A few weeks ago I went back to my hometown (Des Moines, IA) and put on a free weeklong soccer program for a select group of players at Spring Creek Sports Complex (one of the premier facilities in the Midwest).

The unique Sethmode Select format was designed to help players strengthen their love for soccer, improve their skills and build a solid support network for the future. The program is an individual tournament (soccer olympics), with a team focus, point system and daily prizes. No drills. Just games. Local coaches, club directors and scouts recommended the best players from central Iowa (boys ages 15-18) who have the potential and desire to play at the next level. The list (of almost 70 players) was narrowed down to 24 and invites were extended.

The week went better than imagined. From the high level of soccer to the awesome gear/prizes to the impactful guest speakers (after every session), happiness was plentiful. The program value is primarily in the format itself, so many local soccer legends made appearances throughout the week to help facilitate, motivate, encourage and inspire. Some great soccer was played, bonds were made, memories were shared and lots of fun was had! The whole experience was a great reminder that doing what you love is a very special thing.

Thanks to my good friend, and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) vet, Josh Neer for talking to the players about what it’s like to compete at the highest level in the world. Neer gave some great advice, drawing from over a decade of experience as a professional athlete (including hundreds of mixed martial arts competitions). I used to sponsor Neer and his team (back in the day) and we would train together during my off seasons. He has one of the best work ethics of anyone I know! He also has a lot of respect for soccer and loved going to my games. I’ve really enjoyed watching Neer grow over the years, inside and out of the cage.

Day 2 challenged us with some rain (and lightning eventually ended our session a little early), but we still got in some good soccer and an awesome speech. Brooks Reynolds, one of my best friends and founder of the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival (the world’s premier bacon festival) talked to the players about following their passion and turning ideas into reality.

Thanks to Josh Holderness, owner of Gusto Pizza, for making some of the best pizza around and having it delivered on multiple days! The Sethmode Select players and staff were very grateful! Especially on this rainy day.

Some generous global brands contributed everything from apparel to headwear to shoes and gift cards. Their support played a huge part in the program’s success. Thanks to all of the sponsors: Undefeated (James Bond), The Hundreds (Bobby Hundreds), Hall of Fame (Arsen Salatinjants), Crooks & Castles (Alfonso Felipe / Gee / AJ), Neff (Brianne Pinns), Soccer Connections (Freddy Tsui), Endo Customs (Bobby Endo), Voss Distributing (Zac Voss) and Avozar (Israel Rodriguez)!

Ryan Ford, Executive Vice President at Cashmere Agency (and one of my best friends), spoke to the players about social media, dreaming big and the value of a lifelong Iowa/soccer bond. He also told some pretty cool stories about what it’s like managing Snoop Dogg (as well as many other artists).

Mark Modersohn, my brother and Iowa’s most decorated college soccer player, flew in from Dallas to speak. He talked about the importance of setting goals, working hard and believing in yourself. He also talked about what it was like training alongside Tim Howard and Nick Rimando at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, when they were all a part of the U18 National (Pool) Team. Howard is the current U.S. national team goalkeeper and Rimando is the current goalkeeper for Real Salt Lake of the MLS. Words can’t explain how grateful I am for the amazing relationship we have.

A very special thanks to Ben Brackett for being one of the biggest Sethmode Select supporters! From the first time I told Brackett about my idea and plans, to the last day of the program, he was on board to help out however.

Brackett was one of my favorite players to coach. We won a state championship together and he was Gatorade Player of the Year and NSCAA State Player of the Year. He then went on to be a standout at Brown University, where he earned First Team All-Ivy honors. Brackett is extremely passionate about improving the level of soccer in Iowa. I’m very proud of all that he’s accomplished on and off the field.

Thanks to the many people who made donations (some without even knowing the Sethmode Select DNA): Bob Modersohn, Zac Voss, Mike Jesmer, Joanie and Matt Jesmer, Hillary Bender, Barb Haisch, Sherri Wiebel, Angie Deardorff, Terrisue Johnson, Luis Herrera, Rodrigo Mares, Pedro Enamorado, Alexander Montalvo, Bryan Danford, John Gaspari, Eric Schnack, Debra Culligan, Estela Whitman, William Colman and DeAnna Page. A portion of all donations go to the Paula Modersohn Soccer Scholarship.