Patton coaches

Group shot of the coaches in the cohort

Photo courtesy of: Patton College of Education

Patton College, david carr

Professor David Carr talks to a kid during a training

Photo courtesy of: Patton College of Education

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Nation's first sport-specific master's coaching program kicks off

The inaugural cohort for the first-of-kind Master's of Science in Recreation and Sport Sciences with a Concentration in Soccer Coaching met on the Athens campus June 12 through June 16 for an intensive opening residency.

The meeting marked the beginning of the cohort's graduate program. Upon graduation, the students will be the nation's first coaches to obtain a master's-level degree in coaching soccer specifically. The program requires students participate in two courses each academic period and will take two years to complete.

The classes will be conducted primarily online. The online aspect allows students to participate full-time in the program while minimizing the disruption to their lives. As a result, the first cohort hails from across the United States and as far away as England. 

"Most of the cohort will be coaching their local teams during the program," said David Carr, associate professor of Recreation and Sport Pedagogy and program coordinator. "Their teams will become their laboratories now."

The Patton College of Education program is the newest of three different tracks in the graduate-level Coaching Education Program and the first of its kind in the country. To support the program, Ohio University brokered an educational partnership with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA), the largest single-sport coaching organization in the world, boasting more than 30,000 members.

During the intensive opening residency, students participated in a number of classroom and field activities on the Athens Campus led by Carr, NSCAA Senior Staff Representative Jeff Vennell and NSCAA Senior Staff Coach Ron McEachen. 

On Thursday and Friday evenings, the cohort observed senior NSCAA coaches provide Athens High School students with workshops.

"What an awesome master's soccer coaching program! My son, Parker, was one of the youths who had the opportunity to be coached by Sam Snow," said local soccer mom Shawna Bolin, after observing the Thursday night workshop. "What a cool experience!"

The residency culminated in a field trip to Columbus, Ohio to assess the play in a Major League Soccer game between the Columbus Crew and the Montreal Impact game. Before and after the game, the OHIO cohort met with Columbus Crew coaching and administrative staff to discuss the game strategy and then assess the execution and effectiveness of the game plan. 

The opening residency program received very positive reviews by members of the NSCAA Senior Coaching Education staff who participated in the program as well as the cohort themselves. 

"It was 24-hours-a-day," said Carr, "but I think we're off and running now."

The second cohort is set to begin in January 2014 at the NSCAA National Convention in Philadelphia, which will be attended by an estimated 10,000 coaches, players and parents.