Thursday, January 26, 2012

39 Days and counting...

It is never to early to write a blog about soccer!
Our soccer season is just over five weeks away, 39 days from today to be exact. I am beyond excited and ready for it to be here. As it draws closer I have had a few people ask me whether or not I am looking forward to the season, my general response has been, "I have been looking forward to the season since last June!"

This year will prove to be different than the past, in more than one way.
To start with, and perhaps the biggest change for me, is that I am now the head coach. For the past two years I have been the varsity assistant coach, but was handed the girls soccer program last June. I thoroughly enjoyed my two years as assistant coach and learned a lot from those years. However, I cannot deny I am excited to be the head coach this year. Though, I am quickly realizing there are a lot of little things that happen behind the scenes that need to be in place in order to have a smooth start to the year. With each week bringing us closer to the season, I am trying to tackle one more project and keep my head above water. It's a lot of work, but I love it.
Another difference will be the players. Obviously every year we lose players to graduation. But last year is looking more like a mass exodus than graduation. From our entire team of 17 varsity players, we will have five returning. Some will move from the jv to varsity team, which will definitely help, but with that many holes to fill it will no doubt be different. As I was walking to school today I passed a colleague who began asking about soccer, and the turnover of the team. I gave him this fun fact that shows the experience we lost from last year's team...we do not have a single player returning on the varsity team that scored a goal last year.

Some may view that as a bad thing, and some are even calling it a "rebuilding year." Honestly, some outsiders have spoken of lower expectations/hopes for our team knowing what we lost. I look at it as a challenge and as an obstacle that will make us stronger, better, and more unified.

I am writing this blog today, because during lunch this afternoon I met with all the girls who are planning on trying out for the team. I gave them our season schedule, talked a little about tryouts, and gave them a pre-season packet that included a daily running guide to ensure they came to tryouts in shape and ready to run. We had a brief meeting right before Christmas break and I put quite a bit of fear in them, when I told them how hard I expected them to work. As I laid out my expectations for them, I ensured them I would provide the tools to help them meet those expectations. Over the past two years I had a growing reputation of running practices that were physically demanding, and tiring. The girls are worried, now that I will be running every practice, they will be pushed harder and harder.
They should be worried, because we will work very hard. After all... I don't want to fail to meet their expectations! ;-)

I honestly have no idea what the season will bring as far as our record and performances. I have some thoughts, but you never know. I am always optimistic and will always be positive. Regardless of what happens on gamedays, I know it will be a positive experience, a growing experience, and a challenge that made all of us better people.
In looking at our schedule we have the amazing opportunity to playing Patch and Ramstein - last year these are the two teams that played against each other for the Division 1 championship (we play in Division 2 with divisions broken down based upon your school's student population). Not only do we get to play both of those teams, we get to play them in the same weekend! I told the girls today, I am pumped for that weekend and really looking forward to the opportunity we have. It will be a great weekend. We have some redemption as well, seeing as Patch overwhelmed us last year and beat us 8-0.
I have been working hard in preparation for the season - gathering insight and information from former players, as well as picking the brain of other coaches. I have been meeting with three players weekly to create a vision for the team, and try to get a better grasp of who we are, and where we want to go. I have also been working on a secret project that took a lot of emailing and chasing, but finally landed it! Sorry...just like the girls you will have to wait to find out what it is! But I am certain the girls will absolutely love it and be blown away, it's going to be awesome.

As I finished our team meeting today I finished with the following four points. I told them these are things they can expect out of the season:
1. We are going to have fun.
2. We are going to work hard, real hard.
3. We are going to be different.
4. We are going to compete. Every day. Every game.

It's 39 days away, and I cannot wait!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What comes around, goes around.

With all of our students having traveled to various countries over break, when they return, they not only bring back different trinkets of home, they bring back the flu. Within the past week there have been a few different types of the flu going around the school. About halfway through the day today I found myself drained of energy, and having a difficult time concentrating on normal simple tasks. So it is my turn to fight the 24-36 hour flu. I am in the process of heating up the closest equivalent to chicken noodle soup I could find - will take a few Nyquill, and then get as much rest as possible.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What's up next?

Over our recent break I had one person come up to me and say, "What's up next for you?" Realizing it had been a little while since I talked with this friend I figured time was the reason I had failed to fill him in on the "next" plan. A few days passed and I found myself being asked that same question multiple times. I soon realized time was not to blame for people not knowing, it was my fault in not sharing with people. Thus, I shall tackle the question of, "what's up next?"
My plan is to stay at BFA for the remainder of this year, and all of next year as well. That will give me two years in my current role as guidance counselor and put my total tally for five years in Germany. That honestly sounds bizarre as I type it, but time flies when you are having fun - and if you know one thing about these past few years you will know that I absolutely love being here in Germany. At that point I plan to leave Germany for at least a year. There are a few factors playing into this, the most influential being the fact the German government has imposed a rule stating staff members will not be given a visa to be in the country after the fifth year. Upon reaching the five year mark we must leave the country for at least 366 days.
So I may like to think I have a few factors playing into the decision, but that in itself seems like a pretty convincing reason for me to leave.

I have been aware of this rule for a little while, and I have been blessed to see the way in which everything has played out as far as my relationships with the students goes. This year I was asked to be a Junior class sponsor - giving me the opportunity to be a class sponsor again next year with this group of students as they become the Senior class. It is special to spend the final two years with them, and in a sense be able to graduate with them. A really cool side note to that, is the fact that in my guidance counseling case load I have 33 of the 67 juniors. Virtually half of the class! I have gotten to know them this year through class activities and fund-raisers, as well as by being their guidance counselor. I will also spend a lot of time with them next year with college applications and references. (Of course there is the senior class trip that is an added bonus.) The icing on the cake is this: my first year in the dorm there were four middle school students, three eighth graders and one seventh grader. Two of those three eighth graders are still at the school and are now juniors, and will graduate next year. It is extremely special for me to think that my first year here was also their first year...as eighth graders. After spending these five years together, next year I will get to see them graduate. That is simply incredible. Looking back at the growth I have seen in these two is special. They have both had their ups and downs, but I can really see the two of them maturing. Just yesterday I was walking the halls and about to cross paths with one of these guys, he slowed down, gave me a hug, and just kept walking without ever saying a word. It was the highlight of my day.

Okay Tommy, you've avoiding the question, 'what's up next?' Well, to be truthful I do not entirely know. I have a few ideas and possibilities that I am letting roll around. I have a few thoughts I am pursuing and occasionally sending out emails about. At this point I have nothing solid, though I have not put forth the greatest effort. To be honest, the past three years I have always found myself in a position saying, "I do not know where I will be 6 months from now." I can confidently say I know where I will be for the next 18 months...and a small part of me wants to enjoy that.
However, I know time will continue to fly by, and I must be prepared for when I leave Germany. I have thought about going to seminary, as that has always been of interest to me. Pursuing a masters is also intriguing, perhaps in teaching, history, or counseling. Coaching full time also has a lot of appeal (by the way, our soccer season starts in 53 days. YES I do have a countdown. YES I am VERY excited for the season to start.) I don't know what my new job title will be. I don't know which specific avenue I will pursue. However, I do know this - I desire for my job description to be focused on relationships with students. I am passionate about pouring into the lives of teenagers and showing them Christ's love. That is what makes my heart beat, and that is what gets me excited. That's what I love to do and what I want to do. The specific job title I will have to do that... I'm just not quite sure.