I Learned The Most From My Toughest Coach

I Learned The Most From My Toughest Coach

He might have given me some of the hardest days of my life, but in the end, he really was a good coach.

Well, this looks... interesting, I thought to myself as I surveyed the turf. Boys, all around the same age as me, were scattered around the field, like toys in a toddler's messy room. It was my first practice as a select soccer player. I had played soccer for a while before then but had played at the rec level before deciding to take the step up into select soccer that year. As I finished tying up my shoes and warming up, a man emerged from the training rooms.

He stomped up the hill and announced in a deep, thick African accent, "Ok everyone, line up! 10 laps around the field, let's go! Do it quickly!" Little did I know that I would spend the next two years hating that man, who I would call my coach for my next four seasons. Every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday I would wake up and immediately feel anxious about the upcoming practice or game. However, my coach taught me many valuable life lessons that have helped me mature and become the person and player I am today.

My coach taught me to persevere through the tough times.

And trust me, there were a lot of those during my time with him. There were days when I would go there, and it would just be one strenuous drill after another, with him yelling at us the entire time. Those days had an immense physical toll on me, too. I would come home without a single iota of energy left in me. All I wanted to do is collapse on my bed and lay there for hours. But I had to get up, push through the pain and continue to work. I learned that to see results, you must fight through the lowest of the lows. Time and time again, I had to persevere, push away thoughts of quitting and keep working to get better. Now, I have gained that mentality of never giving up and fighting until the end, and I can thank my coach for that.

My coach taught me is leadership.

I learned very quickly that being the quiet, calm kid will get me nowhere. Instead, I had to step up and learn how to lead. And trust me, with a group of rowdy soccer players my age, learning was not easy at all. But over time, with the (harsh) guidance of my coach, I learned proper leadership skills and methods that I use almost every day now. I may have complained endlessly about his yelling and strictness, but my first coach gave me one of my most valuable skills, and I am grateful to him for that.

My first soccer coach also taught something else important, but this one is unlike the other two. During practice, he would always be criticizing, yelling and glaring at one player or another. That set all the players on edge. As a result, there were many disagreements and sometimes even fights among players.Through the disagreements, I learned to find the positives in everyone and that I should always stay optimistic. Over the seasons, I used those two skills to get on the good side of all of my teammates and soon, I was on good terms with almost all of the team. I implemented those two skills into my daily life, and the results have been phenomenal.

Four seasons of Coach S. led to lots of frustration, anger and pain in the beginning. It was really hard to endure the mental and physical toll of his intense practices, training and games. However, I learned many life lessons from my time with him that I can use both in my future soccer career and my personal life. So, I guess he was a good coach after all.

Thank you, Coach S.

Cover Image Credit: Abdullah Chandasir

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When You Give A Girl A Dad

You give her everything

They say that any male can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad. That dads are just the people that created the child, so to speak, but rather, dads raise their children to be the best they can be. Further, when you give a little girl a dad, you give her much more than a father; you give her the world in one man.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a rock.

Life is tough, and life is constantly changing directions and route. In a world that's never not moving, a girl needs something stable. She needs something that won't let her be alone; someone that's going to be there when life is going great, and someone who is going to be there for her when life is everything but ideal. Dads don't give up on this daughters, they never will.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a role model.

If we never had someone to look up to, we would never have someone to strive to be. When you give a little girl someone to look up to, you give her someone to be. We copy their mannerisms, we copy their habits, and we copy their work ethic. Little girls need someone to show them the world, so that they can create their own.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her the first boy she will ever love.

And I'm not really sure someone will ever be better than him either. He's the first guy to take your heart, and every person you love after him is just a comparison to his endless, unmatchable love. He shows you your worth, and he shows you what your should be treated like: a princess.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her someone to make proud.

After every softball game, soccer tournament, cheerleading competition, etc., you can find every little girl looking up to their dads for their approval. Later in life, they look to their dad with their grades, internships, and little accomplishments. Dads are the reason we try so hard to be the best we can be. Dads raised us to be the very best at whatever we chose to do, and they were there to support you through everything. They are the hardest critics, but they are always your biggest fans.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a credit card.

It's completely true. Dads are the reason we have the things we have, thank the Lord. He's the best to shop with too, since he usually remains outside the store the entire time till he is summoned in to forge the bill. All seriousness, they always give their little girls more than they give themselves, and that's something we love so much about you.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a shoulder to cry on.

When you fell down and cut yourself, your mom looked at you and told you to suck it up. But your dad, on the other hand, got down on the ground with you, and he let you cry. Then later on, when you made a mistake, or broke up with a boy, or just got sad, he was there to dry your tears and tell you everything was going to be okay, especially when you thought the world was crashing down. He will always be there to tell you everything is going to be okay, even when they don't know if everything is going to be okay. That's his job.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a lifelong best friend.

My dad was my first best friend, and he will be my last. He's stood by me when times got tough, he carried me when I just couldn't do it anymore, and he yelled at me when I deserved it; but the one thing he has never done was give up on me. He will always be the first person I tell good news to, and the last person I ever want to disappoint. He's everything I could ever want in a best friend and more.

Dads are something out of a fairytale. They are your prince charming, your knight in shinny amour, and your fairy godfather. Dads are the reasons we are the people we are today; something that a million "thank you"' will never be enough for.

Cover Image Credit: tristen duhon

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11 Lessons Coaching Has Taught Me

I haven't been doing it for a long time, but I know I already learned a lot.


First things first, I don't really consider myself a coach yet. I know many people who are and I'm for sure not on their level yet. When I came home from college, I was at a loss for finding a summer job. To my luck, I applied to six different places and never heard back from any of them. Not one. I was fortunate enough to come into contact with the man who ran a soccer training facility and asked if I wanted to work for him. Who would pass up a job? Throughout my summer so far there and now going through the two weeks where I coach by myself, also living in the soccer community where I come into contact with coaches all the time, I can definitely say that I learned a lot already.

1. Before you know every name, all kids will have the same nickname

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This is so true from day one. I'm horrible at names, always have been and probably always will be. There's always so many kids showing up and sometimes they don't show up consistently. To solve my little problem, I began to call each kid a "knuckle-head" due to the fact that they all mess around when I'm talking. It's funny to them and it makes it easier for me to get their attention until I for sure know their name.

2. One coaching style doesn't fit everyone

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Not everyone will listen to the nice coach and not everyone will listen to a strict coach. Every kid is different, so they all need something a little different to either understand or make them want to cooperate. I have little girls who listen perfectly with the nice coach, I have middle schoolers and high schoolers who listen to the sarcastic coach, and I have kids overall who listen to a very strict coach. They speed you coach at too can be different. Some kids are able to understand directions with minimal explanation and some need more explanation.

3. You'll definitely want to pull your hair out

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Personally, being a newer "coach," this one is so true for me. Kids are kids. There are kids who listen, kids who don't, and kids that just drive you insane. Sometimes I never know what to do with them or I'll just want to take a long break during training sessions. Coaching teaches you patience for sure.

4. Don't take things personally

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Relating to the above point, kids are kids. Just because they don't listen or talk back, it doesn't mean that you're doing something wrong that they don't like. There's a lot of factors that can affect a child's behavior, from a bay day to being hangry. Coaches should never take anything personally and should keep doing what they're doing. For example, I told the kids to do a few different drills, and of course, I got a stubborn no from what seemed like an overtired six-year-old. It wasn't that he didn't like me, it was that he was tired and already in a grumpy mood.

5. Kids help you loosen up sometimes

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There has been days where I've gone to work and felt stressed. Either I think too much about the lesson plan or my day was hectic with things. With their fun loving nature, kids sometimes help me unwind by realizing that we're there too also have fun. I've been dragged into play soccer tennis, going against multiple kids in obstacle courses and I've been begged into giving piggy back rides almost every day. If I don't go to work with a smile, I know for sure I'll be leaving with one.

6. Kids also say the weirdest things

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The age range I coach can vary from six-year-olds to high school juniors. Of course, I expect the older kids to make a bit more sense when they say something, but the younger half of kids I've met have said the weirdest things. I always laugh from their humorous imagination, though it sometimes encourages them to keep saying more during the session. Once, I heard a young girl talk about Finding Nemo with her friends and say, "What if they called it the armpit instead of the butt?" Don't know how she thought of that.

7. Plans don't always go the way you expect

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For every session, there is a plan of what we work on with the kids. Although the workout plan usually seems pretty good, they don't always go the way I need them to. In most cases, kids will finish a drill ten minutes faster than I expected them to. Because of this, I've gotten better of coming up with ideas on the spot, but it's still frustrating if the kids just want to play games since they finished early.

8. Even the most annoying kids start to grow on you

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There's always a few kids in the group that will really get on your nerve. They either talk too much, don't listen at all, or encourage the other kids to practically throw a riot in the facility where I can't get control anymore. The first kid I met never listened or paid attention and always tried to rush through things without doing it right. After spending about two thirds of my summer with him, I finally understood what he needed and now even he helps me with cleaning up.

9. Starting simple can be better than starting complex

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I cannot say that this isn't true. Whenever we're doing a drill of any kind, it's important to start with the basics so every kid can understand what we're doing. If you start to complex, it'll be harder for others to comprehend and no one will be one the same page. We do this for the proper sprint from where we start with having the kids land the correct way on their feet and focus showing them how their knees should be bent, we then move on and add more and more details before they're all able to sprint properly.

10. Bribing is super common

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When I say bribing, I don't mean "I'll give you a dollar if you do this drill for me." It's more like "We can maybe play soccer tennis if you do this right for me." I don't know why kids are so obsessed with soccer tennis or why they're so addicted to the recovery snacks we give them at the end of a session, but bribing is the last resort for me most of the time. The only reason it is is because I believe kids should want to do things that are asked of them without expecting something in return.

11. By the end of the day, you still love it

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Coaching is hard. It's frustrating and tiring, but if things go smoothly, it's totally worth the hassle and I always find myself thinking of what drills to do next. Kids can be difficult but they're also the reason I enjoy coaching. I'm helping them learn something by the end of the day.

All in all, coaching is something I really enjoy. It truly shows you how your coaching style is different than others, but the end goal is to make sure that the kids learn something while having fun...most of the time. Being a coach, beginner or not is an important position as you're making an impact on someone's life in the end.

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