On their own terms…

AlyssaM CoachCard On their own terms... As a Soccer Shots Director, I feel lucky to have a vast array of experiences within the company, from administrative tasks to working with kids and families in the field.

This fall I have worked with two children, at two different schools, that reminded me once again why I LOVE Soccer Shots, why we do what we do, and why we take the approach that we take.

The first child, has played several seasons of Soccer Shots, starting over a year ago, in my class. He was a child that I knew when I met him, would benefit from Soccer Shots. Each week before soccer we talked about having safe, calm bodies, using listening ears, and playing all the games. In a few short weeks, this child fell in love with soccer. We run 4 classes at his school, and each time we walk by his classroom, he excitedly asks if it’s his turn yet. Not every child needs the reminders that this child needs before class, and not every coach would have suggested this child join their class of 10 other kids, on black top. Some coaches, in some other programs, wouldn’t have seen what I saw in this child. Through the imminent added challenge, I saw promise, I saw potential. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and I took him into my class without hesitation. I visited this school recently, and this child greeted me with a gigantic hug. During soccer, he reminded me again how unique each child we work with truly is. And how important it is to meet them where they are, and give them every opportunity to succeed, on their own terms. They deserve that. He stopped mid-dribble while I was watching his class, and proclaimed… “A PUDDLE! Coach Alyssa, I just need a second to explore this puddle real quick…”

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Some coaches, in some other programs, would have denied him the opportunity to lay down, close one eye, and really check out that puddle. I knew, if he didn’t get that opportunity, it was probably going to affect his ability to engage in the rest of class. So… we did. We explored the puddle for a little while, and then he went right back to dribbling…

The second child, started her first season of Soccer Shots this fall, and met me on day one, with eyes full of tears. She was shy, hesitant, and reluctant to try something new. Instead of forcing her out of her comfort zone, I let her sit on the side of soccer island to observe our class. By the end of week one’s class, she was trying stop position, on her own, on the sideline. When I acknowledged her success, she was again hesitant to respond. Week two was similar, with some progress. By week three, she was dribbling and doing pull back moves on the sideline, and joining us for a game or two. I never forced her to join, but would occasionally ask her if she wanted to try what we were doing. Most often she declined, but she watched and took in EVERYTHING we were doing.

By week five, there were no tears when myself and the other coach arrived… and she played the entire class with us! She even asked me if she could have a turn playing in the scrimmage! This felt like a huge accomplishment, since scrimmage can be one of the most intimidating parts of class. One ball, 3 or 4 kids on each team, running full speed at each other… But she did it, without hesitation! Screen Shot 2014 11 14 at 4.39.35 PM On their own terms...

We could have suggested this child wasn’t ready for soccer, or that she try again next season… But we didn’t. We gave her the time and space she needed, to join us, on her own terms.

For me, and for many kids, THIS is exactly what Soccer Shots is about. It’s about development. It’s about potential. It’s about small successes. It’s about respecting each child, and giving them the opportunity they need. Soccer Shots also happens to be about soccer and skill building, but for me, and for many kids, that comes second to the skills built when given time and space to develop and grow on their own terms.

The Soccer Shots Experience – Meet Noemi

We take great pride in The Soccer Shots Experience… Take a look to learn more about who we are and why we do what we do!

Meet Noemie. Noemie is 4 years old and in her third season with Soccer Shots. Noemie and her mom represent thousands of children and parents who experience Soccer Shots each day, and thousands more who will.

You can see the first video in the series, by clicking HERE.

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 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!

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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!

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Remarkable Coaching

I would like to share with you all, the great things a parent had to say about our coaching staff. Truly remarkable!

Last week I was doing a 1 on 1 training session with a 3 year old boy for about 45 mins.

As I arrive the site the father approaches me and says, ” We don’t use words like good job, if you know what I mean.” I looked up at him and said “I do understand what you mean.” (In my mind, I thought, mmmm very interesting). I had to switch my style of coaching without doing so much positive praising.

So after having a day of coaching in the AM I had already dropped like 100 “good jobs” to children from the AM sessions. So it was a little tough to not say “good job” to the 3 year old boy. Of course I dropped like 20 “good jobs” in the 45 minutes. Lol.

CoachAlyssa SoccerShots 300x300 Remarkable Coaching

Now, the child also attends our Cheviot Hills park program on Saturday mornings.

The 1 on 1 session was successful and as I chat with the mom of the 3 year old boy she had many nice things to say about Soccer Shots.

The parent said that we prefers Soccer Shots over another intro to soccer program that they had tried because, in her opinion the Soccer Shots coaches know exactly what they are doing. The child had a season with this other program but did not enjoy it.

She went on to mention,

“Coach Alyssa is a great coach and teacher out there, she brings great energy to every session and my child has fun with her, I am happy to see that you guys teach more than soccer, you teach great values and skills that will be used in life.”

“Coach Charlie is great with the children as well and brings fun energy to every session.”

Great job out there coaches!!! You know you are doing something right when someone makes a remark about you.

Keep up the great job out there coaches and remember, the #1 rule is to have FUN!!