A few years ago the back of our shirts said "Earned. Not Given". With Girls Soccer
here at Niceville, we pride ourselves on that fact. When other organizations at our school know us by our reputation
of hard work, it is something we wear as a badge of honor.
Making Varsity is NOT something that occurs just because you are a senior. Making Varsity
is NOT a rite of passage just because you have been on the team in years past. Players who earned a letter last year
cannot expect that to mean they have assured themselves a spot on Varsity for this year.
Every year there are players who don't make Varsity or don't get as much playing time as they would
like and suddenly there are a myriad of excuses from the player or their parents to anyone who will listen.
"The coach doesn't like her". "The coach only plays his favorites". "Our daughter
is better than little Lucy, but her family is friends with coach".
Maybe that occurs at other schools, but I like winning way too much to keep weaker players at the
expense of cutting better players. The real reasons behind people not making the team are not as palatable to the ones
who didn't make it.
The player just isn't as good as others.
The player isn't a team player.
The player isn't coachable.
There are players who have been cut by us in the past that are probably great players for other
teams, but they can't seem to play inside of our team's playing style. Fullbacks who can win the ball, but always
clear it don't fit into our style of possession soccer. Players who cannot win the ball in the air don't fit into our
style of play. Forwards who refuse to play defense when we have lost possession are not the type of player we want on
the field. Are these types of players bad player? No, however they are not the player that fits into soccer at
The benefit of JV, is that I get to see a player and how they perform in games using our style of
play without it being a game that affects our Varsity. From there, I can pull players up that show that they can handle
the Varsity level AND who are going to get enough play time to make it worth having them on Varsity. Because of this, I feel
fairly confident that the mistakes made in selecting the team are not with who we cut, but who we sometimes keep. In
all my years of coaching, I have yet to say "I wish we had kept that player". Instead, each year I find myself saying
"We should have just cut her in October." It is that second player that tends to be a drag on the team with the poor
attitude on the bench and from her parent's comments to others in the stands.
When October comes and the teams are selected, I would be a fool to think that players and parents
will all think that I made all the right decisions (as I know I make mistakes). I only hope each year that parents and
players realize that tryouts are difficult for us as coaches. I am trying to put together the teams that will be strongest
for us this year and that will help us develop for future years. At that moment, I stop being the person who has trained,
conditioned, and taught those girls (in some cases for a number of years). I stop being the person who has been silently
(and sometimes not so silently) criticized by some of the girls parents (in the stands, on the car ride home after games,
at various other events, etc. --- LOL). At that moment I stop being anything else other than the coach of a program
that wants to win a state championship.