When, in the fourth year of my parenting of a small child, I made the decision to sign my kid up to play soccer, there was no rhyme or reason for how to figure out where he should play. A google search, a perusal of websites, the advice of a soccer mom in my office; that’s all I really had to go on. It was hardly systematic. And all that was despite my already being a soccer writer. In short, the dearth of organized, objective information on youth soccer clubs was stunning. Not surprisingly, my kid was ultimately involved in four different soccer clubs in just five years before we eventually found the right fit.
It really shouldn’t be that hard to find the right soccer club for your son or daughter.
So, dear reader, in an effort to serve the soccer public in the Greater Pittsburgh Area, I present to you the initial installment of PittsburghSoccerNow.com’s new regular feature, ‘Youth Soccer Spotlight’. Each week or so, we’ll profile a local club soccer team and fill you in on the various details you might take into consideration when selecting a club for your daughter or son.
So with no further ado, here is our first profile: FC Pittsburgh.
FC Pittsburgh was founded in 2008. Director of Operations and Head of boys coaching Chris Karwoski told me that the club wanted “to be an alternative to existing clubs.” “We want to be focused on positive player development and not just result oriented winning. We also wanted a club with loyalty and a strong degree of player retention in our teams, our players, and families.” The need for FC Pittsburgh was not only qualitative and philosophical but practical. “There really no direct club presence in this geographical region.” FC Pittsburgh is based in the I-79 corridor and Ohio River Valley, on the west side of the Pittsburgh metro area, towards Sewickley and Moon. The club offers competitive soccer from u9 to u18, both boys and girls, and is an established 501c3 non-profit.
Coaching directors Chris Karwoski and Chet Gapczynski have their B and C badges, respectively, from the US Soccer Federation and United Soccer Coaches (formerly the NSCAA). Chet coached at Northern Allegheny High School before moving on to his current role with FC Pittsburgh’s girl’s teams, and also concurrently serves as head coach of the Penn State University Beaver Campus women’s team. After an NCAA career with the University of Vermont, Chris had a brief career as a pro in Scotland before becoming an assistant coach at Pitt. Before coming to FC Pittsburgh, he was the Men’s Head Coach at Western Michigan for 11 seasons.
FC Pittsburgh competes in the PA West club soccer league, as well as the National Premier League -Great Lakes Alliance region. The NPL-GLA is comprised of top clubs from in and around Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York. The level of play in the NPL can be quite high, particularly in later rounds of nationwide competition for those teams that advance beyond regional play.
FC Pittsburgh also offers competitive soccer for over 30, over 40, and over 50 participants, competing in PA West’s Greater Pittsburgh Soccer League (GPSL).
Chris was overwhelmingly positive about the club’s growth and direction. “FC Pittsburgh is fortunate to have good families, good coaches, and fantastic players.” He’s clearly proud of this club and where they are, but also of the clubs role in building not just good soccer players, but good people as well.
” I think people like what we’re doing. For us, it’s not just about soccer growth but personal growth as well.”
Club Name: FC Pittsburgh
Contact: Chris Karwoski; firstname.lastname@example.org; Chet Gapczinski, email@example.com
Ages/Genders: u9-u18, boys and girls; adult soccer
Location: Western Pittsburgh Metro area; Moon, Sewickley; primary field in Coraopolis
Cost: $2,250 (on average), all year included