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Community Impact: CUP Graduate Laura Domena (03/05/2018)

(Contributed by Matt Lerch) Our series of local Clarion University students making a local impact would be incomplete without one of our most ardent and dedicated supporters of Clarion River Valley Strikers (CRVS), Laura Domena. CRVS is the premier competitive soccer club in Clarion County. It is the only soccer club in the county to participate in the highly competitive PA West League. PA West is part of US Youth Soccer, Region One and is associated with US Soccer and FIFA. CRVS offers competitive soccer for boys and girls, ages 7 through 18. CRVS also offers a new developmental league for ages 4 through 11. The club is focused on the development of players through individual skill, tactical teamwork, and proper sportsmanship. CRVS has been fortunate to tap the talent from Clarion University with students representing many different majors.

Laura Domena joined the Clarion River Valley Strikers family in the Fall of 2012. The nascent Clarion youth soccer club started in 2008 with a small local group of youths and supportive parents whom kick started the organization and built a new soccer field at Clarion County Park for home soccer games. Their paving the way gave hope and inspiration to a new set of parents with younger kids who saw this opportunity to spearhead a larger operation with several age divisions. The CRVS organization has now blossomed to almost 200 developmental and competitive soccer players. At that time in the organization’s history however, a new coach was needed and once again, Clarion University provided the perfect solution. Laura Domena was only a sophomore and had interest in coaching. This is the segue into Laura’s CRVS story.

Laura Domena grew up in Toms River, New Jersey and had played soccer since the age of four and joined a travelling soccer team at the age of six. She participated competitively in the local Toms River Girls League until the age of thirteen. With her skills honed and her level of play at such a high level, she then joined the Boys League enrolling in the Red Bulls Academy. She was the only girl in the league. Several years later she moved on to Girls Academy teams such as MatchFit and TSF Academy both of which are located in New Jersey. She travelled the eastern seaboard playing in tournaments all the way down to Florida, competing on international levels. During one game she competed against a travelling Chinese soccer team.

Pursuant to high school graduation and searching for a college to call home, she visited nine universities and in the end, fortunately for CRVS and the local Clarion community, decided to attend Clarion University of Pennsylvania. The reason she chose Clarion University was because as soon as she visited the town of Clarion and Clarion University Laura said “It just felt right and the Clarion University Special Education program was exactly what I was looking for to continue my aspirations in the field of special education, especially due to their Reading Specialization Masters program.” Playing under Clarion University’s soccer coach, Rob Eaton, Laura enjoyed the soccer action but realized that teaching was her passion. Clarion University gave her the opportunity to become certified with a Bachelors of Science in Special Education K-12 and also her Masters in K-12 as a Reading Specialist. She graduated from Clarion University with her Bachelors degree in December 2014 and her Masters degree in December 2015.

Laura played soccer for Clarion University for two years before deciding to focus on her teaching career and changing her sights to coaching. She joined the Clarion River Valley Strikers family in the Fall of 2012 coaching the new Under 10 CRVS Coed team. As she grew older, she coached the same boys and girls and brought in more coaches from the University. She not only was able to create a tight rapport with athletes, but also parents and fellow coaches. She also managed and grew the summer YMCA soccer program in Clarion, helping other YMCA coaches (mostly parents unfamiliar with soccer) with practice plans to help nurture along the kids in the sport that she loves so much. Laura also coached Clarion soccer teams at regional soccer tournaments all year round using her expertise to take the area youth soccer to a new level. Laura also was able to assist Clarion High School Girls Varsity Coach, Chris Schonbachler, for two seasons before she utilized her degrees.

After graduating in December 2015, Laura relocated to Butler County. She is the Assistant Soccer Varsity Girls Coach at Seneca Valley High School in Harmony, PA and also coaches at Stars Crew Soccer (SCS) in Cranberry Township. She is a substitute teacher at Seneca Valley High School and holds an LTS position at the intermediate high school. Laura is engaged to be married this June to Devin Sauers and will reside in Evans City, PA.