Last night was our 1st H.S. season match. Our bus was over 40 min late and the ride was a bit over 1 hr, both of which had direct effects on our state of mind and bodies. Given that we had to get off the bus and basically take the field, I was not expecting too much out of our players. They were all eager, and excited to finally be playing and put a lot of heart into the game. Unfortunately, we were outmatched and it showed in the outcome where we tilted 0-2.
The game was a great picture for our players and was one where we had some pretty definite moments to use in explaining some of the play we need to address. As players were coming and going from the field, most were asking what they needed to work on and how could they prevent it from happening again. It was nice to see that level of investment from our players and that type of committment is what our team needs right now.
Last night marked a slow but defined shift in our team’s mindset and the change was for the better. We were communicating so much more as a team and supporting each other in our play. I have been waiting on this to happen and it is so nice we came out to our 1st game as individuals but left it as a team.
So, is change brought about by outside influences or events or is it something that one decides to tackle due to internal processes? I don’t think it fits into one category or the other, as in most things, it is a complex, ever-moving transformation that really does not have a singular point where it began. For me, change is a constant, ever-present part of my life and I hope it remains a close companion. I would have never had some of my experiences if I had not welcomed change at those times in my life.
One of the changes I have made this season is that while I still speak to the team as a whole about certain aspects of the game, I have decided to sit and speak with each player as an individual after our games and ask them how they feel about their performance, what would they like to see change, how did they see their role in the team growing, ect. On the bus ride home last night, I had my 1st opportunity to try this approach and it was a moment that will stay with me for a very long time.
As I finished speaking with the players individually, I moved back up to the front of the bus where I typically sit. After a couple of minutes, one of the players asked me to come back and sit with them to talk about the game. As we spoke, the entire team was gathered round and it was one of the most dynamic, positive discussions I have ever had anywhere. As I watched these children speak with such passion about what they hope to be able to do this season and what they felt they could do to help each other, I was reminded of why I coach. The hopes, and dreams of each of them was so raw and present at that moment, it was hard not to feel connected to each other.
So every now and then I get the thought that maybe this is the year I retire from the bench. It has been a long and very wonderful journey full of ups and downs, frustrations and joy but through it all, the one constant in a life full of change, has been the players. They each come into the sport with their own expectations, their own needs and ideas of what it is going to be like playing our beautiful game. I hope each goes away with some new-found discovery of themself and that what they could not do yesterday, in fact, did not define what they do today. That nothing worth having should ever come easy and that each of them are worth the investment that they are making in themselves. Last night reminded me of why I am here and that just maybe, there is one more season left in me.
till I see you on the pitch