Rio Rapids SC & NM Rush Merger

Albuquerque, NM, Feb 20, 2024

Rio Rapids Soccer Club and NM Rush Club Merger Plan/FAQs 2024

We are pleased to announce the upcoming merger between Rio Rapids Soccer Club and New Mexico Rush, effective for the 2024-25 season onwards. Over the forthcoming weeks, we will finalize the remaining details of the merger, including the design of a new logo, which is currently in final approval by the Colorado Rapids. For the past two years, the boards and technical staff of both clubs have engaged in active discussions regarding this opportunity. Throughout this process, we have carefully assessed the advantages and disadvantages, as well as the potential opportunities it may offer to our respective members. It has become evident that there is a mutual appreciation for the accomplishments of both clubs over the past two decades, and a shared vision for enhancing youth soccer in New Mexico by collaborating, rather than competing, with each other.

“I am very excited for the opportunities this merger holds for our membership.   Rio Rapids and NM Rush have been talking about ways we can improve overall soccer in Albuquerque and the surrounding communities for over 10 years.    In the recent 2 years we have found common ground that led to this decision.  I applaud both boards for seeing the potential this merger holds, for our players, coaches, and the local soccer community for years to come.   As with any change of this scale, there is a lot of work to be done.  We have good people who are united and driven to make the player experience the best it can be for all players.” 

~ Jason Moran, Executive Director Rio Rapids SC

“It’s with great excitement that we announce the merger between two of the most successful clubs in NM Soccer. For decades the player pool in NM has been split between clubs, and this truly does get the best players and coaches together under one umbrella. Truly exciting times in NM soccer history.”

~ Chris Hurst, Director of Coaching Rio Rapids SC

“The merger between Rush and Rapids, will drastically improve the landscape of youth soccer in the state of New Mexico, in regards to player and coach development, and ability to showcase our players at a national level.” 

~ Justin Sells, Technical Director NM Rush

 We believe our two clubs, coming together, represents an opportunity for our players to compete at a higher level. We are excited for the two most successful clubs in the history of New Mexico soccer to come together to create a club with one singular vision. The merger will put the New Mexico soccer community in a stronger position to highlight our players’ talent all across the country, as well as provide a first-rate local infrastructure for players of all levels. 

What are the Major Benefits of the NM Rush and Rio Rapids Merger?

    • More Opportunities for Players:
      Enhanced opportunity for the players from both clubs to align and play with coaches and players of like ability and commitment level. These options range from elite player opportunities to developmental/recreational player opportunities.  The player’s expanded opportunities and playing experience is the primary driving force behind the merger.
    • Expanded Coach and Staff Development:
      Our coaches and staff ultimately drive the player’s experience.  This merger provides greater resources to take coaching education and staff development to higher levels that otherwise have access to on their own.
    • Benefits of Scale:
      There will be some valuable administrative and organizational efficiency that results from combining the two local organizations.

 

Questions regarding the business aspects of the merge

  • What will the name of the new club be?
    • New Mexico Rapids SC
    • The new club will remain affiliated with the Colorado Rapids MLS team.
  • Why are we affiliated with Colorado Rapids instead of the National Rush club?
    • We believe the combined entity is better served being part of an MLS affiliated youth soccer club and the attendant umbrella benefits that result from being part of the Colorado Rapids MLS Alliance.
  • Is this a merger or an acquisition?
    • The Board of Directors and technical staff of both nonprofit organizations (Zia Soccer Club/NM Rush and Rio Rapids Soccer Club) desire to proceed with a Nonprofit Horizontal Merger. This means that this merger is a collaborative transaction between both entities to come together and form one entity from a structural, operational, and cultural point of view.
  • How will leadership and governance work for the new club?
    • Jason Moran, the current Executive Director of Rio Rapids Soccer Club, will be the Executive Director of the combined club (manages the business aspect of the club).
    • Justin Sells will become the Technical Director overseeing all soccer technical matters (such as curriculum, game model, and player placement for all teams).
    • Chris Hurst will continue his role as Director of Coaching (working with coaching staff and ensuring the philosophy and culture of the club is implemented across its programing).
    • The Board of Directors of both clubs will combine to form a single Board of Directors with equal representation of current Rush and Rio board members.

 

Uniform Questions

Since both clubs are going into the 2nd year of their uniform cycle, we are trying to minimize the need for anyone to spend money on uniforms.  Yes, Rush players will need to purchase new uniforms. We are working with Adidas along with existing and new club sponsors to minimize this cost as much as possible.

 

Costs for Fees in the New Club

  • Club Fees for combined New Club (New Mexico Rapids)
    • The budget for 2024-25 will be finalized in the coming months. We anticipate fees being increased slightly.
  • Player Scholarships- Will this continue to be offered if we merge?
    • Yes, the scholarship process will continue, which includes an annual application and review process.

 

How do things change on the BOYS side?

  • ECNL & EA (Pre-U12 – U19)
    • The new club (NM Rapids) will maintain our ECNL status and should gain acceptance into the EA (Elite Academy) league. El Paso Locomotive will be our ECNL travel partner.
    • Combining two ECNL programs will help aid in developing our top talent within the state.  The merger will provide a stronger and larger player pool for these teams. Players will be evaluated based on the pool of players available, which is the same process if the two clubs remain separate.
    • Ultimately every player will have an opportunity to try out for whichever team (ECNL or EA) they feel best fits their commitment level and goals. Players on either roster will also be evaluated by staff over the spring 2024 season through various league play and age pool training sessions.
    • Each player will have the ability to move between different leagues and teams based on team needs, injuries, and player development opportunities.  However, in general, players can expect that once team(s) are formed for the year that will be their team, but also should be cognizant that roster spots for all teams will be won or lost based on commitment and performance.
  • Non-ECNL/EA Teams
    • Opportunities for these teams will include USYS Desert Conference, Duke City Soccer League, youth and showcase tournament play. These will be determined by each age group, number of teams and guidance from the technical staff.

 

How do things change on the GIRLS side?

  • GA and DPL (Pre-U12 – U19):
    • By bringing both clubs together, we can now offer our girls an opportunity to play in both the GA League and DPL League.
    • Current DPL and GA teams will mostly remain unchanged. There will be an opportunity for girls to play between both teams at the Staff’s discretion
    • We do plan to hold tryouts and age pool training sessions for both leagues in the spring to evaluate various player pools.
  • Non-ECNL/EA Teams
    • Opportunities for these teams will include USYS Desert Conference, Duke City Soccer League, youth and showcase tournament play. These will be determined by each age group, number of teams and guidance from the technical staff.
  • Future opportunities:
    • Girls ECNL

 

Practice Locations:

  • Will my child’s practice location change next season?
    • Practice locations will continue to be allocated in the past depending on city/county allocation.
  • The Center (Rush Indoor Facility)
    • We plan to continue to use this facility with the new club.
    • Big news!  We have obtained the suite next to our current location giving us the ability to expand our indoor facility and indoor programming.
    • Both clubs see this as a huge opportunity for continued player and club development throughout 2024-25.

 

What’s the plan for our littles? (U8 and under)

  • Youth Academy
    • We have plans to continue the youth academy for kids ages U5-U8.
    • Fall/Spring Program that focuses on developing kids ages 3-8 of all abilities with the focus on teaching basic technical skills.
    • Usually train twice a week in the Fall and Spring with the option for Winter and Summer leagues.
  • Starters Youth Soccer Program
    • We have plans to continue the Starters Program (only offered currently with Rush) for ages U4-U8.
    • This is an introductory youth soccer program for players and families looking for a program that offers a once-a-week commitment on “Sunday only” during the fall and spring season.

 

What is the plan for the rest of the 2023-24 season

  • Do I need to do anything right now as a family?
    • There is nothing you need to do differently than if the clubs remained separate on their own.  Enjoy the rest of the spring season and then register for the fall season at the end of the spring season.

 

Will we keep the same coach next year?

  • Our coaching staffs are highly valued, and we believe all our coaches will continue coaching in this new club in 2024-25.  Every year each club’s Directors along with guidance of the Technical Director and Director of Coaching meet with coaches in each age group to determine if the coach wants to continue coaching his/her team and in the club or if it’s in the best interest of the club, coach, and team to bring in a new coach. This process will continue this coming year.

 

Whom can I contact with additional questions?

Contact your Age Group Directors with Any Questions

Current Rio Rapids SC Age Group Directors

Director of Coaching
Chris Hurst
505-301-6445
chris.hurst@riorapids.org

Youth Academy U5-U8 Director & U9/U10 Girls and
Boys Director of Coaching & Camps
Aidan Yeomans
505-328-3520
aidan.yeomans@riorapids.org

ECNL & U16-U19 Boys Director
Derrick Ayers
410-961-5998
Derrick.Ayers@riorapids.org

U11-U15 Boys Director
Morgen McBrayer
505-550-8328
Morgen.Mcbrayer@riorapids.org

Girls Academy (GA) Asst. Director, U11-U15 Girls Director
Marie Ipock
505-306-1404
marie.ipock@riorapids.org

Girls Academy (GA) & U16-U19 Girls Director
Chris Brennan
505-401-2870
chris.brennan@riorapids.org

 

Current NM Rush Age Group Directors

Technical Director / U9-U19 Girls Director / DPL Director
Justin Sells
505-4635-662
jsells@rushsoccer.com

U9-U19 Boys Director / ECNL Director
Patrick Schmittdiel
828-507-6967

 Will we keep the same coach next year?

  • Our coaching staffs are highly valued, and we believe all our coaches will continue coaching in this new club in 2024-25.  Every year each club’s Directors along with guidance of the Technical Director and Director of Coaching meet with coaches in each age group to determine if the coach wants to continue coaching his/her team and in the club or if it’s in the best interest of the club, coach, and team to bring in a new coach. This process will continue this coming year.
  • As with any year, we try to keep continuity with teams and coaches as much as possible.

 

Whom can I contact with additional questions?

Contact your Age Group Directors with Any Questions

Current Rio Rapids SC Age Group Directors

Director of Coaching
Chris Hurst
505-301-6445
chris.hurst@riorapids.org

Youth Academy U5-U8 Director & U9/U10 Girls and
Boys Director of Coaching & Camps
Aidan Yeomans
505-328-3520
aidan.yeomans@riorapids.org

ECNL & U16-U19 Boys Director
Derrick Ayers
410-961-5998
Derrick.Ayers@riorapids.org

U11-U15 Boys Director
Morgen McBrayer
505-550-8328
Morgen.Mcbrayer@riorapids.org

Girls Academy (GA) Asst. Director, U11-U15 Girls Director
Marie Ipock
505-306-1404
marie.ipock@riorapids.org

Girls Academy (GA) & U16-U19 Girls Director
Chris Brennan
505-401-2870
chris.brennan@riorapids.org

 

Current NM Rush Age Group Directors

Technical Director / U9-U19 Girls Director / DPL Director
Justin Sells
505-4635-662
jsells@rushsoccer.com

U9-U19 Boys Director / ECNL Director
Patrick Schmittdiel
828-507-6967