Nicholas Heffernan's Aloha-based club gives local athletes extra options

FC Columbia County is no longer the only soccer club in the area headed by an Englishman.

Nicholas Heffernan, head girls' soccer coach at Scappoose High School, has followed in the footsteps of his St. Helens counterpart Simon Date, kicking off the NICH|SOCCER Club and Academy to supplement a developing local soccer culture, including a U15 team made up of a mix of girls bound for Scappoose and St. Helens high schools.

Product of an “extensive” partnership with Life Christian School in Aloha, the club's philosophy is more or less an extension of Heffernan's day-to-day coaching tenancies. He rarely stands on the sidelines, preferring to get on the field and actually compete with the players, pushing them alongside himself. He hopes to capture the academy feel from his youthful days in England, where he says there's a different feel in comparison to many American clubs.

“It isn’t just a case of turning up to practice, getting a solid hour or so in and then heading home,” said Heffernan. “An environment is created allowing athletes to feel part of a soccer family and work on all aspects of their game both on and off the field.”

The entire focus of the club is in training players and readying them for high school and college soccer programs, and athletes will get individual attention to help work on their individual position.

In addition, the club offers an extensive list of services. Athletes can use the gym on site to work on strength training and conditioning, and can also utilize video analysis to see how they perform during games.

Also, thanks to Heffernan's work with college recruiting service STUDENTathleteWorld, each athlete in the club will get help promoting themselves to prospecting college coaches with the goal of nabbing scholarships. Recruiting assistance, along with the use of the gym during training sessions and the sit-down time with coaches to go over game film, are included in the club fees.

The club continues the current local trend in which soccer has jumped into the local limelight as one of the fastest-growing youth sports in both numbers and interest. The skills at the youth level get better with each passing year, planting seeds of success for once the athletes reach high school and beyond.

“The Scappoose Soccer Club and FC Columbia County has done a fantastic job of developing young athletes to prepare them for their future careers in soccer,” said Heffernan. “As a coach, I love nothing more than a freshman soccer athlete trying out for the high school with the necessary techniques and skills needed to be a contender on the program.”

Heffernan got a sweet taste of how well things can go when players step in to camp with their skills already developed: the Scappoose girls' team won a state title in his first year as head coach.

“Soccer in the district seems to be growing rapidly and that can only mean good things for the world of soccer and its athletes,” said Heffernan, who enjoyed a brief professional stint in Europe before coming over to the United States. “My vision is to develop the multi-sport athlete both on and off the soccer field in an environment that enhances individual confidence along with team success and helping them prepare for that step up to college soccer.”

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