Deep in the south (US) there is a small private Christian school. For a long time this school did not have athletic teams. Then four years ago they started their program. They started a men’s soccer team and a men and women’s cross country team. Now four years later the program has grown to include women’s soccer, men and women’s basketball, track and golf. What these original athletes started is what built the program, contributed to the school growing, and what is changing a community. What type of coaches and athletes did this program pull in? Well honestly, some of the best. First it takes a lot to start an athletics program. There is loads of stress and bumps in the road. But the reality is they were able to create something amazing. These first coaches and athletes are people that in whatever field they go into will be major contributors to whatever they do. They pushed through all the bumps and brought the program to where it is today.
Now, one specific athlete was actually my roommate and teammate. She has graduated and is working now, but the contribution and influence she has had on me and other athletes is amazing. There have been plenty of people who have coached me and others that have influenced us, but something that is very true to all athletes and coaches is that our peers provide one of the greatest influences upon us. Personally I grew up with friends and teams that were very competitive and at times cut throat, but that was what motivated me. A lot of times as athletes we find our identity in what we can do and how we perform. That isn’t always wrong, but we can’t be like that forever. What this teammate did was show me that that wasn’t necessary to be a good athlete at the college level. That the dedication and desire to compete, improve, and love for the sport was enough. This perspective changed a lot for me as an athlete. It helped me care about my sport again and see that it wasn’t just something I had to do, but something I wanted to do. Also down the road this helped me realize I wanted to coach.
So what is the point? Well how others influence us affects us in a lot of ways. The way my teammate influenced me was to basically see that my sport could be something more than just a sport, it was a life style, and eventually a career. No matter what level we are at in our playing or coaching we are or have been influenced by someone. Whether we realize it or not. Eventually we will be the person that influences our own teams. It is a domino effect; someone influences us, we influence, then they influence their team or mates. So while I am thankful for that influence then I am now also. It helps me remember daily what I care about and why.
To my teammate thanks for the motivation and getting me out of my head. I know you’ll do great things and as I continue to learn about coaching I hope that influence leads me to influence others.
BIO: Claudia achieved the Coaching F License at 20 and has since coached with Berkshire Soccer Academy in Massachusetts and had experience working with Team First (made up of several of the 1999 USA women’s World Cup winning team). She continues to play for Columbia International University in South Carolina as well as being the Varsity Girls Assistant and a Head Soccer Coach at Ridgeview High School. Claudia is passionate about training other girls to become better athletes on and off the field, like so many coaches did for her.