Week Three: COURAGE!

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

 Week Three: COURAGE! Welcome to Week 3 of the Word of the Day blog! This week is all about COURAGE. What’s great about this word is that it can be explained in many different ways. The dictionary defines COURAGE as: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery. But what I like better than this definition is the second definition, which is: the heart as the source of emotion. That one really hits home with me because as a coach we really are touching these kids hearts and emotions each and every day. 

The way that I went about explaining COURAGE to these kids was by telling a story. Some of the words of the day are easy to explain by just explaining the definition. However, I feel that COURAGE is a little harder to explain so I use a story that demonstrates how characters the kids know have been brave.

I talk about how the characters Woody and Buzz from the Disney film Toy Story get lost at the arcade. They were scared, but they showed COURAGE, and even though they were scared they stuck together and found their way home. Now of course any story will work, whatever you think your kids can relate to and provides an easy way to explain COURAGE.

What I love is that after the story, the kids who understand what you mean, eyes will get big and they say “ohhh,” and you know that you got through to them. To me, that is the most important thing. At the end of the day those moments make everything we do just that more impactful.

Week Two: CONFIDENCE!

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

 Week Two: CONFIDENCE! Welcome to Week 2 of the Word of the Day blog! This week is all about CONFIDENCE. This is definitely a harder word for some of our children to say and to remember, but for me it isn’t as important that they necessarily remember the word but that they remember the meaning and feeling behind the word.

CONFIDENCE means belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities or self-assurance. This is something that the children we are coaching are just starting to recognize in themselves. Also our children are very impressionable at this age and it is crucial that they are learning how to have self-CONFIDENCE. The best that we, as coaches, can do this is by constant praise. More important than just praise is specific praise. So for example not just saying great job to a child, but pointing out an exact thing they are doing, such as: “Great stop position Sally” or ” That was a great pull back Billy”. Being specific is important because is show the children that you are paying attention and care about them.

We always want to be modeling the behavior we want our children to have so modeling CONFIDENCE is very important. Seeing us being confident in what we are teaching them helps them be more confident in themselves and their abilities. At the end of the day self-CONFIDENCE is very important and we, as coaches, need to do what we can to set these children up in the right direction for them to continue to build their CONFIDENCE for the future.

Week One: RESPECT!

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

 Week One: RESPECT! Welcome to Week 1 of the Word of the Day weekly blog!

This week I will be talking about the word RESPECT. It is definitely the most remembered word in all of our classes. All of us know that when we get to talking about the word of the day, the children who have taken a class before always love to guess which word it is, and more often than not they say RESPECT. It is fantastic that our kids remember this word, but sometimes I wonder are we really making sure they know what it means?

I love the way the coaches I work with introduce the word of the day. Water break is a great time to talk to the kids about anything, but since it is a quieter moment in our session it is also a great place to bring up the word of the day. I also like how the coaches always say what the word of the day is and then ask the kids what it means. With the word RESPECT, some of the answers I’ve heard have been: being a good listener, being nice, being kind or being quiet when others are talking. These are all amazing answers and what I really love to hear is when a child may give an answer that doesn’t really fit what the word means and I still hear the coaches acknowledge that child and tell them “great job” and “great answer”, while still letting them know that it doesn’t really fit with this particular word.

Screen Shot 2014 06 20 at 12.28.58 PM Week One: RESPECT!

The biggest challenge I see is making sure that we always explain to the kids how to show the word of the day. For example, if Billy is listening to coach when coach is explaining how to do a stop position, it is great to point that out by saying “Billy is showing RESPECT to coach by listening to what they are saying”.  I saw great examples of RESPECT this week with my classes. In one class, one child saw that a friend was talking over coach so the child responded by saying: “you need to show Coach RESPECT by listening to her”. I thought it was great that the child was learning how certain actions do or do not show RESPECT, and how they wanted their friends to show it too.

RESPECT is definitely a foundation word that many of our words of the day stem from. Making sure our children really understand this word will set them up for a bright future.

One family’s Soccer Shots story…

We received this message from a parent in one of our park programs, and it filled our hearts with so much joy, we just had to share! Truly, this is why we do what we do, and we couldn’t be more proud of our team and the impact they have on kids and families in Los Angeles every day!

I have so much to say!!!!!!!! This group, has touched my heart in so many ways! It’s sometimes hard to find the words. We are faced with putting our trust into those who are mentors, teachers, coaches, and friends. We place our trust and depend on them as we start and continue to build our village, because I do STRONGLY believe it takes a village to raise my special lil guy!! 

The first soccer session, I ended up at the wrong park, drove around in circles, once I got to the right park, I literally walked around not knowing really who to look for. I see a guy and assume he is a coach with Soccer Shots so I ask, ” Is this the group my son is registered in?” He replies .. “Yes..hi, I am Coach Stewart..” I immediately start explaining and apologizing for being 30 minutes late, explaining that I went to wrong park, drove around in circles and here we are!! Kinda expecting a “you’re too late response.” Team One familys Soccer Shots story...
Coach Stewart immediately comforted us, introduced himself to me and D, got him a Soccer Shots shirt, and walked D over to his team, his group of new friends!!! He then said to me, “no worries!!!” Little did he know I was tearing up, I was so worried and mad at myself; worried that I messed up D’s first day, his first soccer experience!! 
Instead, I realized that was not the case at all!! Coach Andy immediately embraced D and gently threaded him into the group seamlessly!! This moment was huge for me!! As a parent I love experiencing those first time moments, that I’ve so come to realize as much as it is a HUGE deal for our little one…it’s just as HUGE for us too!! 
Watching my son merge in with people he had never seen before… a moment I so wanted to call my mom … That, mom to mom moment, sharing D’s first day of soccer..I know in her way, she was there with us!!! 

When the class was over, I walked over to introduce myself to Coach Andy. He reached out to me, shook my hand and said Hi. I was again apologetic for being so late..and had a million questions .. “Do you need me to fill out anything, forms? Did we miss an introduction.. Blah blah blah” 
Coach Andy, with the sweetest smile said.. “No no no don’t worry, your son D is awesome and welcome!!” 
I was like, “really, no lecture, you know that coach talk on the importance of being here on time?!” He was completely the opposite and said your son is great! Balboa Park One familys Soccer Shots story...

From that day forward here is what I see every Saturday… Character building, sitting together, for what I would love to be a lil fly and listen .. But I do love watching them sit together building trust and relationships!! Learning about how to respect, appreciate, encourage, and mostly how to have FUN with each other! With much thoughtfulness Coach Andy and Coach Geo embrace the kiddos with lots of happiness, fun, smiles, and an amazing amount of genuine authentic love for the them!! 
D has just graduated from his second season, he has more confidence in everything he does from school work, to now swimming and jumping into a pool, to taking those first steps into things that before felt too scary..believing in himself.
Coach Andy guides and coaches in a way that allows them to have freedom .. He gives them the space, allowing the learning process to be natural, comfortable and at their own pace!! His teaching skills build self confidence and his ability to be so IN THE MOMENT with each kiddo, individually and as a group of friends is incredible!!

Example: just about to practice the hocus pocus move.. But then you hear one child say to another .. “Hey that’s my ball, he took my ball, that’s my ball!!” Coach Andy immediately responded.. “Ok boys and girls let’s practice how we share with our friends”, and immediately had them practicing on sharing the soccer ball with one another , teammates, playing, shouting with laughter and having so much fun in sharing the soccer ball!! What could have turned into a melt down on someone took my ball, was brilliantly turned into laughter and sharing!!! 

I love this group so much!! You all have become a great friends, and have made my son’s first sport an amazing, very positive experience! When its time, any new coach that comes into D’s life will have VERY VERY big shoes to fill. I am ever so greatful to each and every one of you!!! 


From my heart, from D’s heart, 
We thank you so much Soccer Shots team. A huge blessing to have you all be part of “our village.” Xoxoxo

 

The Mentoring Effect + Soccer Shots

Mentoring Works The Mentoring Effect + Soccer ShotsJanuary was first designated National Mentoring Month in 2002, and while the concept of mentoring has been around pretty much forever, researchers and educators have since made it a priority to back up the idea with evidence.

This month, 12 years after the Inaugural National Mentoring Month, MENTOR, the National Mentoring Partnership, has released some impressive, encouraging, and profound research.

In their research, published as The Mentoring Effect: Young People’s Perspective on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring (2014), MENTOR concludes the following:

  •  There are two types of mentoring relationships, Informal/Unstructured and Formal/Structured. Informal mentoring relationships usually form between a young person and a family friend, a teacher, or a coach. Formal mentoring relationships are developed and matched with a purpose, often through schools and community groups.
  • Young people with mentors are more likely to report positive behaviors, like graduating from college, participating in sports and extracurricular activities, and often hold leadership positions in the activities they engage in.
  • Youth believe mentoring provides them with the guidance and support they need to live productively. More specifically, young people in informal mentoring relationships often stated that their mentor provided developmental support, over academic support, talking with them more often about making good decisions and staying motivated in life.
  • One in three young people, and even more at-risk youth, report that they never had a mentor growing up. That means, nationwide, today approximately 16 million youth, including 9 million at-risk youth, will reach age 19 without ever having a mentor.

Coach Andy Charles1 e1390524464198 The Mentoring Effect + Soccer Shots

MENTOR (2014) goes on to identify mentoring as a critical link in the chain of outcomes for youth today, that ultimately produces more active citizens and stronger leaders, better schools and healthier communities. 

So… as our Soccer Shots Coaches head out onto the soccer field and talk about our character words each week, we like to think we are planting the seeds for many, or at the very least, one, meaningful mentor in each child’s life. It’s not just about developing young soccer players, but developing stronger youth, beyond the game.

Reference: The Mentoring Effect: Young People’s Perspectives on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring. (2014). MENTOR: Expanding the world of quality mentoring. Retrieved from http://www.mentoring.org/mentoringeffect

The Process

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Jorge)

Jorge The Process

When I first started working for Soccer Shots I was very excited, but nervous. With a coaching background I felt more than capable. The only differences I found with Soccer Shots were the younger age groups and the focus on the non-competitive side of soccer.

Before, for me, coaching was about trophies and accomplishments… However, through my time with Soccer Shots I’ve seen how a smile and the feeling of pride for a child is 1,000 times more rewarding than a piece of hardware that will eventually just collect dust.

As coaches, we are these children’s real life super heroes. From seeing them trying to master every soccer move I show them, to hearing stories from parents about how their child pretends to coach like me when they’re at home. It’s honestly one of the best feelings anyone can have. Those high fives before and after class just give you that extra push in your every day agenda. They remind you why you are doing this, they keep you humbled and always excited to look for new ways to make class that much better for each child.

Before I became the coach you see at parks and schools, I had a lot of help along the way. I cannot begin to think about what my classes would be like without the help I received from other coaches and directors. From shadowing coaches and picking up on their coaching techniques, to seeing how they address certain situations, our coaches and directors are part a never ending learning process. Its amazing knowing that the sky is the limit for making every family’s experience extra special, and also making Soccer Shots the best youth soccer program out there.

As we get into the winter session, I can’t begin to imagine all the fun I’m going to have, not only coaching, but beginning to write for the blog and share my experiences with all of you! 🙂

The New Girl

(Guest Post from Coach Taylor Fowler)

Taylor3 The New Girl

As I complete my first season with our Soccer Shots family, I felt it was only right to write a reflective piece that would explain what it’s like to join a new program.

WEEKS 1-4

Like most of our little friends it took me a couple of weeks to get the hang of things. Traveling to my first class week 1 seemed to be the most nerve racking. Although I knew that I wouldn’t be coaching alone, I had a serious case of the “What if questions” …

“What if the kids don’t like me?”  “What if the parents think I’m a horrible teacher?” “What if I forget to give the children a water break?” “What if they think girls can’t coach soccer?” 

As I shut off the ignition and shyly walked over to soccer island I was greeted with lots of smiles and plenty of high fives and welcomes from all of the parents; I started to loosen up a bit. Before I knew my first day had come and gone along with my apprehension.

For me weeks 2-4 were my developing stages, I was still nervous every time I would walk into a school or drive up to a park, but with each smile and high five and “great job,” the nervousness I had, began to fade and a new feeling started. It was a feeling of confidence.

Coach Taylor coaching The New Girl

Week 6

My favorite week has to be week 6! During my own development, I had progressed from an assistant coach to leading classes of my very own. Leading classes meant higher expectations. As a coach I am responsible for the development of my little friends, like mastering a move. And as most coaches will tell you, there is nothing better than having your whole class master a move.

For me this happened during week 6, one of my classes seemed to really struggle with a particular move during week 4.  Knowing this, I didn’t put too much pressure on my little friends to get the move down. Instead I made up a game that would cause them to repeatedly have to try the move. By week 6, I simply asked the class “who remembers hocus pocus?” (step-over move), and to my surprise all of my friends stood up and started doing the step-over move.  I was so elated I even called my mom and dad to tell them about my breakthrough at work. 

WEEKS 7-10

I no longer had the feeling of anxiousness. It had been replaced fully with confidence. I started incorporating concepts from my very own soccer experiences into my classes. Not only did I see the progression within myself, but more and more of the children in my classes were greeting me with “Coach Taylor look at what I can do” or “Coach Taylor I have been working on this move.” Many of my little friends had grown confident in their own abilities too.

As with all great things that come to an end, the conclusion of my first season was a bitter/sweet moment for me. I knew I would miss all of smiling faces and numerous adventures we had on Soccer Island. But I also felt a sense of assurance. I know that I have all of the tools to not only be a great coach, and to also aspire to be a REMARKABLE one as well.

 

Reflections on Week 9…

IMG 7028 460x310 Reflections on Week 9...I try not to have favorites at Soccer Shots. There are certainly some games I like better (because they often run smoother), some character words are easier to explain, and some weeks the stars align and class just feels GOOD.

This week, week 9 at Cheviot Hills Park, was one of those weeks.

Week 9 is also one of the later weeks in the season, when you can really see the progress children have made over the course of the season. It’s amazing.

Here are some of the things I heard and saw this morning:

8:47am: Coach Matt, Coach Justin, Coach Steven, Coach Matthew, and Coach Mario talking about the plan for the day. What games will they play? How can they modify them to take them to the next level? What’s the best way to teach the chop move? Encouraging each other, and always learning from each other! Awesome!

9:15am: Coach Justin is leading the MINI class of 8 children, and doing a fantastic job! Every child is using their feet almost ALL of the time. They are listening, smiling, laughing, and have made so much progress since week one!

IMG 7016 460x310 Reflections on Week 9...

9:54am: Children from my PREMIER class are arriving; practicing power kicks, passing, and talking about what parts of their feet to use.

10:45am: The PREMIER class is scrimmaging (2 v. 2’s) to practice passing, and are showing incredible DETERMINATION and skill. We transition to a larger scale game (5 v. 4) and the grey team completes an absolutely beautiful “GIVE AND GO” pass for a goal!

11:22am: The CLASSIC class lead by Coach Steven and Coach Matthew dribbles under control around their race track, using the CHOP MOVE perfectly to stay inside soccer island. Impressive!

12:05pm: I receive a donation from a family for our Thanksgiving Food Drive. I ask the child (3 years old), “Did you get to pick out the food?” “Yes.” “Do you know what I am doing to do with it?” “Give it to some kids who don’t have food…” His father and I both smile, and I couldn’t love my job any more than in that moment.

The progress I saw today (and often see week 9) in all of the classes  at Cheviot Hills Park was truly REMARKABLE. I’m certain coaches and families at other parks and schools are seeing similar things!

Week 9 is one of my favorite weeks.

I left the park today with an incredibly full heart. So proud of my team of coaches. So amazed by the kids! So happy I get to be out there on Saturday mornings playing soccer, making a difference, and having FUN!

IMG 7018 460x310 Reflections on Week 9...

More than just soccer…

AlyssaM More than just soccer...Last season a family joined us at Cheviot Hills Park, with their son in our CLASSIC class. This Fall season both of their children are enrolled; their son in the CLASSIC class and their daughter in the PREMIER class. I have been lucky to be able coach both children, and I say lucky because they are two of the most polite, genuine, determined kids, and they love to play soccer!

This Saturday, Aubrey* came to the PREMIER class with her Soccer Shots shirt on, and I noticed something different. The shorts on the little man had been colored pink, and (s)he had a long flowing pink and black ponytail.

I LOVED it, thinking “GIRL POWER!” in my head. I greeted her and immediately asked her about her shirt. She told me she didn’t like it, so she fixed it. “The shirt has a white man on it. Girls and all kinds of colors of people play soccer too,” she said. I smiled, and couldn’t help but gush that I understood her feelings and I agreed!

We got a soccer ball, and started kicking around. Soon enough I got class started, and our conversation was quickly overshadowed by fun. When class was over, Aubrey came back to me with her Dad. He gently encouraged her to give me a white envelope. Curious as to what could possibly be in there, I welcomed Aubrey to talk more. She explained; she had written a letter to me because she felt so strongly about her shirt. She’d even included a new design that she drew!

Of course I asked Aubrey if I could share her letter with everyone at Soccer Shots; she shyly, but happily agreed, and I plan to do so.

As they were leaving, Aubrey’s Dad completely filled my heart with joy, he said,“Coach Alyssa, I truly believe what you do for these kids is more than just soccer. I see it every time I am out here. Thank you.” 

I couldn’t agree more, and it’s the reason I do my job every day. We encourage, inspire, and welcome freedom of expression. We make the time and space every day for kids to have fun, be silly, be free, and be themselves. We allow for trial and error in a safe space, we encourage mistakes as an opportunity to learn, and we support even the smallest of efforts.

As I said goodbye to them, I couldn’t help but say, “Aubrey, I love the way you stood up for what you believed in, you know, you could make big changes in the world some day if you wanted to.” She smiled, and said, “I know.” 🙂

1380654 600673766645760 889835819 n 460x310 More than just soccer...

At Soccer Shots we celebrate all the young minds that we work with all the time, because you never know which experience they have (at Soccer Shots or not) will be the one that will shape their life.

Anywhere across the country, on any given day of the week, a future President of the United States, a future Nobel Prize Winner, a future inventor, a future scientist, a future teacher, a future business leader, and more, may be playing Soccer Shots.

My hope and goal for all kids in Soccer Shots is not only that they have a ton of FUN playing soccer, but that they also learn, grow, and experience so much more that helps prepare them for life.

– Coach Alyssa

Director of Program + Community Advancement

(* = Name changed for privacy)