is to provide community development efforts through the creation of recreational and competitive soccer programs throughout the New England region. Our mission is to utilize all the organic benefits that the game of soccer provides in a way that improves the quality of life of every player, coach, and family we meet.
is put into action through continual increases in programming and events. Our focus is on players in search of the simple joy of a high-five to the most driven and competitive athletes – helping to meet the needs of every kind of participant. We teach through motivation & encouragement. Soccer is famously considered ‘the beautiful game’ and we at Sidekick Soccer Academy believe in its ability to improve any player’s quality of life – no matter their skill level or mental or physical limitations.
Sidekick Soccer Academy is a professional soccer company, specializing in education and community development. We are centrally located in Greater Boston, Massachusetts.
Founded in 2012 by Zach Rocha and Jesse Vann in Paxton, Mass., the academy has held on-field and off-field programming in close to 50 cities and towns, primarily in Massachusetts. Sidekick has also been involved in events in Connecticut and made international trips to Bermuda and St. John (US Virgin Islands). Sidekick’s tagline is 'Developing YOU for the NEXT LEVEL.'
Sidekick is unique in that it does not have an adjoining soccer club, whereby elite players from community towns are joined together to create teams and compete in leagues. Instead, the academy focuses on supporting community town programs through professional coaching support for players and volunteer coaches.
Sidekick also runs specialized player clinics, coaching education clinics, private training for field players and goalkeepers, and a wellness program for children with special needs and adults with disabilities. The academy also hosts independent film screenings and an annual jazz and wine fundraiser.
Sidekick is a NSCAA Member Club. The academy is a registered LLC and Non-Profit organization in Massachusetts. The academy is the parent company to Wolves Futsal Club and College Soccer Prep.
Sidekick was founded on February 1, 2012, in Paxton, Mass. while Rocha was the head men’s coach at Anna Maria College; a NCAA DIII school.
Rocha and Vann combined to host a youth winter vacation clinic in the school’s gymnasium as Sidekick’s first-ever program. Rocha and Vann met while coaching a boys’ junior varsity team together at Beaver Country Day School in fall 2011.
In Sidekick’s first few months, the academy hosted a series of College Showcases for high school boys’ players interested in playing college soccer at Anna Maria College and other nearby schools. The Showcase series attracted players from 10 different states, including California and Florida.
That summer, Sidekick partnered with Worcester’s premier youth club, FC United, for a series of clinics. At one of the clinics, Major League Soccer and New England Revolution player Diego Fagundez made a brief lecture and signed autographs for the clinic’s participants. Sidekick also hosted a ‘special night’ with the United Soccer League’s Worcester Hydra as part of their regular season finale.
On August 8, 2012, ‘One Love. Lone Game.’ was published. It is an inspirational soccer book that Vann authored. That same month, the academy hosted a free youth clinic at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater New Bedford in Rocha’s hometown of New Bedford, Mass. The clinic is Sidekick’s longest-running annual program.
Sidekick also became the referee provider for the Massachusetts League of Nations Football Championship, an adult men's league in Boston. This relationship continues to this day.
That fall, Sidekick partnered with United Soccer of Auburn, providing goalkeeper-specific training for players aged 8 to 14 through Sidekick's 'Top Quality' department.
MOVE TO BOSTON (Early 2013)
At the start of 2013, Rocha departed the Worcester area and his position at Anna Maria College and returned to the Boston area, where he had starred as a college player at Lesley University. Meanwhile, Vann set up residence in the U.S. Virgin Island of St. John’s. Though remote, Vann has remained heavily invested in the company and is the president of Sidekick’s non-profit board. Rocha is Sidekick’s executive director.
The first initiative that Sidekick took up in the Boston area was the creation of ‘Kick with Care.’ The purpose of ‘Kick with Care’ is to provide fitness and wellness through the game of soccer to children with special needs and adults with disabilities. John Teves, who had directed Somerville Recreation’s TOPSoccer program, was hired as the director of this department.
After a successful initial program in the spring, Somerville Recreation decided to financially back the ‘Kick with Care’ program. Unfortunately, they withdrew from their year-round pledge at the end of the summer. This prompted headlines in the local newspapers.
Before the fallout, Somerville also supported Sidekick’s ‘Top Quality’ department, sponsoring a clinic for elite youth players at Dilboy Stadium, which was then the home of the Women’s Professional Soccer League’s Boston Breakers.
Sidekick further extended its partnership with United Soccer of Auburn, including youth player and volunteer coach development for not just goalkeepers but all the players in its age 8 to 14 program in both the spring and fall. This program fell under Sidekick's 'Footy Fun Fitness' department.
Life Force Juice (now known as Jubali) and Venus Pizza became the company’s first-ever sponsors. Sidekick also welcomed interns receiving official college classroom credit from Lesley University.
FUTSAL AND MORE (Late 2013-)
Sidekick offered its first-ever futsal academy program in November 2013 at the Watertown Boys & Girls Club in Watertown, Mass. The program was extremely popular, selling out in the opening 24 hours of registration.
Futsal, the only recognized version of indoor soccer by FIFA, had just begun growing in global and domestic popularity. The academy program evolved into a series of Boston area tournaments for boys and girls aged 13 and under. One of the central purposes of the tournament series was to enable Sidekick to attract players to compete on a select team in the inaugural Bermuda Futsal Invitational. Sidekick took out an advertisement in New England Soccer Journal to promote their tournament series.
Rocha had befriended CP Athletic Development founder Peter Rickards at NSCAA coaching courses the previous few years and Rickards invited Sidekick to the island.
Sidekick created both U12 boys and U13 boys teams to compete in the Northeast Regional tournament in January 2014 as part of the US Youth Futsal National Tournament system. The U13 boys went on to represent Sidekick in the Bermuda Futsal Invitational in April, where they finished in second place.
Sidekick's teams were nicknamed the Wolves in homage to Vann’s favorite childhood team, England’s Wolverhampton Wanderers. This program has now evolved into Wolves Futsal Club – an official subsidiary of Sidekick.
The Wolves have entered teams at the U11, U12, U13, U14, U15, and U16 boys, U14 girls, and Adult Co-Ed levels into the top divisions of Massachusetts Futsal Association’s winter league, as well as the Northeast Regional tournament. The 2015 Northeast Regional tournament represented 173 teams and was the largest futsal tournament in United States Youth Futsal history.
The Wolves U11 Boys team won the GPS Futsal Frenzy tournament in February 2015 and qualified for the World Futsal Championships at Disney World in August 2015.
Off the field, Sidekick had an exciting 2014. The academy hosted its inaugural Jazz and Wine Fundraiser at Travessia Winery in New Bedford, Mass. The academy also produced a podcast that became available on iTunes called ‘Off the Woodwork.’ It featured Rocha and former Major League Soccer No. 1 draft pick Jason Moore discussing various topics, including that summer’s World Cup. Additionally, through a promotional partnership with the Boston Breakers, the academy hosted a World Cup Predictor Game. Lastly, the academy held community screenings for the independent films, ‘Next Goal Wins’ and ‘Street Soccer: New York.’
Sidekick also made a corporate purchase of Progress Soccer Coaching, an Arlington, Mass. based training academy.
The summer was Sidekick’s busiest on the field. The re-launch of the youth clinic series led to day, evening, and weekend programming in the Massachusetts towns of Arlington, Auburn, Dartmouth, Stow and Wilmington. Hundreds of players participated.
Sidekick also launched its Private Development Program (PDP), which serves players and teams looking for a competitive edge through one-on-one and small-group training.
Sidekick officially opened its subsidiary, College Soccer Prep, through a 7v7 summer league for boys aged 14 to 19 in Dartmouth, Mass. The league attracted more than 70 players and six teams.
College Soccer Prep helps driven players and coaches in their quest to connect middle school, high school, and prep school experiences to colleges and universities.
Sidekick continues to develop relationships with organizations that believe in supporting the joy of sport in their communities.
On the field, Sidekick has partnered with youth-based organizations Brookline Soccer Club, Chestnut Hill Soccer Club, Glastonbury Hartwell Soccer Club and the Charter Middle School Soccer League of Massachusetts, as well as New England Futsal and the National Premier Soccer League’s Greater Lowell United.
The ‘Kick with Care’ department has held clinics in conjunction with Diamond is the Sky, the May Institute, Miracle League of Massachusetts, the Shriner’s Hospital for Children and Walnut Street Group. In 2014, Teves won the Special Olympics State Championship as head coach of Belmont.
Off the field, Sidekick supports several organizations, chief among them the John Micelin ’55 Alive’ Foundation and the New Bedford Wellness Initiative.
DraftKings became Sidekick’s first major sponsor of 2015.
CREST AND COLORS
The first-ever Sidekick logo featured the silhouette of a player sliding in for a sweep-away tackle and is in reference to the academy’s name.
This silhouette has undergone minor alterations through the years yet remains in the crest of all official Sidekick logos for the academy, Wolves Futsal Club, and College Soccer Prep.
The current Sidekick Soccer Academy crest features four stars in it, homage to the company’s fourth year as an operating business. Every year, Sidekick has updated its crest in such a manner.
Sidekick’s black, orange and white color scheme has remained the same since its inception and is in reference to Vann’s life-long love of the Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The name Sidekick is in reference to Rocha’s childhood. As an adolescent, Rocha played games and sports year-round with his neighbors, many of which went on to play a sport collegiately. A featured game was ‘Kick the Can.’ One of the neighbors’ cars was a Suzuki Sidekick, which became infamous as a frequent obstacle in the sprint to ‘Kick the Can’ and win the game. When Vann moved to St. John’s, he purchased a Suzuki Sidekick to drive around the island.
To learn more about our history, check out our archive.