Wednesday, April 18, 2018

How did I get here?




Four and a half years ago I was just coaching a u8 girls team. I was only doing this because the original coach quit... I never wanted to coach my own child. I hated dad coaches as a kid. I didn't want to do this to any kid, especially mine. Have them hate playing for a team because of me. That said, I've never been one to not give my all when I do something. Especially when I'm dealing with other peoples children. My thinking is, these people have entrusted me with their children so I owe it to them to give it my all. I try to learn everything I can. I start my coaching education via Youtube, classes, clinics, asking questions, watching every coach I can watch, USSF courses, and whatever else I can do to try to learn and get better. 

It's fun, I love coaching.

I start putting on these free skills clinics every week for whatever players want to show up because of the sheer cost of doing private trainings with coaches at the local pay to play club. A few kids show up at first. After a while I'm getting a nice group of 15 to 20 kids a week.

The players on this team start to get better. We start entering our little neighborhood team made up of whatever girls show up in some tournaments. We try to play nice soccer. It takes a while but we end up beating a bunch of teams who pay quite a bit per player. Hearing parents yell at coaches across the field "We pay all this money to get beat by a REC TEAM????"

I'm not going to lie. It felt great.

The players who consistently show up at the skills clinics start to get pretty decent. They show that they want to work. I try to show them HOW to train at home. One kid with one ball for an hour. Jon Townsend had written this amazing 10,000 touches article and I did my best to put it in motion every week for these kids.

A local pay to play club offers me a coaching job if I bring my team over to them. I say thanks but no thanks. I think readers of this blog kind of understand I'm just not on board with the system as it is set up. I felt like I would have been betraying my morals if I would have gone.


While this is happening I get recruited by a different neighborhood club to become their new President.


Thing is... its MY neighborhoods club. When I was a child playing soccer, West Side Soccer Club played at a place called Cabell Field. This space was turned in to a new consolidated elementary named Mary C. Snow a few years back so I kind of thought the club went away. Little did I know the city had built a couple of u12 sized fields at a park on top of a hill on the West Side. We had been driving our kids a few miles out of the way just because the club had shrunk to a point where I didn't even know it existed any more.

When I took over the club only had 13 registered players.

We recruit the city. We grow to 50... then 75.... now 130 players. Our club looks like our community. The West Side and the East End of Charleston are two of the most economically disadvantaged communities in the largest city in the poorest state in the country. That is where we draw kids from. It is also the most diverse area of the state. We raise money to help offset the costs. We do ball and equipment drives to get some kids the stuff they need to play. We have a couple of AWESOME donors who pay for some kids registration fees.

We are the only "Recreational" club in the state to place kids in the WV ODP program. We had 3 over the last 2 years.

We still do our free skills clinics every week just now at our fields. Some weeks we now have 50+ kids. Just this past week we started a partnership with the D2 National Championship University of Charleston's Men's Soccer program where they send a couple players every week to help us do the skills clinics.

Almost three years ago I got together a few donations and a few volunteers and we converted a basketball court downtown in to a Futsal Court. We built a partnership with the Charleston Parks and Recreation Department to allow us to have a gym for free all winter at the Martin Luther King Center. We do a free weekly Futsal meetup/pick up games event every Friday (#FutsalFriday) and have built a nice following. 30 to 40 people a week.

We host multiple coaching clinics per year.

We hosted a USSF licensing course.

We implemented a coaching mentorship program for our volunteer coaches.

We host free cookouts after several game weekends where all of our teams play at home at the same time to help build our community through sport.

We are 100% going to offer EVERYTHING we can for these kids. They deserve it just as much as any kids anywhere. Just because they aren't "Travel" or "Select" or whatever you think they don't work hard? You think they don't want it? They don't want to get good?

Wrong. 

As a club president I'm on the KVSL (our league we play in) Board of Directors. I rabble rouse. I get super pissed quite often.

I bitch to my wife, my brother, my parents, my friends.

Change happens. Contrary to what many people think these people who I am mad at aren't bad people. They just know how things work now. They often times don't see a reason to change it. Why change it? It's working. Kids are playing soccer!

I have a different vision I am trying to get in place. Funny thing that happens is... once they see I'm just passionate and not just an asshole there to complain about things they join in. Other clubs start doing some of the same things we do. Skills clinics. Coaching Ed.

These things work. People see the change. Some go beyond what we even do! Those things work.

I keep working. I have to deal with the WVSA on a few occasions. I'm pretty sure they had the same initial reaction that KVSL had to me. Shit.... dude. Thing's are working... why are you trying to rock the boat?

I start trying to make some changes in Adult Soccer in WV. I go to the USYSA Regionals. I get introduced to the WVSA staff.

I go to a WVSA Board Meeting.

I just start showing up.

I don't stop.

I get added to a committee for a state adult soccer club league. 

Next thing you know the VP of Adult Soccer can't go to the USSF Convention.

I get asked to go in his place.

I go. I vote for Wynalda.

I run for a youth position on the WVSA Board.

I win.

It's just started for me. Trust me. I'm not going anywhere. I'm not going to stop trying to change the system for the better.

I'm sure you're asking why all this matters? It is pretty simple. What I would love to see is for you to go get involved. Don't let anybody tell you no thanks. Keep showing up. Be committed. If you want to see change... go make change happen. Literally 1000's of people from all over this country read these blog posts. I'm sure many of you think you are powerless to actually help make change within the system. YOU ARE NOT POWERLESS!

We need every state associations Board of Directors to have new blood ready to make change. We need every club's Board of Directors to have new blood ready to make change. We need every league... every everything that has anything to do with this sport in this country to be infused with new blood that is ready and willing to FIGHT FOR CHANGE.

Four and a half years ago I was coaching my first practice with a u8 team. I didn't have a plan... a few months ago I voted for USSF President.

What can you be doing four and a half years from now if you have a plan?


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