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Coaches Blog

Sam's Blog is a bi-weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. Sam Snow is the Coaching Director for US Youth Soccer.

 

Travel and Representing

Sam Snow

My work requires a good bit of travel throughout the USA.  My family and friends comment that it’s a great way to see the country.  Well it has been a chance to see airports, hotels and the soccer fields that now dot the countryside.  I do occasionally get to sightsee a little and there is so much our country has to offer.

I must say though that what the travel affords me is the opportunity to meet the wonderful people involved in the beautiful game.  Keep in mind that those people are not just the ones on those soccer fields I mentioned. 

Often they are fellow travelers, airline crew, hotel and restaurant workers or even the taxi driver.  I’ve gotten into conversations with flight attendants who are volunteer coaches or administrators or the parents of players in US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (US Youth Soccer ODP) or TOPSoccer.  I’m impressed by how many Americans now have some connection to soccer.  So here’s my final thought of this little meandering of mine. 

Those of us who represent the game as professional coaches, administrators or referees must carry ourselves well.  If you are being paid any amount of money to referee, coach or administer soccer then you are a professional in our sport.  Those of us in that boat must be cognizant that we are always being judged when in public.  We represent American youth soccer and our appearance, demeanor, words and actions reflects upon the sport and all of us in that boat with you.  Let us then strive to set and met high standards for ourselves.

 

 

Workshop presenters and events

Sam Snow

This week I'd like to give you some insights to many of the first rate presenters who will be available to you at the 2008 US Youth Soccer adidas Workshop in Pittsburgh. For our coaches, referees and administrators there'll be sessions that may educate and inspire. We'll have sessions for the technical development of mainstream players, select players and disabled players. 

The presenters include our newest hire in the US Youth Soccer Technical Department John Ellinger, as well as from Dr. John Thomas and me. Alongside of us in the coaching tracks are John Hackworth, U.S. Soccer Academy Director and Assistant Men's National Team Coach; Jeff Tipping, the NSCAA Director of Coaching; Detlev Brüggemann, FIFA Instructor; Brett Thompson, Director of Coaching for Ohio South Youth Soccer Association and US Youth Soccer Region II Olympic Development Program Head Coach for girls; Dr. Don Kirkendall from the University of North Carolina and FIFA's FMARC; Karla Thompson, Director of Soccer Operations for the Arizona Fury and former U20 Women's National Team player; Brian Bliss, Director of Coaching for the Kansas State Youth Soccer Association and former Men's National Team and MLS player; Paul Halford, Director of Coaching for PA West, plus many more outstanding American coaches.

For our colleagues in officiating and administration some of the top class clinicians are Larry Monaco, President of US Youth Soccer; Rodney Kenney; Herb Silva; John Kukitz, Chair of the Soccer Start Committee; Todd Roby, US Youth Soccer Senior Manager of Communications; Dr. Aimee Kimball; Dr. David Carr among many others.

With help from many of the PA West soccer clubs we'll have on hand (foot?) some wonderful young players to assist the coaches in showing you the best in the craft of coaching. Plus for the first time there will be a Kick Zone for local players to come and try out their skills.

Did I mention the Awards Gala with the presentations of the Dr. Thomas Fleck Award, Coach of the Year honors and more? There will be exhibits, meetings, sharing of information and experiences along with new and old friendships. Join us for a fabulous time with those who support and guide youth soccer in our country.
 

Nietzsche Never Bought a Car

Susan Boyd

German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche said "That which does not kill me makes me stronger," which I find a highly unrealistic view of life.  According to the philosopher with every major event in my life I am either doomed to die or arise Phoenix-like with greater strength.  This particular philosophic adage may hold true for say Sylvester Stallone who developed strength enough from the originals to remake both Rocky and Rambo.  He claims he owes this renaissance to human growth hormone which I think should create the corollary to Nietzsche's axiom, "Drugs which do not kill me make me stupid."  My experience is somewhat different.  I am writing this blog, so obviously nothing has stopped me dead in my tracks, but I certainly have been run over by life a few times and as I creak out of bed each morning I don't feel stronger.
 
My prime example is buying a car, which we are presently trying to do.  I have bought probably 30 cars in my lifetime and I am never prepared for the experience.  Robbie found a car on Ebay that he thought would be perfect to replace his 10 year old, 135,000 mile Toyota Rav 4.  Those of you who may have read earlier blogs of mine know that I have a six year old Sienna with 183,000 miles on it.  The "check engine" light has been on for three years.  But it gets us to soccer practice, games, and even trips, so I have decided to try and nurse it along.  Plus Robbie is now old enough to do the weekend trips to Chicago, so a safer, more reliable car makes sense – or least that's what he tells me!

This particular car sat on a dealership lot in a north suburb of Chicago, so we decided to go visit them rather than attempt to bid.  We also found the same car listed on Auto Traders, Car Soup, Used Cars, etc.  So we figured the dealership was motivated to sell.  The price was clearly listed and since they were attempting to sell it on Ebay, we figured that they had a reserve which had to be lower than the advertised price.  There had been no bids on it on Ebay, so we also thought they would appreciate a bird in the hand.  I did my research.  The car was listed at $24,997.  I got the Kelly Blue Book for the car and found four others like it on the internet with retail prices of $23,000 to $23,500.  I figured we could offer $1000 lower than that and reach a good deal.  I was going to trade in the Rav 4 with a trade-in value in fair condition of $2600 and pay cash for the balance.

Here's where the "not stronger" part comes in.  I don't know why I thought this dealership would be any different from the two dozen or more I have dealt with over the years, but it was worse and I wasn't up to the battle despite being a car buying veteran.  The first thing the salesman did was add $890 to the price of the used car for "shipping."  Apparently, according to the dealership, it wasn't fair to pass on the full cost of shipping a used car they had bought in Florida onto one buyer when another buyer might be purchasing a car that hadn't been shipped.  So their reasoning was to average the cost and charge all used car buyers this fee.  Since my car was local I was now being asked to subsidize someone who had the unfortunate taste to select a car that the dealership had crossed state lines to acquire.

This fee added onto the published retail price made the total cost $3000 over Kelly Blue Book.  From that point forward things just disintegrated.  No matter what my offer, the total price of the car in dealer math ended up being the same, $26,000.  I made an offer, they lowered the value of the trade-in and viola! $26,000.  I refused the extended warranty (worth $2000), they took that off the offer and amazingly my total out of pocket remained the same, $26,000.  No matter the permutation, I would be paying $26,000 for the car.

It was voodoo economics, which now required an additional economist.  Joining the salesman was some backroom guy who "only had my best interests at heart." Amazingly, even though the cost of the automobile never fluctuated, this new guy begged me to come up with "just a few hundred more" and we could reach a deal.  A few hundred more would have made the price of the car $3000 and a "few hundred more" over the price of KBB.  He thrust a sheet of paper at me with some typing on it that indicated he had paid $26,000 for the car.  Since he had foolishly paid $3000 more than the retail price of the car according to a half dozen other reliable sources, I guess I was expected to bail him out of that situation.  Either I had to question the business acumen of the dealership or I had to hand it to them for chutzpah.

As my dejected son watched this circus, I summoned the strength to walk out with the words of the backroom guy still echoing behind me, "Susan we're only $600 a part – what's $600?"  That may have been my Nietzsche moment.  "Only $600?  Perfect. . .you take $600 off the total price of the car and we can still negotiate."  He looked at me like I spinach in my teeth.  We drove home in the old car.

Am I stronger for that experience?  We'll find out in about four hours when I toddle down to another dealership to start the process all over.  At least the price of the car we are looking at is listed just under Kelly Blue Book.  So I am hopeful that things will go well.  Right!  Just listen to me . . . I haven't learned a thing!  

 

No...not that football

Susan Boyd

I can state with confidence that should you visit our house and the TV is on, it will be FOX Soccer Channel, unless it's Judge Judy time (my guilty pleasure) or unless the Packers are playing. You may think this a brave statement to make when writing a blog for a soccer website, but the truth be told I think most soccer fanatics in America will admit to also being hooked on a football team. Here in Wisconsin it would be gross sacrilege not to cheer on the Green and Gold and not to hold the Bears and Vikings in contempt. 
           
Personally I have never been a huge football fan even though I dated a running back for the Detroit Lions for about three weeks back in the 60s. I did a very good job of pretending to understand what he was talking about by smiling, nodding, and looking him straight in the eyes. But I really haven't come much farther in my understanding of the nuances of the game. I know you need to drive down the field, get the ball in the end zone, and occasionally kick the ball for various reasons. I really don't know what a running back is, although according to the Lion I dated – a RB carries the ball during the drive down the field. I don't know if linebackers run or block or if they are offense or defense.  I do know that a quarterback is offense because Brett Favre is the patron saint of offensive players. 
           
Despite this paucity of knowledge and the fact that I really don't much enjoy American football, somehow every Sunday (or the odd Saturday, Thursday, and Monday) I find myself watching the Packers. This year it was fun to watch them; other years not so much. Sunday a week ago, the Packers played Seattle Seahawks (I grew up in Seattle and I love the Seahawk uniforms) at Lambeau Field in a raging snow storm. That was the most fun I ever had watching football. The Packer players were actually enjoying themselves. I expected them to all suddenly lie down and make snow angels during a time out. For a while the grounds crew tried to keep the field lines clear by shoveling and using some contraption that looked like a snow blower with a mustache, but eventually they gave up the battle, and ball placement was anyone's guess. My son Robbie played a soccer game in Fort Wayne, Indiana under the same conditions, only there we didn't have the benefit of a grounds crew. We parents swept off the sidelines and the goal box once. After that we let the elements win.
           
What a difference a week makes. This past Sunday the Packers again played at home against the NY Giants in -1 degree with a wind chill of -23 degrees. The announcers kept reminding everyone that this wasn't the coldest game ever. That honor went to a game in Cincinnati where the wind chill was -56 degrees. Having sat through a soccer game in Cincinnati in the snow I trust the announcers' data. This time the Packers did not look like they were having fun. The Giants didn't look like they were having fun either. Both teams did their best to lose the game and eventually the Packers won at losing. I knew four people who went to the game who got to sit through the bitter cold to watch the Packers lose and pay $500 each for the privilege. I seriously doubt I would have felt much differently at the end of the game whether the Packers won or lost because I doubt I could have felt anything! I actually expected uniforms to shatter into pieces when a player was tackled.
           
So now for seven months we can avoid American football and once again concentrate on the real football in our house. The MLS draft this weekend yielded three friends of my sons, so there was lots of dancing and whooping without Packer cheer. Now if you stop by you'll be able to win a bet with anyone you choose on what the Boyd's are watching, unless of course it is Judge Judy time, then you'll lose.
           
I have to add a footnote to this blog. . .my sister-in-law, Tamara Jenkins, who is married to my screenwriter brother, Jim Taylor, who won an Oscar for Sideways, just got an Oscar nomination for her original screenplay The Savages, which she also directed. If any of you are Academy members please vote for her. If you're not a member then at least go see the movie. It's great – poignant, funny, true to life, and the theaters are warm.