November's D.C. United Coaches Association Coach of the Month is Stuart Flower. Flower is the head coach of Chantilly Lightning, a U-12 girls travel team. The team is part of the Chantilly Youth Association and plays in the Old Dominion Soccer League.
Born in Scotland, Flower moved to the States 16 years ago and brings a wealth of soccer knowledge with him. He currently holds a "E" Coaching License, with plans to take the USYSA "D" course in the near future. In addition to the Chantilly Lightning, he also coaches a CYA Bantam League side.
The Lightning have enjoyed some success over the years, finishing second in the PVYSL Columbus Day tournament in Richmond, VA as well as the MSI Stars and Stripes Tournament, where they fell on penalty kicks after finishing regulation tied 1-1. The team is proudest of another achievement, however, as they took home the Sportsmanship award three consecutive seasons in the ODSL.
In addition to playing soccer, many of the team members are involved in other sports and extracurricular activities, and all of the players excel in the classroom as well. In order to build his player's appreciation of the game as well as their parent's knowledge, he encourages both players and parents to become involved in both practice and games as assistant coaches and referees, in order for them to serve as role models for younger kids within CYA. In his training sessions, Flower emphasizes individual skill development, teamwork, self-respect and respect for their teammates, coaches, referees and opponents. There is little focus on winning, with the team's goal being to have fun and build a desire to continue playing soccer. It is clear that his philosophy has worked, as nine of the original 12 members of the Lightning are still playing for the side.
"I started coaching, like many parent coaches, to have the opportunity to do something with my own kids," said Flower. "However, I soon discovered that working with all kids on the various teams I have coached over the past seven years was even more rewarding. Even now I have kids come up to me in the supermarket - kids that I coached years ago - to say 'hi'."
Flower also sits on the CYA Board of Directors and organizes the CYA Bantam Soccer Division - with more than 900 4-6 year olds making up 80 teams - as well as serving as the Director of Coaching Education for CYA. There are few people as dedicated as Flower, as he has been a D.C. United fan since 1996.
To nominate an individual for recognition as the D.C. United Coaches Association Coach of the Month, or to bring your team to a D.C. United match, log on to www.dcunited.com or call 202-587-5000.