#What a life changing experience. This is what started the whole change in the new chapter, or I should say, new book, in my life. My first year as a coach.
In an earlier post I mentioned how I made a decision to go back to what truly makes me happy, which was team sports. At the age of 41, I decided that instead of going back as a player, I'd go back as a coach. I was lucky enough to be referred by a friend and received a call from Head Coach, Damian Galvan. Somehow Coach Galvan and I just seemed to click from the beginning. His philosophy about coaching and about life just gave me a good vibe. I accepted the position of an Assistant Coach and Fitness Coach. In the beginning the boys didn't take it very well that I worked them super hard, especially when I suggested morning training sessions.
We were up at 5:45AM and in the gym or on the field working out. Oh man, were they some tough workouts. But I have a thing about training, I won't give someone something I can't do myself, so to show the boys that I could do it, I would do the workouts with them. I loved it! Most of them didn't like it so much. The morning sessions only lasted 2 weeks and already in such a short time I was beginning to get a name for myself. There were a few players who liked the workouts, but most of them hated them.
So we moved the fitness back into practice time. I still worked the boys hard, but now I only had 15 to 20 minutes. Either way, even when Coach Galvan only gave me 10 minutes, I found a way to be effective to get these boys to improve their fitness.
Finally, the time came to select the roster. It wasn't easy because there was so much talent on the team this year. It was unfortunate that some of the boys didn't make grades, so it made that easier for us coaches. Only a few players were cut and we ended with a team of 22 players.
Once scrimmages began, figuring out strategic moves and player formation was the focus. Now the players were fighting for starting roles. We experimented so much with moving players to different positions, people must have thought we didn't know what we were doing. Fortunately these boys have talent. Wherever we asked them to play, they would go out there and play their hearts out.
Once we established a foundation and a starting line up the team started improving game after game. It was amazing how people could notice how the team was coming together and growing at such a fast pace.
It wasn't all nice and dandy... there were some tough times for the team. From tears of frustration, to challenges with school, relationships, family, health, financially, injuries, and more. These boys went through a lot to make it through the season. To us as adults, we've been through this, but for them, being in their shoes, we have to remember how tough it was.
These boys were more than a team, they were a family. They may have gotten on each other's nerves sometimes, but they always had each others backs. It was amazing to see. Even through the challenges they had, they found a way to stick together through thick and thin.
Coach Galvan was a huge impact. He didn't only focus on playing soccer, he focused a lot on working on their mentality and emotions. Attitude, consistency and staying composed were his most used words. He was hard on the boys, but in a respectful manner. One could see the respect these boys had for Coach Galvan. It was quite a sight to see. But that's what it all came down to during a game. Attitude, consistency and staying composed. The league was a tough league. The only differential during the games was "who wanted it more". Who had more heart, more passion and who was willing to fight for that extra inch. Our team always came out on top. We went undefeated in league.
Our last game against Garey High School would decide who was the league champion. Garey or Ganesha? When our injured goal keeper blocked a penalty and the follow up shot, our boys took that same play and scored on a break away, which was the game changer.
Our spirits were lifted so high, Garey had no chance of coming back and turning off that energy that just roared and lighted up all the fans and players. It was a feeling I hadn't felt since I was a boy after we won our little league championship game. Man it was a great feeling!
Now we had a little over a week to get prepared for CIF. We trained hard. The boys were ready. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make the CIF game and we were eliminated in the first round. It was a tough loss, but it was a great season. Ganesha hadn't won a league championship since I can't remember when, but it had been years.
What these boys accomplished was something that they can be proud of for the rest of their lives. It was well deserved and I just hope they take this experience and apply it to their daily lives.
As for me, it will be a lifetime memory and feeling. It was this that started me on my new careers and ventures in the soccer industry. It was this team that helped bring that spark back of when I was a kid and I played my heart out to help the team win. It was this team that reminded me of becoming resourceful, especially when life is constantly knocking me down. It was this team that inspired me even more than I already was to continue on this path of living my passion every single day to help others in any way I can.
Congratulations to the 2015-2016 Ganesha High School Varsity Soccer Team! Thank you for such a great season and thank you for an experience and memories that will last a lifetime!
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