What’s it all about?

So, who am I and why am I starting this blog?

Let’s answer the second question first. I am starting this blog by popular demand. Keep in mind that in our house, “popular demand” means my wife suggested it. (I suspect that I am not alone in this.)

Now- to the first question:

I am an old (if 68 is considered old) American sport-centered person who was introduced to soccer as a serious sport at the comparatively advanced age of 19 and immediately fell in love with it. I played in college and in several amateur adult leagues until my knees gave out (I foolishly continue to try and play despite desperate communications from my body to my brain to stop). As a player, I never amounted to very much. However, when I graduated from college, I entered the teaching profession and that gave me a perfect platform to coach soccer at a time when youth soccer was just getting started and most high schools only had a team if they were too small for football (American football , that is.) As a coach, I have been blessed with much success.

I have coached youth soccer at many levels, both genders. I have studied the sport both in the US and abroad. I have a national license – one of the first coaches to get one. I have watched literally thousands of soccer matches at all levels, from 5 yr. old tykes to World Cup matches. I have had the honor to shake hands with individuals like Pele and Johan Cruyff and the even greater honor to coach 8 yr. old munchkins to their first soccer championship. I have watched former players perform before tens of thousands of spectators. I have helped develop a number of players who have represented the USA at various age levels and I have coached more who reached professional levels but didn’t make a national team.  I have been sought out by many for my views and for helping to develop young players and yet I also have been told by some educated soccer people that I have it all wrong. I have seen the game grow here in the US in amazing ways. Through it all, my fascination and love for the game has only gotten stronger. Because I am an American, and an older one at that, I have some non-traditional views of the game and its organization. On some levels I am a purist- I love the possession game, the passing game, the game played with few fouls. I think that 2011 Barcelona was the epitome of the modern game. But I also am a competitor and understand that the objective of the game is to score more goals than the opposition. While soccer can be played for the art it displays, I believe that the art is best viewed when it results in a victory.

In the coming weeks, I will discuss my views of all aspects of the game, I invite comments – both pro and con. I believe that there is no right and wrong when it comes to soccer- just different ways to go about playing and coaching and even watching the game. I’ll write about my experiences and about some specific beliefs I have concerning the development of players and teams. I hope you (the reader) will follow along and comment when it seems appropriate.

By the way: about the title of the blog- sounds fairly pretentious doesn’t it? The Soccer YODA? Coming from someone who hasn’t even coached at the college level? Listen; for me science fiction is only second to soccer (among non-living things); I know about Yoda and what the name implies-it was given to me by others in respect to my soccer coaching and study of the game. And it makes for a catchy blog title, I think!


2 Comments on “What’s it all about?”

  1. Sam St-Phard says:

    Al,
    I had the honor and privilege(if you want to call it that), of regularly being defeated by the Thunderhill Thunderbolts that you coached when I was playing in The Columbia, Md. U-10 Soccer League.
    I can recall being amazed at the ball movement of your players and also at the fact that they seemed to know where each of them not only was on the field, but also where each of them were GOING TO BE on the field! You can only imagine the bewilderment of opposing 8 and 9 year old kids, when confronted with such an advanced tactical superiority at an age when we’re just entering third grade!
    Let there be no question that you, Sir, are indeed The Soccer “Yoda”, I know, not because I ever played for you, but because I and my teammates proved all of your Coaching to be right…by how often your teams tasted Victory against us.

    Below, are some of my accomplishments as a Soccer Player that I attribute to the level of Coaching that you spearheaded in Columbia, Maryland. Al, “A rising tide floats all boats”, and because you elevated Coaching to another level in Columbia, Maryland, ALL Coaches in Columbia, Maryland had to become better. As a result, many of us kids were able to leverage our Soccer talents to open many opportunities for ourselves. My Soccer career ended in injury when I was 20 years old, but up until that point, Soccer led me to places and gave me experiences, I never would have otherwise had. Thank you Al, for creating an environment growing up, where only excellent Soccer playing would generate success.

    Striker ~ 4 Year(Starter) High School Career: 84 Goals in 51 Matches.
    All-District – Freshman Year (Wichita, Kansas)
    All-Region – Sophomore Year(Mobile, Alabama)
    All-State – Junior Year(Louisiana)
    All-State – Senior Year(Louisiana)
    Top Ranked High School Soccer Player in Louisiana 1982.
    Alternate to U.S. South Regional U-19 Soccer Team; U.S. National Team
    Try-outs 1982 (Chapel Hill, North Carolina).
    Full Soccer Scholarship to NCAA Division I Centenary College Fall 1982.
    Freshman Starter, Right Wing, Centenary College, La.: 11 Goals 13 Assists
    All Trans American Athletic Conference Honorable Mention
    1982 Centenary College Soccer ~ 11-3-1 44 Goals Scored in 15 Matches as a Team
    10th Ranked NCAA Div. I Soccer Team in The Mid-West USA according to:
    “Soccer America” Magazine 1982.
    Invited to Play Second Division Professional Soccer in England Summer 1983.

    These accomplishments began against one of your Thunderhill Teams when I was 9 years old…you aren’t a great Coach only because of those you Coached, you are also a great Coach because of the awe you inspired in those of us who you Coached against. THANK YOU!!

    Sam St-Phard

    Like

  2. Brian Bailey says:

    I’m now 45 and never pursued playing in college, but as I play for my two adult teams, I am always frustrated that others don’t know where to be. The basics of angles and triangle drills seem to have been ingrained in my psyche. I was taught a great way to play. I wasn’t always great at it myself, but I was taught well! I watched that Barca team play in 2011 and it was beautiful to watch. The best I’d ever seen. The OMHS teams of the early 80’s run a close second though!

    Like


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