Category Archives: Practice

Our new Club

The rumors abound. And, as providence should have it – that which has us joining the mighty Andrew Collins and his legendary Breakers, is true.

We are, thusly, proud to call ourselves JBS Shockers Nation.

We’ll be flying new colors as well. Gray to be clear about it, with our traditional yellow tye-dye socks.

We’ll be training at the beautiful Chukkar Farm Polo Fields in Milton.

And, we are accepting challenges for “friendlies” to prepare for the up-and-coming Fall season.

Coach Brian

Tuesday’s Practice

Shockers Nation:

Last nights practice was one of those times that makes being a coach extra fun and interesting.

It was like a family reunion. The girls had not been together en masse for almost two weeks. And, they were clearly delighted to be together. There was a great deal of laughter, and catching up. The comraderie is easy and comfortable. Generally, there was also a lot of excitement over the trip to Athens, and a sense of purpose.

We won’t be having practice tonight, and obviously because of the cold rain. The hoped for practice tomorrow are diminishing by the hour. Anticipating this, I had urged the girls to give me their best last night. I was admittedly concerned that the U14 squad may have lost a step being out of action for about ten days. And, the U16 squad was coming off their dramatic ASA Cup victory – and, it can be difficult to reorient after an event like that. So, we had only two hours to get thirty-three players mission ready with the new elements getting up-to-speed with our style-of-play. We actually went almost twenty five minutes over schedule. But, they could have gone on for another two hours in good cheer. I deeply appreciate the patience of the faithful Shockers parents who stood bravely in the chilled air (with smiles for the most part I should add).

I realize that, year-over-year, this has become a hallmark of being a Shocker – and, this includes the families. The girls genuinely care for, and about, one another. Grace Gutherie can refer to her new soccer ball as “like Battlestar Gallactica”, and the girls completely understand in a bemused and loving manner. When KC needs to decipher and verbally reprocess one of my observations, the team stands by patiently and often nodding approval. And, of course there are endless questions and opinions, in the post practice huddle, around what represents “dairy” (which is to be consumed in limited portions between now and Sunday). Shockers Nation is something they want, and enjoy being part of. It’s healthy, and they all understand that they are improving as athletes, both in terms of individual performance, and as a team, as well.

We had five of the six new players that will be joining us in Athens (across both squads), three of who will be joining us full-time in the Spring. I started out the practice with a warning that I yell a lot, but usually with a smile on my face. This elicited a lot of enthusiasm. And, in typical Shockers fashion, the new girls dialed right in. We could tell everyone was comfortable within the first twenty minutes (even though most teams are not accustomed to the running and drill work we start each practice with). The “Aggression Drill” can be intimidating. But, I can tell you that is where the girls sort out what they are made of, and where they improve quickest. They have no choice because everyone is watching – and, being supportive.

Last night was also quite unique in that we had four Dads with players on the Athens squads who all happen to be coaches in our league. I’ll stand firm in the belief that they (we) had as much fun as the girls. And, we clearly agree there’s not been a finer group (in terms of athleticism, spirit and citizenship) in conceivable memory.

As we wrapped up with the announcement we hope to have a team dinner and meeting Friday night the girls were fully charged. As we drew together, the new girls shoulder-to-shoulder with their new teammates, our cheers of: “Who Are we?” (Shockers!!!) “What Do We Want?” (The Ball!!!) And, “One-Two-Three, WE ARE SHOCKERS” echoed joyfully and fiercely across Central Park.

Athens isn’t going to be easy. The competition will be fierce. The weather will change a few times over the weekend. But, we are trained, fit and ready. And, truly so.

Please coordinate with Patty to make sure we know how each player is getting to Athens (does anyone need a ride?), where they will or want to stay. Bunking overnight Friday is probably a very good idea (and, cellular telephones will be handed over to Patty). Make sure we have your cellular number.

I’ll thank each family, again for trusting me with your daughters. And, it’s really me that’s the most inspired.

Coach Brian

being pleased or being satisfied

Wednesday night at practice, with some ill-advised shenanigans afoot, I found myself relating a story to our Shockers about “being pleased or being satisfied”.

I think most of them will remember the moment. If not the words, well, perhaps the catch in my voice – hopefully my heart, certainly.

We have a lot of soccer ahead of us this season. And, our Shockers collectively, have a lot of life to prepare for.

I’ve asked them to start asking themselves that simple extrapolitive question: “If I’m pleased, am I satisfied?”

I’ll always hope the answer is no. But, their tests, realized daily will forge that view of the world. I do hope they think of me in those moments. My Grandad called it: “remembering the face of my father”. Great story and parable for another time.

The point of this being, when they do anything, are they willing to ask the most of themselves, and those around them. My Grandad also used to say: “if you must judge a man do it by those around him”. When Shockers come to practice I want focus and best efforts. I added that winning and losing matches is important and fun. But, I care more about the look on their faces and the feelings in their hearts after the match – regardless of which way the ball bounces. If they can look one to the other, and know they did their best, truly and sincerely, their best, I will be both pleased AND satisfied with them.

By the way… I also challenged them with the question: “What is the difference between philosophy and strategy”. And, I’m quite curious over who comes back with an answer, where the information came from, and what it inspires going forward.

Coach Brian

not just words… or deeds

Emma, One of our players, hurt her arm during practice over a week ago.

I think about her each day and look forward to when she can rejoin the team.

I exchanged emails with her mother this afternoon and wrapped that up with something I believe we, as Shocker Nation, understand in terms of what can bind us to the common objective of making our daughters straight and true citizens as well as mighty champions:

“We may often win together. But, we always pull together.”

We draw our inspiration from the fun and simple elements of a game – as well as any challenge.

Coach Brian

our daughters our Shockers

What is it about our daughters?

We look at them in all their varying shapes, sizes and attitudes – and, see princesses.

Mixed with that is the uneasy realization that we have to prepare them for a world that will often hurt them while they work tirelessly (we expect) to help make it a better place.

With that perspective in mind perhaps you come to understand when I ask them, almost daily, whether they be “silly little kittens” or “mighty tigers”.

I understand that opposing teams start matches using this against our Shockers in a derisive manner. But, by matches end, those other teams are typically hands-on-knees and understand that we are bold and fearless – and mighty tigers all.

I often find myself looking at parents and saying things like: “Have I thanked you for having AC?”. Of course that is because they likely did something great on the pitch. But, it’s also often the result of something I saw in them as a growing person. They may not be ready to espound Jeffersonian ideals just yet. But, they exhibit ever more abundant positive qualities like compassion, fairness – and, fearlessness. A balance required to succeed in almost anything worth doing in life. And the drama often played-out on the football pitch is so often a corollary for life. Yet another opportunity to remind ourselves why it is so often referred to as the “Beautiful Game”.

Yesterday, as I made my way through the parking lot at Central Park, I had an opportunity to spend a few minutes with Vicki Bineau (Lauren’s Mom). I hope Lauren won’t take exception to being singled-out (although she better get used to it because I ALWAYS have my heart on my sleeve), but I found myself, as I often do, thanking parents like Vicki for “trusting me” with her daughters.

That seems to always take parents by surprise.

I look into the faces of our young citizens and I see, oh so much, hope and passion, and fear, and uncertainty, and the potential for confidence. The latter is the best part. Seeing that something we are doing one-on-one, and through the team, is building their self-esteem.

Our Shockers will look back on these days, a short spell, to be certain, and hopefully always draw on a memory that is the catalyst for a resevoir of strength and determination to face a challenge. Any challenge.

Perhaps “We are Shockers” will echo in the back of their mind in a moment of truth (in fond memory is certainly good enough). Maybe “I want the ball” will be something they carry with them daily.

When new players sign-on with Shocker Nation, it is, almost always, a similar story… There is timidness, and a dread of the endless running – possibly a resentment towards sprints. There is also uncertainty around why Coach Brian yells – even while I seem to be having fun. However, after a few weeks they feel their bodies strengthen. Skills they did not realize were possible become second nature (like dribbling the ball and looking up and down the field). I look them in the eyes (and, I can tell this is unnerving at first), and say things like: “I know you have it in you; and, I am going to count on you to give it your best”. And, they accomplish all manner of things.

This can include keeping their chins up. Heads held high with a steady gaze.

And fist bumps are meaningful.

Some times it’s only, seemingly, a small thing such as ball control. It can also be making a courageous stand against a determined fast-break. But, regardless of the actual result, they grow, and learn something every time.

We are going into our third week and we have been quietly discussing things like respect, leadership, a legacy of the uncompromising FIGHT and our legendary defenses. Why and how we win as a team. How individuals can form a team that is like an unbreakable chain – providing it’s forged with integrity, hard work and keen desire.

And, they get it. It’s in their eyes. They run their laps without complaints now. They understand the drills and enjoy the AGGRESSION DRILL.

So… It’s different every season – yet, in the same way.

We are Shockers, indeed. Always that. But, we are citizens first. And, they are our daughters. Always that.

Coach Brian

the season Afoot

We had our first practice of the Fall season Monday.

Both the U14 and U16 Shockers squads appear to be comprised of a mighty and ferocious crew. Mighty tigers all, with nary a silly kitten (at least that day).

All twenty seven players got through their laps and sprints, too many to count to be sure, in very good form. Some of the drills were new, but met with eagerness and conviction.

We have experience, speed and a readily apparent esprit-de-corp.

On the way home Monday night, Haley Anne, still suffering from an injured elbow (and facing an MRI today), acknowledged that she is: “really looking forward to this season, and likes these Shockers”.

All right then, Shocker Nation, the Fall campaign is afoot.

Coach Brian

Match #9: Lessons Learned

I can begin this post regarding yesterday’s match against NSA Magic with some highlights…

Our defensive unit was solid. AC Anderson had a brilliant fast break the entire length of the pitch – and, darn near scored. Ironically our Strykers were off-sides and diffused the play. But, that was a ‘shocking’ reminder of AC’s blistering speed, and something we need to capitalize on more often. Haley Anne Cork probably saved three goals with two headers and a desperate dash across the box to block a strong shot from a magic Forward. In the second half, Christy Tovar put on one brilliant display of footwork after another, battling her way up the pipe. Sarah Bowers dug deep and gave it her best playing the awkward left-side Stryker position, almost managing a shot that missed the net by an inch at best. Jessica Curtis was simply everywhere. Even though that might actually be a problem, we could not question her fierce desire and will.

But…

We have the highest scoring offense in the league. We put far more shots on goal during the first half – yet we put no balls in the net.

In fact, the only score in the entire grueling defensive struggle was offered up by our Keeper when she fumbled the ball right into her own goal. A lack of concentration and fundamentals aside, that goal did not lose the match, and a shot at the league title, for us…

We lost our match to Magic yesterday because we left more than blood and sweat on that Pickneyville Filed #4; we punted our Esprit de Corps.

Shockers 0 and NSA Magic 1.

I can take losing any day as long as everyone walks off the pitch with heads high, and feeling we all did our collective best. However, I was decidedly dejected after yesterday because I felt I let our team down. I am not wired to shrug these things off as simple games. I feel every practice and every match is a vital test of character, desire and a lesson waiting to be learned.

It’s not every day a coach must admit he lost a match for his team.

This current Shocker squad shares something special with teams of the past (and, I pray the future). We can and do win as a team – and a team that genuinely cares about one another and believes in one another. We do have some very good athletes. However, it will ALWAYS be heart that puts a team either over the top, or, drops them to the bottom.

Our own goal took the wind right out of us. We soldiered on, but with heads down.

We had a meltdown at half time where a player (actually two players) essentially refused to play a position. This created consternation in the ranks and ignited bickering that carried right over to the pitch. We went into the match Sunday with a clear game plan with contingencies that went out the window. My gut tells me had we stuck with the plan that simply involved “hot-swapping” three key offensive players, we likely would have had more activity up top.

I may have been flustered myself because I expect the girls to trust me, and to do what ever I ask. The typical result is our own kind of magic. I realize this is my ego – possibly misplaced self-esteem.

I must submit to everyone that my heart was broken by what happened both on the pitch and amongst our players.

So, perhaps mine has to be the greatest, if not most important lesson (I just need to understand what it is).

Mind you… If the ball bounces the right way against Storm; and, if Lightning beats Magic next week, the league standing make another dramatic shift.

But, suddenly that matters less. As I work my way through this post, my resolve to return to basics is working in the back of my head. We are going to invoke some significant changes in our line-up for tomorrow nights match against Fusion Storm. I understand this is going to make for a handful of ‘sad little kittens’. This team has two, and possibly three tournaments yet to play this season. We formed ourselves this year with the strategic purpose of being a tournament squad. We have a winning regular season under our collective belts no matter what happens tomorrow night. More importantly, beginning this weekend at District Cup we have a chance to turn ourselves around.

In speaking with Bob Twitchell today it occurred to me that we are now the underdogs going into the District Cup. We will find ourselves with a tough seed and surrounded by other teams that will view us as weaker. This is our best opportunity to dig in and remember that we are Shockers.

In my heart I feel that losing yesterday’s match might end up being a good thing. We probably can’t be that ‘Cinderella’ team that goes from worst to first, and wins that storybook league title. However, we can be that team that makes the critical decision to reunite ourselves around a renewed sense of purpose. A raison d’etre (if I misspelled that, feel free to correct me) if you will.

I ask our shocker parents to pull their player aside and ask the simple question:

“Can they play for their teammates – and not themselves.”

Tuesday (or Thursday depending on weather) night I am going to ask them to look at the player to their right and left and commit themselves to that person – and, to me.

Every practice and every match this month of May must be ever greater evidence that we Want The Ball, and we are a team.

So… The regular season ends tomorrow night – and, our best challenge as a team begins Thursday and Saturday morning when we take it to the State of Georgia where we hope to realize our team goal of reaching State Cup.

Coach Brian

Momentum

Great scrimmage last night (Tuesday).

Much improved close-quarters passing (those drills are paying-off). Solid communication. Determination was greatly evident. Three goals in five minutes with a shut-out says it all.

Hope to most everyone tomorrow Thursday for practice. But, have a great Spring Break.

Be ready for our two matches with NSA Magic and Revolution Saturday the 11th.

Coach Brian

Silverbacks return Thursday

Silverbacks Caroline and Tara will be back (weather permitting) for Thursday’s practice.

Coach Brian

Training with Silverbacks

Big, heart-felt thanks to Tara Minnix and Carolyn Ford of the Atlanta Silverbacks for working with our Shockers!

Group photo by our inestimable Team Manager (Main Mom) Patty Wojcik.

Fusion Shockers with Tara Minnix and Carolyn Ford

Fusion Shockers with Tara Minnix and Carolyn Ford

Carolyn Ford

Carolyn Ford


tara Minnix

Tara Minnix


Thursdays Practice and Tara Minnix

We have Tara Minnix, a standout Defender with the Atlanta Womens Silverbacks joining the Shockers for practice Thursday the 5th.

We will, essentially, have Tara run practice that evening.

Here are some of her player statistics (these don’t include 2008 when the Lady Silverbacks had an undefeated regular season):

tara-minnixW-League: 2007—Became all-time Silverback appearance leader with 38. Featured  11 times tallying two goals. 2006—Appeared 13 times. 2005—Tallied a goal and an assist in 14 appearances.

Professional: 2004—Represented both the Atlanta Beat and Carolina Courage in WUSA festivals. 2003—Atlanta Beat.

College: University of Tennessee (1989-2002)—Led SEC in goals (2002). Netted three goals and added four assists in 2000 before suffering season-ending knee injury. Netted eight goals and added four assists freshman year.

Coach Brian

…sad little Kittens

I had some sad little kittens (decidedly not mighty tigers) on my hands this evening after practice and a short scrimmage.

We did pretty good with some drills early on.  But, we had a tough time holding our ground against a sister Fusion squad in a scrimmage.

Afterwards I told them the only way they could EVER disappoint me was if they did not give it their best.

That’s what happened this evening.

Poor communication.  And, we were out of position a lot.

On the other hand – they are probably still sore after the long weekend tournament.  I probably should have let them just relax and “leg it” out this evening.

Note to Mallory’s Mom…  Mallory has a sore ankle.  Lets make sure we are using ice.

I won’t be able to make practice Thursday. I have a business engagement.

So, please let the girls know all they need to do is pay attention with coach Chris, and do their best at practice.  All drills; no scrimmage.  We have almost two weeks before our first match.  We will be fine – and, ready!

Coach Brian

Special treat

In the next few weeks, we will have a special (Shockers only) mini-camp with select members of the Lady Atlanta Silverbacks.

Coach Brian

Notes for Thursday Practice

Our skills sharpen each practice – as does confidence and team unity.

Erin joined us last night, and she fit right in – mostly because the girls have big hearts and Erin put forth a solid effort.

Our Defense needs to FOCUS.

Our Forwards are being encouraged to SHOOT.  But, also to fearlessly dribble the ball through opposition.

It’s okay to bring the ball back and consider a smarter attack.

After some sustained chatty moments during team council, I admonished the girls that if there is talking or silliness while a coach is speaking, the next practice is ALL SPRINTS.  I think that got their attention (KC went all bug-eyed).  We shall see Thursday.

This is a reminder that we need to come to practice Thursday in full kit (white jerseys mind you) for a team photo.

NOTE:  We had, not a few, light moments Tuesday with me explaining what is meant by “kit”, “kit bag”, and “boots”. Some did know what a “pitch” is.

Kit = Uniform and other related apparel.

Kit Bag = Team bag.

Boots = Field Cleats or Turf Shoes – but, shoes in general.

Pitch = Soccer Field.

Soon, I may throw them all for a loop and begin referring to “THe Beautiful Game” as “Football”.

Thanks for being part of this.  We are only just beginning.  But, what we take away from each and every day should last a life-time.

Coach Brian

Kits and Tournament Preparation

Our new “kits” (United Kingdom vernacular for uniforms and that related) have arrived.

Each player will be issued Fusion blue Adidas shorts, and Two Adidas jerseys – Fusion Blue (Home) and White (Away).

With some luck, we are hopeful Alex Rodriguez at Totally Soccer, will have our sweatshirts, custom tie-dye socks (yellow I think), and team bags (possibly our pennies) ready as well.

We will distribute the kits Tuesday evening at Central Park.

We then need the players to muster for Thursdays practice in full kit for a team photo to be displayed on the tournament website and our team page.

We have two more practices before the tournament (the weekend of February 21st and 22nd). We have had terrific turnouts for practices. However, I need to know it, if in the event, a player can’t make it in this coming week.

By the way…  This Blog site aside, all members of this team – parents and players alike, should always feel free to call or email me, for any reason.

Coach Brian