Both the u15s and the u17s have their final season games this coming weekend, both are away games. As I think back on the past season, both teams have had the usual struggles that are part of group working together for a common goal. Both teams have been a source of frustration, of motivation for me as coach, of sadness and of great joy. Each player has come to the team with their own idea of why they are playing, of what they wish to accomplish and how they want to go about it. The balancing act that all coaches have to maintain is how to keep all of the differing ideas moving forward as a common objective.
The u17s will finish their season about mid pack in a smaller division. It has been a great group of kids to be around, but we have struggled to find our purpose in play and desire to compete. We say that we want to win games and want to improve so that we can reach those goals but, we just have not been able to find our focus and determination to go out and work together to reach our stated goals. For us, it is a social event to be enjoyed and the outcome is not critical to our self-image. As folks say, it is what it is.
I guess that I am saddened greatly by this group in that they held so much potential in their combined play. We have struggled to play as a team all season but instead chose to play as 11 individuals most of the time and our singular efforts are such that we have come out on top more often than not. It has been so frustrating to try to get unity within the team and a sense of E’sprit de Corp while still keeping players engaged in their own game. We see the players and the talent that each possess and are so hopeful of finding our way over the hurdles that we create for our selves only to fail to find common ground when it is needed in the games. I am not sure there was any forward movement this season for us as a whole and possibly not even for individuals. When I think of what was within the grasp of these players and that we failed to live up to our potential, I am so disappointed and sad for them.
The u15s have been the workhorses this season. Each and every time out on the training field or the games, they have brought a can do attitude and a willingness to get in and work. We have worked hard to be a team and support one another in our games. Early on, we were able to make some team goals and determine how we wanted the team to play, then we set about doing all the small things that helped us grow and mature into a solid side. We have clawed our way up the standings ladder this season in a division where most of the teams are fairly competitive. It has been a very enjoyable time watching these players take what they work on in training onto the pitch and sort themselves out. They are right there with the top 4 teams and at this point, I wouldn’t lay odds on who will come out as State Champs. should prove to be an interesting tournament.
Desire: if I had to sum up the past season, this is the word that I feel exemplifies what that experience has been. Players need to define for themselves what their desire is- is it to be a better player each time they come out, is it to play as competitively as they can or is it to have an enjoyable time with a new group of friends and play a little bit of football? I think for each player, it is a combination of all of these things, the trick is matching up everyone’s desires such that there is a common objective moving forward. I tell players that there are two type of people who play the game of soccer: there are soccer players and there are people who play soccer. If you have to ask what the difference is, you are not one but the other.
Our high school season is getting under way now and once again, it is a chance to see player’s faces convey all the emotions and feelings displayed as they put themselves to the task. Once more all of the unknowns are in play and we begin the cycle again. As I stand before the mirror again, I once again start with all of the questions, all of the doubts, and all of the convictions that bring me back to the pitch season in and season out.
till I see you on the pitch