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From our Technical Director Kate Stahlin

Defining DYSA’s Core Values

By Kate Stahlin


Durango Youth Soccer Association (DYSA) was founded in 1993.  The philosophy of DYSA has evolved over the last 24 years.  However, in 2017, if you asked a member what the culture of DYSA is they might not know how to answer.  Because of this, the DYSA staff and Board of Directors have prioritized the importance of establishing the club’s culture and defining the club’s value system.  What is important to DYSA; what are our principles or standards of behavior?

The goal is to develop a culture so that every coach, player, parent, administrator, and board member has a clear understanding of what the organization stands for and what their role is within the club.  In return, the expectation is that every member can support the value system and strengthen the overall culture.  By clearly defining club expectations and how we do things, this shall empower the membership to play a greater role in the organization.  

In order for DYSA to be a great organization we need to have clearly defined core values.  To get this process going we started with our coaches because the coaches are the leaders of their teams.  At our coach meeting in February we discussed the Law of Influence, leadership myths and leadership facts. John Maxwell, writes, “The true measure of leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less” (11).  Influence is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something. Our coaches have the very important role of not only developing our players’ soccer skills, but also shaping the players’ character.

For the coaches to do this effectively, I encouraged the coaches to first look at themselves because in order to grow your team you have to grow yourself. I asked the coaches to create their own personal mission statements, value system, and goals.  I challenged them to not let their feelings override their values, and to not let discomfort sidetrack them from their overall goals.  The goal for the coaches is to get out the comfort zone and into the growth zone.  If they do this, it will help them do the same for their players.

At the meeting we did an exercise to create a DYSA Coach Value System. Working together the coaches came up with 10-15 adjectives that described a good coach.  Their answers were written down and each of them signed our DYSA Coach Value Worksheet agreeing to uphold the values.  This is a contract but also our commitment to our members.  The DYSA coaches are committed to holding themselves accountable to this value system.  The activity engaged the coaches and gave them ownership of the value system.

The coaches will do this same group activity with their teams to create a Team Value Worksheet. The players will offer the coaches 10-15 adjectives that describe a good teammate.  All of the teammates, and coaches, will sign the worksheet making a commitment to each other.  The coach will take a picture of the worksheet and send to the parents so that they can talk about the values at home.  The goal of the team is to exemplify the values and recognize each other for embodying the values.

Using these team worksheets DYSA will find 4-5 most important values across all the teams and make this our club value system and incorporate them into the club mission statement.  The core values will create a common thread throughout the whole club with every team, every age group, boys and girls. 

Core values are the essential building blocks of not only championship cultures, but the best youth sports organizations. They are not a page on a website or a sign on the wall. You may see them there, but unless they are on the minds of the team members, they are not worth the paper they are printed on. They are your very essence, your very being, and epitomize everything you do. They are evident in training, in games, and in the locker room. And this does not happen by itself. (O’Sullivan, Changing the Game Project)

The coaches have to lead their team, as well as inspire their players and parents to follow the club and team value system.  In order for this to be successful everyone involved has to be consistent, hold each other accountable, but also celebrate each other’s successes.

Through the years DYSA has been viewed as a respectable youth sport organization in the southwest and mountain regions.  Many youth sport groups have looked to DYSA for guidance and to replicate our structure.  Moving forward DYSA wants to be admired not only for our structure and organization, but for the strong leadership of our coaches and our clearly defined core values that are exemplified by our coaches, players, parents, administrators and board of directors. The challenge for all of us is to get involved in the process by supporting the coaches, players and each other while we define what’s really important to us as a youth sport organization.

Maxwell, John C. (2007).  The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Follow them and people will follow you. Nashville, Tenn: Thomas Nelson

O’Sullivan, J. (2016, November 7). Four Words that Can Change the Culture of Youth Sports. Retrieved from

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