A new challenge awaits. For Kellington Boddie, the challenge is something he’s been working towards since he was first hired with the club as a Regional Development School Coordinator. Now in a new role as the Atlanta United Academy U-12 coach, Boddie will take what he’s learned while working with RDS players and apply it to this next step in his career. For Boddie, building relationships with players is paramount to his success as a coach.
“The players are going to be around the parents more than they’re going to be around me, so building a good rapport with the players and finding a good balance with the parents makes my job easier,” Boddie explained. “I want the parents to have confidence in what I’m teaching their kids, that I’m giving them good information and helping them become a better soccer player and a guy that’s growing up in the world. That’s the big thing that I’m focusing on as I transition.”
Fortunately for Boddie, he will see some familiar faces in the Academy ranks as several RDS players have been called up. Last year, Liam Barhod and Roger Schnurr made an Academy roster after training with RDS. This year, Julian Burdine and Ean Roberson were able to make the jump from RDS to the Academy.
“Building that rapport with players is a huge thing. As a coach, I think it’s kind of a secret weapon to have players who are comfortable communicating with you about what they’re going through daily helps you interact with them,” Boddie continued. “It’s given me a better grasp on having that emotional intelligence, picking up on body language and learning their mannerisms of when they’re in a good mood or a bad mood. It helps give you the tools as a coach to get the best out of that player that day or that season.”
Just as Boddie expects the most out of his players, he carries that same level of expectation for himself. In his 18 months with RDS, his impact on the program hasn’t gone unnoticed. Boddie was the third RDS hire and helped grow the program from two locations to six. His positive, enthusiastic personality helps hype up his players along with his drive to support each one of his players on and off the pitch.
“When we hired Kellington, we knew that he had such a high ceiling and that we weren’t going to be able to keep him around for long. He’s extremely talented in the way that he delivers his sessions,” Director of Coach Education and Development Dean Atkins acknowledged. “He connects with the players and finds a good balance between being demanding but also being able to connect on a level that personalizes training and inspires kids to want to develop and grow on their own in order to reach the next level.”
For a club that prides itself on building and supporting internal talent, Boddie is the next step in the 5-Stripes plan to grow from within. Atlanta United has signed eight homegrown players to contracts with the first team and has promoted several coaches between Academy, ATL UTD 2 and Atlanta United and now RDS.
“The whole culture of Atlanta United is to promote from within the family and give people opportunities. Kellington was always quite dialed in to the Academy. He came out as a volunteer, and he was always asking questions. It’s always better to have somebody who understands your culture and understands what’s required. Kellington ticked all the boxes in those categories,” Interim Atlanta United 2 Head Coach and Academy Director Tony Annan emphasized. “Not only is he a good coach, but he gets what we’re doing and he understands what we’re doing. It’s a great opportunity for Kellington to spread his wings and take his career to the next level. We were happy to bring him in when the opportunity came.”
The next challenge is one Boddie has been preparing for since he came to Atlanta. The relationships he built and strengthened during his time with RDS will help him succeed as he takes the next step in his coaching career.