Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Joy of Soccer…The ABK Way

For the past eleven weeks I have had the privilege of assistant coaching on the women’s varsity soccer squad at Arapahoe High School. I have been the crazy goalie coach that drives the “Rugglemiester,” aka the silver minivan that I get the privilege of driving around town, and sometimes participates in practice with the women. For the past few weeks we finally started game play and won our own pre-season tournament, a tournament that has been going on for the past twenty years. This team of women, the coaching staff, and the overall ABK (Arapahoe Ball Kickers) program has been impressive from the start. The fact that we started coaching and getting ready for the season nine to ten weeks before tryouts was incredible. Not to mention the intensity, desire, and will that these students have for doing their absolute best on the field.

And it has all paid off in the fact that we won that tournament without a number of our starters, who were at a national recruiting tournament. From there we did receive our pre-season rankings and let me say they were impressive – I knew that ABK was good, but this good was like out of my league. The women’s soccer team that I am working with started out the season ranked number one in the state of Colorado and number five in the country. And here I am, a student teacher with a passion and love for goalkeeping trying to coach their goalies on to success.

And either I have done a good job, doubtful even though I have tried, or the defense and my goalies have done a good job keeping balls out of the net – because we have only allowed one goal the whole year, five games. It is not everything, but it is at least a start.
Being a part of this team has been a privilege from the beginning. I knew that AHS had a soccer team, but then I looked and found out how good they actually are. It was impressive to me, when I arrived, that they did not have a goalie coach, but I was excited about my opportunity to fulfill that void for them, at least for a while. So I have worked hard teaching, meeting with students after school and really putting that part of my student teaching first, and then I go out to soccer whenever that has all gotten over. But it has been a journey and one that I have been honored to be a part of.

In eleven weeks you begin to learn the ropes and really get a handle on the rituals and the excitement surrounding ABK soccer. The pre-game meetings, the visualization that happens, the chants, the parents, the booster club, the overall program and its strength. It has been impressive to be a part of and in three weeks, when I have to leave and go back to Iowa to graduate, I know it will be hard to leave these women. The women who for the past roughly fifty-five practices I have gotten to know and appreciate - these women are driven, they want to win it all, and they know that soccer is not the end all in life, but for right now they make it a priority because they want to represent themselves, their families, their school, and ABK well. So they press on in pursuit of their goals in the only way that they, and now me, know how – the ABK way.