La Roca FC doesn’t deviate from its plan for short-term gain, and the results speak for themselves.

Club soccer has seen a seismic shift in recent years. Nowadays, clubs are responsible for providing a lot more than just a higher level of competition.

Do you have designated fields or facilities? Will you help athletes get to the next level? Can you guarantee playing time?

These questions are fair. Players deserve a top-notch experience in exchange for the investment of time and money that comes with the rigors of competing in club soccer.

However, La Roca FC plays by its own rules. The club, based in South Weber (Utah), is proof that staying committed to long-term goals will outpace teams who get caught up in an arms race.

In 2005, former professional turned technical director Adolfo Ovalle founded the club by assembling a staff composed of his highly qualified friends. By integrating the relationships he forged on the pitch, key values such as family, respect and accountability were instilled in the club’s DNA.

From there, the club has used a three-prong approach to build sustainable success in an ever-changing club soccer landscape.

1. Build Up From Within

Whether it's coaches or athletes or parents, La Roca invests in its people. La Roca has grown to over 60 coaches with more combined A, B and C licenses than any other club in Utah. 

By mixing high standards with ample opportunities, young coaches gravitate to the club knowing they can learn and grow while making a name for themselves. This approach minimizes coaching turnover which in turn sustains the club’s culture and creates stability and consistency for athletes.

Meanwhile, family members are always welcome to contribute, whether that’s as videographers, team parents or chaperones. 

Nearly two decades ago, Laura Coffee’s son joined the club. She confesses the Coffees were not a soccer family at the time. But the impact the coaches had on her son from the first day he stepped on a field drew them in, and they became La Roca lifers.

Awed by her son’s experience and compelled through her own interactions with the club, Coffee eventually left her nursing career to join the La Roca staff. Now, she's the club’s Assistant Director of Operations and ECNL administrator. Evidence of her contributions can be seen in every facet of the club.

“It changed everything,” Coffee said. “Now we're a soccer family. My whole life has been around La Roca since then. If [Coach] Ariel didn't make him feel comfortable that day, that minute, we probably all wouldn't have been here since 2005.”

2. Technical Development Over Winning

Win, lose or draw, La Roca focuses on technical excellence above all else.

At younger ages, players with physical gifts — like strength and speed — rise to the top. Raw ability supersedes skill in youth sports, but it technical skill carries the day as players advance in their careers.

“We believe that we just don't build a player by telling them to run hard or be strong,” Ovalle said. “They need to be a soccer player first. So when these players get to higher levels and technique matters the most, then they're ready for that.”

Players and families have come to respect this approach. La Roca coaches include families in development plans, but reinforce that what you see in matches isn’t the end-all-be-all. Rather, long-term growth must take priority.

Video is fundamental to long-term growth. La Roca shows players their footwork and decision-making on Hudl which reinforces technical fundamentals time and again. Watching film harnesses their focus. Over time, it becomes a habit. Second nature.

Now with a track record of developing technically sound players, families are less focused on short-term returns. They instead support the long-term La Roca vision by giving coaches the space they need to do just that: coach.

3. Put Players First

David Chavez is the ECNL Boys and Girls Director of Coaching at La Roca FC. He’s a former international footballer who came to Utah as part of his playing career. When Ovalle founded the club, he recruited his friend Chavez and the two worked hand-in-hand to build the club into what it is today.

Since starting the club together, Ovalle and Chavez have helped the club expand to 180 teams. A major contributor to their growth and output is their emphasis on the player journey. 

The club strives to reward young athletes who take the leap to join La Roca. Through holistic development on and off the pitch, La Roca crafts a unique, personal experience for players that prepares them for whatever comes next.

“We have a player-centered philosophy,” Chavez said. “For example, we look at the physical aspect, the mental aspect, we involve the family. It’s the personal things, their mental health — everything is part of our focus, not only what happened on the field.

“One day when [our players] graduate from La Roca, hopefully, they could play on the college level or the professional level. But if they don’t…they can still be a good person, a hard worker, and a strong human being.”

The club not only uses Hudl as a teaching tool via film review, but also to monitor physical health, communication, and body language. Each of these contributes to the full spectrum of player health and performance. As such, the club founded its high performance human development program to provide holistic support for athletes and families throughout their journey in the club.

But make no mistake, La Roca has still earned more than its fair share of trophies and accolades. Most recently, Chavez guided his U19 team to a jaw-dropping gauntlet run in the 2022 Dallas Cup that culminated in La Roca taking the championship trophy back to Utah.

But Chavez says success is a byproduct of the culture. More than results on the field, he and his peers at La Roca prepare players for personal and professional success off the pitch.

Leading clubs leverage cutting-edge technology to stay ahead of the game. Hudl’s club-wide packages make it easy and affordable to equip every member of your program with the tools to succeed on and off the field.

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