Friday, July 29, 2016

Why Splash n Dash?

Have you heard about our upcoming Splash-n-Dash, presented by KitKeepers, event on August 20th? If not, it's a super fun day filled with inflatable water slides, water blaster alley, soccer stations, and more all along a 1-mile course. I thought it might be helpful for me to share with each of you why you should Splash-n-Dash with us on August 20th. 

Kids and parents can complete the course! 
1. All ages are welcome.
The 1-mile fun run around WRAL Soccer Park is easy for people of all ages. Last year, we had young players, coaches, and parents at the event.

2. All abilities are welcome.
You don't have to be in the best shape of your life or be very technically skilled at soccer. The 1-mile loop is broken up by a lot of "stations" including splash stations (e.g., inflatable water slide, slip n slide, etc.) and soccer stations (e.g., dribbling) that anyone can do. These stations add a nice break into the loop and offer plenty of rest. Plus, we have drinking water stations around the course, too! This makes the course easy for kids and adults! 

a perfect Family outing!
3. You are not timed: go at your own pace! 
We don't post scores or who finishes first. The day is more about fun and the accomplishment of finishing the course. There is no pressure for you to run faster than you want. Each wave has about 40 runners and the participants naturally spread out so there's plenty of room for you to take your time and enjoy it. 

CASL Coaches are on hand to
support players and runners; many of them
run the course, too! 
4. Bonding: Family, Friends, Team, and CASL 
Last year, we saw so many families running together. Parents ran at the pace of their kids (or kids running at the pace of their parents?), while they encouraged each other along the way. Many friends and teammates were in costume and used the event as a great team bonding/building exercise. Finally, our CASL coaches and staff were on-hand to encourage each runner and make sure they couldn't escape the whole water motif of the day. It's a great way to get to know coaches (maybe you'll even get to send a coach into the dunk tank!) and staff!

Great team bonding day!
CASL coaches hitting the course
with their players!
5. Fundraising: support Financial Aid 
Each dollar raised from the day supports CASL's Financial Aid fund. Each year, many families are faced with the choice of whether or not they can afford for their child(ren) to play soccer in a safe and positive environment. We raise money throughout the year to make sure each child has a chance to play, regardless of family financial constraints. We award nearly $125,000 each  year to qualifying players and their families. We all know the positive impact team sports and soccer can have on youth. Let's help open up the game to others. 

CASL coaches and staff make sure you have FUN! 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

#CASLPride in the Community

CASL players spread the game to youth in Nicaragua
by Jessica Kraus, CASL Intern
This summer, CASL families and staff have been making an extra effort to give back to the community! Equipment donations and community service events are just some of the ways everyone is getting involved!

Earlier this week, Ryan, Laura, and Wyatt (06 Academy Jrs Black South) Southard and CASL staff volunteered at the Wedge Community Garden in Raleigh. The Wedge Garden offers a safe place for community members to grow fresh produce and herbs. Many local organizations use the land to grow produce to help families in need fight hunger. The volunteers weeded and mulched garden beds as well as picked figs. Even though it was a hot summer evening, everyone gave it their all to make a difference!

CASL staff and volunteers at the Wedge Garden

Want to get involved?

Food Pantry: Later this week, CASL staff and volunteers members will be helping out at Urban Ministries of Wake County. Urban Ministries provides services to help families combat issues such as healthcare, homelessness, and hunger. CASL volunteers will be helping to sort food pantry items as well as bringing their own donations. You can sign up to be a part of this event on our community page.

Christmas in July:
Next week from July 25- July 31, we will be participating in the Ronald McDonald House of Raleigh and Chapel Hill's Christmas in July event. We will be collecting donations during Team Camp at WRAL Soccer Park and Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 12pm-5pm at the CASL Office (5017 Memory Rd, Raleigh, NC 27609).  Visit our Community Events page for more details on donations.

Equipment donations are also a hot topic at CASL. We have had a ton of donation items dropped off at the donation bin at WRAL this summer and have been able to help spread the love of soccer throughout Wake County and the world!  Last week, donations were sent out to the Wake County Boys and Girls Club as well as a mission community in Kenya. It will be the first time the children in Kenya will have ever seen soccer cleats.

Agility sticks, balls, goalie gloves, socks, cleats, and ball pumps
were distributed to the youth in the community
Community Update: We  also heard back from CASL player Kaitlyn Gosline (01 CASL Ladies Red) about her mission trip to Nicaragua. She and her dad (a CASL coach), along with another CASL Challenge coach and 3 CASL challenge players, helped her group host soccer clinics and a tournament that utilized equipment donations from CASL. The rest of the donations sent down with them will be used to help start a community soccer league in Nicaragua! To learn more about Kaitlyn’s trip and the work she did, visit her webpage:

Thanks to all who have given back to the community this summer and have spread their #CASLPride!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Spreading Soccer Around the World

By: Jessica Kraus, CASL Intern

Spreading Soccer Around the World!

CASL’s equipment donation bin at WRAL Soccer Complex has been super busy lately! With all of the generosity from our families, we have had our work cut out for us in sorting through the equipment, like gently used cleats, shin guards, goalie gloves, and balls. That is good news! We have been able to fill requests for soccer equipment donations all across the world. 

Sorting through gently used equipment
The Bradley family is spreading the game of soccer to Jamaica this summer where the community is in need of some usable equipment. After visiting before, Mikayla ('01 CASL WFU Blue Girls) saw that those in the community playing soccer only had a rubber ball and wanted to make a difference!

Ted Sheeve from Celebration Church in Raleigh recently  helped coordinate a large equipment donation of cleats, soccer balls, ball pumps, and apparel to Nicaragua, where there is a soccer league being set up for youth in an impoverished area. Later this month, his group will take another donation to Kenya!
Ted Sheve (red shirt) poses with the Joe Espinoza of 
CASL player Meredith Keel, who played for '98 CASL Wake Forest United, will be taking a sizable donation to Agua Viva Children’s Home in Guatemala this summer, where she will supply kids with the necessary equipment to enjoy the game of soccer!

Not only do equipment donations help others across the world, but also right in our backyard! Donations are being set up with the Boys and Girls Club in Wake County to help our neighbors be better able to enjoy the game we love.

Cleaning out the donation bin at WRAL Soccer Park
So next time you are at WRAL Soccer Park, stop by the equipment donation bin at the clubhouse between the restrooms. Every little donation can make a huge difference in the lives of those who receive them.

Or, if you know of a group who is helping to spread the game of soccer, please let us know about their equipment needs by filling out this form: 

A huge thank you to all who have already donated your used equipment and taken donations to deserving young players!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

CASL Community Support

by Katharine Eberhardt, CASL Business Development Director

You might be aware that we have a lot of generous corporate supporters at CASL. You see them in the form of field names, jersey sponsors, tournaments, events, and fundraisers. All of these companies hold the same belief that you do about the power of soccer and the benefits it can have on you and your children. I hope that, during the course of your day, your week, or your year, you will consider supporting the companies who so generously support your child's experience at CASL. 
FREE Ice Cream anyone? 

A lot of our sponsors have put together deals and promotions just for CASL families. I would encourage you to check our our digital coupon bag: There are more than 25 deals and promotions for you and your family. You can find out how you can get FREE ice cream from Dairy Queen, or a free dentist cleaning, or discounts off tires/installation and other products and services.

Full disclosure: you do have to enter your email address to enter the bag. Some of you may be thinking... do I really want to enter my email to see the coupons? Entering your email is just so we can track how many people are using the platform and viewing the different coupon/promotional placements. It's really just a way to provide valuable feedback. Your email doesn't get shared with anyone, AND you can un-check the box when you sign into the Digital Coupon Bag so you don't get any future emails... it's that easy! 

I hope you will check out the coupon bag. You might just find something in there you can use. I'm lucky that day in and day out, I get to tell the "CASL story" (mine is even a personal story since I played here growing up) to each of these companies as well as prospective companies. And, in return, I get to hear why they want to support CASL and give back to the community. In upcoming blogs, I look forward to spotlighting some of our sponsors and sharing with you why they choose to support our programming. 

Until then, enjoy these great offers:

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

CASL Casino Night: Sneak Peak

As we start this new year at CASL, we are excited to host our newest fundraiser - CASL Casino Night & Silent Auction - on Thursday, February 18th, at the Stockroom in downtown Raleigh. All-inclusive tickets are $75/each. If you can't be there, you could sponsor a table ($200)! Buy your tickets here.

This is our second fundraiser of the year (the first one was the Splash-n-Dash in August; the final one is the golf tournament on April 18) that will raise money to support our financial assistance program at CASL. This year alone, we will award more than $125,000 in financial assistance to qualifying families across all levels of play. Without our financial support, many children would not be able to play. 

More about Casino Night

As you can guess, Casino Night will revolve around, well... casino games (with play money, of course!). With your ticket, you will receive $1,000 in casino chips to test your luck (and skill?) on blackjack, roulette, craps, poker, and more! And, guess who will be making rounds as dealers at your table???  CASL coaches and directors! 

Thanks to our presenting sponsor Empire Eats, you'll also be treated to delicious food from their restaurants (The Pit, Sitti, Gravy, The Raleigh Times). We can't thank Empire Eats enough for not only donating the space - the amazing Stockroom venue - for our event, but also for providing ALL the food - how awesome is that??!! Drinks (non-alcoholic, beer, and wine) are also included with your Casino Night ticket. 

Silent Auction: What to Expect

You'll also have the chance to bid on some awesome items in our silent auction. We are still collecting generous donations from our business community, but here's a sneak peak at some of the items you could bid on (and get a great deal!):

Looking for a special gift for her? Diamond's Direct is donating a $250 gift card. Or, treat her to a pedicure from Synergy Spa and a $100 shopping spree at Crabtree Valley Mall. 

We can't forget about him! Bid on one of these cotton ties from High Cotton. These ties bring back a "true Southern accent" made with the help of one of NC's home grown products - cotton. Oh, and they are machine washable! 

Wilmington Beach Escape 

What about for the family? We'll have plenty of items for your family to enjoy like a Wilmington beach trip! Enjoy a  hotel stay, (4) tickets to the aquarium, and this gift pack from the Wilmington CVB (includes dry bags, koozies, shirts, drawstring bag). Or, head West on I-40, instead, and take a trip with your family to Boone and enjoy the  Tweetsie railroad! We'll have more local adventures for your family to share as well (sporting event and other entertainment). 

La Maison Pillar Candles
We're also collecting awesome items for you to enjoy like these gorgeous Pillar candles from La Maison in Raleigh. These are valued at over $400! 

We don't want to spill all the beans, but we'll continue to share some teasers with you as the event approaches.

If you own a business and would like to donate to our silent auction, email 

Monday, November 16, 2015

CASL Night at the 'Canes

by Katharine Eberhardt, CASL Business Development Director

I hope you will join me this Friday (Nov. 20th) for CASL Night at the 'Canes. Afterward, you will be invited down onto the ice for a CASL group photo. For CASL families and friends, tickets start as low as $25! Purchase your tickets here: 

Here's a little bit about why I love the Hurricanes, and why I'm excited to support them on Friday: 

In a past life, I used to work for the Carolina Hurricanes in the Community Relations department and the Kids 'N Community Foundation (the charitable arm of the Carolina  Hurricanes). I was immersed in an organization that was committed to using professional sport to improve the lives of children and their families in North Carolina. 
Me with the Stanley Cup in 2009

Each year through their Foundation, they award more than $500,000 in cash grants to deserving non-profit organizations who focus on the health and education of underserved youth. Recent grant beneficiaries have included InterAct of Wake County, State Games of NC, StepUp Ministry, Chrildren's Flight of Hope, and many more wonderful organizations. 

In addition to their cash grants, the team hosts toy, food, school supply, and military supply drives to provide much needed materials to our local community. They also send their players into the community to help brighten the spirits of children in the hospitals during the holiday season.

Some of their players carry out community initiatives on their own, too! Captain Eric Staal and his brothers created the Staal Family Foundation. Locally, Eric and his brother Jordan (who also plays for the Hurricanes) host children fighting cancer and their families in a luxury suite. Cam Ward, the goalie, also operates Cam's Champs - a free luxury suite experience offered to youth sport organizations and athletes who have special needs. 

All of this doesn't even take into account the great in-game experience you get - once you get to a game, you'll want to go back!

I could go on and on...My experience with the Hurricanes cultivated a passion in me to think about how we at CASL can help our community. Through the game of soccer, we provide youth a safe platform to develop and grow (and stay active!) on a day-to-day basis. Our financial assistance program helps open up this opportunity to hundreds of youth. We have created a charitable tournament held in January that provides 100% of funds raised back to the organization. In the past two years, we've raised more than $20,000 for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. We will be announcing soon the beneficiary for the 2016 tournament. 

I look forward to cheering on the 'Canes on Friday for all these reasons and more, and I hope to see you there!

Buy your tickets here:

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Coaching Education: A priority at CASL

I've decided that I want to write about things that you might not know about CASL - blog posts from here on out might be a fun fact about our staff, a player spotlight, business operations insights, or anything else that might be of interest. It's my goal to give you a behind the scenes look at CASL - a view you likely can't get from the sidelines.

I am fortunate to work with some amazing people and companies in my job at CASL. Most of my day-to-day responsibilities revolve around finding ways to connect with like minded individuals who believe in what we do and share a vision for how we can all help make our community stronger.

For me, the belief in CASL and the outcomes it can have on young people isn't far-fetched. I am a product of CASL (I played Recreation, Challenge, and Classic at CASL from age 7-18 - proud '02 CASL Alum). I've seen the lasting impact that team sports and quality coaches can have (we all have those coaches who we loved to play for - win or lose). I still remember my first coach - Coach Forcum with the Falcons (pictured below) - who introduced me to the game and instilled a love right away. My Challenge Coach, Coach Currrier, who took a chance on a 10 year old girl and put her on a boys' Challenge team (back when this was allowed). The list goes on and on, I can talk about positive memories that all of my soccer coaches left on me. We rely so much on our our coaches to provide this positive youth sport experience for our players.
Me with my first CASL team, the Falcons  (circa 1992)

Coaching Education

Ever since Gary Buete came to CASL over a year ago, one of his main priorities has been coaching education across all levels. In the past year, I can honestly say we've made a lot of progress on providing coaches the resources and opportunities to be successful (a few highlights below).

  • Recreation Coaching License: Recreation Director Brett Malone offered the first CASL coaching certification course for our recreation coaches this fall. He had an amazing turnout of coaches who are invested in their role as "Coach". 
  • Recreation Practice Plans: Brett Malone and David Rodriguez (Assistant Recreation Director) worked all summer to put together a Recreation curriculum so that our volunteer coaches are equipped with practice plans, tips, and player development focus areas. They a
  • Challenge JDP: This past year, Damon Nahas, CASL's Technical Director, worked with Challenge Director Bryan Farnsworth to offer the first Challenge JDP (Junior Development Program) sessions. This coaching education initiative provides our challenge coaches the opportunity to learn about CASL's coaching philosophy. Coaches leave with tools needed to evaluate players, execute meaningful training sessions, and collaborate with each other. 
  • Player Development Manual: Sean Nahas, CASL's Director of Player Development/ECNL Director, was tasked to create a player development manual to be used across CAYA, Classic, and ECNL/Academy. This is as much a benefit to the players as it is to the coaches, who are now all on the same page. For example, all U8-12 coaches now know exactly what is expected of them and their players. The manual provides tips to coaches on how to ensure they are providing the best player development environment for their players.  

Community Support

If it weren't for the generous support of our corporate community, many of these initiatives would not be possible. For that reason, I want to share some insights into a few of our sponsors whose support allows for your (you and your family's) experience at CASL to be improved. I'll be sharing a lot more as the season goes on! 
  • Sheetz: Sheetz was a sponsor of our labor day tournament this year. As part of their sponsorship, they donated ALL of our referee lunches on both days of play. Money we would have spent can now be saved for our programs! 
  • Dick's Sporting Goods: Dick's Sporting Goods is always willing to help. Whether that was offering discounts to our families all summer long at sizing events, providing every Recreation coach with $20 Bonus Bucks to help get them ready for the season, or giving our Friendship Cup players a drawstring bag, Dick's Sporting Goods is a faithful friend of CASL. Their sponsor support also allows us to recognize sportsmanship each season! 
  • Sky Zone Raleigh: I've gotten to know Julie and Bob Russell at Sky Zone Raleigh over the past year. Their generosity astounds me, and they are all about promoting healthy, fun, and active living. You've probably seen the Sky Zone fitness center at WRAL Soccer Park, but I would encourage you to check out their trampoline park - all CASL members who wear a CASL shirt can jump for just $10! They are also having a birthday special - book before October 31 and all attendees receive a free pass - check out this cool video about birthdays at Sky Zone: