Big Saves: A Soccer Skills Legacy
By Alisa Smith (MA 97)
He is the Pied Piper of the soccer set. Any town he passes through, across Canada and the United States, young people heed his callespecially those who take on the unique and isolated position of the goalkeeper.
They come to Shel Brodsgaard (BA 98) for his travelling Island Keeper Clinic, which he founded in 1993. Having played goalkeeper professionally in Canada, the U.S. and Denmark, he possesses the top-notch skills and first-hand experience that inspires kids.
In Denmark, I saw how far behind we were. I could try to compare it with hockey in Canadabut its beyond that, Brodsgaard says. Here, theyre basically left to themselves. I immediately saw what needed to be done.
Along with training these young goalkeepers like pros-in-waiting, he wants to educate community coaches in his techniques. He has just produced a training video, Guarding the Goal, and plans to develop a coaching manual.
Then theres the nurturing, community aspect he treasured growing up in the soccer ranks. In the 70s, when my dad was playing soccer, it was like he had another family in the team. Thats what Im trying to get across, he says. It gives kids an identity, something to be proud of.
At the first Island Keeper Clinic of the yeara blustery Sunday evening at the end of January20 enthusiastic kids, keepers all, await his every instruction at the first of eight weekly drop-in sessions at Lochside Park in Victoria. A handful of devoted soccer parents, bundled in toques and gloves, look on from the sidelines of the brightly lit field.
Without hesitation, the kids drop to the muddy ground and do sit up drills in pairs, throwing balls to each other on each rise. On the other end of the field, Brodsgaards assistant calls out their assigned number: stop the ball. Stop the ball. This is the heart of the keepers business. The boys and girls here tonight range from novice 10-year-olds to focussed high school students. Ive got one kid lined up for a [soccer] scholarship in Texas, he says.
This summer, Brodsgaard plans to expand his clinics and day camps with the help of Nicci Wright (BEd 97), goalkeeper for the Canadian womens national team. Its a dream come true. Shell help open up that window. And its a pretty big window: from the Maritimes to the Yukon, Victoria to Philadelphia.
Hes somebody I really respect in the soccer world, says Wright. Theres lots of things you can learn from him, as a player and as a coach.
Brodsgaard has also developed the Haet tla las soccer camp for First Nations kids in Alert Bay, named in memory of his former teammate on the Victoria Vistas of the now defunct Canadian Soccer League, an Alert Bay native who passed away a few years ago.
He sees his soccer training working hand-in-hand with his psychology degree. It gave me new ways of understanding and relating to people, he says. The ball is the vehicle that allows me to reach these kids.
Info: (250) 744-6041; email@example.com; www.islandkeeperclinic.com