SC gets involved

"It's about life skills," said Kerri McClellan, a former high-level soccer player who has twin daughters on the U14 team.

McClellan, a San Clemente resident, started the community-outreach program and says most of the girls' parents are embracing it. "My passion," she said, "is teaching girls the importance of leadership and giving back."

Outside the club, McClellan is a partner with three-time Olympic soccer player Julie Foudy in the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy, a six-day course that teaches leadership and soccer skills. McClellan and Foudy grew up together, playing soccer at Mission Viejo High School. Foudy went on to play for Stanford University, McClellan for UC Berkeley. Foudy eventually performed for 17 years on the U.S. women's team.

When it came time to sign up her 7-year-old twins, Megan and Madison, for club soccer, McClellan went shopping for a club with a well-rounded philosophy. She said she decried a win-at-all-costs environment that she feels she sees too much of in the sport.

"Female soccer has become so competitive, which is a great thing for a small percentage of the girls who are playing," she said. "But it has lost its intimacy and the balanced approach that used to provide life skills on a long-term basis."

Intrigued by Chris Murray's coaching style with San Clemente United, McClellan not only signed up her girls but also started coaching. That led to the outreach program.

"We're constantly talking to the girls about making good choices and feeling confident, playing with trust," she said. "In a team sport, they have to have tolerance and an ability to deal with team dynamics."

Kaylee Kelley, a member of the U16 team, said via e-mail that winning a soccer game is exciting, “but the opportunity to do community service and give back to others is very rewarding in a different way."