Friday, September 10, 2010

I'm a great defender!

As the fall soccer season arrived in New England, I was reminded of one of the pleasures of coaching youth players.

I recently had lunch with one of my alumnae from girls soccer, a young lady now aged 28. She said to me, "Do you remember that play I made in the tournament we went to in Connecticut?"

I responded, "Of course, you made a great save in front of the goal," a play I remember with great clarity.

"I don't remember that," she said, "I mean when I mistakenly headed the ball into our own goal and caused us to lose the game."

"I forgot that one," I replied.

"Well, I was devastated and was sitting on the grass after the game, sobbing my heart out. You came over and said, 'Don't worry, Tovah, great defenders sometimes score against themselves. Only the best defenders go out aggressively after every open ball. Every now and then, it deflects and goes into the net. You did a wonderful job.'

"I stopped crying, stood up, brushed myself off, and walked off smiling, saying to myself, "I'm a great defender!"

And she remembers this 14 years later . . . .

15 comments:

CATHY said...

This is what all of us Newton Mom's loved about you as a coach. You made everyone of your players feel like a star. I remember how you would write a letter each week and include something nice that each of the girls did at that week's game or practice. I remember my daughter saving your letters in a scrapbook with all of her bar/bat mitzvah invitations. I am so happy that you were her coach. I feel that a lot of her self-confidence came from knowing you and playing for your team. Luckily, she was the same age as your daughter, Sarah, so you moved up with her team each year. Tovah is a great defender and a great friend to my daughter. We were blessed with wonderful daughters and a wonderful coach.

Anonymous said...

Great story (and great coaching), Paul.

Paul Levy said...

From Facebook:

Alexis: That is a great story! Tov is now famous! :-)

Theodore: That's a great story about the power of a kind word.

Jane said...

What a great post! The funniest thing for me is that I hardly remember any of the soccer from our trips to Connecticut. I know I played, but the memories that immediately come to mind all took place between and after the games!

Jeff said...

You got a kid to head a ball???

Debbie said...

I can't believe I lost sleep last night because of the two games I am coaching today for my sons' U9 and U11 teams. I am not worried about the wins but more concerned that they feel confident and play hard. Thanks for this wake up message. I love this game and I guess my greatest hope is that my boys continue to love it as much as you clearly do.

Paul Levy said...

They will have a great time being with their friends, running around, falling down, and doing all the things little boys do. And, yes, they will also play soccer!

Your job is to stand on the sidelines and avoid yelling instructions to the player with the ball. The only thing to yell is praise. They know when they make a mistake: You don't have to point it out.

Mary said...

Thanks for sharing this story Paul. After 12 years of coaching my children and their peers through NGS and NYS, what always proves to be true is the old saying, "They may not remember what you said but they'll always remember how you made them feel". My coaching philosophy has always been along the lines of; praise, teach, praise, challenge, praise, correct, praise, praise, praise... The teaching, challenging and correcting MAY help build skill but the praise, given freely, genuinely and most importantly, often, will undoubtedly build a stronger person.

Anonymous said...

To Paul;
Well said, coach. I suspect you use this philosophy in your workplace also, to have produced such a tightknit staff.

nonlocal

Paul Levy said...

From Facebook:

Jordana: I think I remember that play.

Michelle said...

Although I don't remember that specific play, I do remember the tournaments in CT. Every time I drive through Trumbull I remember playing a team of girls much bigger than us. (I wonder if my memory embellishes a bit)!

Sam said...

Love the story...true in soccer and life.

Michael said...

Great story! 14 years later...how powerful! Imagine how many times kids hear the opposite...how damaging.

Shelley said...

This was a great post! I think that it is great that you made an impression so much so that 14 years later she came to you and reminded you of how you made her feel. You encouraged her and gave her support. You gave her the strength and courage so that she could continue on with her activities. Now days, people are too competitive that they don't realize how a person may feel if they think that they didn't do a desireable job. Games are competitive, but I think that everyone should have fun doing it!

Bob said...

I really like this. Talk about turning a lemon into lemonade.... Good job!