Lee Hitchen's wealth of experience as a player and administrator serves NPSA Titans well
Soccer has taken Hitchen for a worldwide ride, as he’s lived and worked everywhere from England to Athens, from West Virginia to Washington state -- with stops in Orlando and Chicago thrown in for good measure. Hitchen grew up in England, honing his soccer skills in the Preston area (about 30 miles north of Manchester). Hitchen's play caught the attention of the Blackburn Rovers, and he had a spot in the club’s youth program before landing a scholarship with Wheeling Jesuit University’s NCAA Division II men’s program team in Wheeling, West Virginia. Hitchen got his coaching start as a graduate assistant in the women’s program at Wheeling Jesuit and later served as both the head men’s and women’s soccer coach at Illinois Tech, where he revived both programs while also serving as athletic director. Hitchen left Illinois Tech when his wife, Meredith, landed a new job in the Seattle area. A chance meeting with Nowland Premier Soccer Academy founder Adam Nowland, who also grew up in the Preston area and played for Blackpool, led to Hitchen joining NPSA.
Hitchen joined the club, which has 500 to 600 members and originally was based on Mercer Island and now also operates in Bellevue, last September. His initial goal was to provide a “one-stop shop” for parents. That means providing as much information as a possible about the club, its administrators and coaches on the website, adding team messaging tools through a mobile app and offering online registration for the first time. After switching to the SportsEngine platform, Hitchen has received plenty of help from registrar Alicia Blansfield and one of the club's coaches, Keegan Rogers, who regularly posts news updates. “This quickly became a team effort, with everyone pitching in,” Hitchen said about managing the new platform. The Resources section includes pages labeled Parent Information, Player Information and Manager Information. The Player Pathway plays to Hitchen’s strengths as a former college coach and administrator, as it offers pages on the club’s Tiny Titans U6 program all the way to a College Preparation page. “We try to educate our parents and players,” Hitchen said. “We want to be seen as the place if you want to move on to the college level, then you need to play for NPSA.”
Hitchen is particularly proud of the Titan XX program, which is billed on the website as, “A soccer program specifically for the girls!” The Titan XX section also includes information on its director, Erik Oman and the benefits NPSA girls team members receive.
Club founder Adam Nowland signed with the Premier League’s West Ham United as part of $1.1 million deal. Nowland also played for former European champion Nottingham Forest during the height of his playing career. “The guy had more clubs than Tiger Woods,” Hitchen joked.