Not Your Everyday Camp Coach

July 15th, 2019

Almost fourteen years ago, I was a young girl who attended my first Green & Gold soccer summer camp at the University of Alberta. A number of my coaches at that time were Pandas’ soccer players. I still remember how much I looked up to them and wanted to be like them when I grew up. I dreamed about being a Panda. Where am I today? I just finished my third year of eligibility with the Pandas soccer team and coaching soccer camps for the Green and Gold Sport System.

For my Stretch Experience, I am working with the Green & Gold Sport System as a lead soccer coach for the Learn-to-Train age group (9-11 years old). As the lead coach, I am expected to be in charge of around 25 young girls. I have to run drills and games, keep track of campers, interact with parents, be prepared for any emergency situation, and of course – the golden rule of soccer – ensure the campers (and coaches) have fun! With all this being said, I do have two amazing support coaches who work closely with me and I couldn’t do my job without them.

The interesting thing here is that I’ve actually worked for the Green & Gold Sport System for the previous two years at soccer summer camps as a support coach. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “how is being a lead coach a ‘stretching’ experience?” Well, that is a fantastic question. What makes this a Stretch Experience is all the additional things I am doing on top of being a lead coach. I am creating lesson plans each week that focus on a specific skill each day (i.e., Monday is passing, Tuesday is dribbling, Wednesday is attacking and defending, Thursday is shooting). I am also creating a “handbook” that contains specific techniques, drills, and games for the Learn-to-Train age group. My handbook is currently 33 pages long, and I’m hoping to continue to add to it until my Stretch Experience comes to an end. Lastly, I have created an employee satisfaction survey that measures important factors such as job passion, co-worker relations, and burnout. I will be giving this information to the Green & Gold Sport System management to provide them insight into how their employees’ experiences. This survey is only being given to the soccer camp coaches, but I am hoping by the end of my time at this job, it will be given to all Green & Gold Sport System summer camp coaches across a variety of sports.

I’ve had a blast so far, but it definetily hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows… Some campers have troubles listening, being respectful and  understanding drills. Some parents come with complaints about their child’s expereinces or with concerns about organization. As the lead coach, it is my responsibility to be the primary point of contact in these situations. It’s not a lot of fun having a parent yell at you for 5 minutes, expecially when the issue that caused the concerns was not your responsibility…  So far, my most dissapointing moment during this Stretch Experience was when a group of campers said that the drill they were doing wasn’t fun and that they would rather sit out on the side than play. I immediately felt that I had let these campers down, but as I’ve learned through my time as a Peter Lougheed Leadership College Scholar, mistakes make for learning opportunities. I learned that the drill I had created was simply too difficult for the kids, therefore, I modified the drill where the campers could be more successful. Thankfully my modifaction returned smiles to their faces.

I am three weeks into my four-week Stretch Experience, and I look forward to continuing to grow as a leader through my position as lead coach in the Green & Gold Sport System!

Anna Dunn

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