Glenview soccer academy teaches skills, love of the game
Every kid is unique and every kid has a different personality,” said Solomos, shown here with a group of his student., “We’re more than just coaches. We try to be their friend and mentor." | Jackie Pilossoph~for Sun-Times Media
Little Legends Soccer Academy
Updated: April 15, 2013 6:34AM
GLENVIEW — George Solomos and Tony Youhanna have been friends since they played soccer together in grade school. Now the two are business partners, and owners of Little Legends Soccer Academy, the Glenview-based soccer school for kids that they started four years ago.
“We both have always loved the sport, and there really wasn’t a program to teach little kids in the area,” said Solomos, who played soccer for GBS, as well in a national soccer league, “We thought it was a great opportunity for us, and for kids to be trained by professionals.”
“I love the physical nature of the game, the competitive nature and the strategy,” said Youhanna, who holds a BA in psychology, and who is also the director of a travel soccer club on the North Shore, “It’s challenging, and I really enjoy teaching that to kids.”
Little Legends Soccer Academy offers year-round instructional clinics for kids from two to eight years old. The instructors teach fundamental skills, such as footwork, passing and receiving, as well as the rules of the game. As skills progress, the kids play actual games.
The school also offers birthday parties and a program called “Born to Kick” for two and three year olds, where instructors use soccer to help kids with visual learning skills, and mental and physical development properties.
“Every kid is unique and every kid has a different personality,” said Solomos, who holds a BS in business management, and who is also a licensed personal trainer in Northfield, “We’re more than just coaches. We try to be their friend and mentor and role model. We really want them to feel safe and happy here while they’re learning.”
Solomos and Youhanna are both certified soccer coaches, licensed through the U.S. Soccer Federation. With a staff of 30 instructors, who range from high school helpers to full time employees, all of their main instructors are also licensed by the USSF.
“Every staff member has to love kids and has to have worked with kids in the past,” said Solomos, “They have to be energetic, enthusiastic, encouraging and motivating. I tell them, ‘If you’re having a bad day, call me and I’d rather have you not come to work.’”
Aarti Rana’s four-year-old son has been a student for about a year, and Rana said he absolutely loves it.
“It’s his first experience with a sport, and I think it’s taught him a level of discipline that he needs,” said Rana who lives in Glenview, “Plus, he loves the coaches and he’s having fun.”
“They’re so passionate about what they do and it shows,” said Sarah Pieracci, whose five-year-old daughter has been a student for two years, “They make it fun, and the best thing is, they really know how to play soccer.”
Little Legends offers clinics in Glenview, Northbrook, Lake Forest, Highland Park, Skokie, Deerfield and Des Plaines. Spring, fall and summer clinics take place outside the Glenview New Church in Glenview, outside the Northbrook Leisure Center in Northbrook, and outside other facilities in the different towns. Winter clinics are held at indoor facilities.
A six-week session starts at $125, with the next session beginning April 13th.
“There’s nothing more gratifying then seeing a kid with a smile on his face, who is really learning and developing the skills,” said Youhanna.
“I give them a lot of credit,” said Rana, “There’s a group of 20 three- and four-year-olds running around, and these guys do a great job getting them to focus.”