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EMBERY Athletics introduces soccer in a fun way

Jan. 19—PLATTSBURGH — It can always be tough to get your kids to do something.

Eat your veggies. Clean your room. Go to sleep. The list goes on. But, the list can sometimes include playing a sport, like soccer.

EMBERY Athletics aims to change that.

"Claire has always been kind of reserved," Shauna Ladue said. "The social thing kind of gets her sometimes. So now she'll go out there and play the entire time now.

"In the first week it was five minutes and in the second week it was 10. Now she looks forward to coming here rather than fighting to not leave."

EMBERY's name was decided on by program organizer Pat Shaughnessy.

"We wanted to come up with a unique name for our program," Shaughnessy said. "We chose EMBERY because it incorporates all 3 of our kids' names: (EM)ma, (BE)njamin and (RY)an."

While this league is in its inaugural season, Shaughnessy said he had been thinking about this adventure for a couple of years.

"We wanted to provide a league that allowed for small teams, to allow for maximum participation," he said. "The games that we play are small-sided usually 4v4 or 5v5 at both age levels which allow for more playing time which equals more touches on the ball for the kids."

The age groups of the two leagues within the program are Under-6 and Under-8. Each group gets an hour of practice time to have fun and learn the game of soccer.

The leagues hold practices on Wednesday's throughout the fall and winter. This last fall practices were held near Oak Street Elementary School. The winter practices are in the PSUC Fieldhouse.

"Some of the differences that I have noticed with this versus some of the other soccer that we've been a part of is they intentionally keep the teams a little bit smaller," Tarissa Haley said. "So each kid really does get the attention and game time to be able to participate fully."

Haley has two kids participating in the league, one in each age group. She noticed a tremendous growth in both of them.

"So both of my girls in the beginning were kind of like, 'Oh the ball's coming near me and another kid is too. I should step to the side so you can take the ball,'" she said. "Now they've learned that they don't want to lose an opportunity to be competitive and be aggressive while instilling the idea of sportsmanship.

"Just simple things like saying good game at the 'Good game' at the end. It's really great to watch."

Both Shaughnessy and parents agreed that EMBERY was a success from the get go. Shaughnessy said he could think of two key moments.

"The first time I noticed that the league was a success was the first day of practices," he said. "Seeing so many kids being active and learning the sport made me so happy. The second being the last days of the (fall) season.

"Each age group had their own end of the season game and party. Having everyone together enjoying the game of soccer, having fun, and forming friendships was a great thing to see."

Shaughnessy said he originally was hoping to get at least 40 kids to fill four teams in the league. However, once signups were complete, they ended up with 104 kids and a total of nine teams. Six for the Under-6 league and three for the Under-8.

"I wanted to have a space that was for all levels of soccer players," he said. "We had some that had been playing soccer for years and we had some that were new to the game this year.

"I was fortunate to have great coaches that allowed for learning and growth for all players."

And some of his coaches continued into the indoor season to help a group of 84 kids learn and grow in the sport of soccer.

"We are lucky to have some of the same coaches for indoor that we had for our outdoor session (Alfie LaDue, Ben Lambert, Kate Gordon, Nicole Santaniello and Sonya Lambert) as well as new coaches which include Natalia Simmons and Saania Brindisi," Shaughnessy said.

When asking them for help, there was zero hesitation.

"It's amazing," Shauna Ladue said. "When Pat reached out and said, 'Hey I'm thinking about doing this,' we were like 'Whatever we need to do, sign us up.'

"We wanted to help in any way and this is simply great. It's going to be like a nice feeder program. Most of these kids go to the city school anyway. They're all going to get to know each other and build those friendships."

Ladue said the outpouring of support was amazing. There was no question, it was simply, 'What do you need from us?'

"The community support has been overwhelming," Shaughnessy said. "I am glad that we were able to work with and collaborate with the Plattsburgh City School District to make this happen for the kids.

"We were fortunate to have local businesses as sponsors for all 9 teams. I want to thank Zukes Deli, Criss Consulting, G&G Tire Company, Brennan Buick, Captain's Team Shop, AEDA, Coryer Staffing, Zachary's Original and Chick-Fil-A for sponsoring a team for the 1st year of EMBERY soccer."