The 2015 season will represent my 5th season as the head coach of the varsity girls’ soccer program at the Manhattan school that I teach at.
While I think I’ve done reasonably well so far and picked up what I needed quickly, I know I have a long way to go to reach a level that I’m genuinely happy with. I’ve decided to spend some time in the coming season reflecting on the diversity of the moving parts that make up a team, as well as my own role as the facilitator of the growth of the program.
I’m starting this reflection now in March because, although the bulk of the season takes place from August to October, Feb/March is when I begin my preparations in earnest. This is the time of year when my athletic director and I begin discussing the schedule for the coming fall and putting games into place. This is an ongoing conversation as we decide how to supplement our short league schedule with teams outside our league that can both challenge us and help us grow. By my count most competitive teams in our area play between 14 and 18 games in a full season, counting playoffs and preseason scrimmages. I have been pushing for a 15 game schedule since my first year with the team.
This is somewhat of a tall order though. It’s not as simple as just scheduling 15 games in our area. It is very difficult to find field space for a game as there’s a lack of available fields, and additionally the fall season is the shortest season of the year by far. A typical season for us runs about nine or ten weeks from the beginning of preseason until the week of playoffs, assuming we qualify. The league sets their schedule, and then my AD and I try to fill in the holes. Since there’s only seven teams in our league (actually nine, but two schools drop their girls soccer season due to lack of players in most seasons) that leaves a lot of ground to make up to create a competitive schedule.
When considering dates to put games on we look at trying to avoid three games in a week where possible, or at least avoid having that for more than one week in a row. We also avoid putting games on Tuesdays, because that’s the one day each week we’re guaranteed a permit for practice space at the public field.
Here is a look at the preliminary schedule we have for the 2015 season. Dark blue dates are confirmed games, and light blue dates are suggested game dates:
The beginning of preseason and first day of school are still not confirmed at this time, so that may be adjusted in the coming weeks, but the game dates and days off school are definite at this point.
As you can see only two of the confirmed dates are non-league right now, which leaves us with at least five or six holes to fill to round out the season. This particular year, if it comes close to this, would be the most games we’ve played in my tenure. We are still looking at who to play, mostly considering teams we’ve played in recent years, but also looking at school size and recent results to determine who else might be a good addition. It’s important to choose teams that are good enough to push us, but not so big as to beat us out of hand.
I expect that the schedule will be mostly set before we end school in June, but even before it’s finished I will have to consider our summer workout plan. At the end of each school year I gather the returning players and discuss getting fit in the summer. That’s something I’ll go into in a future post.