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Shooting for Third

To Finish First

-Robert Czumak

They don't remember the trophy, they remember the journey, and what they learned coming in third.

For many years, Jenn and I have been asked how and why we do the things we do. It's not an easy question to answer. Why don't you have set teams? Why don't you try to win every game/league? Why don't you put the best players and team on the field every time? Why don't you cut players? Why do you have the players coached by multiple coaches? The list goes on.

What they really want to know is, how did we come to this type of training ideology? Historically, our teams evolve and develop over time. We prepare our players and teams to reach their best days right before they head off to college. We hope they are...

  • Good students

  • Good teammates

  • Good reputable citizens

  • Comfortable in their skin

  • Accepting that their skill level is a byproduct of the time and effort they put in

  • Good at accepting the truth.

Why third?

We know that if we are in a league that we can easily win or easily come in last, it makes our goal of developing players into the best they can be almost impossible. Wins can't come easy when you're young if you want to develop. There must be natural tensions. We do this by...

  • Mixing different levels of players on a team

  • Asking players to perform some techniques or tactics that will be needed much later on

  • Playing players "out of position"

So when we "lose" 2-1 to a quality team, or come in third in a quality league at the young ages, we grow emotionally, mentally, and tactically, much more than our opponents. Let them celebrate and post on social media. It's fair because it's what they signed up for. Let them have "the title" - they earned it. Our job is not to fill a player's case up with trophies. It is to make them happy - our job is to fill their hearts with joy. To set out a long-term, caring, supportive, and relentlessly driven plan to guide a young kid into becoming a young adult. Through the process we are blessed to see the faces of proud, strong, confident, self-motivated young women who showcase their sportsmanship as well as their skills every time they step on the pitch. And then they leave us and go into the world, prepared for their next challenge.

They remember losing 8 or 9 nothing to teams. They remember hard talks about what is needed to improve. They remember the fight. They remember the struggle. They are stronger for it and it makes the time of letting go much harder.

Would a trophy at 12 years old change this? They don't remember the trophy, they remember the journey, and what they learned coming in third.

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