Athens Note

Hey All we have already clinched a spot in the final tomorrow (Athens United has as well) but I want to make it very clear that we will be” playing to win” in both games. I do not want the ideology of “the first game doesn’t MEAN anything” to be heard from my mouth, the girls or any parents. The only reason to do so would be to rationalize in advance to justify to ourselves why it would be acceptable for us to lose… and I just believe you go into every practice/scrimmage/game playing to win. I will sub often, get everyone on the team a significant amount of minutes and PT in the first game… for safety/heat and cause we do have a shot @ the final but also because doing so opens up very valuable experiences for some of our newer players and others transitioning to new positions. Don’t mistake this for “not trying to win”, there is a clear difference between doing things smart/prepping for the future vs. siting stars for a trophy… Opportunity comes in many different shapes and forms.. doing well day 1 will allow us to open up a few more, you cannot replicate that environment like tomorrow, with that same sense of urgency so I am glad about that. But whoever is out there- I will expect them to contribute in a positive way in whatever role I ask of them, I would have no reason to keep a player otherwise… and believe/expect them to well. I have been asked by a lot of you about what I thought about the games today… and for those of you that know me well know I have a hard time with brevity in general, if its important to me I will ramble on about it forever… so in short I was impressed but still want to see us get better in some areas… for the novel version in chapter form of the answer to that please read below! LOL All the above kind of goes into my thoughts on the games today / how I felt about how they played / and what I believe is the most important thin g to improve moving forward- and many of you will agree with me when I say this… and you can sum it all up into one word… consistency. I have been elated over the first 3 practices but don’t talk about all that much, you cant get all rah-rah over practice…cause its practice… but very optimistic about today… I had spoken with a couple of you late last night and just simply said I had a “good feeling” and left it at that. Today I was undoubtedly blown away by the start, I saw so many things working well, so many players I have known all summer MUST step up into new/bigger roles for us to have success do so, and moments at times (like Katy’s head fake on a defender for goal 2, perfecting that + having the discipline to THEN play the safe/central pass vs. taking her own shot clear to goal at a tougher/lower % angle… I mean that’s the kind of stuff we have, I have worked on individually for years…seeing it all come to life like that, in moments like that. .. I mean for me personally there is no better feeling/the reason you love to coach period. Then about the last 8-10 minutes of the first half game one… we coasted, played lazy and were absolutely satisfied with that 4-0 lead. It was like that at Athena D, and about 75% of the time at the MS (you can’t control the level of opp. you play always- you can control how you approach how you play) When they came to the bench saying how great everything was I wasn’t pleased with that. Is building a 4-0 lead at half vs. a good team generally a reflection that you played well? Absolutely. We had certain combinations of player confections / movement off the ball and buildup of possession that lead to all scoring opportunities being legitimate goals… some of the best I have ever seen them have as a team. ever… It’s not this cheap drop and boom-ball junk like the second team we played only scoring opp. (they connected on) its good soccer, but this was the one question I asked them. “If we drop out and let 4-5-6 balls in a row bounce over our heads, into the 18 leaving our GK out to dry vs. Rapids FC / White Co… do you think they don’t take advantage of those? they all agreed. You work every game to prep for the future, for those rivalry region championships in HS and for those big games later in the regular season. YOU NEVER LET THE RESULTS, THE SCORE OR COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHER TEAMS DICTATE THE WAY YOU APPROACH HOW YOU PLAY THE GAME… One of my fav quotes is “may your hunger for change be greater than your complacency to remain the same”, and that’s true… It sounds very cliche, but I honestly don’t care what the score is… I don’t expect perfection, I want to win, they want to win, but its not rationale to believe they will “get up” at 100 every game… it is psychologically IMPOSSIBLE, but I would like us to grow to being a more consistent team. Consistency is extremely important for many reasons, it ingrains good habits and a llows players to mentally be able to adapt to finding ways to get the job done and carry on with confidence regardless of the situation, bad luck or circumstance. Game two was a picture perfect example of this… In the first game, the pressure is off early, confidence is high all-around and everything is going our way. In game two – we dominate possession, had them in their own half for about 80% of the match, we have chances that don’t bounce our way, Maya gets called offside on 2-3 of the worst offside calls I have EVER witnessed in the sport… even after all of that we still felt in control… UNTIL they net that shot… their 1 shot…and their sideline erupted like they had just won the World Cup, the momentum shifts and we get a water break which in some ways makes it ever worse. They come over blaming all of that, they didn’t deserve to be tied? no… but at that moment they reacted like that wanted me to take the accountability away from ourselves… its very easy to fall out or quit in those moments, its difficult to handle, thats human nature; but it was truly perfect, it was the “real life example” to why consistency is important… you can say something 1000x as a coach, but its not relevant to them or really “hit home” until you get knocked in the mouth life that. Way back 2-3 years ago I probably scream and shout and try to take the failure as being unrelated to them, off of myself, blame a ref, call it a cheap shot or point a finger at someones else… but all I said then was – ‘you have just proven for 50 minutes you are the better team, your going to win the game… if you play the next 10 like you did the past 50… so relax and realize you are in control right now. You have to go find a way to get it done… 3 minutes later they did. That more than the result is what I am excited about, the makeup is there, for not just being OK with being good… but for the desire/belief that they can be great, that’ s half the battle. In 2 very different ways – they found a way to pickup two W’s today vs. 2 VERY good teams. In our last 9 tournaments we have won back-to-back games only once. We do it today… 3 practices into the season having lost 2 players to Athena A teams (one of which lead us in ways outside of just scoring along but those very intangible team-chemistry building elements) and 1 to U16… I would be lying if I told you that hasn’t weighed on my mind this summer… I believed we still had everything we needed to win at the same pace… even more in a multi-dimension kind of way… but I worried if they did/had doubts and today they answered that question with a ‘leave-no-doubt-about-it’ kind of authority. I won’t say it will be like that always, even tomorrow or call Disney yet to start writing the movie script JUST yet… but obviously I’m excited about using all that to motivate them to keep doing that now and in the future. I’m excited about the team, the players w e have and the season ahead… surprisingly even to myself, maybe even a little bit more than ever before. JG

Biggest Wins

“Let’s Just Say I’m Pretty Proud of Myself” “Train Insane or Remain The Same” “I didn’t know where I belonged on the field, yet I knew I belonged.” The girls each took a day to post something they found on our team Instagram account, whatever they wanted something motivational or made them think about our team. This one chokes me up every time I read it… What it’s All About. I looked up quote after quote and I could not find the perfect one, so here it is from the heart. I did not know how to pass, dribble, or shoot. I didn’t know where I belonged on the field, yet I knew I belonged. Little did I know that I would play academy soccer after a year of playing. We were not the best. We played teams with no jerseys. People did not care about our small team. No one expected a group of second graders from lumpkin county to get anywhere. Well look at us now. We fought our way to the top. Playing Ufa and middle school soccer we play because we love the game This shows that anyone can go after their dreams You just have work. I am not here to brag I just want everyone to push them selfs to their best ability. You can do anything ✌️ -a team member A photo posted by LC UTD (@lcutd) on Feb 13, 2015 at 4:44am PST