Our HistoryBlack Watch Premier is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization in New York State. Our program originally was established by current Director of Coaching (DOC) and Founder, Steve Freeman in January of 1997.
Black Watch began its inaugural season with two competitive teams on the boys’ side, an Under 12 and an Under 19 team. Within 3 years, the Club had expanded to include a staff of 10 coaches like Kirk Sinkins, Jim Hesch, Todd Hoffard, Joe Pessetto and Ed DuGuay and 8 teams. During that season, Freeman’s Under 14 team, Keelley, gained entrance into the prestigious Nike International Premier Cup which is the world’s Club Under 14 Championship with all continents represented. Keelley was able to advance through the East Regional at FC DELCO and headed to the North American Championships at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. Keelley advanced out of its group losing to the Chicago Sockers FC in the semi-finals missing out on advancing to the World Finals in Barcelona, Spain to play the likes of Boca Juniors (ARG), FC Barcelona (ESP) and Arsenal (ENG). This impressive showing plus Freeman’s connection to Nike Soccer as a professional player launched the Club’s relationship with Nike as a Sports Marketing Club and Black Watch has been one of the 40 assets ever since.
In 2001, Freeman courted the USL and signed on as a Super Y League Club just prior to the League really taking off. As one of the key members, the SYL positioned itself as the United States’ only national youth soccer league with a true national champion at the end of the season. In its first year of competition, Black Watch sent both of its entries, the Under 14 and Under 16 Boys’ teams to Raleigh, North Carolina to compete for the National Title. Both teams finished in the Top 5 of the entire US. Each year since, the club has been proud to send representation to the National Championships. Three teams in 2002, five teams in 2003 and in 2004.
Not only does Black Watch Premier and its affiliates compete successfully on the Regional and National level, so do its players. In 2005, Paul Gerstenberger (BW NY-North) was selected to play for the Under 18 US Men’s National Team. Gerstenberger started at leftback versus Brazil at the Milk Cup in Ireland (before injury) and started all 4 of the team’s matches at the previous event in Portugal where the team played North Korea, Portugal and Poland. Also, later that year, Dave MacVane Jr. (BW NY-North) was selected for the Residency Program at IM G Academy where the US Under 17 Men’s National Team resides and trains. MacVane Jr. competed at several international events including the team’s trip to Argentina to compete against professional youth teams and the team’s annual event, the Nike Friendlies where they competed against Brazil’s Under 17 National Team. Last year in 2006, Warren Gross (BW NY-North) was selected for the US Under 18 Men’s National Team. Gross has competed at several National Camps in California and Florida to earn a spot on the traveling 18-player roster. Also in 2006, Denzel Ogunyase and Chris Curley (BW NY-North) were selected to the 1990 Super Y League National Team.
Black Watch Premier has positioned itself in the Northeast Region as one of the top Clubs in the Region and even in the entire United States. Black Watch Premier was recognized as one of the Top 11 Clubs in the entire US by SYL and Directors of each of the 125 competing Clubs around the US. “This is a huge honor to be recognized as one of the Top 11 Clubs in the entire SYL which represents many of the top competitive clubs in the US,” stated Freeman. The SYL list of clubs includes other Nike Premier Clubs like FC DELCO, Slammers, Real SoCal, Crossfire and Seacoast United and other prominent clubs like Chicago Magic, Hillsborough United and Atlanta United.
Black Watch Alumni
The Technical staff at Black Watch Premier (BWP) has realized how invaluable the lessons taught through sport can be, as well as the end goal for our athletes, the development of a well-rounded, growth-minded, resilient character. So many of our former players have gone on to initiate wonderful and fulfilling careers after college. From the Club’s first graduating class in 2004, Kevin Davine (BWP Keelley) from Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, has established his own chiropractic office in West Palm Beach, Florida. From that same competitive group, Sam Mallabar (BWP Keelley) from Guilderland, interned at General Electric and since received his Engineering Degree from Rochester Institute of Technology. The Club is so proud of its alumni, and the outstanding assets and citizens they have become in their respective communities.
This past Fall of 2011, saw the Club introduce its first Alumni Outreach Event, a match at Colonie Central High School under the lights featuring BWP Alumni v BWP Midlothian (Boys Under 18 Team). The BWP Alumni Team highlighted many former Club stand-outs. Paul Gerstenberger (BWP Aberdeen/Boston College/US U18 National Team/Drafted by Columbus Crew of MLS), Robbie Millock (BWP Rangers/Harvard-Capt.), Matt Narode (BWP Rangers/BWP Highlanders/Binghamton University), Trey Jasenski (BWP Dundee/Binghamton University), Kevin Davine (BWP Keelley/Binghamton University), Sam Mallabar (BWP Keelley/RIT), Kevin James (BWP Keelley/), Steve Celeste (BWP Highlanders/Binghamton University), Bret Celeste (BWP Highlanders/Binghamton University), Caz Rafalik (BWP Griffins/UVM) and Taylor Esper (BWP Griffins/Holy Cross)
BWP Leadership Coalition
The BWP Leadership Coalition was created to bring several key audiences together, the Club’s players, leaders in the Capital Region and beyond and leaders within our parent membership in a way that our players can engage successful leaders in our community to continue to learn how success is developed and achieved. The Coalition was designed to enhance our players opportunities going forward in the ever-changing world with an advantage. The advantage of hearing and connecting with people who have done it, who have created success and who want to see that success continued through our young people.