Happy New Year!!!!! Happy 2017!!!!!! Right now you might be thinking, that is a lot of exclamation points. Someone needs to calm down a little bit. This girl is really excited for the new year, but why all the exclamation points? Why am I so excited for 2017?
Anyone that knows me well knows I am just as competitive (or more, ok, a lot more) as the next guy. I love getting to compete during the season in our conference, with actual games that count for our record. I love watching our players put together what we have worked on during the week in practice, and implementing it in the games on the weekends. But as much as I love competing in actual in-season games, I think I love the off season with our team even more. Let me explain.
We jam pack so much into our two and a half month fall season. From cramming in 2-a-days during preseason, to getting right into the grind of a really tough conference, sometimes it seems like we just barely get started and then our fall season is coming to an end. When our players return to Union in February, there is just a different pace to life during our off season. The NCAA calls this segment the “Non-Championship Season.” During these 4 months of our spring training, I personally get to spend a lot of quality time with our players. (Insert the reason for all the exclamation points!!) The girls and I spend a lot of time together in small groups doing strength and conditioning workouts. I love this time with them. There is just something I love about getting to push athletes to tune their bodies to be the best they can be. We focus a lot on getting stronger, faster and quicker. This is accomplished through weight training in the wellness center and doing speed and agility training in the gym, turf room, and practice soccer field. Coach Isaac and I are also able to spend more 1 on 1 time doing individual skill sessions with our players. Unfortunately, in the fall Championship Season, things gets so busy that we are not able to spend this extra time that is so valuable for player development. The 2017 off season brings a lot more opportunities to pour into our players, and for that, I am excited.
We are also afforded more time to dedicate to intentional spiritual growth and development. (Insert more exclamation points) The girls have more down time in their schedules in the spring. This allows us to have a consistent weekly team Bible Study. This is one of the areas of my job I am so thankful exist.
As mentioned before, as competitive as I am and as much as I love sports and athletics, it most definitely is not the most important part of our program. A huge focus of the coaching staff is doing what we can to encourage, push, challenge, and help develop the spiritual lives of each player.
I love that I work for a school that allows us to couple athletics with a much bigger purpose.
If those two reasons were not enough to explain why I am so excited about our off season, I will add a third. This year, at the end of July, we will be taking our team missions trip to New Orleans. I cannot wait for this trip! Every two years we go on a missions trip. This will be the third trip in our program’s history. The first two trips were overseas (to the Bahamas and Costa Rica). This year, with good guidance from God, we chose a domestic location. I know God is going to use our group to do some cool things. But even more than what we “do” or “accomplish” while working on our missions trip, I am excited to see how this week serving in New Orleans will challenge and change each of us.
If you are not already excited about 2017 starting, I hope this article will help you look forward to the year God has in store for you. I know I am looking forward to a great year. So as I said at the beginning, Happy New Year and Happy 2017 from your Union women’s soccer team.