The 2013 US Youth Soccer Annual Awards Gala took on an evergreen tinge in January, when two Washington Youth Soccer coaches were named the nation’s best in their respective categories.
Zahra Lechak, who wears three hats as the Girls Youth Director at Seattle United, a former head coach in Washington Youth Soccer's Elite Player Development (EPD) program, and the head assistant coach for the Seattle Sounders Women, was named US Youth Soccer National Girls Competitive Coach of the Year.
Chris Twombley, a high school English teacher and recreational coach at West Seattle Soccer Club, was honored as the US Youth Soccer National Girls Recreation Coach of the Year. Twombley is the second West Seattle Soccer Club coach to win the prestigious honor in the last three years, joining Jean Robinson, who was named Boys Recreation Coach of the Year in 2011.
Hilary Kennedy, host of The US Youth Soccer Show, set the stage for the night as the master of ceremonies for the more than 1,000 in attendance. Boys and Girls Competitive and Recreational Coaches of the Year, Young Referee of the Year, Administrator of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Goal and Save of the Year, TOPSoccer Buddy of the Year and the Dr. Thomas Fleck Award were also presented during the Gala, and the US Youth Soccer Hall of Fame inductees were honored, as well.
Each of the nominees for US Youth Soccer National Awards were first identified at the state level, with state winners becoming nominees for Regional honors, and the four Regional winners comprising the ballot for the National awards.
Development is the main objective for Lechak when it comes to her players. She’s guided several teams and many players to reach and extend their potential, and has led multiple teams at Seattle United to Washington Youth Soccer State Championship finals, semifinals and quarterfinals. A talented player at the University of Connecticut who graduated with a degree in molecular and cell biology, Lechak now has her USSF ‘A’ License and has worked on the US Youth SoccerRegion IV ODP staff, as well as with the Seattle Sounders Women.
Twombley, meanwhile, was selected by the US Youth Soccer Board of Directors on the basis of sportsmanship, player development, personal coaching development and community involvement (citizenship). According to the US Youth Soccer release, Twombley communicates well with his players and provides a positive energy. He uses soccer to teach lessons and build character, and acts as a role model for his players to follow. Off the field, Chris is always offering to help and volunteer in any way the club may need.
Parents of Twombley’s players were quick to offer their support:
“Congratulations to a really fantastic coach, Chris Twombley!,” said Terry Clements, in comments to a blog post on Twombley’s win at WestSeattleBlog.com. “We were very fortunate that our daughter played for him for the past 12 years! It’s a real credit to Chris that the girls, who had been together for so long, continued to play through to the end of their high school years, even though many also played for their school teams. He’s the ultimate in coaching and such a great role model for our kids! He deserves this honor!”
“I am very humbled by the kind words,” Twombley replied. “My experiences coaching the Blue Crew (and Rowdies!!) have been formative, a true source of joy over the last decade. The real story, however, is an amazing group of young women and their parents who made a commitment to stay together. Given the times, to play on the same soccer team for over ten years is no small achievement. I share my award with the Blue Crew Family, with special thanks to Steve Cameron, my brother, and to Tim McMonigle and Bill Fry for their support and mentorship.”
These coaches have committed to continued education and self-sacrifice to give back to the sport they love with the hope that they might enhance one of their players abilities and quality of life. US Youth Soccer is proud to highlight these Coaches of the Year for their time and efforts in contributing to America's youth through the great game of soccer. By promoting teamwork, discipline, fitness and fair play these coaches are making a difference.
Congratulations to each of these outstanding coaches! Do you know of a coach, volunteer, administrator or referee in your team, club or Association that you think is deserving of recognition? Nominate them for one of Washington Youth Soccer’s annual awards!