Even if it is a huge part of what they’ve done, the vision has always been a grander one for Noah Welch.
The President and GM of The Dome Red Deer is immensely proud of the facility his team brought to central Alberta, a one-of-a-kind in the province to be sure and a remarkable structure to draw in local athletes.
In the four months since it’s opened, while the dome has drawn in thousands of athletes from across the province, there is one area where Welch thought they’d be moving a bit faster.
His ultimate dream in this venture is to inspire athletes to reach for their goals, use the state-of-the-art facility in Gasoline Alley as the springboard for those dreams. Big dreams.
“Overall, really positive feedback. At this point, we’re known more for just a beautiful facility. That’s encouraging on the one hand, but that’s really 50 per cent of what we do. My vision to build this place was never just about having a state-of-the-art facility. It was always to train athletes and to help kids reach their max potential,” said Welch.
“At the lower stages, the beginning of a career. We just want wherever that career ends up we just want to help that individual get reach their max potential and part of that is making sure they love the game and have fun.”
And in particular, use the coaching staff and programs that the dome has put together as the sounding board for those dreams, to help lift the athletes of Central Alberta up to the next level.
“We like to tell our coaches, provide a positive experience where the kid had so much fun and didn’t even realize how much better they got in a session,” Welch noted.
“That’s what we’re trying to do and the programs we run are super intentional. With our eight-year-old kids, we have the next 10 years in mind. We’re trying to map that out.”
In some sports, that dream beyond playing for a local club at the highest level isn’t always realized in this region. In sports like football, rugby, baseball, lacrosse and soccer – those dreams don’t include making it big, like it would for a hockey player from the region.
Welch ultimately hopes in the near future athletes are coming to him, saying they want to play in the MLB like Mike Soroka, a Calgary native or represent Canada internationally on the soccer pitch. A dream that he has no doubt could be possible with the right coaching.
“Our return rate is high and the programs are growing, so that’s good. It’s just that awareness, raising that awareness for parents and coaches.
“We all have these big dreams. I want to play pro this or pro that, there’s so much that goes into it. We can provide that here, it’s getting the buy-in of what it takes to get there,” Welch said.
“The Alphonso Davies, those are one in a million, they really are. But there’s a lot more than that in Central Alberta that could make it to the pro level, that’s the reality. They might not have the god-given talents that he has, it might be a harder road, but they can get to the same level as he’s got to. There’s just a process in place.”
One of the men tapped to do that is the dome soccer technical director Jason Blake. Blake is one of the only soccer coaches in Alberta to hold a UEFA Pro Licence and English FA Academy Managers Licence and is working hard with coaches at the grassroots level to help build up an understanding of the game in Central Alberta. He’s also the technical director for the Central Alberta Soccer Association and Alberta Regional Director for the National Soccer Coaches Association of Canada.
Beyond Blake, the Dome has assembled an all-star cast of coaches for programs in baseball, lacrosse, football and rugby, as well as bringing on a full-time strength and conditioning coach in the near future.
“For us, we have this beautiful facility for everyone to enjoy in Centra Alberta and we want organizations to come in to use it and help their organizations get better,” Welch said.
More than that we have this team of coaches that are super intentional and gifted with that they do.”
Spring training programs at The Dome start March 9th and more info can be found on their website www.thedomereddeer.com.