unable to advance into contention for the NASL Soccer Bowl championship.

We would like to congratulate all CASL Hamilton Sportsmanship Award winners!