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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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.” 🙂

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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)