Tuesday

Reflections on this Summer's Camps

Conducting summer camps is, obviously, something I really enjoy doing. The hours are long. The days are hot. The travel can be exhausting. The players and coaches make it all worthwhile. And that is what I take from the camps we conduct - the relationships built with the people we meet.

On a personal level, I enjoy seeing teams improve under our tutelage.  It is rewarding to see the concepts and ideas about the game come to life for the teams that camp with us.  To see them take the pitch for a summer tournament and witness their excitement over improved play and success is heart warming. And still it is the relationships that leave an enduring impression.

This generation of young people are an amazing lot as I am sure each generation is. I marvel at their problem solving skills on the pitch and in life.  I am in awe of their time management skills. Astounded by the wide range of activities and interests they lend themselves to with dedication and discipline.

Brittany lives on a working cattle farm and rearranged her chore and work schedule to be able to attend goalkeeper training. Jacob worked 2 jobs and came to training over an extended lunch break having to make up the time at the end of his day. Brianna brought her baby sitting charges to training and those youngsters respected her so much they were hardly even noticed. Nick convinced his parents to allow him to stay home from vacation to attend our camp at his school.

When I see dedication to soccer on this level it sends vibes of positive energy throughout me. I literally get charged up with excitement to work with these young people. But let's remember how I learned of their stories - I engaged these young men and women in conversation.  I showed a genuine interest in them as people. In turn they shared with me and a bond developed. A working relationship centered round soccer was established and we learned a little about one another along the way.

Candace is a young woman who attend our camps in previous years. Now a graduate, I invited her back for this summer's camp with her old team.  No pay. No incentive other than to play some soccer and hang out with friends. She readily accepted and showed to camp despite having totaled her car and being banged up from an accident a few days prior.  That's dedication. That's following through on commitment.  That's working to establish a tradition and legacy in a young program.  I have to believe big things await Candace in her future.

My son Lance and two of his teammates, Hunter and AJ accepted my request to volunteer as instructors for a high school girls camp.  These young men are all 19 years of age and placing them in camp with high school aged girls might seem a cautionary tale, but I have known these gentlemen for years. They are trustworthy, honorable and will someday, imo, become very good coaches in their own rights should that be a path they choose to follow. It turned out to be one of our best weeks of camps ever.  From 9:00 am through 6:30 pm for five straight days we worked for this high school girls team ... and they worked for us.

"Team bonding" is the catch phrase often bandied about when people talk of uniting a team these days. Team chemistry is still an elusive intangible sought after in pursuit of making a good season a great one.  Whatever we call it, it still comes down to the most simple of concepts - building relationships with those we associate with,

I don't care if you like each other or not, but you will respect each other. This is a phrase I have heard repeatedly over the years. It is a phrase uttered by Coach Boone in Remember the Titans as he addresses the team after an early morning run through the Gettysburg battlefield.  In this instance the established relationships were of very poor quality and Coach Boone knew individual change must occur or they were collectively doomed.

With many of the teams we work with changing the way the team plays is the focus of what coaches ask us to work on during camp week. Relationship building with the members of the coaching staff and team is a crucial ingredient in our recipe for success. Establishing a foundation of trust rooted in honesty is our primary objective as camp clinicians. If we fail in this mission, the camp itself will be a failure.

This is the lesson Coach Boone sought to impart on the young Titan squad and his coaching staff. Liking one another is not a prerequisite.  Respect is. And the only path to respect is through honesty and trust.

I have recently written of the two greatest coaching tools being a chair to sit on and the ability to be silent during games.  Both were somewhat tongue in cheek ways of making the point that its a players game. Today I have identified the single greatest coaching tool in existence - the ability to build relationships. This also happens to be the secret to living a productive and happy life.  And for us here at CBA Soccer we enjoyed a wonderful summer camp season. One I would term our best ever for precisely this reason - the relationships established, developed and renewed while "working" in an environment of soccer.  Thank you to each instructor, coach and player who worked with us this summer! It was our best summer so far!

3 comments:

  1. Thank you Palngji! Wanted to say "Hi" last night but had to leave early. Hope to catch up with you later this season.

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  2. Thank you for coming to the game, girls appreciated it and we sure do as well. Looking forward to catch up sometime. You have an amazing blog here, thanks for all your wisdom!

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