If you’re involved with soccer in Severna Park, chances are Matt Souder has played a part in your experience.
The Severna Park resident of more than 20 years has served as the Green Hornets soccer commissioner for almost a decade, and that’s just a fraction of Souder’s involvement with the sport in the area.
Besides volunteering as the commissioner, Souder coaches a select girls team, runs the youth soccer referee program, hires kids to line the fields and recently stepped up as the announcer for the Severna Park High School soccer matches.
Although he wears many hats within the local soccer scene, the common bond between his roles is that they’re all volunteer positions.
“Sports unites the community and gives kids the opportunity to learn a lot of skills that are valuable not just as kids, but in life,” Souder said.
Soccer is the biggest sport within the Green Hornets organization with more than 2,300 kids playing in the fall and about 1,000 participating in the spring.
Souder’s role as commissioner touches on nearly every aspect of soccer outside of putting on a kit himself. A sampling of his duties includes ensuring practice fields are ready to play, formulating game schedules, ordering uniforms and equipment for players and coaches, organizing hundreds of volunteers and running the youth referee program.
It's the latter task where Souder mentors and trains the youth referees who are used for certain Green Hornets matches where kids can start with the whistle as soon as eighth grade.
“The cool thing about that is it gives a lot of kids their first job ever,” said Souder, stressing the independence and responsibility it provides the youth referees.
While his commissioner duties require a great amount of labor leading up to a soccer season, Souder said things fall into place soon after.
“It’s a lot of work, but once that first ball is kicked, it settles down,” Souder said.
Souder’s self-measured success boils down to one metric that doesn’t have anything to do with financials for the nonprofit Green Hornets organization.
“My goal as soccer commissioner is to get the kids coming back every year,” Souder said. “If they want to come back, it’s a win.”
With 176 soccer teams taking the pitch this past fall, providing a great experience for Green Hornets players is a rewarding part of the job for Souder.
“The thing that I like about Severna Park is we try to give everyone, all the kids, regardless of playing ability, a place to play,” said Souder, noting a blind soccer player who has had an opportunity to suit up with the Green Hornets the past few years.
Souder’s passion for soccer and serving the community was instilled by his late father, Dick Souder, while growing up in Cape St. Claire. The elder Souder was president of the Cape St. Claire Recreation Council for several years in the ‘70s, and Matt would help line fields, work the clock at basketball games and be up early in the morning while the family registered community members for youth sports.
An emotional Souder explained how those early years shaped his motivation to give back to area kids just like his old man did.
“It’s what I do,” Sounder said. “Sports were a huge deal in my life growing up, and I want to make sure that they all have that same experience.”
Souder, who has also been an analyst for Baltimore Gas and Electric for 20 years, has three kids who have all played soccer for Green Hornets. His wife, Charlotte, is the registrar for the organization.
It’s only natural that Souder now helms the soccer program with the Green Hornets as it holds some special memories for him. There wasn’t a soccer program in Cape St. Claire when Souder was a child, so he signed up with a Severna Park YMCA team when he was 7 years old.
His team’s opponent for his first soccer match was a Green Hornets squad. Despite losing 9-0 that day, the young Souder notched a goal later that season against the Green Hornets.
“I was hooked,” Souder said.
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