A (brief) return to coaching

St. Vincent de Paul is a graduate School with only 120 odd resident students, so we do not have a formal athletic program. The guys do sports, but on their own. Except for a once a semester soccer game against the St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami.

Last year, due to Covid we did not play. This year seeing a need, I volunteered to coach the SVdP Shepherds.

I have been coaching (on and off) for 17 years. At this point what I enjoy the most about coaching is building the team, working first on communication and trust, then on skills, technique, and strategies and all the other bits necessary to succeed as a team.

What a pleasure to return to the field, to work with the guys at skills that we do not teach in the classroom.

Unfortunately, we did not have a lot of time to practice, but we did the best we could.

We lost the game 3 – 4, but I am really proud of the men, we played a far superior game, we played as a team! But halfway through the first half while we were winning 2 – 0, we lost steam, we lost our shape, and the Miami guys took advantage of that. In the second half we came back and scored the third goal, but it was too late.

I was blessed to have a student volunteer as an assistant coach! Misho led the warmups, worked with our goalie, and helped to organize practices, helped me with strategy on game day, what a blessing!

All in all, it was a great experience, and I can’t wait to start preparing next year’s game!!

PS: The initiated will notice our colors are red and white stripes. This is our traditional kit, and in NO WAY my decision. I would have been fine just wearing plain all white 😉

Photo Creds: Carmela Grande, Chris Holsom.

Football from the stands (not the sideline, and not the pitch)

This is the first year in a long time that I am not coaching nor even playing football (soccer for the Philistines on the other side of the pond). Instead I get to see all my nephew’s games from the stands – and it is fun!

For fourteen years I coached soccer. One of the first schools I worked at (Milton Academy) needed an assistant Boys Varsity coach, having played more or less all my life I got the gig! Walnut Hill being an arts school did not have an athletic program, but that did not stop us from playing pickup on Friday afternoons, we had a blast. And we found out that future K Pop star Eddy Kim had a lovely touch! At Buckingham Browne and Nichols they needed a Girls Varsity Assistant coach, that changed my whole perspective on the sport. I had never payed much attention to girls soccer, but I quickly found out that they play as a team much more than the boys do. They pass the ball much more, and big plus, they look like they are listening to the coach!

At UNC I really had the football bug, so I organized the Romance Studies Community Soccer program to play on Friday afternoons. This was a great way of getting the grad students together with some undergrads and different folks that would join. It was good fun and occasionally a bit competitive which gave it a good edge!

At Seacrest Country Day in Naples Florida, I was honored to be the Head Girls Varsity coach. These girls worked super hard and we had a great two seasons, building a team. Since Seacrest is a small school, the sense of community is very big and I really felt embraced by the team. Occasionally I would step in to help out the boys’ team. One such time was the District final game which we won for the first time in history. What a thrill to have been on the sideline of that game!

Now back in the old country I  miss coaching, but every Saturday with my sister and sometimes my nieces I enjoy just watching my nephew play! It is all the fun, without the responsibilities, and, of course, I get to critique the coaches – and the players!! Vamos Chamar!!