A Tradition Of Thanks

 

A Tradition Of Thanks

By Joe Ulm

I love Thanksgiving.  It’s the one holiday my wife and I host every year and we do all we can to create an enjoyable, relaxing, and welcoming space for friends and family.  Over the years, it’s become a holiday full of tradition for us and I look forward to each tradition with all the things that make them so special.  This year, however, I’m looking forward to one tradition in particular. 

It happens when we’re all seated around the table, as people pass various dishes of food to one another and begin filling their plates.  That’s when everyone takes a turn to share one thing they’re thankful for.  The tradition isn’t novel, I know, but what people are thankful for, often is. 

I’ve been thinking about this tradition and what it will be like this year.  After such a crazy year, full of change and challenges none of us could have predicted, what people will say?  Will they be searching for reasons to be thankful or will they have trouble choosing from so many?  For me personally, the answer is easy – I’ll have trouble picking from so many.  

On January 1st this year I followed my beliefs and convictions into this role as President of our club.  Two months later, everything changed.  That’s been difficult at times for sure, but as I look back on it now, I realize I’m more thankful than I’ve been in a long time.  I’m thankful for the trust the board placed in me – and continues to place in me – to lead our Club.  Brian, Tony, Toni, Chris, & Adam…thank you.  I’m thankful for the group of sharp, talented, and committed people I get to work with every day.  Lati, Cari, Erin, & Mark…thank you.  I’m thankful for the time, skill, and dedication our coaches bring to our players every time they walk on the field…thank you. I’m thankful for the grace and encouragement so many parents have extended to me this year…thank you.

But most of all, I’m thankful for the love and support my wife has given me throughout – even when I wasn’t always the easiest to love or support.  Without her I wouldn’t be able to live my passion; I wouldn’t be able to give my all to our Club, and I wouldn’t be who I am today.

So when the plate is passed to me and it’s my turn to share one thing I’m thankful for, I’ll be picking from a long list, but my answer will be easy.  I’ll leave the novel answer to someone else.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Message From President Joe Ulm

 
This past weekend closed out what was one of the most unique and challenging fall seasons in Club history. COVID-19 created a situation none of us have faced before, and it fundamentally changed the way we experienced the game. Social distancing made its way to the sidelines, face masks became the norm, and we all grew familiar with contact-tracing forms. Through it all, players competed in front of cheering parents every Saturday and the sounds of soccer filled the sport complex week after week. Yet, if you listen closely, you’ll hear another sound just beneath the soccer; a sound that becomes obvious once you’re listening for it, and it might just be more important than soccer.

See, the sports complex is much more than just a place for soccer. It’s the place where conversations between neighbors happen, where siblings play, where Saturday evening plans are made, and where new friendships are born. But most of all, it’s where we come together as a club, where we all unite behind red and black, and where everyone is a little less of a stranger. Because if there’s one thing COVID has taught us over these past months, it’s that coming together isn’t just important, it’s necessary

So as our 2020 fall season transitions from new possibilities to memories past, I can’t help but feel a little sad that it’s come to an end; that there isn’t just one more Saturday of kids and soccer and sideline conversations this fall. But here we are in November. Already. We made it through the season, and for that alone, there is a reason to celebrate. But as wonderful as that may be, it gets even better than that. 

In the midst of a pandemic, we’ve grown by 7% while across the state soccer clubs are down 20% on average. That’s a remarkable difference, but even more remarkable is why it’s happening. I believe the answer lies in those sounds that live beneath the voices of our coaches and our players, and the soccer we all enjoy each Saturday. It’s the laughs between friends and neighbors, the conversations between kids, and the plans we make to enjoy time together – that’s why we’re growing. Because those sounds aren’t just the sounds of social plans. They’re the sounds of community, of people sharing, of people growing. And those sounds are making a difference. I can’t thank you enough.

Yes, the fall season is behind us, but our winter season is right around the corner, and even more, we have a world of opportunity in front of us. We’ve started the dialog about focusing on the players and we’ve challenged the status quo of what a soccer club can be. We will continue to innovate, and we will relentlessly pursue the goal of helping our players find success in all areas of their lives. Because we believe in it. Because it’s the right thing to do.

So as we close the chapter on our fall season, we also look forward to the next time we can come together as a club and as a community; to those precious Saturdays that are about soccer and so much more. Those are what creates change – familiar conversations, old friends, sudden smiles, the joy of victory, and the lessons learned from defeat. And it only happens when we do it together. United. 

Joe Ulm
President
Pewaukee Sussex United

Coach Spotlight: Brad Blicharz

Coach Spotlight this week is featuring Brad Blicharz! Get to know all about his soccer journey and why he loves to coach. 

1) Why do you coach soccer? 

My coaching career started off as something for me to do to stay involved in the game.  It quickly became much more than that.  Seeing the youth players have as much fun as I’ve had in my youth and providing a high level and positive learning environment was the true purpose.  I’m still amazed at what these kids can do now and equally amazed seeing some former players, now playing on older teams, in what they have accomplished.

2) Tell us about your soccer career/journey. 

I started playing in 1984 and played recreationally for 4 years. Then, I transitioned to select in 1988 and played select through 1997 and played all 4 years of high school at Waukesha North (1994-1997).  My coaching career started in 1998 and after that first year (which I was an assistant coach), I knew I wanted to do this for as long as I’m able.

3) What is one goal you have for PSU players? 

Youth players need to learn that it is ok to make mistakes.  Every time we have success, it came from trying countless times before that.  It’s that effort, and bravery, to try something new and keep trying until you find that success.

4) What is something soccer has taught you? 

Soccer is a fantastic sport.  From increasing my ability to multi-task, read ahead of things to accurately predict an outcome, and team building.  These are just a few things the beautiful game has taught me.  The best lesson though, is to always keep trying and have fun doing it.

5) What is your favorite soccer team? 

So many teams come to mind: Seattle Sounders, Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund, Celtic FC…  All fun teams to watch.  I’m taking more interest in lower level leagues in the US and find them equally entertaining.  I am a passionate supporter of Forward Madison FC!

6) How has soccer positively affected your life? 

To me, soccer is life.  It’s entertainment. It’s community building. At times, it can be a form of meditation while juggling.  Soccer has introduced me to some many awesome people and have been a great influence on how to be as a person.  Being a supporter of pro and semi-pro clubs in our area has also got me more involved with communities that are influenced by those team.

Spirit Wear Is Here!

YAY! Spirit wear is here! Whether it’s gloves to stay warm or a customized sweatshirt, grab you family some PSU gear. 

Click the link below for more styles! If you have any questions contact Cari at

club@pewaukeesussexunited.com 

Player Spotlight: Aidanne Kahl

AidanneKahlPSU

This week we are featuring Aidanne Kahl. Aidanne plays for the girls 10U Hurricanes. She absolutely loves having all of her family in he stands cheering her on.

1. Why do you play?

I play because soccer is a fun way to spend time with my friends.

2. What does soccer mean to you?

Soccer is my favorite extracurricular activity.  I don’t really play any other sports; soccer is it, and I love it.

 3. Who has inspired you during your soccer career?

My mom inspires me because she has been my coach or assistant coach every season I’ve played so far. 

4. What age were you when you started to play?

I was 6 years old when I start playing soccer.

5. Who do you love to see watching you play from the stands? 

I love seeing my brother, my sister, my dad, my grandma and grandpa, and my mom watching me from the sidelines.