I grew up playing soccer in Eugene, Oregon and fondly remember my childhood coach, Jim McLaughlin. I respected him, trusted him, and always wanted to play my very best for him. Coach Jim took us rain or shine into many battles including a few championships, he was dependable. When I played for Coach Jim I craved to earn his praise every minute on the field and it didn't matter if it was during practice or a game. The positive experience I had with him as a child has helped shape me into the coach I've become today.
When I think about Coach Jim and his approach to coaching there's one word that comes to mind, "balance". Coach Jim implemented tough and challenging training sessions but he also knew when to let players relax. We always had some time to develop friendships and bond with our teammates; he knew this was an important part to our success beyond the work of just training. I played many years for Coach Jim in my youth and often think of him now.
One of my coaching goals is to develop players the way I remember feeling as a player myself, which was powerful, fast, skilled, respected, and having a relentless drive to win, with honor, knowing we played fairly by the rules of the game. Playing soccer was the thing I looked most forward to each week and I never wanted it to end, thanks to coach Jim.
I believe the better you become at something the more you enjoy it. The harder you work to earn and achieve a goal the more you appreciate and value it. And that goes for anything in life, not just soccer. As a coach I want to provide an environment where there is no fear of failure, we learn, grow and improve together. One of the most rewarding aspects of coaching is embarking on a journey together. Each competitive season starts a new journey, along the way players will make good and poor decisions but those choices are theirs to make, not ours. To a degree players need to learn by their own doing, especially how to deal with their own failures and too then make changes that lead to improvement. It's important to me that players learn who they are themselves through their experiences, and develop their own sense of self-worth and integrity. As a coach I cannot do everything for my players, I'll do my best to guide them, however, ultimately they need to find and choose their own paths to achieve success and happiness, as they define what that means for themselves.
I never thought I'd consider becoming a professional soccer coach however these days I spend a lot of time thinking about it. There's no other job I'd rather do now than be on the field coaching.
Mom, thank you for digging up these old photos, I'd forgotten how much they mean to me.