Monday, November 5, 2012

Guest Post: Adversity and Bouncing Back

OFC 97/97 E1 vs Waza FC East 98 Black
Photo by Mike Thiem
I thought I would share something that a fellow coach wrote recently.  He is the assistant coach of the Omaha Football Club 97/98 Elite 1 girls soccer team.  The team has struggled recently with their form in the Midwest Regional League, falling from a second place finish in the spring league to now being last in the league.  His words are inspirational and need to be shared with all of us who sometimes experience adversity.

Neil Hope's words begin ...

Everything ends. Wins become more and more difficult goals hard to come by, success comes and it goes. Trophies and status that take so much effort to acquire can be given up half as easily. Entire games of domination washed away in what seems like the blinking of an eye. So why bother? Why work so hard for something that isn't guaranteed to last? The chance – and seeming inevitability – of failure is too large, surely? For some people, simply trying is too big a gamble. Willing to have massive failure on your hands rather than hoping for very little, because in the end neither are good enough.

The few bold enough to take those risks are the ones that rise above. Those that do can under the right circumstances build something that lasts, however long. Triumph exists in the mind. A place where time stands still, and a single memory can last forever. Moments of brilliance and living in that moment practice after practice game after game

Those that are truly ambitious never get comfortable. Comfort implies a level of acceptance that the quest for perfection will never allow. Believing in your own ability to achieve something is one thing, it’s another to do so with a massive weight on your shoulders. What kind of a person lives in a state of mind something in which she worked hard for this past 12 months. Now on the dawn of a new challenge who is ready to be accountable for their own play character and performance when pulling on that OFC uniform. The application and attitude to turn things around. This player who chooses to place the burden of getting this team back to where they want to be. she relishes the prospect of it. She is YOU!!!!!

Enjoy your time off, and I hope reading this inspires everyone to refresh the mind and the body, coming back FOREVER STRONG.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Elkhorn Tourney Coming Up! Lessons Learned from New Zealand

Today I watched the US Women's National Team play against New Zealand in the quarterfinals of the Olympic Soccer Tournament.  New Zealand's record was poor compared to the US.  NZ won just one game in their group, the US won 3.  The US had beaten NZ the last 8 times the two teams had met.  On paper, it looked like a blow out, USA style.

However, New Zealand attacked with power and creativity and defended well. NZ gave up a goal in the first half but the finishing of US team was out of sync, missing a number of chances that would have put the game away. The Zealanders were creating very good chances.  The US the lead was not a comfortable one. The game turned into a real nail-biter for the fans.

It wasn't until Syndey Leroux pounded the ball between the keeper's legs in the 87th minute that USA fans could breathe a sigh of relief. It just goes to show that soccer players can't take anything for granted and have to bring their best every time they step onto the field.  On paper, New Zealand looked easy.  It reality, the US should feel fortunate to come away with a victory.  Any tournament can have games like that.

One of the reasons we are participating in the Elkhorn Soccer Festival is to be able to play local teams and let them know that we mean business. Our goal is to establish ourselves as a dominant force in our age group. We have not played a local team in a real competition since October of 2011.  We need to play everyone and play our very best.  I want them to fear us.

Every game presents its own unique challenge.  I never want my players to think that a team or a tournament is going to be "easy."  If we go into a game or tourney thinking that, it is very difficult to play our best.  Players usually under perform if they think things will be easy.

We can beat anyone if we have fun, strive to play our best, score goals and prevent the other team from scoring.  On the other hand, we can get beat by anyone if we are too uptight, don't play well, don't score and they do.  Our players should pretend every game is a championship game and every opponent is a great challenge.  Having that mentality, we will be successful!

Also seen in the USA-NZ game: after the US scored their first goal, a number of players attempted to do cartwheels.  Afterward they said that they wanted to honor the Olympic gymnasts.  From my point of view, I love the fact that women players at that level are having fun and doing silly harmless celebrations after goals.

Here is the schedule for the Elkhorn Tourney.  We will wear all black the first day and all white the second day.  However, everyone needs to bring every piece of their uniform every time we play.  I will have them change if we conflict.

Saturday August 11
12GR13 8:00 AM THZ 5 OFC 00/01 Elite 1 Solar vs ELK Fury
12GR12 2:15 PM EHS 3 OFC 00/01 Elite 2 s vOFC 00/01 Elite 1 Solar
Sunday August 12
12GR16 8:00 AM THZ 7 OFC 00/01 Elite 1 Solar vs ELK Rush
12GRC  6:00 PM THZ 7  Championship

I am looking forward to the tournament!

Monday, July 16, 2012

OFC 00/01 Parent Info

This post will contain all the info that I will go over at a parent meeting. Everything you need to know in one convenient place. Like shopping at Walmart (sort of.)  I would also ask that you have each player read through this page.  Please make a comment below and that is how I will know if every family has read through these important points.


I have 1 goal, "Get to the Next Level" or "Reach Higher." That means, first, to develop every player so they reach whatever the next level may be for them. Second, to field a regionally competitive team and once we get to that level, maintain it and reach higher. (Is that one goal or like 7 goals? Ha.)

Playing with Character

Players should read the Playing with Character web page and understand that they need to agree with all the points.  Each player is expected to show up, work hard, play smart and give their all.

Parents with Character

Parents also need to read the Parenting with Character web page. We really haven't had any big problems with parent behavior on the sidelines and I am sure that will continue. I am a teacher and I know that "pre-teaching" is still a good idea, that is, laying down the expectations, even if your group is really good (which you are.)  We also ask you to read the Transparency Document that I will attach to a separate email.

On the sidelines, the parent's job is to encourage the team, staying positive. I would discourage you from criticizing or giving instructions to your daughter or to her teammates during the games. What you may be instructing them to do may not be what I am instructing them to do. We don't want to confuse them. They develop better with a head coach and assistant's consistent message, not 30 other "coaches" yelling different things at them. Why? Kids generally play better when you encourage them and tend to play worse when you criticize. Also, please ignore the behavior of our opponents or of our opponent's parents. I know that is sometimes difficult to do. Please don't yell at the ref's, even if the other team is doing it. Please refrain from complaining. Complaining does not accomplish much and it is way too contagious. Cheer wildly for our successes and be dignified when the outcome isn't to our liking. Like I said, you are a great group and I know we will continue to have a classy bunch of parents.

Include, not exclude

Another fantastic thing about this team and the families in the team is how inclusive everyone is. I can't really identify cliques on the team and that is a rare thing for a girl's team. Let us keep that up, especially going out of our way to include our new players and families. I have coached some girls teams that have been very cliquey, players going so far as to not pass the ball to someone not in their clique during practices and games  (hard to believe, but I have seen it.)  It is something that we have to proactively guard against happening. I will definitely make it a point of emphasis as I coach them. I need your support. We are not mean girls. No cliques on Solar. We are one.


I have requested practice early on Mondays and Thursdays and on Saturday morning.  Practice will begin July 30th.  I will let you know the times and locations for sure when I know.  Players should wear their gray practice jerseys until further notice.

League Play

We have applied to the NSL U12 league.  It is important to dominate our own age group this year, preparing for our first state cup in u13.  We hope to go back to the KC league in the spring (11v11) and also do 4 NSL games.

Fall Tournaments

The tourneys we are going to look to be a good balance.
Aug 10-12, Elkhorn Soccer Festival -U12 8v8
Sept 01-02, Omaha FC-U12 8v8
Sep 22-23, Just for Girls, Des Moines-U12 8v8
Oct 12-14, Midwest All Girls, Overland Pk-U12 11v11
Oct 26-28, Halloween Havoc, CB-Play U13 11v11

Parent Help

Tiffany Farrell has agreed to be the team manager again and Robin Seran has agreed to be our hotel manager.  Other help--will the parents who do the nets before and after games still do that? What also would be great is a parent or 2 to be in charge of stats for all the games.  If anyone has an ipad, there is an easy app to use.  There may be some smart phone apps too.  Basically, we need one or two parents who will be at every game, writing down our opponent's name, what the score of the game is, who scored on our team and who had any assists and how many shots we had.  There can be other stats too, like how many saves our keeper had, etc.  Anyone willing to take this on?

Playing Time

Playing time is not guaranteed.  That being said, however, I believe that it is difficult to develop if a player isn't playing in games.  I attempt to get everyone in as much as possible and be as equal as possible.   If, however, we are in a closely contested important game, I will go with the players who are playing well at that time.  If there is a choice between playing midfielders, forwards or defenders more, I usually choose to play defenders more.


I don't necessarily start the same players every game. I think it is important to start a balanced team to begin games.  If your daughter starts one game and then does not start the next game, it doesn't necessarily mean that she did something wrong, it is just someone else's turn to begin. If I do start players consecutively, it is usually defenders.  If I sit players for a specific reason, I usually tell them.


Tiffany will let you know the paperwork needed from you.  Player passes need pictures.  We need a copy of your birth certificate and medical release forms and all that kind of stuff.


Please do everything you can to attend our Elite summer camp, all practices, tournaments and games.  I do understand that there will be conflicts.  I may have conflicts too (hopefully not.)  All I ask is that you let me know beforehand when your daughter will have to miss.


I have set up a Solar Twitter account. Even if you don't have a Twitter account, all you have to do is send a text message to Twitter and it Twitter will text you whenever I post an update. Like this...

Text the following:
follow OFCSolar

To the number:

I will use Twitter to let you know of any late practice changes or game changes, et cetera.  I may occasionally post inspiration sayings.  The reason I want to use Twitter is that it is public and transparent. Instead of me texting parents privately or even players as they acquire cell phones, this keeps communication  between players, coach and parents in the open.  I have used it for my high school team and it works pretty well.


All practices, tournaments and events should be posted on the OmahaFC 00/01 Google calendar.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Back After a Hiatus

Been awhile since I have posted. I plan to use this space now for update on my 2 favorite teams that I am coaching: the OFC 00/01 Elite 1 girls (Go Solar!) and the girls varsity soccer team at Gross Catholic (Go Cougars!) The first thing is my virtual parent meeting post coming soon for OFC 00/01. Stay tuned.