Kelly reflects on Soccer's spring development
May 17, 2012
The first time I met with this group of ladies, I told them that the most consistent factor in their lives, while at The University of Texas, was going to be me. Of course I never really realized that my commitment to them and my consistency were going to be actualized so quickly.
Around four in the morning, on Friday, Feb. 3, I received a phone call from our athletics director Chris Plonsky. She informed me that senior Kylie Doniak had been involved in an auto-pedestrian accident and was in ICU. You never can prepare for those kinds of phone calls. You just hope always that you act appropriately, and that you lead and speak appropriately.
At that point, we were just going into our second full week of training; we had only had three full training sessions. Any sort of plan that I would have had coming in was thrown out of the window. Do we train? How do we train? You knew what the girls needed, for structure and comfort, but I was still learning about them as individuals. Assuming then what they would need from us, and then finding ways to implement that, throughout the course of that Friday, was difficult.
In reflection, I’m so grateful for where Kylie is today. The underlying story through it all is that human nature is to persevere, and to push yourself beyond what your mind thinks it can actually do.
That’s our job here as coaches with the young ladies -- push them beyond their threshold and beyond what is average and mediocre. Once you push through that, you get attached to that adrenaline and the ability to pursue excellence.
At the beginning, once we actually did step on the field, it was trying to give them a release, and I also just wanted to observe them. I did not watch one video from the fall.
I told each and every one of them that I was excited to develop them and train them. If they were a starting defender, show me that you are a starting defender. There were times I was able to really push them. They were able to see who I am as a coach, and we had wonderful training sessions. We really saw different levels within them, and they were pushed beyond anything that they’ve done before.
We needed to build trust within the team. We needed to become a team. It was so incredibly rewarding, six weeks in, when the girls were speaking to each other in a very appropriate way and referencing themselves as teammates in a very genuine sense. It was becoming real. That was shown through their commitment to working hard and competing as an individual, but yet always moving towards a common goal.
What they are realizing now is that when I’m stretched, and you’re stretched, we can go that much farther together. There’s so much more power in two or three than there is just in one.