At Protagonist Soccer, we cover as much of the lower league soccer scene here in the United States as we can. Unfortunately, most of our coverage to this point has been NPSL or UPSL. I decided to step outside of that and reach out to a club that falls in a league lower than either of the previously mentioned leagues. However, just because they fall below those leagues, it doesn’t mean they can’t play up to that level. After having these conversations with the club president, I honestly feel that if they chose to move up to a more national league in the future, they could make a big impact on the game and help the Northern Virginia soccer scene explode over the coming years.
If you don’t follow these guys on social media currently, I strongly suggest you find them and keep up with them. In the meantime, read what the club president had to say in our conversation.
Can you give us your name and your current title within N.N.K?
My name is RJ Sudduth and I am currently the club president.
What is your background in the sport?
I played high school soccer for Washington and Lee (Montross) for 4 years. I played for multiple clubs in the Commonwealth Soccer League. I started coaching youth soccer at 16 years old and took the high school head coaching job at my old high school in 2009. Other members of our board have had years of coaching experience and one member was a part of ODP and travel teams in Charlottesville Virginia.
What does the N.N.K stand for in your name?
Northern Neck. It is the most Northern peninsula in the state of Virginia
How long has the club been around?
1 year and 5 months
What are the core principles of the club?
Our club firmly believes in family. We preach it we practice it. Its the message that we put out into our communities. We look after one another and drive each other to better themselves.
What league do you play in?
Currently we play in the Fredericksburg Premier league but starting in the spring of 2019 we will be joining the Commonwealth Soccer League based out of Fredericksburg Virginia.
What has been the most challenging part of operating the club?
Finding places to train and a home field to play on. Currently, this year we have played a total of 2 home games while hitting the road to play matches in Ohio (Amish United), Northern Virginia (Motorik), South Carolina, and Georgia. The problem with the Northern Neck is that there is only one stand-alone soccer field and that field is used by 4 high school soccer teams, the YMCA youth league, and the Westmoreland County youth football league. The field is supposed to be a Bermuda field but has multiple dirt patches due to over use.
What drives you to continue pushing this club forward?
The desire to see players from the northern neck be recruited for larger clubs as well as colleges. We do not have any travel teams here in the NNK so this team allows players to continue playing and with the amount of travel we do and the offer of year-round soccer we hope it not only improves the skill level of players here in the NNK but we hope that larger clubs and colleges will start looking here in the Neck for talented individuals to play for their teams.
Is there a youth setup that operates under the adult side? If not, are there plans to start one?
We are currently working on getting our own youth team going. In the meantime, we have several players and coaches that volunteer their time helping with the YMCA youth leagues as well as coaching at several high schools in the area.
Where do you play your games?
Well, right now the only home games we have had have been at ATJ field in Montross, Virginia.
What are some future goals or plans (if you’re willing to share) for N.N.K?
Continue to grow the game here in the Northern Neck both the men side and the youth side. To lock down a home field that we can call our own in order to build our fan base. Currently we have one head coach but he also doubles as our back up GK so we would love to add some more coaches to our team.
What would you say would be most surprising for people to find out about the club?
Currently the team only has 2 players that have ever played travel ball. Most people by now know that we travel a lot! League play for us is at least an hour away and 2hrs away for players coming from the far end of the Neck
Last, but not least, is there anything else you want people to know about the club that we haven’t gone over and do you want to throw a shameless plug in here at the end?
The team is made up of hard working young men employed in many different fields of work we share a common bond when it comes to this game and the pride we take in representing the Northern Neck when we play our matches. Each of these young men juggle work, school and family in order to wear the crest they take great pride in representing the Northern Neck community.
- Shawn Laird