Monday, April 8, 2013

I am past the pain of not taking a team this summer.

For the first time in 25 summers, I do not have my own youth team to coach.  I will coach the Niagara College program in the fall, but being a head coach a youth team was not in my plans this year.

The last few months I've been feeling a bit lost.  This was the time of year when I was at my best, finding training space, planning friendlies, parent meeting, etc. I am still busy with soccer, but with different things.

I do miss the group from last year.  I've run a session for them already and it was nice to see them again.

There were a few reasons for stepping away.  I re-read my reflection from October 2012 and still feel the same way.

At the end of it all I am happy to have a break from running tryouts for young players and dealing with competitors who mistaken recruiting for coaching.  Other teams in our age group have been flipping clubs, changing players like dirty underwear and the usual dog and pony show that accompanies all that, looking for the ultimate prize (whatever that is).  I also look forward to a break from youth competition as a head coach.

(Note: solid coaches who do some recruiting are not the same as hard recruiters who think they're coaches). 

I hit a point where I needed to temporarily step away from a system and environment that confused success with winning when it came to younger players.

Being the transition year between what we had and the implementation of LTPD in Ontario, I am going to enjoy working with others in getting ready for the new philosophy.

My soccer time has been filled with helping other coaches with their teams, helping friends with session plans, team questions, etc   I have a group of 8 friends that I've been offering support to, and learning a lot at the same time.  New for me is being more involved in formal coaching education.  I've also been tooting the LTPD horn and trying to help people understand where things are heading.

My other hobby is refining the art of stepping in with a team, running a session that brings some success to the players and leaves the coach with good ideas for future sessions.

Until this past weekend, I was still wondering if I had made the right decision.  My former team is still going with a new coach and we still have two full teams in Welland at that age group.  My youngest son is still playing and they are moving along nicely.  I am glad my departure did not leave them stranded as sometimes happens with youth teams.

"I needed to temporarily step away from a soccer environment that confused winning with success for young players."

But this weekend I ran two sessions as a guest coach (Welland 1999 boys and Pelham 2002 boys).  Before and after both sessions I saw the coaches running around dealing with parents and team business.  I arrived, set up, delivered the session and left.  I will miss the interaction and team business for a year, but for what I wanted to do, this weekend was a good sign to me that I will serve the community better in this capacity.

What I will not miss:
  • Telling a 12-year-old player who is keen during tryouts that they can't be on our team
  • Game sheets requiring 20 signatures every game, for 11 year old players
  • Checking books for 10 minutes during warm-ups
  • Wondering, half way to Brampton, if I remembered our player books.
  • Fines for whatever and whenever
  • Teams/coaches/parents panicking if they are nearing relegation zone
What I will miss:
  • Building the collective chemistry of a team over a period of time
  • Putting a yearly plan into action
  • Team parents who become good friends
  • Watching kids build friendships away from soccer
  • Watching kids succeed when they play soccer away from our program
  • Team dinners and parties
  • Good moments for each player at different points in the season
  • Juggling positions to find success for a player
  • Training sessions with the players
  • Watching my watch during games
  • Pre-session "World Cup" games.
  • Smelly pinnies
  • Welland S.C. staff during registration time (stress and smile at the same time)
  • Delivering my joke of the day :)