For the 2013-2014 season, Pride SC started a developmental Academy aimed at taking a select group of 48 U10 players from the recreational ranks and grooming them for the selection process for entering the 2014-2015 competitive league. These players were organized into 4 teams. I’m very glad I had the opportunity to be a part of this program from the ground floor and work with the players and parents that made up my team.
What I like most about coaching in the Academy is that as a coach, the buck stops with me. When I coached the Black 01 team, I had players that didn’t have the basic skills and knowledge to competitively play league soccer. While they had fun playing recreational soccer and learned a few basics, they didn’t really have the foundational skills and knowledge to move into the more competitive league environment. That’s the role I got to play. I was the one responsible for ensuring that the players had the technical ability, tactical knowledge, physical fitness, and psychological and social attributes necessary to be successful in competitive soccer.
I relished the challenge. It made me a better coach on so many different levels. In the end, we had a fantastically successful year together. They’re growth surpassed everyone’s expectations from the parents to the director of coaching for the Academy program to the coaches for the teams they tried out for and made during the 2014-2015 season. I’m most proud of the fact that, for this fledgling group of competitive players, I was able to be part of instilling a real passion for the game (and maybe even for a couple of the parents). That over the season as a team we were able to build a foundation that set them on the path of becoming successful competitive soccer players. Most heartwarming for me of all though was the surprise shout out I received from a group of my former Academy players getting ready to warm-up with their new competitive team as I walked across a park on my way to my first practice for my newest Academy team.