Learn more about Chris Vaden, Commissioner of the Co-Ed Under-14 Recreational Division
Up Close with Christopher Vaden
Christopher Vaden has served the Stoddert Nation for the past several years as Commissioner of the Co-Ed Under 14 Recreational Division. He has children of his own in the club and is proud of the progress that they have made over the years. When not out on the fields each weekend representing the club, Chris serves as the Deputy Chief of the Environmental Defense Section in the Environment & Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
DCST: How did you first become involved with DC Stoddert Soccer?
CV: When my older son was in pre-K, he joined a U5 team in the spring, and I signed up as an assistant coach. That was about 25 rec seasons ago -- he’s now in the coed high school division. My younger son has also played since U5, and is now in the U14 division, where I’m commissioner.
Describe your role and responsibilities as a Commissioner. Do you look forward to seeing the kids play each weekend?
Commissioners are busiest in the month leading up to the start of each season, when they’re occupied with getting players on the right rosters, figuring out what to do about teams that don’t have enough players, putting a schedule together, ordering and distributing uniforms, etc. It actually calms down a bit once the season gets underway.
Like any parent, I love watching my own kids play, and seeing how much their skills progress from one season to the next. We’ve come a long way from when it was just a knot of cute little kids chasing a ball around. By U14 it’s fun to watch as a real, competitive sporting event. Last Saturday I got to see my 11th grader score a goal on a bicycle kick. How fun is that?
What’s the most challenging aspect to your service as a Commissioner?
It’s always a challenge to get enough parent volunteers for things like field lining. It always seems to be the same small group of people that step up to do more than their share. Parents need to realize that Stoddert is largely a volunteer organization, and that the coaches and commissioners already volunteer huge amounts of time to provide their kids with a worthwhile soccer experience. If the non-coaching parents would each give an hour a season to things like field lining and goal set-up, it would be a huge help to the coaches who give some much time week in and week out. Fortunately, as my U14 division has progressed up to full-sized fields, Stoddert has been able to rent more and more turf fields that don’t need any set-up, so it’s gotten easier.
Where did you grow up? Was soccer a sport that you or other members of your family played?
I grew up outside of Philadelphia, which was one of the early hotbeds of soccer in the United States. All of the independent schools had established soccer teams. My two brothers and I all started playing for our school team when we reached seventh grade.
Describe your memories as a child/teenager playing the game. Did you play for a high-profile club or youth national team? Were you able to travel overseas to compete?
I was not a high level player. For me it was an accomplishment to start on my high school varsity by the time I was a senior. We had a pretty decent team though; in my senior year we went 6-3-4 in a strong independent school league.
What brought you to the Washington, DC metropolitan area?
I moved here in 1982 to take my first job out of law school, and have been here ever since.
What are the most important ingredients for a successful team? When coaching a team, what is the first thing you look for?
Stoddert has a lot of great rec coaches, but I’m not one of them. I served as an assistant coach when my kids were younger, but mainly just helped herd cats. I recent years I’ve focused more on logistics as a commissioner, and left the coaching to those with more of a knack for it.
Who do you think will win this summer’s World Cup in Brazil?
I grew to be a real fan of Spain four years ago. I love the way they play the game. They may have passed their peak, but I’ll be cheering for them to repeat this summer.
Which professional players would you choose in your starting XI? Why?
I don’t follow the European leagues closely enough to pick a full squad. Messi and Ronaldo would be obvious choices up front. Maybe Xavi and Iniesta at midfield. Can I go back in time? One of my favorite defenders of all time was Cannavaro, who captained Italy in 2006.