|A COACH'S PERSPECTIVE: THE JOURNEY TO A PERFECT SEASON|
|October 30, 2007 11:00 pm|
By Paul Angove
Special to the Pilot
Editor's note: Paul Angove is the head coach of the Brookings-Harbor High School girls' soccer team that went undefeated en route to a Special District 3 championship. This is his brief account of what it took to go 14-0.
The season starts with a question: "Do you want to be as good as you can be?"
There are no promises of perfection.
There is no talk of a state championship, a league title, or even a single game.
We start by asking if everyone involved with the program is committed to this single goal.
The answer, of course, is an emphatic yes.
Of course they want to be the best they can be. My job as a coach is to show them how to work.
The girls decide they want to meet three days a week to practice over the summer. They want to be prepared when the season starts.
This doesn't mean that all girls will actually put in all the work.
They might come once or twice and decide it isn't worth it.
It does mean they understand that the responsibility lies on their shoulders.
No one can make them better; they have to make themselves better.
The girls do show up and are ready to work.
In all, about 25 athletes show up.
I am starting to get excited, not because I think that we can win a lot of games, but because I know that this group is going to work hard.
It is not always easy for athletes to commit so much of their free time to their sport.
These kids make that commitment without reservation. They do it because they believe in themselves and each other.
The only way to be successful is it to be committed.
That doesn't pertain to just the athletes. The coaches need to be committed as well.
My wife has a baby and I am not going to be able come to practice for a while.
Peter Mitchell, a volunteer assistant coach, is willing to show up and help every day.
By the time I get back, I am amazed to see the team.
I can see determination on every player's face.
Official practice starts. Every season is different and teams have different levels of expectations.
The expectations for this team are through the roof.
Everyone involved with the program expects that this team not only should win, but that they will win.
Expectations can change attitudes, but these athletes understand that the only way to win is to work hard.
I talk a lot about responsibility. I want the girls to accept the responsibility for failure and success.
The games start. It is the unity among the girls that makes this team so special.
They don't fight and bicker with each other.
There isn't any jealousy or mistrust.
They get on the bus and act like a team.
They sing at the back of the bus and set goals together.
When they get off the bus, they let everyone know they are a team.
Every success and every failure is accepted as a group.
I have never taught this concept.
It is something they already know.
An incredible group of senior girls is the driving force behind the team.
They started showing up in my classroom last spring, demanding to know when we were going to get started.
They decided that they were going to be good.
A tone is set each and every day of practice and at every game.
The girls refuse to walk away from the field feeling like they have something left to give.
We win every game.
I have always thought that this group would be good, but with all of the young girls on the team, I expected the season would be up and down.
We didn't just win games, we were challenged only a handful of times.
Winning, however, is not my measure of success.
The girls have done everything that I have asked of them.
They have done their best to be as good as they possibly could be.
I have always felt that the most difficult thing to learn is how to work hard.
Even more difficult is the fact that sometimes you do the best you can and don't achieve your goals.
I am proud of this team, but not because they have won.
I am proud of them because they did everything they could.
This is how I measure success.
It is why I coach.
I make no promises about what future success we will have this year.
On Tuesday, Nov. 6, there is the potential for disappointment.
I can guarantee, however, this season has not been a failure.