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Q & A With New U.S. Soccer Hires B.J. Snow and April Kater

U.S. Soccer recently announced the hiring of B.J. Snow as head coach of the U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team and April Kater as Head Development Coach. ussoccer.com sat down with Snow and Kater to get their thoughts on the new positions with the U.S. Women’s Youth National Teams.

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IN THE IMAGE: New U.S. Soccer Women’s Head Development Coach April Kater

ussoccer.com: What were your main reasons for taking this newly created position?
B.J. Snow: “There are so many intriguing aspects about working with U.S. Soccer. My mindset all along is to focus on my development as much as possible and to end up being the best coach I possibly can. My long term vision, for numerous reasons, has always been to end up working for U.S. Soccer at whatever level possible, to challenge myself and to be immersed in the international game. These opportunities don’t come along that often so this was certainly a tremendous opportunity, but also a very difficult decision at the same time because I feel lucky to be in the position I was at UCLA. It came down to following my passion and career path.”

ussoccer.com: This is the first time the U-17 Women’s National Team coach will be a full-time position. How attractive was it to be able work full-time with this age group?
BJ: “That played an enormous part because this job is about soccer, soccer and soccer. When you are in college world, there are so many great things about it, but coaching can often be a small part of your job. This will allow me to focus on coaching full-time and really study the game and focus on the future of the national team. So it was a win-win as far as being immersed in the game.”

ussoccer.com: What is your philosophy on the importance of the Under-17s in overall U.S. Women’s National Team programs?
BJ: “The U-17 level plays multiple roles within U.S. Soccer. Certainly the developmental foundation has to be there. These players are the next generation of talent coming through the system. So the focus has to be on developing players first and foremost to get them prepared for whatever level is next, whether it be the U-20 level or eventually the full-team level. That is our main priority. But there also has to be efficiency along with the development, meaning the goal is always to win whenever we are going to a World Cup. That’s the standard set by U.S. Soccer and that will always remain the goal. So the expectations are high. However, we can’t forget that foundation is a little different from some of the levels within U.S. Soccer, because you are talking about an age group, that within two or three years from ages 14-17, they are in an absolutely critical time for their development. That’s the unique part about this level and that’s what I really enjoy about it.”

ussoccer.com: You are starting your first training camp right away and will get two great games against the Germany U-17 Women’s National Team. What are your early goals for the squad?
BJ: “The early goals will revolve around solidifying a foundation and a vision of what will happen in the next 14 months. We want the girls to know how to behave and certainly start to instill some of the philosophies about how we want to play, but we also want to put together a program for all of the girls so when they leave camp they are prepared to work on their own individual development and not have it solely based on being in a national team camp.”

ussoccer.com: The next U-17 Women’s World Cup is scheduled to be held late in the first quarter of 2014, so there will be a relatively short time to prepare the team for qualifying. What are your thoughts on the accelerated cycle?
“It’s an intense of a cycle as we’ve ever head for a FIFA event. Certainly, it’s a challenge, but it’s a challenge for every country in the world. However, we have tremendous talent in our country. Perhaps the different part with this cycle is that we have to quickly develop a core group so we can identify how we are going to play and develop a style and become accustomed to and be efficient with it. Is it a challenge? Absolutely. Am I looking forward to it? Absolutely. It’s a good thing.”

ussoccer.com: What were your main reasons for taking this newly created position?
“Being able to impact the game at the youth level is very appealing to me. The majority of my coaching career has been at the college level and now I have the chance to reach these players at a younger age while still working with a very competitive level of player. It’s a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these young players and a great challenge to continue to build the youth national teams in the United States.”

ussoccer.com: What do you see as your main goals?
“We have many goals, one being the continued success and growth of the National Training Centers. The Training Centers in certain areas of the country have been very successful and consistent in reaching the top players while other markets have had minimal impact or been non-existent. That has to change. The Training Centers will be vital in identifying and working with some of the top prospects before they even reach U.S. Soccer youth camps. They will also be a platform to communicate U.S. Soccer’s message to players and coaches across the country. Another important goal is to compile our scouting database. We want to really streamline and organize our process in collecting information on potential Youth National Team players while also expanding and maximizing our pool of scouts. With the database program, it will make things more consistent for not only our scouting network, but also for our Youth National Team coaches to utilize while compiling their player pools and selecting their training camp rosters.”

ussoccer.com: Can you speak about the prospect and challenge of coaching the U-14 Girls’ National Team?
“It’s going to be a lot of fun. To be a part of the first imprint that these players experience with U.S. soccer will be very important. It is vital that the messages that we are delivering are consistent with the messages they will continue to hear as they progress to future national team camps. The unification of how we will train and approach bringing these players into the program will be very rewarding.”

ussoccer.com: You will be working very closely with Development Director Jill Ellis and Technical Director April Heinrichs. Are you looking forward to that process?
“Absolutely. We are developing a great team here and we are all going to work together to benefit U.S. Soccer and the players. April and Jill have both been historically two very important people in the game of soccer in the United States so to be able to work alongside them and learn from them while also utilizing them for information and advice will be a key to this position. They are both fully invested into the women’s game and it’s going to be fun to work alongside them with that same passion.”

ussoccer.com: What lessons do you take from your days as an elite player that can help in bringing these young players along?
“Over my career, I really came to appreciate how much hard work pays off. I wasn’t naturally gifted athletically, but my will and work rate allowed me to compete with some of the best in the country. The experiences I had through U.S. Soccer camps and ODP allowed me to pave a path in playing and coaching and that hard work translates into other areas of your life. Obviously, we will be bringing in top players in the country who are very talented, but it’s the differences in mentality, in passion and work rate that can separate them at this level.” 

Source Article from http://www.ussoccer.com/News/U-17-WNT/2013/01/QA-BJ-Snow-and-April-Kater.aspx
Q & A With New U.S. Soccer Hires B.J. Snow and April Kater
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