BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Tony Rua of Mountainside, a parent volunteer coach for the Berkeley Heights Youth Soccer Club (BHYSC) U14 Boys Revolution playing in Flight 1 of the Mid-NJ Youth Soccer Assocation (MNJYSA), completed the four part U.S. Soccer National "D" license certification class.  

The National D course is a 36 to 40-hour course designed for the experienced coach who has already earned a National E license. The focus is to improve a coach's ability to positively influence individual players and teams. The course consists of a series of lectures and field sessions, and attendance is mandatory for the full duration of all course meetings.

"It is highly unlikely that there are more than a few volunteer 'dad coaches' in the state of New Jersey that have reached this level," said BHYSC representative John Sciacchitano. 

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The D License is a step above what most volunteer coaches posses. "Usually, you are only required an F License to be able to coach in New Jersey and as your kids get older, most, not all clubs, require you obtain your E License," said Rua. "Berkeley Heights is one of those clubs that requires that coaches coaching a U12 A team or older obtain an E License, but that is as far as it goes."

Coaches who successfully complete the course learn to understand and effectively apply the principles of Long Term Athlete Development and planning age-appropriate training sessions.

"The D level License has given me a new insight into coaching," said Rua. "It has taught me to break down the game into its simplest form and let the game itself be the teacher. The course focused a lot on teaching within the moments -- allowing the players to come up with the answers themselves rather then just giving them the answer. They're not always going to make the right decisions, but it's from their mistakes that they'll learn and get better."

Rua played high school soccer for Kearny High School, played club soccer in Newark Ironbound, and continues to play with friends and with the Berkeley Heights soccer dads and coaches.

His love for playing the sport drives his passion to help kids to learn and fall in love with the game. "I decided to take the National D License course to learn as much as I could and bring back what I learned to my team to try and help them develop and reach their full potential as players," he said. 

He would like to someday coach a high school team and maybe even go on to coach at a collegiate level. "I'm looking forward to eventually completing the National C, B, and A youth licenses," he added.

Rua has been coaching a combined 9 years between the Mountainside PAL and the BHYSC. "I'm really impressed with how far the [BHYSC] club has come under the guidance of Kevin Dearman, Sean Manns, and others," he said. "They've developed and implemented a 'Player Development Philosophy', designed to guide coaches in developing each player to the best of their abilities."

The club has also implemented the Soccer Development Academy (SDA) under the leadership of Chris McGowan and Mark Robertson -- aimed at reaching kids from pre-K to U9. The program focuses on developing individual player skills and teaching fundamentals of soccer. "Between the training and festival teams that SDA enters into tournaments, kids get thousands of touches on the ball. It's really a great program that is taking the club to the next level," said Rua. 

In addition, the BHYSC recently hired a Director of Coaching to oversee the training kids are receiving and making sure that trainers adhere to the "Player Development Philosophy."

"Above all, the club strives to ensure each kid gets the best experience possible," said Rua.  "I am very proud of the work we have done as a club and honored to be a part of a group of such great men and women."

Visit to learn more about the Berkeley Heights Youth Soccer Club. 

The Berkeley Heights Youth Soccer Club, Inc is a 501c3 organization that supports traveling soccer teams for the youth of Berkeley Heights and is affiliated with New Jersey Youth Soccer (NJYS). Club teams currently play in Mid-New Jersey Youth Soccer Association (MNJYSA), Intercounty Youth Soccer League (ICYSL) and Jersey Area Girls Soccer (JAGS). The club also presently supports a recreational Soccer Development Academy (SDA) and a recreational Soccer Development Academy Kindergarten/Pre-K (SDAK/Pre-K) for youths in pre-K through 2nd grade and non-travel 3rd graders.