BANGOR, Maine — Ryan Pelletier played soccer for Brewer High School and the University of Maine at Farmington and graduated from UMF in 2011 with a degree in education.
“Soccer is my favorite and education is my favorite,” said Pelletier.
Now he gets to combine the two with Seacoast United Blackbear as the Grassroots and Community Outreach director, and he’s excited about it.
“I always thought I would coach,” said Pelletier, an Orrington native who is also the freshman boys soccer coach at Bangor High.
“From the day I graduated high school … I knew I wanted to give back to soccer,” he added.
“He’s a great, great instructor, very good with the kids,” said Seth Brown, club director for Seacoast Blackbear.
The Grassroots program is one of several that Seacoast Blackbear is starting soon.
“Saturday, we start our Jr. Blackbear program, an advanced program for 7- to 12-year-olds,” said Brown. “Wednesday, we start our Grassroots for [ages] 4-5-6 and 7-8-9, and the U11 to U14 Premier teams have training sessions for five straight Saturdays this fall.”
Billy Shannon has also been made a full-time staffer to run the Jr. Blackbear program. The merger with Seacoast United earlier this year allowed Seacoast Blackbear to add staff to spread the workload, said Brown.
“As we transition to Seacoast Blackbear United, the names of some of our programs have changed,” said Brown. “They’re very similar to what we had last year, just with a different name.
“Last year, it was our pre-academy program and we changed it to our Grassroots program.”
That name is now more in line with Seacoast Blackbear’s emphasis.
“We’re making very much a grassroots effort in how we’re reaching out to kids and communities,” said Brown. “All of our full-time staff go out at least three days a week to other clubs and communities and do training sessions with their kids and coaches. We go wherever communities want us to come in and do activities.”
Just in the past few days, the staff had been invited to sessions in Orono, Bangor, Brewer and Frankfort.
“Any community that would like us to come in there and do something where we’re not already doing it, just reach out to us and we’ll come in and do it,” said Brown.
Pelletier helped Thursday night in Brewer.
“They had asked us to come in and work on certain things, in this case passing,” said Pelletier. “We didn’t just show them how to pass. We showed them how to get open, when to pass.”
Pelletier and his fellow coaches want young players to understand why they do certain things, such as passing, in certain ways.
“We’re just trying to create an ‘aha’ moment,” said Pelletier.
But they also want to keep the instruction fun, especially in the Grassroots program.
“Our Grassroots level is really, for lots of kids, their first introduction to soccer,” said Brown. “Wednesday, they come in and we do very fun, skill-based activities, and on Saturday we play [games].”
Grassroots is set up with four eight-week sessions. Kids can be signed up for all four sessions or for any combination.
“People have so much going on these days, especially with those young players,” said Brown. “They might want to come in for eight weeks, go do something else for eight weeks, then come back in for eight weeks. This allows for that.”
The cost is $125 per session or $400 for all four.
After the Grassroots program, kids can stay in it for the fun and light structure or decide to move up to a more challenging level.
Signup is still possible for Grassroots as well as Jr. Blackbear. Registration can be done online at www.seacoastunitedblackbear.com or at the Field4Kids indoor facility on Farm Road in Bangor behind Beal College.
If people have questions, they can email Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 512-0689.
Pelletier can hardly wait.
“I’m really ready to knock it out of the park with this Grassroots program,” he said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story contained an error. Ryan Pelletier is from Orrington, not Frankfort.