UPDATE -- 4/10/20 -- 12:30pm
This message has also been e-mailed to players and families
Players, parents, and guardians,
We have officially learned that we will not have a 2020 Spring sports season. This hurts. It hurts because we cannot control it, we cannot fix it, we cannot make it go away. It’s not fair, and nothing we do can make it any less so. One message we have stressed this season is controlling what we can control. This is an example of something being “easier said than done.” Still, it is what we must do.
This unprecedented scenario is a test of our character, or discipline, our resolve, and our commitment to ourselves and each other as a program.
A MESSAGE TO OUR SENIORS
The loss of a Spring season is especially difficult to handle for all of you. You deserve better. I feel pain, frustration, sadness, nostalgia, anger – sometimes individually and sometimes all at once. I continue to try to find solutions to this issue in my mind, but I know this is beyond my capacity to fix – this is bigger than me, bigger than our team, and bigger than our program, school, district, state, etc. This is a global issue that we alone cannot solve. Despite the tragic nature of this reality, we can only look forward. We must do our best to control what we can control. Here are some of those things specific to seniors:
Playing college soccer: Dylan played, coached, and recruited at the college level, and has an intimate understanding of the modern process. He will be an invaluable resource to any of you interested in playing college soccer. Please be in touch with him with any questions you have: firstname.lastname@example.org
Recognizing seniors: We’re working on doing some kind of recognition in lieu of an actual senior night. You deserve a senior night, and since we cannot do that in person, we are going to do what we can to recognize you all.
NEXT STEPS FOR THE PROGRAM
Regarding the program as a whole, what can we control moving forward?
The Core Principles:
I hope it is clear to you all, despite the relatively short amount of time we spent together, that the core principles of the program are bigger than soccer. The coaches all believe that we are helping to develop young men, not just soccer players or athletes. According to a study done by the US Anti-Doing Agency (USADA), coaches rank as the #1 positive influence on young athletes. As a coaching staff, we understand the opportunity we have to shape young people into the best version of themselves. Moving forward – whether you are a senior or a sophomore – reflect on the core principles of the program and ask yourself how you can apply them in all aspects of your life. The principles apply to everything from distance learning to individual fitness workouts to being a good family member or friend:
Fitness & mental discipline: Maintaining a healthy body and mind are valuable to life, even if we do not get to play any games this season. If you’re a senior and you are moving on from the program, staying fit will prepare you for any future athletic endeavors, and it will help you live a happier, longer, and more fulfilling life. There’s crossover here with mental discipline: as you seek to improve your fitness gains, you will encounter what you perceive to be limits. If you do so safely and with an awareness of your body, you can test those limits and establish new thresholds of performance. There is no better feeling that pushing your self to new heights and realizing that limits exist mostly in our minds. Crucially, this does not mean that you have to reach every goal you set for yourself. Embrace the struggle and seek to learn from the challenges. For a great example of athletes pushing themselves to their limits and succeeding in accomplishing new personal bests, see the documentary Breaking 2, about the attempt to run a sub-2 hour marathon. If you have Disney+, it’s free. Otherwise you can buy it on Amazon for $3 or read about it here. Pay special attention to the way the athletes, especially Eliud Kipchoge, talk about the power of their minds. As for specific ways to improve your fitness, I'll be uploading documents to this site, including at-home nutrition and workout options and the “Fifa 11+ warm-up” guide to ensure you are properly warm and loose before working out.
Mindfulness & mental discipline: Testing our physical limits and pushing ourselves to new thresholds is one way to develop mental strength and awareness. Another way is through mental activities of mindfulness. One definition of mindfulness that aligns with our goals is “a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” Examples of mindfulness techniques include.
Meditation & focus on breathing
Mindful eating – taking a “mindful bite” in which you chew slowly and pay careful attention to all sensory input offered by the “bite”
Mindful “body scan”
Progressive Muscle relaxation
Soccer-specific development: There’s no reason each of us should not be getting better at what we do! This includes coaches. Though we cannot train together, each of us can improve our physical abilities, soccer IQ, and knowledge of the game. I will be sending out recommended exercises to develop touch and technique. Our coaching staff will be communicating with each other and continuing to develop our soccer knowledge, analyze exercises and session plans, and build deeper knowledge of the game.
I will be sending out recommended activities and suggested reading for athletes interested in developing their technique, touch, soccer awareness & “soccer IQ,” mental discipline, fitness, and mindful awareness. Of course, if any athletes, parents, or guardians want more info and/or have questions, they are strongly encouraged to reach out!
This is an especially difficult time for all of us, especially our seniors, because we have had something we care about so dearly – the opportunity to develop and compete together and in person – ripped away from us. We cannot control that reality, though, so I invite you to focus on what we can do today, tomorrow, and beyond in the interest of personal development, team growth, and the strengthening of our program.
Please be in touch. Stay safe, maintain social distancing, and focus on all that you do have.
All the best,