Irish-American Soccer Coaches Keep their Eyes on the Ball

This summer at Matt Paul’s soccer camp, two Irish-American soccer coaches are helping young athletes develop skills and take their game to the next level. 

Ronan Higgins and Aiden Scollin have both been playing the game of soccer from a very young age.

Soccer has been present in Higgins’ life for as long as he can remember as both of his older brothers played it. “I probably had a ball on my feet when I was 3 years old,” Higgins says. 

Higgins’ family has strong Irish roots, “My dad is from Galway so he grew up over there and moved to America when he was around 19 or 20 years old. He played a few different sports like basketball, soccer and Gaelic football.”

Now, the family lives in Lafayette Hill. As a kid, Higgins loved watching his older brothers play in their high school soccer games when he was younger. His long journey as a soccer player has led him to becoming a captain of Dickinson’s soccer team heading into his senior season this fall.

“We’ve been fairly successful, but not as successful as we would like to be given our potential,” Higgins explains. “We underperformed a little bit compared to how good we know we are.”

In 2019, Dickinson finished third in the Centennial Conference behind Franklin and Marshall and Johns Hopkins. During Higgins’ sophomore season, the team had trouble transitioning after a coaching change. But Higgins heaps praise on new coach Jorge Chapoy, who was coaching at Lafayette before taking the job at Dickinson. “I have very high expectations for this upcoming year because our new coach is awesome and I’m super excited about that.”

The COVID year provided a new challenge for the Dickinson soccer team as the pandemic prevented them from playing any games. “It was a bummer for sure and not what we wanted. But we trained super hard and you could see a big turnaround from guys just in terms of fitness and speed of play,” Higgins reflects.

Higgins’ upcoming senior season comes with lofty goals of winning a tough conference that includes teams like Franklin and Marshall, John’s Hopkins, Haverford and Gettysburg. Although they have been close before, Dickinson has not yet won a conference championship in Higgins’ time on the soccer team. “My dream and our dream has always been to win the conference—that is my goal for this fall,” says Higgins.

This summer, Higgins is spending his time as a coach at Matt Paul’s soccer camp. He met Matt Paul through his oldest brother and was happy to help out when Paul asked him to coach. Higgins was already training smaller groups of kids in the area, so it made sense for him to coach at the camp as well.

As a coach, Higgins is working with kids whose ages range from around 5 to 13 years old. With the older kids, he gets to work on more advanced training and helps develop their skills on an individual level.

Higgins notes that coaching has helped him develop as a player. “Coaching gives you a different perspective. You get to try things out on people. I think of new drills for our players to do and that helps me get more creative and figure out different drills to do myself.” 

He adds that he can even learn just by watching the kids he trains. “It’s nice to see people do something that I practice myself,” Higgins says. “A kid might do something as simple as a step over and turn and I might correct him on it, or I might like the way he does it and learn from that.”

Higgins doesn’t envision himself as a full-time coach after he graduates, but the game of soccer has been with him his entire life and he doesn’t see it going away completely after he has played his last game for Dickinson. “I’ve been very appreciative of having great coaches in the past and I would like to pass that down as well. There’s always a need for coaches so I would like to give back. I also enjoy it a lot and it keeps me connected and tied to the game.”

The younger generation is helping out with coaching at Matt Paul’s soccer camp as well. Aidan Scollin is a 7th grader at Springfield (Montgomery County) Middle School. He plays soccer for FC Delco and is going to play for his school’s soccer team this year as well. Like Higgins, Scollin has been playing the game for as long as he can remember. 

This summer, he is helping younger kids learn the fundamentals of the game he loves. “Coaching probably helps me as a player,” Scollin explains. “I can see how the little kids play and I can use my skills to train them. It also sometimes helps me know what not to do.”

Scollin is excited to continue coaching and helping young players out at the soccer camp. “Maybe when I get older I’ll want to do more one-on-one training and helping out with little kids and getting them involved in soccer,” Scollin says.

With passionate coaches like Higgins and Scollin, Matt Paul’s soccer camp is a great place for young athletes who want to start playing soccer or take their game to the next level.The soccer camp is at St. Philip Neri in Lafayette Hill and starts back up again in August. If you are interested, you can email for more details or visit his website.

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