ABGC Volunteer Honored by Fairfax County

Long-time Annandale Boys & Girls Club coach, commissioner and volunteer, Gary GaryWright, will be honored October 1st by the Fairfax County Athletic Council and the Department of Neighborhood and Community Services as the 2019 Mason District Champion of Character. Gary was nominated as a parent who “always exemplifies superb sportsmanship and character in youth sports.”

Gary coached his first ABGC team more than 20 years ago, when his family first moved to Annandale and his daughter played Mighty Mites soccer and continued until this year when his son’s high school basketball played their final game. After coaching rec and travel basketball, soccer, t-ball and lacrosse for both boys and girls’ programs, Gary ultimately served as an ABGC commissioner for multiple sports and co-managed the Annandale Youth Lacrosse program for 3 years. Long after his children aged-out, Gary has continued to volunteer his time. Over the years, Gary has been a strong advocate for programs like the Positive Coaching Alliance and a firm believer that youth sports when managed well — meaning players play, coaches mentor and parents cheer from the sidelines – can have a tremendously positive impact on young lives.

ABGC offers our heartfelt congratulations to Gary!


ABGC’s Champions of Character


So many wonderful people have passed through our doors at the Annandale Boys & Girls Club over the decades – parents, players, coaches and volunteers.  While they all deserve our thanks and gratitude for their commitment to Annandale’s youth, there is a special group that has earned extra kudos this year.  They are the 2016 Fairfax County Champions of Character.

We are so thrilled to have each of these honorees represent ABGC and want you to meet them too:

Parents: Daniele and Diana Albergottie

 It takes a lot of time, energy, patience and love to be the parent of a youth athlete these days.  Daniele and Diana Albergottie have all of that times 4! They’ve volunteered, coached, and been program commissioners during the many years their four sons participated in ABGC athletics. Diana even played at ABGC in her youth, in both the “house” and travel league programs.  Here is a brief excerpt from their nomination letter:

“Daniele and Diana raised four sons, the oldest now 22 years old in college and the youngest is 13 years old playing on an ABGC U16 Boys Team. All of the kids exhibit the same respect to all persons, regardless of their gender, race, or religion. They began coaching or assisting with soccer teams 17 years ago, and have been active in the soccer teams of all their sons. In addition to coaching or administrative duties, they have also insured that all the players had rides to games and exhibited good conduct. Both Daniele & Diana have stated to their teams to always be respectful, play a “clean game”, and that they would rather forfeit a game than play, if they thought the team was exhibiting poor sportsmanship.

 In addition to coaching or administrating multiple teams, Daniele and Diana volunteered with ABGC whenever anything was needed. They would ref, help with end of season soccer festivals, stuff “goodie bags” for soccer festivals, serve at the ABGC office to translate to individuals that speak Spanish, and even help move “stuff” when the ABGC office moved to its Annandale Rd. location. They are always friendly and welcoming to everyone. In short, they have provided invaluable service to ABGC.”

Coach: Khaled Fayyad

For many parents, turning their young athletes over to the hands of a youth coach they’ve probably never even met can be a difficult experience.  Is the coach a “screamer”? Will he/she nurture the athletes’ love for the sport or scare them away?  The fact that 70% of kids quit youth sports by the age of 13 shows there is a lot of work to be done to improve the youth experience…and coaches are a key component.  At ABGC we are so proud of our coaches and Khaled Fayyed’s selection as a Champion of Character just tells the world what we here at Annandale, already know.  Coaches like Coach K make a difference in the lives of so many young players.

“Coach K changed the way that I, as a skeptical parent, view travel soccer.  He changed the way my daughter views the game of soccer.  And, in a broader sense, he changed the way an entire team of 13-year-old girls view the world.  Yes, Coach K has had that much positive impact on all of our lives.  For Coach K, the goal was never to win.  “If you play to the best of your abilities, winning will take care of itself,” he repeatedly reminded the girls.  He was right, of course. 

 Perhaps the essence of who Coach K is, is most indicative by what he represents above all else: good sportsmanship.  But don’t just take my word for it.  Ask the players and coaches from the other teams, who the past two years in a row nominated and awarded Coach K and his United team the “ODSL Travel Soccer Randy Rawls Sportsmanship Award.”  This kind of thing doesn’t happen by accident two years in a row.  This is a coach who, uniquely, gets the essence of what it means to be a kind coach.  Above all else, Coach K stressed the moral and ethical part of playing hard — never dirty. 

 To be quite honest, Coach K probably spends as much time talking to the girls about the “right” things to do in life as he did talking to them about soccer. He reminded the girls that whatever they do — and wherever they go — the most important thing in life is to always be kind.  Coach K lives by these very words.  And it got me to thinking what the “K” in Coach K’s last name really stands for:  Kindness.”

Player: Virginia Miller

 Team Captain

Annandale United FC Pride U14 Girls NPL/EDP Soccer Team

Between school, clubs, athletics, family and community, our young athletes have very full lives, indeed.  Yet so many, like Annandale’s Virginia Miller, greet each challenge with grace and enthusiasm.  Congratulations to Virginia for her leadership both on and off the soccer field.

“Virginia is not only the team captain for the Annandale United FC Pride soccer team, however she is youth leader in the community.  Over the past two years with AUFC she has demonstrated leadership on and off the field with exemplary unselfishness.  Even with the stress of leading a top ten state ranked soccer team, she finds time to support those in need. Virginia constantly strives to help others through her volunteer efforts and empowering others to join the cause.  She is integral part of the AUFC Pride’s annual food drive events, ‘Kicks for Cans’ and ‘Strive for Five’. She works tirelessly as an on-field mentor, before her own practices, building inspiration and love for the game for younger soccer enthusiasts.

 Most impressively, Virginia recently took it upon herself and initiated the ‘Kelly Strong’ childhood cancer awareness and support effort in Annandale.  Leading her teammates with passionate motivation, she launched an awareness effort to help fight childhood cancer. With a heavy heart she and her teammates energetically played with ‘Kelly Strong’ bands to support her best friend and fellow soccer enthusiast during her ongoing battle with cancer. Virginia is not only an exceptional soccer athlete; she is model young citizen for our community. I eagerly anticipate her continual development as strong leader and model for other young women. She is truly a Champion of Character.”

Player: Bryan Zambrana

 Team Captain

Annandale United U18 Boys 1999 Travel Soccer Team

 Bryan Zambrana has played soccer for 7 years. In addition to being a standout player and captain of the Annandale U18 boys travel soccer team, Bryan has gone out of his way to share his love of the sport with younger players.  Not satisfied with just improving his own play, Bryan also helps at practices with Annandale’s younger teams, serving as a role model and mentor.  Bryan is a senior at Annandale High School. Here is what Bryan’s coaches say about his leadership:

“Bryan has been with the club since he was a young boy, and developed into a fine young man.  He was a shy lad who has grown into a determined captain and leader.  Bryan often attends other teams’ practices to improve and stays late to work on skills and fitness.

 Bryan is a central midfielder who holds the ball up well and is the start of a solid attack, playing one and two touch. He is very coachable and has also become a coach and mentor to younger players in the club, often arriving early at practice to work with younger players.

Bryan will graduate this year from Annandale HS and is currently looking at playing overseas in Spain or collegiately in Virginia.”

Bryan’s positive attitude, leadership, love of the sport and commitment to his team are just a few of the reasons, we’re so proud he’s been chosen as a Fairfax County Champion of Character.

The Fairfax County Champions of Character ceremony will be held October 25th at 6 pm at the Fairfax County Government Center and ABGC can’t wait to celebrate all of our winners.

ABGC Soccer Makes It’s Mark

Beverina, Germain & Amato Receive High School Player & Coaching Honors

Chloe Beverina, an ABGC Women’s Soccer Player with Annandale X-treme won the Conference Player of the Year award representing Stuart High School.


Ann Germain, Annandale United FC 16 girls coach, won the Conference Coach of the Year award as coach of Marshall High School Women’s Soccer.
Bo Amato, the ABGC Technical Director, won the Conference Coach of the Year award as coach of Langley High School Men’s Soccer.


So proud to have ABGC representing throughout NOVA!

Helping Players Self-Evaluate Their Play

youth sportsThis is a great article not just for coaches but for parents too. How many times have your heard your player lament “I didn’t have a good game” just because they didn’t score? Players need to understand that there are a lot of very important ways to contribute to your team that don’t always include wracking up points. Even though this was written for US Lacrosse it applies to all of our young athletes.

Coaching Youth Lacrosse: Provide Positive Feedback

September 30, 2014    1011 Views

By Dr. Richard Ginsburg

How often do our kids actually ask us for feedback about their performance? Perhaps more to the point, how often do we offer our feedback when our kids don’t ask for it?

The car ride home after the game or practice is notorious for us as parents and coaches to provide feedback to our children, whether they want it or not. Often the conversation occurs too close to the time of the game and whatever good intentions we had in sharing our pearls of wisdom are lost in a frustrating breakdown of communication. Sulking can occur—maybe even an argument.

I admit it. I’m guilty of this, and often I have to remind myself of some important guiding principles.

Good performance occurs when athletes are positive and engaged in the moment. If their brains are filled with distractions such as what their coaches, parents, or friends think (particularly when it is critical), their capacity to engage in play and enjoy themselves is undermined.

There are some athletes who are highly sensitized to their environments. They pick up on our facial expressions and tones in our voices and interpret them as criticisms. Often, we feel that our cheers from the sidelines and comments after the game are benign at worst, but somehow what we say can get twisted and have a negative effect. Whether our kids are sensitive to criticism like this or not, a first guiding principle is that we need to be aware of both our children’s sensitivities as well as when and how we should communicate with them about their play.

When is the best time to communicate with our kids? A good rule of thumb is when we think it’s time to say something after a game, try to pause. Give it some time, wait 24 hours if you can stomach it. The heat of the moment or the hours following is rarely a good time to offer feedback, particularly if there is criticism or even a suggestion involved. Waiting gives us time to calm down and craft our thoughts and also allows our children to get some distance from the game when they are more able to have a conversation without being overly defensive.

How do we best communicate with our kids? Clearly, each youth athlete is unique. However, a guiding principle is to focus on identifying positive comments prior to any constructive suggestions. If possible, see if you can name four or five things your son or daughter did well before providing a suggestion. “Honey, it was great to watch you play today. Looks like you gave it your all out there. I saw you make some great plays and that was a terrific ground ball you got when the game was on the line. And I loved the way you were so positive with your teammates. I’d love to see you attack the goal more often because you are such a good dodger.”

An important caveat here: You can’t make up a compliment. It has to be accurate.

Inaccurate praise undermines the legitimacy of your comments and can backfire, leading to frustration or simply watching your child zone out and shut you off. Kids, particularly teens, can see right through us. So, we have to be authentic. Giving false praise to your child can contribute to a distorted sense of ability, which could create challenges down the road. Comments like “How come I am not starting, coach, I am the best player on this team?” may be something they hear at home but isn’t the case on the field. So while being positive with our kids is absolutely critical, we aren’t doing them any favors or building their self-esteem if our feedback is extreme or off the mark. I say “extreme” because all of us parents see our kids as terrific, so if our praise is a little exaggerated, that is to be expected. Our kids need to know that we adore them and think what they do is wonderful. Having the awareness that our lens leans naturally toward adoration can at least help bring our feedback closer to reality.

I find that a safe bet, particularly as your child gets older, is to focus more on values in your feedback. “I really like the way you never gave up. You were terrific with your teammates. You looked like you were having a great time out there.” Comments like these avoid the potential pressure on performance our kids feel when we say, “Great win today. You got a nice goal.” Of course, we all acknowledge these accomplishments, but if our kids internalize that winning and scoring are the measuring sticks to evaluate their performance, they are more prone to stress and anxiety.

We want to expand their self-evaluation to “how” they play the game, not just how many points they earned. We want them to be able to say, “I played hard and never gave up. Even though we didn’t win or I didn’t score a goal, I am proud of how I played. I’ll get ’em next time.”

This kind of thinking allows our kids to recover from disappointments but also stay in touch with their enjoyment of play, which is the fuel for ongoing participation in sports over time. And in the end, isn’t that what we want?

How have you successfully used positive feedback with your youth lacrosse player(s)? Share your suggestions in the comments section.

This post is part of the “10 Fundamental Tips for Coaching Youth Lacrosse” series. Dr. Richard D. Ginsburg, Ph.D., is the co-director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Sports Psychology Program and Paces Institute, and a member of the US Lacrosse Sports Science and Safety Committee. Paige Perriello, M.D., F.A.A.P., Pediatric Associates of Charlottesville, also contributed to this post.

ABGC Coaches Training

ABGC Logo-no sword-no ball-Big1ABGC and Annandale Lacrosse are proud to have received a Coaching Grant this year from the Positive Coaching Alliance.  This is a great organization which focuses on helping parents, players and coaches create a positive, character-building youth sports experience. 

All of our ABGC coaches are invited to attend our coaches training session:

 Monday, February 24th


George Mason Regional Library


Please RSVP to Gary Wright at garydwright@aol.com.

In addition to the training session there will also be coach’s materials available on site for our ABGC coaches.

Putting Our Youth Back in Youth Sports

youth sportsHere’s an interesting read on Huffington Post for all of us youth athletic coaches, volunteers and parents.  Ken Reed is the Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and suggests it’s long past time we “Put the Youth Back in Youth Sports.”   Here’s an excerpt but we suggest you take a few minutes an read the whole article!

The fall is a busy time of year for youth sports. If you take a short drive on a weekday evening — or just about any time during a weekend — within a few miles you’re sure to find boys and girls playing soccer, football, softball, lacrosse, tennis, and undoubtedly, a few sports I’ve left out. It’s a joy to watch kids running around and having fun playing sports. Especially on a beautiful fall day.

However, the problem with these games is there are too many adults who bring their egos to the fields of play. Virtually every youth sports league is plagued by adults who are pathologically focused on winning. Yes, the majority of parents and coaches keep youth sports in perspective but it only takes a few adults — especially coaches — to ruin the sports experience for a bunch of kids.

Of course, the issue of overbearing parents and coaches in youth sports isn’t a new one. However, things are getting worse. For example, the number of incidents of physical violence and verbal abuse at youth sporting events has increased significantly in recent years. According to the National Alliance for Youth Sports, approximately 15% of youth sports games involve a confrontation between parents, between parents and officials, between parents and coaches, or between coaches and officials — up from five percent just five years earlier. Moreover, a National Association of Sports Officials survey found that the primary reason game officials give up the job is poor sportsmanship by parents.

So let’s relax, and more importantly, let our kids relax. Research shows that nearly 80 percent of all children who play adult-organized youth sports drop out by the time they’re 12. The reason most often cited is that it’s no longer fun.

Something to remember as we head out to the fields and courts to coach and watch our kids play this fall.

What athletes would like to tell parents


If you’ve had children in youth athletics for any amount of time, chances are pretty good that you’ve seen your share of out-of-control parents.  Some worry it’s become a national epidemic.

Bruce Brown is a long-time coach and motivational speaker who works with coaches, athletes and sports programs nationwide.  He’s written a number of great books and produced videos designed to improve the competitive experience for our youth athletes.

We thought our ABGC families might enjoy reading these words of wisdom from kids who were interviewed after their high school athletic experience had ended.

What do your parents do at games that really make you feel great and proud to have them present?

o   Cheer for everyone on the team, not just certain players

o   Just having them there tells me that it was worth my time

o   Support us win or lose

o   Not getting on the refs, players or coaches

o   Support me even when I am not playing much

o   Cheering and encouraging at appropriate times in a civilized manner

o   Cheer for us, but not too much

o   Remember that we choose to play for fun and everybody is trying their best

o   Don’t be too hard on your kid – give them some room to grow, but stay by their side to help them grow up

What do your parents or other parents do at games that make you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable?

o   Argue with the ref – it is annoying for everyone

o   Try to coach the coach

o   Discouraging comments to players

o   Yell at you when you are trying to concentrate

o   Criticizing athletes or coaches, calling them by name

o   Yelling advice makes me play worse

o   Cheering if the other team makes a mistake

o   When parents boo

o  Telling me what I need to do better when they don’t know how to play the game

o   I feel sorry for my teammates whose parents yell at them.  When I play, my job is to listen to the coach, not my parents.

o   When they don’t agree with a call, they yell, “come on” or “what was that?” etc.

o   Let me be who I am, let me enjoy myself out on the court and don’t try to improve my game with your negativity

As we think about how many of these things we might be guilty of ourselves,  here are a few terrific  suggestions for parents:

Excerpt from Confidence – How Parents Can Help Build a Confident Athlete

Confidence Builders know when and how to let go:

Your athlete will grow and learn more when it becomes their experience.  Self confidence increases when the athlete feels in control.

If you want them to be confident, don’t do things for your kids that they can do for themselves.  It is essential for confidence building that the athlete learns to take care of and stand up for themselves.  In order to be confident, the athlete has to take responsibility for their own actions and choices.  They need to learn to be decisive and the only way to do that it is to let them make decisions for themselves.  Stop trying to help make all their decisions or win the game for them from the stands.

Encourage healthy risk taking.  There is not a better place for a young person to take risks than in athletics.  There is not a better place to have a young person make their own decisions than on the court or field.  If they are wrong they can learn and correct it.  If they take a risk in a car, they may not come home but if they take a risk in a game, the worst thing that can happen is they might lose, in which case you hug them and they go to practice the next day.  Healthy risk taking is part of becoming confident.

Don’t protect them from failure and don’t treat it like it is more important than it truly is.  Failure can be a tremendous mentor and it is inevitable in sport.  If you catch yourself always trying to prevent your athlete from failing, you are cheating them from some of the great lessons athletics can teach – courage, perseverance, mental toughness, resilience and humility.  Temporary failure tests confidence and teaches that although you may not always succeed, it is how you react to failures that is truly important for the competitor.  Be there to support and encourage them to examine the experience for lessons that will make them stronger.  Model the toughness and determination you expect them to learn.

Finally they need to learn to stand up for themselves.  Knowing how to interact with adults in their lives is a skill confident young people possess. The most confident athletes I ever coached had the ability to communicate clearly and easily on an adult level.  That came from being raised in a household where they were listened to and where they were taught it is OK to express yourself even if you disagree as long as it is done with respect.

Learn to release your athlete to the care of the coach and let them develop a relationship away from you.  Once you know that your child is safe emotionally and physically, one of the best things you can do for their confidence is to allow them to have other meaningful adult relationships.  Even though the coach may not say or do everything the way that parents would like, this might be the one other person outside your family that will allow your athlete to walk through life with their chin held high if we give it a chance.

Choose your time and type of communication carefully with your athlete.  Let them bring the game to you.  Remember that eighty percent of our communication is body language.  What is yours telling your athlete?

AAU Basketball Tryouts Start Soon


ABGC Spring 2013 AAU Tryouts

Saturday, February 16






7th-Boys Sat Feb 9 5:00pm – 7:00pm Annandale High School #2
7th-Boys Sat Feb 16 5:00pm – 7:00pm Annandale #2
9th-Boys Sat Feb 16 3:00pm – 5:00pm Annandale #2
11th-Girls Sat Feb 16 7:00pm – 9:00pm Annandale #2


Sunday, February 17






5th-Boys Sun Feb 17 9:00am – 10:45am Thomas Jefferson High School #1
8th-Boys Sun Feb 17 10:45am – 12:45pm Thomas Jefferson #2
11th/12th Boys Sun Feb 17 11:00am – 12:45pm Thomas Jefferson #1

For additional information please contact the Coaches listed for your age groups.


Saturday, February 23rd- Bren Mar ES
9am – 4pm – TBD


Boys 5th Grade – Coach Sang – sjhwang4569@gmail.com
Boys 7th Grade – Coach Kenney – Lezone74@hotmail.com
Boys 8th Grade – Coach Brown- brown.arkie@yahoo.com/ jrpearson@speyerkagan.com
Boys 9th Grade – Coach Khamnei – fredfk@aol.com
Boys 11th/12th Grade – Coach Ellis – wellis@aphanet.org / Coach Colon – jcolon@fcps.edu

Girls 11th Grade – Coach Murphree – jaymurphree@msn.com

NOTE: *$20 tryout fee applies. Please make your checks payable to ABGC. Please complete the ABGC AAU BASKETBALL TRYOUT FORM and bring it to the tryout.

Questions? Contact Lezone Kenney

Annandale Boys & Girls Club, Inc.




Concussions and Youth Sports

If you’ve been around youth sports, as a parent, player or coach then you’ve seen the alarming statistics on the number of youth concussion each year — 3.8 million sports and recreation related concussions each year.

Today the Institute of Medicine has announced the creation of a new health panel to study the risk of concussions in youth sports.  Bloomberg News reports:

The risk of concussions from youth sports is being studied by a U.S. advisory medical panel as college and professional leagues have increased their scrutiny of potential sports-related brain injuries.

The Institute of Medicine has begun an investigation into concussions related to sports for players from elementary school age through young adulthood, the group said in a posting on its website. The panel will review risk factors, screening and diagnosis, as well as treatment and long-term consequences, it said in the statement. The Washington-based nonprofit organization provides advice to policy makers and the public.

Previous research has found that football is the deadliest sport among young athletes, and deaths may have been prevented if athletes with head injuries had been kept off the field, according to a 2011 study in the journal Pediatrics. A study published yesterday in the journal JAMA Neurology found physical abnormalities in the brains of former NFL players, when compared to peers.

The IOM panel said it will review available information on concussions, especially in the context of the maturing brain, and review the effectiveness of protective equipment.

The Centers for Disease Control’s “Heads Up” program provides a terrific website for coaches, players and parents to help prevent and diagnose potential concussions.

concussions_zack“There is no one tougher than my son. Sometimes players and parents wrongly believe that it shows strength and courage to play injured. Battling pain is glamorized. Zack couldn’t swallow or hold his head up. Strength is seeing Zack stand up out of his wheelchair and learning to talk again.” – Victor Lystedt, Zack’s Dad.

Read more survivor stories


Do you know the warning signs of a concussion?  If not, please take just a moment and find out on the CDC “Heads Up” website.