Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Ups And Downs

There's no doubt that life is like a roller coaster ride. Sometimes you're higher than high, sometimes you can't get out of the low spots, and most of the time we all float around somewhere in the middle. Soccer is usually one of the high points.

The past ten days have shown me both ends of the spectrum.

After our first weekend of games, I heard some things I didn't really like from our team manager. Evidently, some girls on the bench were talking smack about some girls on the field. This is not cool with me, at all, so on Tuesday they all received a stern lecture about positivity, team work, and the fact that if I hear it again they'll run the entire practice. The message must have hit home, since we heard nothing during our next two games. Practice that Thursday was also good, and it was really cool watching some of the girls suddenly understand the idea of crossing the ball. It was similar to how I taught Stu's keeper how to fix her goal kicks. The girls were all under the impression that it takes a huge run up in order to send the ball long, but I showed them how to create a good cross with just one step. And hey, it worked!

I was nervous about our weekend games again, but Saturday saw the girl's best performance yet! They really, really played together well. We ended up tying the game 0-0, which was a huge accomplishment! I was so, so, so thrilled with the girls on Saturday. The keeper I picked up played brilliantly, and I awarded her 'woman of the match' for her shut out.

And then came Sunday.

We were playing a team we've played twice already, both loses, but good, close matches. I don't know if the girls were just out of gas, if I wasn't coaching them right, or what, but they tanked. We lost 5-0. The good side of it was I learned some more things about where certain girls should go, and the coach of the other team came over and told me that it should have been a much closer game, but still, it was really disappointing.

I think I've decided to split time with the keepers, even though the one girl is superb, I think she gets rattled a bit. It's her first experience on a travel soccer team, so I don't want her to be overwhelmed. I also think that I'm going to move one of my defenders up front. I put her in up top at the end of the game on Sunday and she had some really good chances.

I've been getting some complaints from parents, which is harder on me than I admit sometimes. I don't like complaints. I like peace and sunshine and butterflies. I'm finding, though, that it's impossible to make everyone happy, and that I just have to stay true to myself. 

Practice on Tuesday this week was okay. I had to make them run again because they just weren't focused.I can't help but wonder if 1) I'm pushing too hard or 2) if these girls don't want to be pushed.

I see so much potential in them, but I realized that if you don't have the competitive drive, you'll just never reach that potential. I realized that if you don't have the heart or the determination or the passion for it, it's just not going to work out.

I see that passion in many of my girls, but some of the others, I'm not so sure. I don't know if that is something I can teach. I don't think it is. I feel like that competitive edge is something you have to create within yourself, something you have to dig deep and bring to the surface on your own. If you want to be the best soccer player (or rider, or person or whatever) only you can make that decision. I could be the greatest soccer coach in the world, with the most talented soccer players in the world on my team, but if there's no heart, no desire.. then nothing matters.

People talk about heart all the time in sports, how teams, people, horses who are not supposed to be successful rise above the doubters and stand proud on the top of their games. Heart seems like such an intangible thing. You can't train it, you can't make it stronger, you can't make it jump higher or run faster -- it just is. You either have it or you don't.

But the great ones have it. You don't have to be the best, the fastest, the strongest, the most talented.. as long as you have heart and passion for what you do, you will find success.

I won't see the girls again until Oct. 12, and I think it's good for all of us. I hope that when I get back from my work trip we will all be refreshed, confident, and ready to go on and accomplish great things in our season.

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