Tiny Troops Soccer: Looking Back on 7 Amazing Years

Tiny Troops Soccer: Looking Back on 7 Amazing Years
By Coach Rachel Moravec
Fort Bragg Coach and Tech Specialist
 
They say time flies when you’re having fun. So who could have imagined Tiny Troops Soccer would grow into the program it is today? Not Amy Schweizer, founder and CEO of the program. Back then, things were very different.
When Tiny Troops Soccer first started, there were very few activities for children under five. Being a stay-at-home mom with a little one of her own at the time, Amy knew everyone needed to get out of the house! Also, being a military spouse presented obstacles to her dream of having a career in the professional sports industry. Indeed, this sentiment echoes with other military spouses and their careers. Her vision combined her love of soccer, the desire for her little boys to engage in physical activity and socialize with peers, and the pursuit of a career in sports. Thus, in 2014, Little Strikers Okinawa was born. 
 
In the early days, things weren’t as streamlined or straightforward as they are now. It consisted of in-person sign-ups. Amy coached sessions with a baby strapped to her! The program was only available in Okinawa. Little Strikers Okinawa employed only a couple of coaches. The program began to grow, and Amy added more coaches. Coaches soon began to PCS to other locations. The need for fun, physical activities for young ones near all military installations grew.
 
Little Strikers rebranded as Tiny Troops Soccer and began in California. Various iterations of the website and registration programs came and went over time. Tiny Troops Soccer has created user-friendly registration and more effective communication with parents. We are striving every day to improve the experience for our players and parents.
trooper the lion mascot with soccer ball
 
As Tiny Troops Soccer began, a friendly little lion mascot began appearing. Named Trooper, he’s often seen sporting a blue t-shirt and kicking a soccer ball around. More recently, he appeared in Amy’s children’s book I Will Be Okay: Adventures of a Military Kid. Amy had a distinct vision in mind when creating the program mascot. “I wanted our Tiny Troopers to have a friend they can snuggle or play with whenever they wanted (or needed!).” She chose the lion because it represents confidence and strength. They also like to make friends – just like our Tiny Troopers! 
 
Our program has always strived to be different from similar toddler and preschool programs. Coined as “The Tiny Troops Difference”, it can be summed up in one sentence: We are building a global community of active, healthy children equipped to deal with the stressors of military life. Unlike most other youth soccer programs, you will find that we only play the traditional soccer game (aka scrimmage) for a few minutes each session. This is intentional. As a 20-year and former professional soccer player, Amy understands the importance of building the foundations before moving on to the complex ideas of traditional gameplay. Repetition is critical at this age!
Over seven years, Tiny Troops Soccer has accomplished many things. Two of the most significant accomplishments are serving over 15,000 kids and employing over 150 military spouses. Amy is most proud of the latter. She knows what it is like to have a lack of employment options as a spouse and the unique set of frustrations it brings. Amy is also proud of the partnerships created with other organizations to support military kids. These include Deployed Love and Angels of America’s Fallen. 
 
What surprises Amy most is that Tiny Troops has grown to be as big as it is! “I love that we can provide physical activity opportunities for kids worldwide,” she says. “Movement is critical to physical and mental health, and we want to provide continuous access to it in fun ways.” Tiny Troops has run near 50 military installations in 17 states and three countries. Our goal is to be the premier preschool soccer program for military installations worldwide.
 
Of course, if she had to do it all again, Amy has some advice for herself. “Look for other military spouse entrepreneurs, networks, and mentors. They’re full of information from people who have been there and want to help!” A good piece of advice for anyone looking to start a company. Here’s to many more beautiful years of Tiny Troops Soccer!

Want to know more about what it takes to be a great coach in Tiny Troops Soccer? Check out 4 Characteristics of a Great Soccer Coach. 

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