Thursday, January 24, 2013

Youth Soccer: How to Make an ODP team (Part 2)

If you do not think that your kid made a team after tryouts, do you prepare them for it? I did.

My daughter, CC, started the tryout process for the Ohio ODP team (Olympic Development Program) in November.

The process started with fall training / tryouts for the District 1 team. Ohio has three Districts. The initial District tryouts / training took place over two weekends in November (outdoors) and one weekend in December or January (indoors). 

The District 1, November tryouts were held from 9 to 11:45 am, in a town about 30 minutes from our house. 

My daughter, CC, and I showed up about 30 minutes early to sign in and get warmed up. I waited in a long line registration line while CC put her cleats and shin pads on. When I got to the front of the line, the admin volunteer told me that the player needs to sign in herself. She told me that they want self-sufficient, independent players. I retreated to my daughter's location and explained the situation. I was happy that overbearing parents would not be tolerated. It was a signal to me that talent would be the driver of the roster selections and perhaps politics would not be a factor.

CC eventually signed up and received a number to pin to her shirt. I helped her affixed the #161 to the back of her tee-shirt before she ran over to the goalie training / tryout field. 

She approached 24 goalies by my count. I was quickly assessed the competition and quickly noticed that every single one was bigger than CC. CC looked tiny but she has always been the smallest player her teams so it was not a surprise. Still, I began to get a bit concerned because some of the girls were considerably bigger. I turned to another dad and asked if all of these girls were 12 years old. He comforted me when he mentioned that there were 5 groups of girls vying to make 5 teams (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002). I quickly did the math and assumed that about 5 or 6 were in CC's 2000 age grop. CC told me later that, there were 11 goalies in the 2000 class hoping to make the district team and might be more because some teams had club matches that day.

There were 5 goalie trainers to manage the tryout. Each one carried a clipboard to collect notes on a player information chart. The trainers ran drills after drill and did so with intensity and purpose. They evaluated and taught at the same time. The girls worked hard for well over an hour. CC had experience with all of the drills, so she had no problems. I noticed that a few of the girls struggled with the fast pace of the drills. From a technical standpoint, I thought that CC did very well.

The field players went through similar paces on separate fields near by. From time to time, I roamed around to see CC's teammates.  Eventually, the goalies were told to join the field players for their age groups to tend goal for some shooting drills and small sided games. The goalies stood behind the goal and rotated in while the trainers with the clipboards kept watch.

The training schedule was repeated Saturday and Sunday for two weeks in November. During the last 5 minutes of the last November tryout, CC suffered a very severe ankle sprain. It happened so late, that she did not notify the trainers. I wrote about that story in an earlier post. As luck would have it, the next tryout was weeks away. CC wore a boot and was cleared to play again the week of the next tryout in December.

In December, the training / tryout moved indoors to a facility in Columbus, Ohio about 2 hours north from our home town. Both the Saturday and Sunday sessions were a bit shorter than the November sessions, but they were organized and conducted in a similar manner. CC and I drove up and back each day. I enjoyed the time in the car with my girl. CC's ankle was sore, but she hid it well from the trainer / evaluators.

After the final session in December, the coaching staff announced that the roster for the district teams would be selected on January 18th.

On the way home, I ask CC if she thought she did ok. She responded with a confident yes. I thought that she did well, but I was convinced that the coaching staff would overlook a goalie who was so small. I began to prepare CC for the inevitable. She has made every team that she has ever tried out for, so I wanted to prepare her.

The festival team was posted on the Ohio South Soccer website on Friday night at 9pm. On Saturday morning, I opened the website and looked for CC's name. As I expected it was not there. I looked for the names of other players that I knew. To my surprised, I did not recognize a single name. 

Then I realized I was looking at the wrong age group. I clicked on the 2000 team roster and started to see the names that I expected. Then I saw a name I did not expect to see. CC was listed. She had made it past the first phase. She will compete against the other two districts in what Ohio ODP calls the Festival Weekend. 

The Main Point

Do not prepare your kids for the worst before a tryout because that would introduce self-doubt. You can, however, prepare them for the disappointment after the tryout is complete, but expect the best to keep their confidence up. I did all of this except, I did not expect the best. CC surprised me yet again.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Youth Sports: Winning at all Costs

If the win at all costs, Lance Armstrong, is the most despicable athlete on earth right now, then Basque runner Ivan Fernandez Anaya is the most admirable.

During a cross country race in Burlanda, Navarre, Ivan was outpaced by Abel Mutai, the London Olympic Bronze Medalist in the 3000M. Ivan ran a good race, but trailed Abel by a wide margin entering the final stretch. Abel, who had an unsurmountable lead, pulled up 10 meters short of the finish line thinking that he had won. Ivan caught up and could have easily passed Abel, but he didn't. Instead he used gestures to communicate to the Kenyan and pushed him ahead and across the line to win the race.

 The Main Point

Ivan said that even if winning meant earning a spot on the Spanish team for the European Championships, he still would have pushed Abel ahead. Ivan has character, the cold and calculating Lance Armstrong does not, not even a little.

This event happened in December. Unfortunately, these types of stories are overshadowed by Lance Armstrong admitting to taking performance enhancing drugs and lying about it. This story is also obscured by Manti T'eo imaginary girlfriend hoax.

I have talked to my kids about all of these stories. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.



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