One of the great privileges I've been granted while attending Iona College is being a part of the men's soccer team. I serve as the team's manager, while I am also given assistant coaching responsibilities. This allows me to gain valuable experience that is vital to me in regards to my dream of becoming an elite soccer coach. My unique position within the team allows me to be treated as a player by the players on the team, and as a coach by the coaches. It allows me to draw from two perspectives simultaneously as we (the team) went through pre-season and now as we play out our season.
Building from our 15 win season last year our program gained national attention this year. High expectations were placed on the team and individual players as we were placed on national watch lists, and because of our difficult non-conference schedule we faced heading into this season. Needless to say, heading into the regular season, the team's confidence was high.
We won our first game of the season 1-0 against Adelphi University, and though it was closer than most people expected, we got off on the right foot. Unfortunately, the team has yet to win a game since. Problems that we had chose to ignore or banked on correcting themselves as the season progressed proved to be more serious than expected. Injuries, especially to our back line, have taken a larger toll than expected. In addition, troubled relationships between certain players have become a stumbling block that has only added, in this case, a literal sense of insult to injury.
There is no doubt that this team is talented enough to turn this season around, and that is where the challenge lies. The talent that this team possesses can be placed up with the best college programs in the country. The problem is that when you or your team finds itself in a slump Murphy's law (anything that can go wrong, will go wrong) seems to fester itself in every area within the team. The already thin defense continues to get banged up, missed chances continue to rear its ugly head and unlucky moments continue to occur at the worst time possible during a game.
The one thing I am certainly learning, in terms of coaching experience, is that in situations like this there is never a quick fix. You just have to preach to the players to continue to work hard and try to keep a positive mentality. The toughest aspect about this entire situation is that there is nothing you can simply change to get the team back on track. I am realizing that as a coach you and your players have to continue to believe that you are going to snap the bad streak you are on and that's the only way you can break out of a slump. You have to keep working hard and trying to improve, while staying positive even when the results aren't going your way.
Heading into the season I had a vastly different picture of how I was going to learn essential aspects necessary for me to become the elite soccer coach. However, It seems like this rough patch may be a blessing in disguise, not only for my personal goals, but also for this team.