I played soccer for 14 years of my life and I had a wide variety of coaches. Some weren't the best and always made myself and my team feel like playing wasn't worth the hassle. More importantly, some were not only wonderful coaches, but great people as well. People who helped me become the person I am today.
I had a coach in middle school to I owe a lot to because she helped me realize my confidence. I was sometimes the quiet one who had a hard time making friends as first, but this coach pushed myself and my team to not only be teammates, but friends as well. She encouraged us to have each other's backs on and off the field.
Instead of getting angry when games weren't going well, I remember her talking us up and telling us what we were doing right. Whenever she brought up our weaknesses, it never felt like criticism. She always made them seem like aspects we just needed to focus on a little harder.
She made practices fun but productive and became more of a mother figure to all of us than just a coach. 8 years later, I still look up to her as a role model and still find her giving me words of support through posts on Facebook.
My first high school soccer coach is the one who made me not only a fierce player, but a stronger woman. While she was tough on us and sometimes I thought I would die on the field, I felt like I was exceeding and executing the skills I needed to be the player I had always wanted to be. She gave me the foundation to be a strong player through training but also through her advice.
Freshman year was difficult for me because I went from public school in 8th grade to a private Catholic high school. I was having a hard time with my family and an even harder time finding good friends. I remember a specific practice where I broke down crying. Usually doing something like that in front of an adult would have mortified me, but she didn't let that happen. Not only did she talk through my problems with me, she also began to text me little pieces of motivation about how she always had my back and how I could get through anything.
Today, she still gives me words of encouragement over Facebook as well and I still remind myself that she is always someone I can turn to.
These two women made an impact on my life not only as a player, but as a woman too. I never got to give them the proper thanks they deserved, but I also didn't know at the time that they truly would help me as anything more than just a coach. Even though we always seem to remember the coaches that left scars on our love for the sport, we also need to appreciate the ones who changed us for the better.