On Wednesday, October 9, 2013, four Of the Year winners from Washington Youth Soccer were announced as receiving the US Youth Soccer Region IV Of the Year award in their respective categories. These individuals won the State award in May at the Awards Luncheon, and will now be considered for the US Youth Soccer national award. Regional winners will be invited to the US Youth Soccer Gala
on January 17, 2014 in Philadelphia at the US Youth Soccer Workshop at the NSCAA Convention. Congratulations to Kiley Adams (TOPSoccer Buddy of the Year), Zahra Lechak (Girls Competitive Coach of the Year), Chris Twombley (Girls Recreational Coach of the Year), and Jesus Cardenas (Boys Recreational Coach of the Year).
Kiley Adams: TOPSoccer Buddy of the Year
The TOPSoccer program is devoted to players with developmental and/or physical disabilities to create opportunities to be a part of the soccer community, while growing emotionally and physically. For four years, Kiley Adams has donated her time with Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma as a TOPSoccer Buddy – invaluable volunteers that participate directly with individual players or within a team to enable participation in a soccer activity.
Adams leads the other Buddies by example and is known to work with kids that need the most help as she is comfortable in that environment having also volunteered at a medical clinic working with children with disabilities. Adams is devoted to the program, rarely missing a practice, and the TOPSoccer players are always happy to see her as she makes the players feel special and proud of themselves and their accomplishments. Adams is a leader and mentor for other TOPSoccer Buddies, helping with suggestions and ideas for working with the players.
Adams is an accomplished player as well, having participated in the Washington Youth Soccer Regional Club League (RCL) with Harbor Premier FC and captaining her high school varsity soccer team as goalkeeper. She also participates in track and field, tae kwon do, Cancer Crew Club and the American Red Cross Society. In the classroom, Adams is a member of the National Junior Honor Society, received the College of the Holy Cross Book Prize for outstanding scholarship, concern for others and commitment to school and community, and aspires to work in pediatric oncology.
Adams has dedicated herself to the TOPSoccer program because she "wants the kids to have an opportunity to share their talents and unique abilities with a world that they will only improve."
Zahra Lechak: Girls Competitive Coach of the Year
Zahra Lechak is a player-centric coach determined to have her teams play soccer ‘the right way.’ Lechak is technically sound with a very good understanding of advanced tactics, and focuses on improving players during every practice and game. A highly organized coach that leads by example, Lechak is always early for each training session and a very good communicator with players and parents.
Coach Lechak recently completed her USSF "A" License, the highest level of license offered by USSF, and is registered to take the National Youth License course. An enthusiastic student of the game who loves her work, Lechak recently returned from Europe where she observed professional training sessions.
A Washington native, Lechak has an extensive playing career which included seven Washington Youth Soccer State Championship titles, and advancing to the US Youth Soccer National Championships in 2001. Lechak was a Washington Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (ODP/EPD) participant as well as a US Youth Soccer Region IV ODP team member. Lechak finished her playing career at the University of Connecticut, a perennial NCAA Division I power, where she captained the team to the Big East title and NCAA championship game in 2004 while being named an NSCAA First Team selection.
Besides coaching for Seattle United, Lechak has also served as a Washington Youth Soccer Elite Player Development (EPD) program staff instructor, as well as a member of the US Youth Soccer Region IV ODP staff and head assistant coach for the Seattle Sounders Women.
Chris Twombley: Girls Recreational Coach of the Year
Chris Twombley epitomizes sportsmanship. A volunteer for West Seattle Soccer Club, Twombley always addresses his players as ‘ladies’, and does not allow his players to act in a disrespectful manner on the field or toward their opponents. Twombley has a calm, yet competitive personality that is contagious, and his players are energized by his focus on being the best they can be regardless of results.
Coach Twombley has always welcomed new players onto his teams and will take any player waiting for a spot, making sure all players are comfortable and integrated into the team environment. A high school teacher by day, Twombley brings vast experience in multiple sports into the discipline of coaching soccer and communicates in a way that commands respect, but also in a way that makes the kids want to play their best for him.
Twombley volunteers in any way he can to help the West Seattle Soccer Club board of directors and his whole life has revolved around helping kids, both on and off the field as a teacher and mentor.
Jesus Cardenas: Boys Recreational Coach of the Year
Jesus Cardenas organizes practice twice weekly for multiple teams for Beacon Hill Youth Soccer and directs a staff of assistant coaches made up of community volunteers and parents. Many of Cardenas’ players come from diverse, underserved communities, and Cardenas, a volunteer himself, arranges practice space and sponsors in order to provide opportunities for the players. Besides donating his time to youth soccer, Cardenas also volunteers at St. Mary’s Food Bank three days a week.
Coach Cardenas played and coached in Mexico, and each of his practices includes physical training, competitive scrimmages and tactical sessions. Cardenas has promoted teams onto higher levels of play and encouraged individual players to seek more competitive situations as they become available.
Word of Cardenas’ excellent and affordable youth soccer training spread through the community and attracted players of all ethnicities and backgrounds. The players are drawn to Cardenas’ professional and organized training sessions, where responsible behavior is expected and welcomed by the players.
Cardenas wants to coach players who want to learn, whether that results in trophies or not, and his emphasis is that hard work will earn you success on the soccer field, and in life.