Mornin’ from Columbia, Kentucky:

First off, thank you to all the parents and grandparents that helped get the guys to camp yesterday. Check-in ended around 9:15. Directly after that, we went to the gym, where Coach Neto talked to the campers about what they should expect and his goals for the camp. We then settled into our dorms. After a long period of down time, we carpooled to the football field for training session #1 (focus on possession and directional play). The boys worked extremely hard. Our coach for the day, Rueben Rodriguez (Head Coach at Berea College), spoke very highly of the boys. He was excited for us coaches and gave the guys a lot of one-on-one advice.

We got back to the dorms and went directly to lunch(the guys pigged out). I think they’re loving this place. After that, we had our 2nd session of the day. This session focused on re-direction and changing the pace of the game. The drills were extremely simple, but very meaningful. The sun was shinning very bright and a few players crapped up, but are recovering as of today. After that, we returned back to the dorms to relax till our game. Once we got to the field, we were informed that our team was split into two (Varsity and JV). Every one played in the varsity game, but only 8th graders and a few 9th graders played in the JV.

I put together the starting line up for Coach Rueben. We ran a 4-4-2 in both games. Once the game started, the guys jumped on UH. We dominated possession and really did a good job on moving the ball. Players were talking and moving off the ball. We gave up the first goal on a tough break. As we were dominating tempo, UH countered and got a 1v1 chance. The best part is how we responded. 3 minutes later, Ryan played a great ball into space to Kings and he placed the ball into the corner. Tie game. Five minutes later, Tanner played Kings again and he buried it. Boom, 2-1. We went into the half excited but honestly, a little over confident. It’s fine though, they earned it after fighting back and I don’t mind them having a chip on their shoulder.

After half time, we gave them two goals within minutes. The guys looked rattled and heads started to go down. Even after that, they dug deep and refocused. With about 10 minutes to play, Kings earned a foul around the 18 yard box. Before he could take it, I asked him to let James take it. Not necessarily because James is a better shooter than Kings, but because I watched James take over 20 free kicks at practice. He practiced it all by himself before and after practice. The kid stepped up and buried a beauty. Tie game. With 2 minutes left, UH took the ball in-line and got the game winner. While we lost the game, I’m extremely proud of the effort from all players. Both Middle and High School players stepped up against Juniors and Seniors. Coach Rueben was extremely proud as well. By the end of the game, we had 4 starters on the bench with an injury. While we want to win games, our priority is safety and recovery. It was a long day and players weren’t happy about coming out, but it’s my responsibility to makes calls like that….for them.

The JV game started directly after the whistle. Only two Varsity players had to be subbed in due to injuries (they played about 3 minutes), the rest of the game was played by middle school players and 9th graders. The guys balled out. Moved the ball non-stop and really communicated well. They had goal scoring opportunities but couldn’t finish. It went to the half 0-0, after halftime, the boys buckled down and Collier scored his first goal for FDHS (began playing soccer in April). Luke played a great ball to him and he slipped it by the goalie. 1-0. 10 minutes left. Pulaski is really pushing for another goal. You can tell the coach put in his older players to get an equalizer 🙂 – The boys buckled down and kept fighting. Took every shot they had. With 10 seconds (literally), their forward slipped it by Max (played out of his mind). The game ended in a draw.

For many of these players, last night was the first time they’ve ever represented Douglass soccer in a real game. Not only did they do it with pure class, they grew a lot with one another. You can see the passion in the eyes and how hungry they were for success. Even with the pain, they fought through two sessions in 100 degree heat, and really took huge strides for the better. We all left the field last night tired, but proud of what we did. As their coach, I’m also very proud of what they did and continue to do.

And that’s only Day 1 – hoping Day 2 is even better! Be sure to follow us on Facebook for more updates!

#BeGreat

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