I’ve been asked to write many articles for NIRSA on behalf of the Championship Series, but this one is special to me. This article is in appreciation of the outgoing regional coordinators who have served this great association with their time, sweat, and dedication. The regional coordinators who are being highlighted in this article are many of the leaders who’ve made NIRSA Soccer what it is today. Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t appreciate the ones who came before them. So before I fill your cup with the outgoing announcement of service and accomplishments, I do want to send love to those members who have served NIRSA Soccer in any capacity over the years. I’m grateful to have you all in our family.

Before we get into the send-off, I want to highlight what NIRSA Soccer means to some of us. If you’re reading this and you’ve never had the opportunity or interest to serve NIRSA Soccer before, I’d like to quote a colleague on the topic: Jonathan Johnston, Associate Director of Programs and Student Development at Texas A&M University–Commerce. He’s recently gotten involved with NIRSA Soccer on the regional and national scale after many years involved in other aspects of NIRSA Championship Series events.

Jonathan says, “Through my volunteerism with soccer, my passion for serving The Series and NIRSA has been elevated. It has driven home the power of family and the dedication we share as collegiate recreation professionals.” Experiences like Jonathan’s would not happen if it weren’t for the service of the regional coordinators and all the other soccer leaders within the soccer family like Danny Feitel, Co-Director of Competition, and Erik Jaeke, Director of Officials.

Regional coordinators in NIRSA Soccer serve a dual role. They oversee the successful execution of all regional leagues, rankings, and tournaments. This management includes more than 200 teams every fall for season play as well as hosting more than ten regional tournaments across the nation. They also serve on the NIRSA Championship Series Soccer Work Team.

Regional coordinators are the driving force that ensure that the future of collegiate club soccer is a bright one, with no exceptions. These individuals have served NIRSA Soccer during a period of us working to better align the student experience across the nation. These devoted NIRSA members have seen the national transition from tournaments being individual to them being under the NIRSA umbrella, and they have made all the difference—for those Robert Frost fans. They have been enthusiastic in making it work while keeping us grounded and always having the students in the front of their minds.

I can’t say enough about the professionalism and flexibility of the following regional coordinators who have come to the end of their current role within NIRSA Soccer. I’ve been motivated by seeing their leadership build a stronger community within the regions they have served. Some have come into leadership within a region that seemed to be a well-oiled machine and made it even more efficient. Others have come into a region that needed some tough love and have stepped up to the plate.

The following members truly understand the mission of NIRSA by way of the Championship Series and I’ve seen it in their service. It is my utmost privilege to send appreciation to the following outgoing regional coordinators:

  • Catherine “Bud” Chanoine, Region I
  • Jon Janis, Region II, University of Houston
  • John Howard, Region V, Colorado School of Mines
  • Corey Sinclair, Region VI, Central Washington University

These individuals have seen us go from “volunteer at will” to a formal process of leadership development for professionals in our association. From the perspective of one who has seen much of our progress, I want to send my sincerest gratitude for all of this service. NIRSA colleagues like these remind me everyday that we are doing what we love for the right reasons. These regional coordinators have made me a better professional, colleague, and friend. They understand that progress takes time and have been willing to put in the time for the betterment of the participant and staff experience.

Being a regional coordinator is not only a great way to serve the Association, but it is a great professional development experience to bring back to your campus and to put on your personal resume. Jon Janis, outgoing regional coordinator for Region II, has said, “Being a regional coordinator was a great way to give back to the NIRSA Championship Series while gaining invaluable experience such as event management and full-time staff supervision. Even if you don’t think you have a passion for soccer, by the time you’re done, you will appreciate the players and the game.” I can’t agree more.

I say it in many of my articles, but the future of NIRSA Soccer is bright. It is bright because of the service of individuals like those highlighted in this article. As with the statement I began with, this is a special one for me. I began my term as NIRSA Championship Series Soccer Chair with a mission to enhance the experience for hosts, volunteer staff, and participants and to ensure the NIRSA Soccer community be one that is inviting for all. Three years later, I couldn’t be prouder of the progress we have made in aligning these things across the nation. All this progress is a result of the selfless service of individuals like the ones highlighted in this article. Thank you again.

I’d like to close with an announcement of the incoming regional coordinators that we have confirmed at this time. I’m very much looking forward to what this new group of energetic professionals can do with their service to each region. Thank you to all those NIRSA members who applied to serve in these roles. We had the highest number of applications to date for these leadership positions. All the executive team agrees that it was a very hard decision for all. Please help me in welcoming the new 2018 regional coordinators:

  • Cybbi Barton, Region I, Pennsylvania State University
  • Matt Holdren, Region II, Duke University
  • Jordan Grindeland, Region V, University of Colorado – Boulder
  • Jordan Halstead, Region VI, Central Washington University

The regional coordinators and Soccer Work Team members are busy at work this summer. We hope to announce soon the hosts for regional soccer tournaments as well as changes proposed by the At Large Work Team. If you’d like to get involved in NIRSA Soccer, either on a regional or national Level, please reach out to Laura Thomas or the regional coordinators for information on how to do so! Happy Summer!

Assistant Director, Competitive Sports at University of Alabama | NIRSA Profile

Laura Thomas, Chair of the NIRSA Championship Series Soccer Work Team, is currently Assistant Director, Competitive Sports at the University of Alabama.