Learning the process of educating others in the athletic realm has always been intriguing to me. From the days when my Dad was the coach through playing higher level baseball and soccer, it was always interesting to me to assess how coaches train athletes. Observing these methods in action shaped and molded my belief system on ways to teach effectively.
Numerous experiences compiled over a lifetime have positively effected my development as a coach. The five events discussed below have been milestone moments that have provided coaching and teaching education, even if I did not know that would be the outcome at the time. I believe that all young coaches must have experiences like this in order to gain the ability to develop as a coach, teacher, and leader. These varied experiences generally come from playing, assistant coaching, or through a mentor and happen over the course of numerous years to increase the knowledge base of the future coach.
Athletic Education Milestones:
High School Athletics – Player
My introduction to competitive high school athletics as a ninth grade student was an eye opening experience. Having only ever played for volunteer coach teams where I was one of the better players, I was thrown into an environment where coaches were much more demanding and I was nowhere near one of the best players. The coaches I played baseball and soccer for, specifically Coach Mike Dey and Coach Rick Terry, were two instrumental figures in my desire to coach, lead, teach, and get into the field of education. I believed and still do to this day that if I can have an effect on a participant like they did with me, success will be accomplished.
In ninth grade I was cut from the Junior Varsity basketball team. This was an event that was very upsetting to me at the time but looking back allowed me to learn perspective on “releasing a player” which I would have to do later as a coach and how happy and excited I should be for positive events in my life. It was an extremely tough experience but one that made me a better person and future coach.
College Athletics – Player
Once again, when I arrived to Salisbury University preseason soccer camp as a freshman I found myself in an environment where the game was moving extremely fast and it was very hard for me to keep up. The second day of training I called my parents exasperated and after telling them about my experiences the first two days I said, “Everybody here is a good player and I have no idea how a coach would pick a team or have to cut any players from this group.” I ended up making the team as the fifth string goalkeeper and wound up playing ten minutes my freshman year. I was extremely excited just to play that many minutes.
Development and improvement through training sessions led by our Coach Dr. Gerry DiBartolo happened at a rapid pace over the course of my first two years. I loved to train and really thrived in the established environment that involved small sided games and numerous shooting activities during most training sessions.
An opportunity to be the starting goalkeeper presented itself during my junior year. I started the first four games of the season but due to lackluster results me and other starters found ourselves on the bench for the beginning of the conference schedule. Initially I was extremely upset about this decision and had numerous discussions with Coach DiBartolo about what I can do to win the job back. The decision we made together was continue to train hard and wait for an opportunity. Unfortunately that opportunity never came and I found myself a reserve the remaining games of my college experience.
While other players either quit the team, did not return for the next season, or tuned out, I decided this opportunity for me to watch Coach DiBartolo apply his craft as a coach would benefit my hopeful future endeavors. Coaches substitution pattern, sideline demeanor, and preparedness for all circumstances are three coaching skills I learned while watching and began to use when I was given the opportunity to coach.
This experience continued to be worthwhile as I was able to be a leader for the younger players my final year of playing. Coach DiBartolo has also assisted me numerous times in my journey as a coach from helping me find my initial high school coaching job to offering advice on career decisions. I appreciate Coach greatly and look at him as one of my mentors.
Gaining an Education – Student
Becoming educated through undergrad, grad school, and the soccer licensing and diploma courses created a knowledge base for me to grow as coach and fully functioning member of society. This step within the other milestones triggered all of the future successes I have had in my life. The importance of a quality education cannot be understated. I have thoroughly enjoyed the current learning process I find myself in working towards a Doctorate of Education in Sport Management degree. The learning that has happened over the course of the last four years has shaped me to be able to lead a successful soccer club and take part in other professional activities.
Assistant Coach – Field Hockey and Women’s Lacrosse
Upon graduating with a Physical Education degree at Salisbury University, I was accepted to be a graduate assistant in the Physical Education department. This required my to teach a few classes with limited responsibilities after 3:00. Both the men and women’s soccer team had goalkeeper coaches so Dawn Chamberlin who was the coach of the very successful field hockey and women’s lacrosse programs invited me to work with her goalkeepers. Having never played either sport I thought she was off her rocker in wanting me to work with these college level players. She provided me with a full education on how to play both field hockey and lacrosse goalkeeper through demonstrations, talking about what was important in each, and through books that she had. She then told me they are yours to train and train we did. Her belief in me triggered a belief in myself that I could work with the keepers and push them towards successful results. Each program was very successful during the two years I was part of the program as each made the NCAA Division III final four one time. What an amazing opportunity Dawn allowed me to take part in.
Being around Dawn and the programs she established gave me an opportunity to observe an excellent coach at the top of her game. Her ability to build individual positive relationships and promote team chemistry during training and games created an environment of success and caring in everything the field hockey and lacrosse teams did. This was a fantastic opportunity for me to learn how to incorporate this type of belief into programs I would work with in the future. Dawn provided me with a fundamental understanding of how to create a successful team environment. As a mentor, teacher, and coach, she is somebody I continue to look up to and hope I can one day live up to her excellence.
Implementing Personal Beliefs – Director/Head Coach
Creating successful experiences through intentional positive interaction has not always been the primary reason for me to coach. As a young soccer coach working in a high school, winning was the initial focus. Learning throughout the first year of being a head coach that success can be had whether the team wins or loses and that positive interaction among the group leads to greater levels of success were two great beliefs I initially acquired. Leading individuals to become a successful group is a passion that has developed upon being inserted into leadership roles.
Another opportunity to coach at Salisbury as the women’s assistant soccer coach, teaching elementary and middle school Physical Education, various club coaching opportunities, reading thought provoking books, moving to Georgia to coach high school boys and girls soccer, a summer internship in Kansas City with the NSCAA, and then finally my journey sees me coaching/directing club soccer at Storm Soccer Academy full time. This voyage has been very worthwhile and amazing!!!
Storm SA has been an extremely rewarding experience as Jeremy Aven created a vision for what success in youth soccer looks like and I have been able to work closely with him in tweaking and applying our ideas to create what has become a very successful program. Our growth and development over the last four years has been a daily challenge but it has all been worth it as we are able to work with some of the most caring and supportive families I have ever been around. I am very grateful this opportunity for growth as a coach and leader was presented to me.
This type of self-reflection and understanding how development happened within your life is crucial towards recognizing personal strengths and weaknesses as a coach. Surrounding yourself with a staff that can offer support in areas of vulnerability will provide a better experience for all involved within the group.
Continued reflection offers the ability to grow as an individual and leader as you learn what is successful and what has less of an impact. This type of exercise can be and should be performed by the athlete and the athletes support group in order to access development, growth as a participant, appropriate team placement, and possible future playing opportunities. Self-reflection provides the substance behind the answers that individuals must look at in order to grow and continue developing.
In the next blog post, Coach Miguel who is a young soccer coach, will inform us of the development opportunity he is currently receiving working for Storm Soccer Academy.
Thanks for being part of the EducatedCoaches.com family. Please tell another person about this network and how it creates opportunities for growth on and off the athletic field.