What is Stronghold Berna?
SSC is a premier-level soccer club committed to preparing
players to compete at the highest levels.
For most it's participation on college varsities (including admission to
competitive schools and some financial assistance), for a select few it may
mean professional play. Others, it may mean a positive experience on their high
school teams and enjoyable years of skillful play in adult and senior leagues.
Besides the physical skills developed, SSC acclimates players to handling the
pressures and mental adjustments necessary at all levels of competitive play.
What is a premier soccer club?
A Premier club is one dedicated to taking talented players
and developing them as far as their abilities and their dispositions will
Four elements must work together for a successful Premier Program:
Must be good athletes with the desire to fully develop their skills; as
they mature, players must also dedicate themselves by determining that
soccer will be their primary (if not sole) competitive sport.
Qualified, professional-level coaches who can train the players on
technical skills and tactical play, guide them through competitive game
situations and develop effective mental approaches to the game both on and
off the field.
COMMITMENT An understanding that learning a skill and mastering it are
two different things. Premier clubs develop programs that encompass a
twelve month commitment.
SCHEDULING Most physically adept athletes can learn a skill. The goal
is to reproduce it AT PACE AND UNDER PRESSURE. To achieve this, players
must be honed against the stiffest competition appropriate for their age
and development, both in league play and at tournaments, outdoors and
indoors. In addition, scheduling is also strategically used as a barometer
of team development and club strength, and in the later years for
showcasing players for the next level.
How much time does the player commit to the team? How
much training does the club provide?
U9 through U14 teams enjoy a fall season, indoor season,
spring season and a limited summer tournament schedule. The fall and spring
seasons typically involve three sessions a week, two training days and a
gameday, occasionally the reverse. The indoor season consists of one weekly
training session, supplemented by either a weekly indoor league or periodic
indoor tournament events. Teams will usually enter a number of tournaments over
the course of the year, three or four in the fall and two or three in the
spring. Teams will train the week before mid-summer tournaments. Trainers will
also designate certain weeks between seasons as necessary player downtime.
U15-U18 teams have similar winter indoor, spring, and summer schedules. However,
the fall differs due to high school varsity commitments.
Older teams typically train about once every 2-3 weeks during the fall, usually
Sunday mornings, in September and October, to stay together and to provide
opportunities to work out new players and prospects. The team then trains
normally in November thru mid-December, and either plays a mini-season such as
MAPS provides or enters several tournaments and showcases, before heading
Where does SSC draw players from?
The club is centrally located in New Jersey in the scenic
rolling hills of the Peapack-Gladstone area. Nonetheless, SSC players
historically have represented a state-wide constituency. Players have been identified
representing 16 of the states 21 counties.
What are the financial commitments at SSC?
Players join the club for the entire seasonal year from July
1st through June 30th, and a contractual obligation is signed to pay for the
entire year. The club is committing one of its limited number of roster spots
to the player, and is basing its operational team budget on spreading the costs
among all players committing to the team.
The operating budget for the year per player (U11 - U14) is about $1975 which incorporates
club fees and coaching fees only. Each team budget may vary due to the amount
of tournaments entered, i.e., some teams may have an aggressive tournament
schedule requiring additional funds. Uniforms are typically purchased every two
years and are not included in the annual fee.
What is included in the Club fees?
This includes Training fees for a primary trainer and a
secondary trainer, outdoor facilities, indoor training facility in winter,
insurance, communications and various other items.
When are payments due?
The first $700 deposit is due when a player signs with the
team, and then payments are collected in two additional increments. Since many
outlays are well in advance of the event (tournament fees, registrations,
etc.), increment intervals are compressed rather than spread.
For U9-U14 teams, payment schedule is: initial deposit by May 29th, then
an additional payment on September 1st ($650), November 30th ($625).
For U15-U18 teams, payment schedule is: initial $700 deposit upon acceptance of a spot, then
an additional payment on January 15.
How are SSC coaches selected?
All SSC coaches have been rigorously evaluated by the
four-person Coaches Steering Committee before being assigned a team as a
Primary Trainer / Head Coach. Each brings something unique to the club in terms
of experience and training. In short, the coaching group brings to the club a
rich background of knowledge and experience to pass along to SSC players, and
many are even professionally trained as instructors and teachers.
Mindful that players benefit from different perspectives, styles and experience
backgrounds, the club is institutionalizing cross-training so that players are
exposed to the different trainers in the system. As an initial measure, teams
are being formally assigned a secondary trainer. Also teams periodically have
their trainers rotated from one seasonal year to the next. Clinics and skills
sessions conducted independently of team training promote such broader
exposure, as do the recommended team training weeks during the summer.
How is the club operated?
The club has traditionally been a coach-driven organization,
with substantive soccer, policy and operational decisions handled by the
Coaches Committee, headed by a small working Coaches Steering Committee drawn
from the most senior members.
Organizational items are handled by a Board of Officers, who supervise
facilities and budget issues, handle administrative matters with leagues and
state organizations, and conduct fund-raising activities. Currently, the Officers
include President Tony Bednarsky and Vice President Vin Ricciardi.
The Club also has a professional Administrative Director who
supervises day-to-day issues such as scheduling and ref assignments, and also
addresses long-term strategic issues such as development programs, growth,
recruitment and player placement. Much of this work is done individually and
collectively with members of the Team Managers Committee, which communicates
regularly with the Administrator and formally meets on a quarterly basis.
What other development programs does the club offer?
Players are encouraged to develop their skills beyond the
team training sessions by attending camps and clinics.
TRAINING - Friday evenings. Three courses a year, of 6-8 sessions
each. Spring & Fall outdoors, Winter indoors.
- SOCCER SPEED SKILL - Two courses of 10 sessions each fall and spring season held at the Gill St. Bernard's School by professional speed and agility trainers.
SOCCER - Friday evenings, Spring & Fall. Supervised, but uncoached
scrimmages to foster creativity and problem solving by the player
- 3 v
3 COMPETITION - The club embraces this format for skill development,
and runs special optional workouts. The club has won National
Championships in years past, and placed numerous teams in the National
What about the showcase years?
The older teams attend college showcase events commensurate
with the level of the team involved. To show well at such events, teams resume
training immediately after the high school season concludes.
For players serious about college play, the Club provides seminars and is
available by phone to help out, whether to provide sample soccer resumes,
discuss an email campaign or make a warranted phone call. SSC coaches will help
out in any way possible, and gladly discuss candidates with their desired
Does SSC have a policy about players playing up in age?
Players are free to try out for any age team they feel is
appropriate for their physical maturity and skill level. Nonetheless,
experience has shown that only the truly exceptional player successfully plays
up regularly on a team that is competing at the highest levels. After
evaluating a player, the SSC coaching staff may recommend a position on a team
different than the one for which the player tried out.
It should be noted that there are numerous occasions that players do play up on
SSC teams. Some teams encompass a two year age group, and participate at an
appropriate level of competition. Sometimes a player will be asked to guest
with an older team within the club to evaluate the players ability under more
strenuous circumstances. SSC routinely double-cards players with both USYSA and
US Club Soccer passes; the latter would allow player movement among club teams
on as much as a weekly basis.
Can SSC players still guest with other teams or be
SSC Trainers prefer to supervise their players instruction,
and their amount of competition in a given period. The club reserves the right
to grant permission to guest elsewhere, and only if games are well-spaced from
SSC events. Other than occasional transition situations, secondary cards will
only be permitted among SSC teams.
What do Evaluators judge at tryouts?
Four primary criteria: Speed (including technical speed and
quickness), Touch (first touch, foot skills, comfort with ball), Aggressiveness
(going to ball, winning challenges, defending confidently), Mental Game (reads
field, makes decisions, handles pressure, organizes mates). If a player has a
good base, our trainers will teach the rest. We prefer to evaluate prospective
players at our regular training sessions over a period of time in addition to
After Tryouts, how does the club get back to prospects?
Within a week of the last tryout, a club rep will phone or
email all candidates whom the club has identified for the Age Group Player
Pool. That contact will either offer a roster spot or advise of the next step.
SSC will make sure it gets word through to identified players. Nonetheless, if
in doubt that you may have missed our call, email (or call) the Director of
How does the Club communicate?
Our website is a fountain of information. Surf it to see the
leagues teams play in, tournaments they attend, club history, etc. The site is
laced with contact names, as well as team and action photos.
Most team communications are routed through the Team Managers who do yeoman
service in dealing with the myriad of details necessary to keep a team
functioning. Their names, phone numbers and email addresses are listed on the
website with their individual teams.
We have professional coaches who want the team (and its
individual players) to perform at its peak, know what to say, when to talk to
on field players, and when not to. No coaching is allowed by
parents or spectators at any time during training or games. Shouting abuse or
any comments at the opponent team, referees or coaches will not be tolerated.
If this does occur, you will be informed in writing of the club's disciplinary
action, which may result in the removal of your child from the team or you, the
parent, may be banned from watching any practice and/or any games home and
away. If you have to shout (we prefer you didn't) encouragement is all that
will be accepted. Questions? Contact SSC Vice President, Vin
Ricciardi by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by phone at 201-602-0384.