So this week has been like whoa…
Tuesday we hosted Florida High. Now, I have had some issues with us the last couple of games- we just play like crap. Doing things that some of them haven’t done in years (like playing the ball back into the center), horrible first touch. LR and I got to talking about it, and started wondering if it had anything to do with the massive amounts of caffeine these kids consume before games. This isn’t new to me- our GK used to chug a can of red bull before playing. But these kids are drinking that Monster crap. Plus, my mom noticed at the Taylor game that they are always running and doing… either running to the bathroom- to the concession, up the stairs, to play ball, to the bus, etc. Like they are powered by motors…
So I tried something new with them on Tuesday. During the last part of the JV game, we went under the stadium and did some visualization and breathing exercises. Just tried to get them to clear their minds and focus on the task at hand.
And it worked. We pretty much dominated Florida High… played very well… passed very well. And the best part? They didnt make a lot of stupid, dumb mistakes, and anytime one of them tried something that didnt work out, a teammate was right behind them to pick up the slack. It was brilliant. We got 2 goals in the first half and had a ton of good chances in the second half (their keeper kept them in it). But Florida High really wasn’t THAT strong- so I was sort of looking for us to play well against a good team.
We got that last night. We came up to Tallahassee to play Leon. Leon is a pretty good team. Most of those girls play TUFC and ASG. And I dont know if Tony has practices where he puts them on a wrack and stretches them, but holy hell, he has some tall girls. Which is in stark comparison to me, who often feels like Gulliver in the land of lilliputians. For real.
So we put a body on their best player and it got chippy from there. At one point she even had her hands around our player’s throat. And she was running her mouth. And they didn’t have an answer for our little big gun… she blew by their back line on several occassions. She is one of those fast little agile kids, who can dribble the ball and hop over defenders trying to kick the ball away AND maintain posession of the ball. It was really awesome. The game ended 0-0. But that isn’t the awesome part. The awesome part was that those girls from Leon did exactly what every other girls soccer team from rich-kid schools do: started running their mouths. Seriously- it was such a stereotype. I felt like I was watching a bad teen movie.
Towards the end of the game they were saying things like, “Seriously, they’re Wakulla” and “Are we really not going to beat Wakulla?” After the game (when the teams line up to shake hands) they said things like, “I bet you’re really happy with a tie.” One even said to Dave in the most sarcastic tone possible: “I’m glad you’re happy.”
I felt kind of bad for our girls- that the Leon players would take it so badly that they felt the need to show their tails as much as they did. We have a solid group of GOOD girls in our program. Nice girls- seriously. They feel bad when we play bad teams and score lots of goals. The snotty bitchiness that comes with some highschool girls teams? Not a trace of it with these girls. These are good kids. They care about playing the game well. They care about having a good time- that is all they want. I think a lot of them are realistic about where they come from and their place in this world with soccer. They tend to be realistic… sometimes there are teams that you play were everyone could be playing absolutely out of their mind and we may still lose, because we dont have THAT much skill, or the other team is just THAT good. I think that some of them are starting to get the fact that there is a dynamic in this sport that goes way beyond just skill and hard work. There is also a political and socioeconomic influence that puts elite level ball beyond the reach of most Wakulla girls.
What is even more ironic is that a lot of those girls play for TUFC (their coach is a pretty big deal with TUFC). They dont have enough players to play in each age group- the oldest full team they have is U16s. Uhhhh, hello? I have 9 juniors… who happen to be 15-17 years old. So last night could have been an awesome opportunity to possibly join forces.
However, I stopped feeling bad. It’s the greatest compliment when a team loses their composure while playing you. That these Wakulla girls got in their heads is great- it means that we’re actually becoming a better team. And they did it by playing good, smart soccer. Not by playing dirty or running their mouths. And the fact that they didnt let it come to blows and didnt run their mouths back makes my heart burst with pride. It was so… elegant. So classy.