Soccer Thought is a creation born out of years of coaching youth soccer. In 2006, I started with no soccer experience with a team of girls from our neighborhood in North Vidor. Madison Brasher and Jessica Healy decided that they wanted a soccer team – and started with a uniform. They needed a coach. We found 11 other girls from the neighborhood. Soccer in North Vidor would never be the same.
I told the parents it would be for fun and exercise. I did get some books to read, but nothing serious. When we conceded a goal in the first 20 seconds of our first game, the parents received a new email – new rules, new game plan: We are going to get better. We doubled our practice, worked furiously hard (not necessarily smart), and gradually improved. In the third to last game of the season, we won 1-0. We won one other game. Everyone loved it. On the season, I think we conceded 70+ goals! (We only scored about 7). We played that Spring – lost every game and tied the last one! That was our beginning.
The next season, we scored 70 goals and conceded 7. We won our bracket. Placed in a tournament. Renamed ourselves the Vidor Spiders. It was on! We also started two other teams. In 2008, we added more teams, the Spiders went Division II (tied for first). I received an E license. The next year, we added more teams (thanks Chad LaPray!). We started camps in Vidor in the summer – having as many as 40 kids there (thanks Moses Ochiche!). Our field was the LaPray Rec Field. We even did after school camps, summer camps — all in Vidor. Moses trained; Chekay trained; I trained. Jeff Matthews, our Athletic Director, always made room for the kids.
I have now completed the National Youth License and hold a National D license. Chad LaPray has an E license. Misty Mathews has an E license. Gina Bass coaches and has attended modules (and will now assist the High School coach and work with the JV team). New coaches have entered (Rui Correia and Christina). Rui and Christina coached three teams last year and have completed coaching modules. Dale Baxter has an E license. More teams are added from our North Vidor area every year. Priscilla Healy has an E license. This year, more new teams. Welcome, Natalie Long. Our High School coaches, Matt Wedel (boys) and Ralph Fields (girls)(E license), are all in and supportive. They are actively pushing the envelope forward.
Our teams have enjoyed success and fun times. Our teams have won the Space City Spring Fling, Missouri City Friendship Cup, Albion Memorial Day Cup, Houston Express Energy Cup, Spindletop BIG tournament, and BYSC Kickoff Classic (many divisions). We used tournaments as a way to get competitive games in our age groups.
Of our original group of girls, Macy Chilton is a Region III ODP player and has been offered a spot on a big Houston club’s ECNL team and gets to train with US National Team trainers; Madison Chilton, Curran Wilgers, and Kaylie Powell play true Division One soccer (no qualifying!). Their team just won the US Soccer President’s Cup (in Orlando!). Emma Brasher, Mallory Chilton, Jackson LaPray, Garrett Healy, McKinley LaPray, and Derek Brasher are all playing EDDOA qualifying soccer this season. Sarah Bass, while only playing DII soccer, made the ODP (“Olympic Development Program”) pool. In 2012, the first of the original girls played at High School (Madison C. and Curran W.). Both played Varsity, started, and received district awards for their play. This season, the next batch enters and I am glad to report that many of them are going to play (Christina, Kennedy, Madison, Amberly, KP, Julia, Hannah). And many, many more are playing, and playing, and playing. (A whole team of U13 boys playing DII, a girls U13 DII team lead by Misty Mathews). And many parents (and grandparents) driving kids all over Texas for games. It would not work without them! Parental support is critical for success of the players’ development.
This blog chronicles some of those adventures. My perspective on teaching the game is shaped by my experience with these kids. I started this blog to share some of those experiences and perspectives. I learn more about the game every day. I have moved from a yell a lot coach (trying to micromanage the kids) to a quieter sideline presence. I am a 100% believer in “player development” as a model for training. Ask questions – let them solve the problems. Up until a year ago, I conducted all of my own training, with help from camps, other coaches, and, most of all, from the players. We learned the game together – what worked, what did not. The girls never really cared how inefficient things were as long as I cared and tried. Now I work alongside trainers at Gusher United, lead by Thomas Shenton. I work with kids from all over the Golden Triangle rather than just Vidor.
I look forward to getting more education. I hope to get some guest contributors to add different perspectives. I have had the benefit lately of being trained by some of the very best teachers and trainers I have been around, including all my university courses (BYU, UT). Sam Snow, Gary Williamson, and Neal Ellis, the trainers at the National Youth License course, are amazing. I have met amazing people along the way. I cannot count the number of influences for me – from kids to coaches to washed up coaches who do not coach anymore (Dan Ducote!). Maybe we can get some of them to share their thoughts here too!
While professional soccer and tactics are occasionally discussed, my primary interest is youth soccer. I hope you find this interesting and helpful. Do not hesitate to share and post.