Being a soccer coach has been a real pleasure in my life. It wasn’t planned or expected, I just kind of fell into it as my kids grew up and found the game. I found my first favorite team a few years back coaching my son’s U11 team. A rag tag bunch of kids who were not good enough to make the C1 team and ended up playing in back to back State Tournaments (runner up at U11). A bunch of kids who just loved the game and worked hard all season. It was pretty cool to see several of those boys make it on the High School Varsity squad, become starters and make it to a few State Tournaments with Memorial a few years later. Coaching youth players is like that…can you just give them a few good years and prepare them for the next level….can you inspire them to work hard and develop their skills….and can you balance that out with them having some fun and a great experience along the way.
So that takes me to my latest favorite team, a group of really incredible players I had the good fortune to coach for 4-5 years from U10 and up until they headed off to high school. They are about to try out for their first high school team and I had a recent chance to go watch the core of that team play in a Futsal League game. Coaches are not to supposed to have favorite teams or favorite players, but there just are some groups that stick with you. This was one of those groups. It was the first time I had coached a group of girls and what an experience it turned out to be. Having 3 boys of my own, it was my first time trying to figure out teenage girls. I loved it. I think I got lucky. A group of talented, hard working and respectful players. A bunch of born leaders in the group as well. I can count on one hand the number of bad practices I had in 5 years. Plus there were a ton of great memories; winning seasons, winning tournaments, a bunch of smiling faces and watching the players develop into top notch soccer players. A few of my favorites include watching them as 8th graders playing in the high school league and holding their own, winning a few games, and putting a pretty good scare into the Memorial Freshman and Sophomore teams. Over the past summer, watching them beat a team comprised of current high school players was pretty rewarding. It was the moment I could take a pause, take a deep breath and feel like we did it together….we got them ready for high school.
Now a new challenge awaits these girls and I am really confident they have what it takes. I mentioned to them at the Futsal game I was expecting them to challenge for some Varsity spots in the spring. Not sure they were thinking that, but it was important to put that thought in their minds. Once they accept it as a possibility, and it really is, then they can just relax and play their game and see what happens. My only regret is that I don’t get to coach them anymore. But I do get to keep watching them, cheer them on, maybe offer some advice or a pep talk if they need it, and just appreciate the time I had with them. At the recent Futsal game, I decided to take a little video for the Blog. A trip down memory lane for me. Pretty cool and really proud of them as I watched. Just to see where their games have advanced and how well they played together. While walking off the field I was approached by a father from the opposing team, a St. Croix team of Freshman I think, maybe a few 8th graders that the girls had just dominated. He was asking how old the girls were, I think their parents assumed they were all older, Sophomore or Juniors. When I told him they were all Freshman but had been playing together for 4-5 years, he was a bit surprised, but also, very complementary of their play. “Those girls are pretty good” he said….and I agree, they are pretty good.
Here is some of the video I took. Sorry to Teagan…she scored twice but too fast for me to catch the goals. My bad! Sorry to MJ as well, she really dominated the first half, but I did not get to the video rolling until the second half…was too caught up just watching them play; the teamwork, the passing, the unselfish play, the movement and field awareness. It looked really good. Maybe more than good, it was impressive stuff!
An example of the ball moving really quickly to secure a shot, winning the ball back quickly and then looking for the dangerous thru ball. Didn’t work out, but the movement and thought process is perfect. The combination play between Teagan, Shelby and Grace is really good. All 1 and 2 touch soccer. The ball moves really fast!
This would have been quite the highlight if Shelby scores. More excellent combination play and a great seeking long ball from Greta. What a turn and cutback from Shelby and then….just a few inches lower and that is bar down and the best goal of the game.
Goal Keepers don’t get much love so thought I would share this video. Greta almost scores off the corner but then St. Croix has a nice spell of passing to get an open shot near the box. Addison correctly anticipates the shot and has a nice kick save on what probably should have been a goal.
Dropped this one in as another great example of their play. Greta wins a ball back using really good tackling technique, the ball falls to MJ who immediately plays hard and direct pass to Greta who has advanced down the field. A really nice pass played to feet. Greta traps, turns and shoots before the GK really is aware of what is happening. The touch and control of the ball is really high quality!
So that’s my stroll down memory lane. Not everyone from the team is playing in Futsal, but many of the girls that started as U10 players stuck together. I wish Molly Brickner had been there. Big expectations for her as well. A great player, a real anchor on the back line and one of the team leaders who made my job coaching much easier. A coach on the field who just gets in. Throw in all the other great players who were part of those years and you see why it’s one of my favorites. Just so happens this group of 7 started it all many years ago.
I am working on a new favorite team, coaching U13 Girls with a bunch of gritty, hard working, talented players who just love the game. Sound familiar. Give us another few years and maybe I’ll have a team that might challenge for my all time favorite, but it will be hard to beat that first group of girls. Sorry Austin….I know, I know, you should be my favorite team. Can I have more than 1 favorite team?
Thanks for letting me share.