- 07.21.2020 Voices from the Black Community at PCA
ALISON FOLEY: Work Hard, Have Fun, and Remain Positive
The college coach who recruited me, Dave Lombardo who had moved to JMU in Virginia, asked if I would come down and be his graduate assistant coach. I found out I loved coaching! I realized through the game that I loved to play, I could now coach and impact players both on and off the field.
I think the most important element on our most successful teams has undoubtedly been a result of great team chemistry. In college you spend a lot of time with your teammates. Often you live with them, eat with them, take classes and travel with them. Your team truly becomes your surrogate family in college.
I think when you can instill a sense of pride in your players both as being a member of the team and someone who represents their school and community you will have someone that is truly focused on your core values and works hard every day to uphold a standard of excellence.
From a soccer specific perspective; with your younger players you are really emphasizing the fundamentals of the game and the technical aspects of soccer. In college you work more on tactics, game management, and the physical side of the game. With both audiences you want to emphasize having fun and working hard.
Writing the book was really encouraged by co-author, Mia Wenjen. Our girls grew up together and whenever she had an issue with one of her kids coaches or with their teams she would run it by me. Finally, she said you really need to write a book and share these coaching and team dynamic solutions.
The book is really focused on youth players and can be helpful for parents, coaches, and soccer organizations. Mia and I have really enjoyed meeting with youth sport organizations and discussing the book.
I think the biggest part of college coaching that has changed is the recruiting. It is happening a lot earlier. Nobody takes their 5 official visits their senior year anymore to explore their schools. They make a decision much earlier now. I think it was better in the earlier years of my career as you had more time to mature and truly make an educated decision.
One of my former players is Kia McNeill, Head Coach at Brown University. Three of my former assistants are now college head coaches: Chris Hamblin at Harvard University, Neel Bhattacharjee at Binghamton University, and Sarah Dacey at Barry University.
What has been exciting is how many players are coaching as assistants in college or head coaches in high school and club. We’ve got lots of players that are soccer moms and coaching their daughters as well.
I really believe in yoga and certainly think it offers so many benefits to soccer players. First yoga teaches mindfulness and how to breathe. Which I think is so important in tight games or in preparation for matches or practice for that matter. It also increases flexibility and strengthens your core which is really neglected in typical practice settings. It works your balance and stability which I believe certainly decreases ankle and knee injuries.
I started Foley Athletic Advising because I felt with all my experiences through college coaching, directing a club and being a soccer mom myself I could provide a service to players and families and help them navigate this ever so tricky college recruiting process. The process can bring a lot of stress to players and families alike and I try to streamline the process and give guidance to make it more of a stress-free and positive experience.
I do individual counseling in which we develop your own personal road map in the recruiting process. From developing a college list of schools that are right for you to directing communication between college coaches and how best to get yourself evaluated. The assessments are training sessions that evaluate your technical, fitness level and tactical awareness. The sessions are videotaped and analyzed by our staff and then we provide a written evaluation and recommendation on a collegiate level that is right for you. The New England Top 100 College Showcase is June 8th and June 9th at Brandies University. It is an invitation only showcase where club coaches recommend their top players to participate. You can also get invited by going to an assessment and being selected.
The goal is really to create opportunities and offer direction to high school athletes that aspire to play in college.
I think this was a monumental tournament for all of us girls women in the game. It shattered attendance and TV viewing records, and sold more team paraphernalia than any sport after a major tournament.
On the bigger stage it represented gender equality and was so influential proving that women could perform at such a technically high level and at such a great pace that could captivate any audience.
I do. But I am going to not share it . . . haha! I hope the U.S. of course wins.
I think the best piece of advice I can give to parents is always remain positive. On the side-lines, in the car ride after the game and with other parents. It’s easy to be critical of the coaches and your child or other players on their team but it doesn’t serve any purpose to share your opinion unless its positive. Remember, soccer is a game and games are meant to be fun. So do everything to keep it upbeat and enjoyable. Your words and comments are powerful.