Leading On the Field
By Emily LaPierre, sophomore
It’s about five minutes past 1 p.m. at our last game and Hurricane Sandy is just about to reach Ithaca. I look around and only have two red strikers standing in front of me. Where’s the rest of my team? Sure enough, as they could read my mind, the rest of my team starts showing up, ready to play in the last game of the season. We didn’t end up winning that game, but the kids still went home with smiles on their faces. That may or may not have been because I showered them with bags of candy after the game, regardless they were definitely happy campers
Coaching a second and third grade soccer team was one of the more difficult, yet rewarding things that I have done since being in Ithaca. I started playing soccer when I was only four years old and haven’t stopped since. It is something that I love to do, and so being able to coach my own team is something I look forward to every week. I couldn’t have asked for a better team. At the second and third grade level, the teams are still co-ed, so I had a good mix of boys and girls. They were from schools all over Ithaca, so many of them didn’t know each other before hand. Although they were shy at first, this was a blessing in disguise because the kids were much more behaved instead of goofing off with friends. That’s not to say that they didn’t become good friends soon enough. I learned quickly that it was always better to separate the friends on the team so they didn’t get distracted. Overall, the kids on my team were angels. They were all so well behaved and polite, it was absolutely amazing!
We started off the season strong with four straight wins. The kids were elated to have such a great record. It was tough when we first lost, but I had to remind the kids that winning is not always what is most important, especially at their level. We mainly focused on the basic skills of soccer, such as dribbling, passing, and shooting the ball. However, they never quite understood the concept of staying spread out. Every practice we started off by stretching out and warming up, and every practice ended in their favorite game, sharks and minnows. One person would be the shark and would try to knock everyone else’s ball out of the box that they were dribbling in. Once your ball gets knocked out, you become a shark. The last person still standing with their ball wins the game. It was always something the kids looked forward to all through practice, and something I could easily use as an incentive for them to behave.
The hardest part about coaching was definitely finding a balance between being strict and being fun. I didn’t want to be the coach who yelled all the time, but I also needed the kids to respect me. Since I am still young, I didn’t want them to think they could get away with being wild and crazy. Overall I think I established a great relationship with the kids on my team. It was always reassuring when a parent would compliment me on my coaching style or tell me how much fun their kids were having. I’m already looking forward to next season!