LVU & Keystone Form Athletic Partnership
Henry Ford once said, "Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success."
Lehigh Valley United took steps recently to realize the essence of Ford’s message with the announcement of a new strategic alliance with Stroudsburg and Pocono area based soccer club, Keystone Athletic.
“The overall response received thus far has been extremely positive,” says Executive Director of Soccer operations, Greg Ramos. “There have been some concerns. We’re working hard to make clear that LVU is not taking over Keystone, nor is Keystone taking over LVU. The partnership is about what is best for our local soccer market, not about which club wins out, or who "one's up" the other. It is a true collaboration.”
LVU is once again coming off a successful year including 6 State Champions and 2 Finalists (the 34th since 2007), US Soccer Development Academy success, 2 College All Americans, a consistent and successful pathway to college soccer and 3 qualifications into the prestigious US Youth Soccer National League. This is a true testament to the quality of the club and staff, and the commitment to excellence from the families and players.
Ramos believes still more can be achieved, much more. “LVU's exceptional achievements are attained with a membership of less than 600 players within our U9-U19 teams. There are thousands of soccer players within our Greater Lehigh Valley area market, and thousands more in the surrounding counties. Imagine what could be possible if all clubs, coaches and players were rowing in the same direction.”
The guiding star and purpose for the LVU & Keystone alliance is to Unify The Youth Soccer Market. Together soccer clubs can get much further, and achieve much more than they can separately.
“Some local soccer folks are having a difficult time understanding this,” according to Ramos. “It's been one club against the other for so long that to see two soccer clubs come together for the betterment of their membership, and the community at large, is extremely out of the ordinary. Many find it hard to believe, but that is truly what it is about - getting further, faster, by unifying our youth soccer market.”
Beginning with the 2019/20 soccer season the LVU/Keystone combined membership pool will expand from 30 to 60 travel teams playing at the Lehigh Valley Soccer League, EDP, Regional League, US National league and Development Academy levels. The in-house u5-u8 programming will also double in size.
None of this data takes into account those who will want to newly join. “Within the last week we've received communication from multiple Lehigh Valley area soccer clubs with interest in being part of the "Unify Our Youth Soccer Market" initiative, says Ramos. “It is our intention to work with all soccer clubs that are like-minded and open to collaboration. We will be offering a menu of competitive programming at varying price points tailored to the goals and desires of current and new membership, as well as supporting the efforts of local clubs.”
LVU and Keystone have been in discussion for the last four months leading up to their recent announcement. They will be taking the 2018/19-soccer year to continue planning, and ensure that this is a positive for all. There will be milestone announcements, membership meetings and town hall forums to help guide and inform current and new membership throughout the year.
Ramos believes that an open mind, collaboration and inclusiveness are key. “There is a massive opportunity at hand to really make a difference for children throughout North Eastern PA via the unification of our youth soccer market initiative. Our alliance with Keystone Athletic is just the beginning.”