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Monthly Archives: February 2017

Penalty kick goal in overtime gives St. Thomas Academy 1A title

Two senior soccer players — St. Thomas Academy defender Devin Kennedy and Northfield goalkeeper Cristian Fuentes-Rivera — stood 12 yards apart in the second overtime of Thursday’s championship with a potential game-winning penalty shot at stake and so much on their minds.

Kennedy ultimately fired the ball low to the left. Fuentes-Rivera dived not quite far enough in pursuit. The goal gave the No. 3 seed Cadets (18-4) a 1-0 victory and the program’s first Class 1A state soccer title.

The Cadets’ Logan Davis drew the decisive penalty kick by getting fouled inside the 18-yard box. Before their showdown on the U.S. Bank Stadium turf, both Kennedy and Fuentes-Rivera spent time in their own heads.

“Amanuel [Bird] came up to me right before and said, ‘Are you sure you got it? Do you want me to take this?’ ” Kennedy said. “I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll take it. I’ve done it in practice. Let’s do it.’ ”

Fuentes-Rivera, on the winning side of penalty kick shootouts in two previous playoff games, also felt certain.

“I’m good at PKs; I’m the best goalie in the state,” said Fuentes-Rivera, so confident that he actually made Kennedy doubt himself a bit.

“Grabbing the ball, I was confident until I made eye contact with the goalie,” Kennedy said. “He was kind of staring me down, making me a little nervous, making me second guess where I was going to kick.

“In the end, I just stuck to what I did best and went lower left,” said Kennedy, whose team’s made “Be Brave” its mantra this season.

Fuentes-Rivera, whose fifth-seeded Raiders finished with a 16-4-3 record, showed similar courage in defeat.

First report

St. Thomas Academy defeated Northfield 1-0 in the second overtime of the Class 1A boys’ soccer state championship game played Thursday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Devin Kennedy drilled home a penalty kick with 6:55 left in the second 10-minute extra session for the victory. The Cadets were awarded the kick after Logan Davis got hauled down inside the 18-yard box.

No. 3 seed St. Thomas Academy (18-4) won its first state title. The Cadets took second in 1999. No. 5 seed Northfield (16-4-3) took second in state for a fourth time.

Soccer (Football)

The sport of soccer (called football in most of the world) is considered to be the world’s most popular sport. In soccer there are two teams of eleven players. Soccer is played on a large grass field with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to get the soccer ball into the opposing team’s goal.

The key to soccer is that, with the exception of the goalie, players cannot touch the ball with their hands, they can only kick, knee, or head the ball to advance it or score a goal. Soccer is played at all levels throughout the world from small kids leagues to professional and international teams. Perhaps the most famous soccer tournament is the World Cup.

Held every four years, the World Cup is a soccer competition among countries and is one of the most watched events in the world. One of the reasons soccer is so popular is that it really only takes a ball and a flat open area to play. Kids throughout the world will make up fields and goals just about anywhere and start playing the game.

The game is also fun and competitive. Soccer is a great form of exercise as there is lots of running for good distances. The sport is also a good test of dexterity and a great way to learn balance.

Many people consider soccer at its highest level to be so beautiful as to be practically an art form. The skill at which great players and great soccer teams work the ball, strategize, and flow as one can be an awesome thing to watch.

COACH / DAD WHILE CRUCIAL TO YOUTH SPORTS

In the nine years Walter Berry served on the Homewood youth baseball board of directors, he heard one complaint more than any other – favoritism by the coach toward one player. That player? The coach’s kid. “It’s almost the only complaint we ever got,” Berry said.” ‘Coach So-and-so starts his son at pitcher or shortstop every game. He’s not a very good player, and we’re losing games because the coach has visions of stardom for little Todd.

” Mitchell McElroy, on the other hand, recalls getting no favored status on an Irondale soccer team coached by his father, Mark, several years ago. Just the opposite, in fact. “It was real important for him to avoid that at all costs,” the younger McElroy said. “It became a running joke – that it was a whole lot better to be anyone but me on that particular team. The first person that he looked to when he was about to get on somebody was me. “Berry and McElroy present two examples of the sometimes difficult dynamics that occur when parents coach their children in youth sports. That circumstance can be found on almost every team as youth baseball and softball around the Birmingham area begin this month. It isn’t only those sports, though.

In every sport, throughout the calendar, mothers and fathers volunteer as coaches. In doing so, they open themselves up to great joy and rewards and to great scrutiny and second-guessing. They must deal not only with the expectations of other parents, but with the challenge of maintaining good parent-child relationships of their own. Too often, according to some experts on youth sports, parent-coaches take all the fun out of the game and create friction rather than a bond with their child. Necessary family time Parent-coaches are the foundation of youth sports. “Eighty-five percent of people that coach are the parents of one of the kids on the team,” said Fred Engh, president of the National Alliance for Youth Sports.

“If you didn’t have parents coaching their kids, you wouldn’t have organized sports for kids in this country.” “Would you want to work all day, then at 5 o’clock get off work and go out and coach a bunch of screaming, yelling kids and put up with all of it? No, you probably wouldn’t. But you would and you will if your kid’s out there.” Tim Billingsley of Columbiana is a youth softball coach whose teams have always included at least one of his daughters. “Sometimes parents get out with good intentions, to spend time with their kid,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about – encouraging that family time.” But parent-coaches have to remember they’re responsible for other kids getting a rewarding experience, as well. “There’s just that little fine line you have to walk,” Billingsley said. Some walk that line better than others. For some coaches, the pride they feel in their child overcomes the judgment they should exhibit as the coach. Daddyball Obie Evans, the Dixie Softball national president who was a coach himself for many years in Birmingham, says he has seen too much “daddyball.”

That’s when a parent tries to showcase his or her child by building the team around that child. The tendency also shows up frequently in the selection of all-star squads. He recalled his oldest daughter, whom he coached at the time, asking if she would make the all-star team. “I said, ‘Denise, you’ve got to be pretty good to make the all-stars, and you’re not at that level yet,”‘ Evans recalled. “Her statement to me was, ‘Well, the other girls say because you’re my dad, I’m going to make the all-stars.” While coaching his daughters, Evans said, he always felt the scrutiny of other parents. “It was mainly because other parents watch and see how you handle your child or punish your child or treat your child compared to their child,” Evans said.

The pressure he felt from other parents caused him to put more pressure on his younger daughter when he coached her, he said. “Some parents are great at it,” Evans said, “and there are some that stink at it. I came close to not being a real good coach of my daughter because I over compensated, expecting too much out of her. Fortunately, I didn’t coach her but a couple of years, and I think I was smart enough to get out of it.” Sometimes, parents who believe a coach unfairly favors his child can’t admit that the coach’s child is indeed a more gifted performer who can bring the thrill of success to the entire team.

Hugh Burton, former president of Gardendale Dizzy Dean Baseball, said that program tried to squelch complaints about “daddyball” by limiting teams to nine players, thus ensuring a regular role for all participants. Nonetheless, he said, the sons of coaches clearly were the superior players in many cases. “A lot of times the coaches’ sons spent a lot of time training” outside team practices.

Building Real Confidence

Confidence and self-esteem are important for every player to have in order to be successful on and off the soccer field. As coaches and parents, one of our goals is help develop both of these in players over the course of their childhood to help them be prepared for the real world when they are off on their own to face the challenges ahead. Confidence and self-esteem help people deal with adversity by being able to make thoughtful decisions in difficult situations that are aligned with their core values. It helps people stay the course in pursuit of their goals while others tell them it cannot be done or they are doomed to fail.

Confidence and self-esteem prevent people from quitting too early. The importance of these traits in a person cannot be stressed enough. With that said, we need to be very careful in how we try to develop confidence and self-esteem in kids as they grow up. Too often, we are too focused on making kids feel confident and have self-esteem through artificial means versus developing the skills that are the foundation that confidence and self-esteem are built upon. By Tony Earp Director of Super Kick Soccer Skills Program Success does not develop confidence or self-esteem. Confidence and self-esteem develops sustain, lifelong success.

It is not the other way around. Too often, we try to manufacture situations that kids will have success in order to build their confidence and self-esteem. Although in the short term, yes, a child will feel good about what just happened, but will that confidence last? Is it the type of confidence that will remain the next time the child fails? Or is it more like a big shiny bubble that is great for a moment but will not last? Unfortunately, artificial success creates a confidence “bubble” that will always pop leaving nothing of substance behind. To build confidence and self-esteem in kids, you are not really focusing on building those things.

To build that in a child, the focus needs to be on developing the skills required, and abilities needed, to actually be confidence and self-assured about what they are able to do. To build confidence and self-esteem, a person needs the skills and ability to be successful in whatever they choose to do. Building confidence and self-esteem without any real substance behind it, is like building a house with no foundation.

Under the slightest amount of pressure, it will crumble. For example, a doctor who is confident is normally confident for good reason (at least we hope so). Over a career of developing knowledge and skills to provide the best care possible for patients, the doctor is confident in the ability to diagnose a problem and treat it accordingly. Although the doctor may be wrong at times, it does not hurt the doctor’s confidence or cause doubt in the doctor’s ability to do a great job.

But what if the doctor lacked any substantive knowledge or advanced skills, what if deep down the doctor really knew that those abilities were not there? How quickly would the doctor’s confidence and self-esteem fade at the moment that the doctor is challenged or faced with adversity to any degree? How quickly would the doctor shy away from “difficult cases” or give up when a diagnosis could not be found quick. In relation to soccer, confident players are ones who have the necessary skills to play the game.

They are not necessarily the players who are having success. Yes, they may claim to be confident and may even show the body language and demeanor of a confident player, but what happens the first time they are really challenged by the game or another player? What happens the first time they fail? Does the confidence remain or does it quickly fade? Does the player assume he is no longer a good player? Or is the player confident in what he is able to do and recognizes a temporary setback and an opportunity to grow and develop. Kids are confident and have a high self-esteem when they know they are good at something.

When they know they have the skills to be successful, and they can make a positive impact on what is going on around them, they are confident and will shine. When challenged, they do not break. They rely on what they know how to do and what they can do to meet the challenge and overcome it, but even when they fail, it is never from a lack of effort or persistence. More importantly, they do not take it as an attack on their self-worth or confidence, but as an opportunity to learn, grow, and become better. Even in failure, self-esteem and confidence can grow, but only in those who are really confident and have a self-esteem solidified on the substance and value of their abilities. Too often we are too concerned with the final result, a score, a grade, a certificate, etc… and not concerned enough with what the child actually is capable of doing or what the child actually knows.

Think about back when you were in school, and you got an A on a test or a paper. Getting the A is a great thing, and in no way am I saying that trying to achieve high scores is a bad thing. My question is what did you really have to do to get that A, or what did you learn? Getting the A is not what built your confidence or self-esteem. It is what you are now capable of doing or what you now know that was significant. It is what real self-esteem and confidence grows from. If the A was not really earned, nothing was learned, or the child was setup to do well (easy questions, “spoon fed” the answers), then the A really has very little value.

Yes, the child may be “proud” of the grade, but then what? What is the child left with besides a memory of a moment that they felt good about something they “accomplished?” On the soccer field it is the same, we are too concerned on whether a child wins and loses and the effect it will have on their self-esteem or confidence, rather than really looking to see what the child is or is not capable of doing. What is the child learning or not learning how to do? Winning is a great thing, and every player should compete to win, but winning does not build confidence. Ability does. Players can be on a team that wins all the time, but if deep down they know they do not have the skills to play the game, then they are not confident or have a high self-esteem when it comes to soccer.

Yes, they feel good and smile after a win. Of course they do, since winning feels good. But the truth is, they are not building confidence to play the game. Why? They have nothing to really be confident about. Confidence and self-esteem come from one simple question: What can you do? The more skills and ability a person has, the more they are capable of doing, the more confidence they will have in what they do. Past success, does not help a person in regards to what they are capable of at this moment.

When the answer to the ability question is “not much,” how would we expect someone to be confident in that scenario. This is why our mission and goal as coaches and teachers is NOT to help kids have success. It is absolutely and most importantly always to help kids DEVELOP SKILLS and ABILITIES to be able to answer that question…. What can you do? Also, when that becomes the focus, it provides the kid a straightforward answer to what needs to be worked on. Simply, whatever they cannot do right now is what they should be working on to be able to do in the near future.

Confident players know their strengths and their weaknesses. They are not ashamed or embarrassed by their weaknesses, but instead use those areas of their game to guide their training and drive to improve. Unconfident players, ignore their weaknesses and try to pretend they do not exist. When those weaknesses are exploited, a player’s’ confidence in his level of play immediately plummets. Instead of trying to build confidence and self-esteem through artificially, adult manipulated, worthless “victories” or prizes, confidence needs to be developed by making players confident in the skills they possess. In order for them to be confident in those skills, the focus for coaches, teachers, and parents should be to instill those skills, not confidence.

Without the skills, there is really nothing for a child to be confident about. Again, yes, having success, winning, getting a good grade, makes anyone feel good, as it should. All I am saying is that it is critical to pay attention to the context in which those things are being accomplished. Are they being done in a way that it is earned by the children through the development of skills and knowledge, or is it being given to the children with little substance or value supporting that success? It is the simple difference between building confidence and building nothing in child.