Copa Coca-Cola

Once you have worked in a field as long as I have coached soccer, you become connected with enough people to connect you to other people. This was how I became involved with UK International Soccer and the Copa Coca Cola. After helping run a San Antionio tournament, one of the ten regional events across the US, I was invited to LA for nationals. To qualify to attend, the teams had to win their respective regional. Over the weekend of April 16 -18, I flew with a team from Houston as a chaperone/coach to the Copa Coca Cola National Tournament. Coca-cola, Delta, McDonald’s, Walgreens, and Starwood Hotels sponsored the tournaments. The regional champions were flown out (expenses paid) to LA for the weekend.The games were held at the Stub0hub center, an enormous soccer mecca that hosts the LA Galaxy. The national champions were entered into a drawing for the Grand Prize, trip to the opening ceremony and a week-long camp in Brazil for the World Cup this summer. Former players Marcelo Balboa, Shannon MacMillan and Kevin Hartman were there throughout the weekend – encouraging, coaching, hashtagging and signing autographs. I was very impressed, encouraged even, to see their level of involvement. All in all it was a great opportunity for the kids and I hope to help with similar events in the future.

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Marcelo Balboa, Shannon MacMillan, & Kevin Hartman talking to the girls before their game.

The girls’ team from Houston flew out early and home a day late so I did not travel with them but was pleased to work with them throughout their stay in LA. They made it to the semi-finals on Sunday morning where they faced a composed, patent and highly-skilled team from Seattle. At the weekend’s end, I relayed to the girls that I felt they represented the Houston area well, on and off the field. The boys faced tough competition as well but came away from the tourney with a 1 – 2 – 1 (win-loss-tie) record. I also enjoyed experiencing the flights with them; it was a first-time flight for five of the eight. We also had a short layover in Salt Lake City making it the boys first time to see mountains and snow. In addition to the wonderful soccer played the weekend also featured the World Cup Trophy Tour. As tournament participants we were VIP’s and enjoyed a special viewing of the trophy. Additionally, we were front & center at LA Live that night for a concert from David CorreyAloe Blacc, and Wisin. I often take my many concert experiences, and flying experiences for that matter, for granted so it was really cool to see the kids get to experience such an event.

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Back here in Austin, my soccer season has just wrapped up. Girls and two of the boys will move up to select while the rest of the boys will return to the academy next year. I had debated putting my name in the hat for a select team but think for now I would prefer the flexibility to work for UK Soccer again. Events like the clinic I’ve been asked to work in Dallas on Friday, May 30, with Marcelo Balboa.

 

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miscellaneous monday: motivation

As you may have gathered, or those of you who are regularly readers, miscellaneous mondays have been missing. This is because even though the topics were miscellaneous the weekly occurrence of such posts were not. Today, I write miscellaneous about something that is indeed miscellaneous.

Coaching youth soccer, or coaching any sport for that matter, teaching techniques and tactics are a heavy part of it. Physical fitness, or athleticism, is a necessity as well. Those three are rarely overlooked, whereas the psychological aspect of the game can be and often is. There are teams, whose players I have coached, were very technically sound, tactically brilliant and incredibly athletic. However, if that fourth – mental – aspect is left out, there is no motivation, desire or passion.  A will to win can often be blown off the field by a light breeze.

There are many aspects of the psyche; I will not address them all today, but did want to touch on motivation. I am never short of surprised at the things that motivate some of my youth soccer players. Last season, I wrote a little about the purple marker that reminded me to have fun while I am out there. This season, having some of the same girls mixed with some new ones, I would need to find what motivated them. They too were excited about the purple marker but never quite enough to get the job done.

Last Sunday, at halftime of a scoreless game, two players approached me asking, “if we score two or three goals will you shave your beard?”

To which I replied, “well which is it? two? or three?” They quickly went with a definite “two!”

I agreed “if y’all score two girls AND win, I will shave my beard.” We won 2-1 and very few people recognize me. 🙂 Very worth it though and since then we have tied 1-1 and won 3-1 (the win coming yesterday meant my assistant Dave had to shave his beard.)

Naturally, I would love for the girls to be intrinsically motivated instead of something like a purple marker or beard or even a purple beard. For now, in practices I am working to instill a competitiveness through a number of games and series of drills. Ideally, their competitive side will grow and they will eventually share my desire to win. Until then, I will continue to regrow my beard and promise to shave it upon their success.

P.S. Writing this post, I realized how many other angles I can write about motivation and most likely will in the not too distant future.

miscellaneous monday: purple pressure

In addition to running, writing and massage therapy, I am also a youth soccer coach. My coaching career has allowed me to stay involved in the beautiful game of soccer while also having a positive influence working with today’s youth. One could argue that my dad being a coach (American football, of course) has something to do with my choice to accept such a path myself. Though I have coached high school and college players, I am currently coaching with Lonestar Soccer Club at the Junior Academy level. We work to develop players age seven through ten, giving them the foundations they need technically (the ability and skill they have with the ball), tactically (decisions they make on the field, how they use their skills), physically & psychologically. The fundamentals they learn through our program enable them to grow in their understanding, appreciation and execution of the game.

I enjoy coaching for many reasons but unfortunately can get caught up in the result sometimes. Recently, the girls team that I coach requested I replace my dried out expo marker with a purple one. Incidentally, I had one at home and brought it the game the next day. The girls were beyond excited. I took note that such a simple thing was able to bring them such immediate joy. After a challenging first half, the team seemed less than optimistic and slightly down. We had just finished discussing the need to pressure the ball when the other team was in possession; the importance of time and space in the game that defensively we wanted to eliminate the opponent’s ease-of-play. Prior to running back onto the field to begin the second half, we cheer something to get our spirits up… YOU know what a cheer is for. In this case we would cheer “pressure” but noticing their faces and posture I decided to change it up a little. I decided instead of pressure, we would cheer “PURPLE” and follow it with a whisper “pressure”. The cheer did the trick, we were able to finish the game strong and walk-away heads held high. We have adopted it as our regular halftime cheer. This single cheer manages to remind us to have fun and keep our composure under pressure. It reminds me to enjoy the game, the improvement, and the opportunity to encourage such enthusiasm.