Sunday, August 3, 2014

Culture Shock at Soccer Practice

I've been involved with soccer as a player or coach for the past 35 years.  Hmmm, I feel a bit old saying that.  I've coached age group, travel, high school, and middle school.  When I got an email from Woodstock asking parents for help filling in advisor spots for a few activities, I jumped right in to volunteer to coach the Jr. Girls Football- 7th and 8th grade soccer that needed a coach.  Practices are scheduled Mondays and Thursdays 4:45- 6 on Ridgewood Field.

On Wednesday, the first day of school, I started to ask more questions-
Is there equipment, first aid, schedule of games, etc.  Things I thought I should know as a coach.  Hmm, no answers.
Thursday, I went to the Dean of Student Activities and got a few answers.  There were 11 girls signed up, but there will additions, since the 5th and 6th grade team that was going to be co-ed is now only boys.  The other schools Woodstock plays have only boys on their sub jr. teams.  The Dean did walk me to the gym to requisitioned some equipment, and we bumped into the Athletic Director. (Why wasn't he the one I contacted? Politics.)   I got a bit more information about the team and season from the Athletic Director.  There is no schedule of games.  When I feel the girls are ready I need to let the Athletic Director know and he will call around for a match.  I need to run tryouts and keep 16 girls on the roster.

On Thursday, I arrived at Ridgewood Field a bit early to make sure the equipment made it.  Yes.  There were 5 balls, 2 sets of pennies, and 12 cones.  Excellent.  Here is our playing field...

OK, it is not a field, but it does have lines and some small goals.  There is also a fence around it to try to keep the balls from heading down the mountain.  I knew I'd have a basketball court, since it is just outside Oscar's dorm.  The mountain location does not allow for many fields.  The Senior team (9th-12th graders) practices on Hanson field, which is more of a field, and could be quite nice.

The pile of rocks is from a landslide, and they are working to rebuild the retaining wall.  You can see the goals at the end of the dirt stretches.

So culture shock came first from the lack of information and the playing fields, but it also came during our first practice/tryout.  I am American, and as an American I posses a bad ear for foreign names, especially Asian names.  I was expecting 11 girl, plus a few more 5th and 6th graders.  I had 24 girls turn up for practice.  So I have to learn the girls names, evaluate who should be on the team, administer first aid, manage the spectators who wanted to play basketball, plus field questions from the girls about scheduling conflicts.  I think I learned maybe a third to half the girls' names.  I'll have to think up something better for Monday.

I had to take my equipment home with me.  The boys dorm parent warned, that the office of the dorm was not a safe place to leave soccer balls.  I guess despite the fence, there are balls that fly down the mountain, and replacements are sought after.  It took Zibby and I about 45 minutes to walk home with our bag of equipment.  I wonder what coaches have done in the past.  There have been times here that I feel I am the first person to ask certain questions or request information.  I'm hoping that it is a cultural, not administrative barrier causing me to feel I'm inventing the wheel.

Coaching is fun.  The girls are wonderful.  I'm hoping they can add a developmental soccer program for the girls and boys that don't make the teams.


  1. Vedy in-ter-es-ting. Hopefully you can get some help - an assistant perhaps. And find someone to help carry the equipment home with you. The good news - 24 girls were interested in playing "football". Hopefully this will still be fun and not super competitive and maybe you won't have to cut too many. They need you!!!!

  2. Well, the good thing about practicing/ playing on a basketball court is hat the girls will get really good at their ball handling skills :)

  3. Wish I was closer, I'd be happy to help! Looks like you are doing a great job, even with the lack of supplies!