Coaching

Opening Post

I've been deciding how I want to approach this for far too long.  So I figured it's time to hit the ground running.  I have so many ideas, that I would probably never be able to do all of them, but I want to do the best I can.  We'll just have to see what happens.  I want to create a go to place for coaches of all levels to come for ideas on coaching philosophy, drills, documentation and eventually maybe a system to help manage the off the field activities that none of us are real fond of.

The blog will be a wide variety of everything coaching.  Much of it will be focused on football, but I have also coached soccer and baseball.  As well as playing basketball, track, soccer, baseball, & football.  I also have many family members and close friends that coach at all levels and sports.  I hope to get guest posts from them as well.  Which leads me to the part that is new for me; podcasting.

I hope to have a weekly podcast with someone I coach with.  We want to keep things under an hour and approach all things coaching and football on a weekly basis in anywhere from 15 minute to 1 hour sessions.  We plan to have guests and to take live interaction from Twitter.

The official blog address for now will be coach.oneniner.com, my twitter handle will be @thecoachcarson, I can also be reached at coachcarson at oneniner dot com or through voicemail at 619-ONE-NINER (619-663-6463).  We'd love to have your interaction through comments, twitter mentions, or email.

from Coach Carson

Newton Girls Soccer

It's been a while since I mentioned that I used to coach high school soccer in Newton, IA.  Well in the last couple weeks they've made me so proud to have been a part of the program.  The class that that was freshman the last year I coached, are now Seniors and they have defeated both Pella and Norwalk.  Which have been the two toughest teams in the conference since we joined in my last year.  We split with them beating Norwalk and losing to Pella when I coached and tied for 1st in the conference.  This year they are on track to win conference if they can finish out the year well.  As far as I know their only 2 loses are to two ranked teams, #7 Nevada and #1 Cedar Rapids Xavier.  The only problem is that all of those teams are 1A teams and this year Newton is 2A.  So they will have to face some pretty tough competition to make it to State.

I'm hoping to catch a game and see how far the girls have come since they were freshman.  I have to figure out when when I can make it and hopefully I'll be able to catch more than 1 game.  Well, I'm running out of interesting stuff to say, actually I didn't have much to start with, but Go Cards!  Keep up the great work, I'm glad we're back on top!

Soccer: Thoughts from games 1 & 2

I got a chance to make it to the girls opener last Thursday. It was fun to watch them beat Marshalltown. I don’t think we ever beat Marshalltown like that when I was coaching. They played well together and had some fun at the same time. I also can’t remember starting off the season undefeated. I know we played Ames first for 3 years and I’m thinking we played at a Valley tournament and got beat by a Council Bluffs team my first year. My second year we won at Valley’s tournament, but I can’t remember if it was the first game or not. Either way to start the season with a win against a 2A team from the CIML is pretty good. It’s a great confidence builder, especially after losing a key player during the week before the game. They are playing well for the new coach and I think he made a good debut also. He is very positive in the paper and I can tell he has a lot of faith in this team and program. I’m glad to see that. We made it to the game, just barely after it started and I spent most of the game talking to the Athletic Director and Marshalltown’s previous coach, then some of the parents, but I was glad to be back. Afterwards some of the girls said hi and were excited to see us. They asked about the wedding and thanked us for coming, it was fun.

They also mentioned the Pella game coming up. Pella is the only team from the Little Hawkeye conference that we haven’t beat yet. It seems like we outplay them every year, but just can’t finish. They usually have a few really good players and control the ball well. They also have a big field, and just like that other team from Pella, it seemed like we always played at their place. They hire local officials and you can never get a break there. My last year coaching there, the college coach from town was the official, so you know he was trying to help out the local girls and get them to his school, it was so frustrating. I did like Pella’s coach though. I didn’t talk to him much, but he was a good guy at the all-conference meeting. So Newton played at Pella again on Tuesday and from everything that I heard, they outplayed them and were in it the whole time, jut had 1 minor let down and Pella squeeked a goal in during the last couple minutes of the first half. I’m proud of the way they played, that’s a tough game to have this early in the year. They are just getting used to a new system and Pella is ranked, and they were able to hold them to 1 goal. Pella only beat us by 1, but we allowed 3 goals. So they are going to have an uphill climb on winning conference and need some help from other teams, but it’s definately possible. I think they can win the rest of their games, they just need someone to beat Pella. Last year I wasn’t as confident, don’t get me wrong, I still think they can beat anyone on a given day, but I drove down on a Tuesday to watch it last year and left with a bad taste in my mouth. It just didn’t feel like they were playing together or were that confident in themselves and the program. This year it’s totally different, they have great senior leadership and those seniors think that’s going to be their last loss. I wouldn’t want to be one of the next couple teams to play them. I’m hoping I can make it back to a few games, but it’s going to be a busy spring/summer leading up to our wedding.

Best of luck to the Cardinals, I’ll be following from 175 miles away. Here’s a couple links to stories about the team and the first couple games. If they links are broken, I can get you a pdf copy of the story. If I missed an article somewhere, be sure to let me know.

Soccer: Season Kick-off

 

 

 

 I’m now counting down the hours until I get to see my first Newton Girls Soccer game of 2009 and it happens to be the season opener, which is even better.  Last year was tough, it was my first year out of coaching and I had to hear from everybody what was going on, who went out, who was practicing well, who wasn’t, if there were any younger players making a contribution.  I also had the chance to hear the other side from the coach.  I really felt like I was part of the team again.  This year I haven’t been quite as informed, but in the last couple days I think I was brought up to speed.  Really not too many big surprises, I feel like even though it’s been 2 seasons, I still have a pretty good idea where people are going to be at and how they are going to do.  There’s always some new faces, but thats to be expected.  I don’t mean this to hurt the feelings of any graduating players, but it seems like Newton just reloads every year and doesn’t have a rebuilding year.  It’s getting harder and harder to make the varsity squad or start, because everyone is so good.  I think the Newton club system is the one to thank for that.  Almost all of these kids played club soccer when they were younger, that can’t be said for the first couple teams I coached and it’s really brought the level of play up and the confidence and expectations of the players.  The first year I coached I had players write down their goals before the season and most of the goals were to get along with everyone.  After we had a good year, the next season the goals were to win half of their games.  We met that one too, and slowly the goals got higher and higher.  The players start to believe in themselves and then who knows what can happen.  My last year the goals were, winning conference, going to state, and being undefeated.  It’s really fun to see that progress into the program they have today.

Tomorrow’s game is versus Marshalltown and is also the first on the new field (I think).  I personally haven’t seen the field yet, but from the few games we played on turf in the past, it definately gives you a home field advantage… if you practice on it.  I don’t know how much work they’ve done on it, but I wish we could’ve played more on one before going to Valley.  The new coach gets a chance to make his debut, I’m real excited for him, i think he’s a great person and I think he’ll do a great job coaching, too.  Marshalltown will be a good opponent to start off the season.  They are always competitive with us.  We had a couple overtime games with them, but win or lose, they’re always close.  They also seem to have a few physical players.  It’s nice that Newton got a couple more days of practice before it’s first game and the first game isn’t against Ames.  That’s never a good way to start the season.  Marshalltown isn’t in our conference anymore, but has always been a rival of ours.

I’m starting to ramble a little, probably because it’s getting late, but Go Cards!  I’m excited to catch up with everyone and cheer them on to victory.   I’m sure I’ll lean a lot more this weekend, and I’ll have more news next time.

Newton Soccer 2009

It doesn't seem like it was 2 years ago, but I used to spend about 6 months getting ready for tomorrow.  The first day of practice for High school soccer in Iowa.  I coached the girls high school team in Newton for 5 years.  For some reason they always started the season the same day as spring break.  So we were always missing some of our key players and I got a chance to spend a week with about 30 new faces that I had to learn about and coach for about a week and a half before the first game.  That was always the toughest thing.  I had a decent idea of who my top 10-15 players were, but I never ruled anybody out.  So in that week and a half I had to meet new players, build there trust, at the same time try to get them into shape and not hate me.  Then also had to figure out how good they were and what kind of potential they had in all the different areas.  Then once I had a good idea of our better players, I had to prepare them for 1 of the top teams that we would play for the season.  I'm not sure why our schedule was set up that way, but we never made excuses.

 I miss soccer quite a bit, I wish I could've hung around for a few more years.  The junior and senior classes are the last 2 classes that I coached.  My last season they moved to the Little Hawkeye conference which is smaller schools than we used to play, then last year they moved down to being a 1A team instead of 2A like they had been since the Girls Soccer Program was started in 1997.  This year they are back with the big schools.  I think they are 1 of the 2 smallest schools, so they probably have a tough outlook to make it to state, but I'm sure they can do it.  The Little Hawkeye conference has smaller schools in it, but the competition is just as good as the larger one (CIML-Iowa) they used to play in.  2 of the top 1A teams in the state are both in the conference.  We were able to split with them in 2007 and get a share of the conference title.  This year will mark the 2nd new coach since I left.  I have a lot of faith in him and I'm sure he can lead them to state.  They may not be as sure, since they had a tough transition last year and are probably a little untrusting right now.  They are going to have to build that trust fast to get things going in the right direction.  I'm excited to see how they do it.

This is an intro to a series of posts I'm going to start making about my soccer coaching days.  I'm also planning on keeping up with the team and give you a few updates.  I've put together a list of things I'd like to cover, but if any one has any requests I'd be happy to hear them and see what I can do to help you out, especially my ex-players, I'd do whatever I can to help you out.  I'd also like to use this to get in touch with everyone that made my soccer coaching days so memorable, so please say hi.

 

Nebraska plays soccer?

I made it to my first couple girls high school games out here and I’m definitely impressed. The big city has some good teams. Nebraska is one of the other few schools that play HS soccer in the spring. Strangely enough for us Iowans, they play softball in the fall and baseball in the spring, so their aren’t any summer sports. Anyways back to the point, I made it to a couple Millard North games. 1 vs Omaha Burke and the other vs Millard South. Millard North is Amy’s Alma Mater and is currently ranked #1. They have already won their district and are headed to state in the largest class, Class A. I would like to see them play the best teams in Iowa. Their team is very comparable to WDM Valley (I only mention them, because I know the most about them). They are both 1 of the biggest schools around and have great club systems in the area.

They are just one example, but it has been evident to me that Omaha would be a great area to get back into coaching soccer. I don’t know much about the history or reputations of the teams in the area, but would think that anywhere in the area would be a good place to coach good soccer players and have the possibility of being successful every year. Their club system is also very competitive. There are a few different clubs around and also great facilities. I’ve met a few soccer people around her by playing indoor at Off the Wall. It’s nice to get a chance to play with some people from around here and have fun with it. There are always some competitive teams, but I enjoyed it. I even saw some apparel from Central Iowa, Grandview was represented well.

Speaking of which I just happened to run into one of my good soccer friends out here at a HS game. It’s always nice to go to a random game by yourself and happen to see someone from 150 miles away that you know well. Ventsi (Grandview college) and I sat and caught up a little bit, it was nice. He always gets me excited about the sport. I like how soccer is a sport that has such passionate followers, and Ventsi is one of those guys.

So I’m excited that I’m still in an area where I can get back into the game and see some great games, now I just have to do it.

“Rankings”?

So we are on to the 4th rankings now. Of course Newton’s 2-3 record doesn’t look that great, but the loses were to the 2A #11, 1A #2, & 1A #10. So basically it looks like another great year of scheduling has messed up a decent preseason ranking. Obviously the rankings don’t matter and neither does the fact that Newton is not covered by the DMRegister even though we are only 35 miles away. You’d think that we moved out of Iowa, when we dropped out of the CIML. Although I think that the regionals or state pairings are seeded at some point during the year. Which usually goes against our favor. Usually we get paired up with a Valley, Ames, Johnston, Urbandale, or Dowling, but this year Newton is a 1A team so I figured they’d have to be paired up with Norwalk, Pella, Dallas Center Grimes, or someone from Central Iowa that is pretty good. Some how we ended up with the teams that are north and east of us. Which I guess has happened a couple times. Last year we went to Cedar Rapids and my first year we faced Iowa City West (which ended up winning state). So I think the pairings this year could make for a good representation for our conference and central Iowa if things go well. Can you imagine 3 teams from the Little Hawkeye in State? Not the CIML, the Little Hawkeye. I think that would be great, of course I’d plan on a little revenge from regular season loses, but what better picture can you paint for the team that is rebuilding and loss to it’s to rivals, then to beat both of them in State. Oh well, I’m a little bit of an optimist if you don’t know me. I could be down 9-0 in a game and think there was a way to win it. Don’t get me wrong, Newton’s not down by 9 right now, They’ve lost a couple tough ones, but will definately bounce back. We always had a way of winning close games and surprising teams that thought they were better than us, I don’t see that changing any time soon.

So since we have probably ruined our chances of being ranked for the next couple years by losing to 3 good teams, I don’t mind being an underdog and I can’t think of a better time to be an underdog then now. So my challenge to the current team is: take the program to somewhere that I never could, go to STATE!! It’d be the first time in Newton Girls soccer history, and don’t just stop once you get there. Anything can happen at that point. Any team can win any game and you never know how things will go. I’m going to back track a little to make it clear that this won’t be easy, but I’m hoping you can do it. Once you’ve been there, it’s something that you’ll never forget, it’s a great atmosphere, the best fields in the state, and you get treated like royalty. Staying in nice hotels, eating good food and just playing the sport you love. So don’t let the hurdles along the way get you down, there’s a lot to play for.

The team over east

Another frustrating edition of Newton soccer. I left work a couple minutes early thinking I can make the drive and get there a litte early before the 7:30 PM start… wrong! The game started at 7:00. You would think that they would have held the game up so that I could make it. I did have to drive about 170 miles on a Tuesday night, I think Pella could’ve moved their 30 mile trip a little later. So I missed the first Pella goal, but again, things just kinda looked out of wack. There were a few matchups that were off and Pella did a nice job of controlling the ball in the midfield, but didn’t really have any standouts. We had our chances, but it didn’t seem like there was a team sense of urgency. The style of play would make you think that we were up a couple goals against an average team. I think if I had the chance I would put it to either Pella or Norwalk, it’s no holds barred when you face them, along with a few past CIML rivals. I would have to say that the small field played to our advantage, which is maybe why Norwalk has always had an edge on Pella. I wish we would have played Pella on a small field last year. The other thing about playing Pella is that it just seems like we don’t quite get out of the blocks fast enough. We tend to play at a slow pace and let things come to us instead of setting the pace of play against them. I won’t even mention anything about the outcome, but it wasn’t pretty.

It really hit me this game, how much I felt for the girls. They all tried so hard and gave it everything they had. They have faced a lot this year and are reacting the best they can, but have so much on their plate. It really hit me how I kinda just left them hanging. I think that if I had stayed around atleast 1 more year, we might have been able to get through a couple of these games with better outcomes. Who knows how the games would’ve been different, and I guess I would always feel for the team right after I left. I just want them to succeed so much. I was hoping that I’d leave and they’d win all the games, not that they would’ve won all their games with me, just that it would make an easier transition.

After the game I ran down to the field and tried to give everyone a quick pat on the back. I don’t know if I got the message accross that I was hoping, but I just wanted them to know that I care and was rooting for them; to let them know that I had their back. I was glad to see that everyone was so upset, that sounds mean, but that’s when you know that people care about the team. Everyone knows of that person that was on their team at one time or another that didn’t care if the team won or lost, it was about how that individual played and I’m glad I didn’t see that. The one vibe that I felt from hearing from people afterwards was that people were blaming their individual efforts for why they lost. Soccer has always been a team sport and no 1 player or 1 play losses a game. It is good that players recognize when they didn’t do well, and are willing to put the weight on their shoulders, but not if they let it get them down. It wasn’t any 1 players fault.

It was a long drive back, 1st time I’ve ever head a long trip home after a loss for a home game. So after 350 miles of driving and 5 hours on the road, I was finally home in time to go to bed. But I would do it all over again for them.

Norwalk game…

I enjoyed talking to everyone that came up before the game. I may not be the best conversation starter, but it was good to be welcomed and I enjoyed hearing the stories. Then once the word got out that Amy and I had visited then I enjoyed talking to the second wave of people too. The biggest reason I miss soccer was the relationships that you build with everyone. It’s not that I just left a soccer team, I left 60 friends, not including the 5 years of alumni that I’d coached.

The JV played really well. They had played 1 less game than the varsity, but you wouldn’t know it from watching. They are continuing their undefeated streak, which dates back to before last year. They played real well and showed how strong the future of Newton soccer can be. I was proud of them. They are also going through a coaching change, losing the best JV soccer coach in the history of JV soccer coaches. I guess that’s what 1 undefeated season does for you. The girls don’t have to worry about having 40 people on JV this year since he platoons the rosters, not allowing girls that aren’t getting much Varsity time to also play JV. Which leads to a much more competitive, developmental team. Instead of conflicting interests between the teammates like we experienced the last couple years. The JV definitely set the tone for the night and played well.

I was trying to figure out where the varsity players were before the game, I guess they were hiding out in the locker room before the game staying warm. Which wasn’t a bad idea on this cold night, but they didn’t come out for warm ups until the JV game was basically over. Not that our warm up during the JV game really did anything, but I felt better that they were at least moving around and getting acclimated to the weather and atmosphere.

The”Night at the Roxbury” themed, star-stretch-warm up. I couldn’t believe they were kicking their feet to the music. In my opinion the pregame music went from an intimidating, feel good vibe, to a 70’s beach party in some kind of a Will Farrel movie. I’m not so sure I’m a big fan of the new look, but I’m kinda weird about what I like in pregame anyways. IMO (since this is MY blog), it should be more of a intimidation, get ready to get your ass whooped atmosphere. And mental prep, than actually warming up and looking pretty. Sure I’ve played some Spice Girls, NSync, & other goofy music, but I felt it made us individuals and confident in our goofiness. (Which I guess could go for the Night at the Roxybury, too.) So the whole 10 minutes they had to warm up must have been enough. I wouldn’t say they were slow out of the blocks. We started the game with an early lead on the #2 team in the state. Norwalk was also #2 when we defeated them last year. The game went as expected, it was pretty back and forth, no one was really dominate. Norwalk eventually tied the score and it seemed like we were just uncomfortable with everything. There were quite a few times people were out of place and timing was off. It wasn’t like it was certain people, it was more like a team adjustment needed made or something. I couldn’t really put my finger on it. We did have some good opportunities and had some good possessions. Our defense also played well. Then Norwalk was able to score what turned out to be the game winner. We were held to less than 2 goals, which didn’t happen much if at all last year. I’m trying to think, I can’t think of a game, win or lose that we scored less than 2. Norwalk’s best defensive player was out and midfielder graduated, so they were definitely vulnerable. I didn’t think Norwalk was as strong as they have been in the past, but I will give them credit, they find a way to win no matter who they are playing or what they are up against. And they were the better team on the field that day. That’s hard for me to admit. Hopefully we will both make it far enough and get matched up at State. I wouldn’t mind knocking them off after they most likely ruined our chances of a conference championship.

I got a chance to catch up with a few parents after the game, which is always nice. I’m glad people care where I’m at and what’s going on in my life. Many people asked if I was coaching somewhere, I guess that means I should get back into it. I’m not sure what I’m waiting for. I also talked to a few girls after the game. They all are so competitive, I guess that’s why we got along so well. After talking to them, it’s really puts into perspective the changes some of them are dealing with, especially some of the seniors. I also got a chance to hang out with one of the biggest fans, the Dave Man. Coincidentally Dave had the same name as one of the officials, which one of the Norwalk fans felt needed pointed out after 1 of the few calls that went our way. That’s another thing, I couldn’t complain much about the refs as a coach, but I’ll let them have it now. We don’t get the best refs for our games sometimes. A few aren’t bad, but they are few and far between. So the Dave man and I waited around to have a brief word with the coach. Yeah, right, brief my ass. An hour later he was just getting done with the press. So we had a good little talk, I enjoy being kept in the loop. It’s really nice that he’s been so open with me. Something that can be hard when you’re trying to make changes happen. I’ll have more on chats with the coach and I should probably make a special dedication to the Dave Man sometime, I like that guy.

Fuel for the Fire

I’ll tell you what, it’s as if I needed something to get me more fired up for this season. After I had planned to take vacation from work, drive over 400 miles, and then to have Iowa weather keep me from making it to the DCG game and a reschedule keep me from making the Marshalltown game, Amy and I decided to cancel our trip. So I was quickly reminded how upset it made me to find out 3 hours before a game that it’s postponed/canceled due to weather. You get excited and prepared for days, then find out last minute that somebody is scared to tear up their field. That was one of the things I always enjoyed about football and soccer, is that it can be played in any weather and those are some of the games that you remember. So anyways, I found out in time to save me a lot of driving for 1 game vs Knoxville that may end up getting canceled anyways, to read the 2nd rankings.

Can you believe that whoever it is that makes the rankings, has the nerve to put Denver in the 1A rankings and drop Newton, after Newton’s only loss was to 2A #10(now #9) Ames. Newton has outscored their opponents 11-4, including Ames. Of all people, I would be the first to tell you that rankings don’t matter, but why does Newton always get the short end of the stick. Our record is better than 5 ranked teams (including 1A & 2 A) and the same as 4 more. This is a whole other subject, but somehow Davenport Assumption tied a game. By the rules, this is impossible. A Iowa High School Boys game can end in a tie, but a girls game cannot. So anyways back to my original subject. I’m assuming Newton earned it’s ranking by finishing last year by playing competitively with the top teams in 1A & 2A even though we were the smallest 2A team. So this year Newton has a good core of players back, they lose 1 game so far (at least partly due to scheduling in my opinion) and or just passed by on the rankings. Makes no sense, but I guess that just gives them some bulletin board material and a reason to prove themselves to everyone.

So what does it take to get ranked in Iowa Girls High School Soccer? Does it take a coach willing to run up the score on it’s opponents when it already has them on their knees? Does it take playing in the CIML where all of your scores get posted in a major news paper? Let alone scores getting posted when you send them in, but articles previewing your team and wins over big teams. Does it take having a coach that brags about his team and sends info statewide trying to advertise? Does it take having players that get college scholarships? How good a team did the year before? Or does it really come down to who plays the best soccer week in, week out, no matter the size, conference, scores or any other factors? I would like to know if there is a committee that makes the rankings that actually watches games, or if a person just hears a couple scores and picks names out of a hat. I don’t get it, maybe I never will, I know I’m biased, but give me a break. How about we call the ranking system the BS rankings.