This is a 6 +/- year lesson.
I worked for Challenger Sports, and we had Soccer Plus as a business / camp partner. The fearless leader of the program was THE Tony DiCicco. World Cup winner, Olympic Gold winner. Most Winningest Coach. I was in awe of his achievements as well as his personality. He would talk about the business and then, in his slacks and button shirt, dive down and show how he would coach some form of shot stopping, then jump up and carry on talking. Amazing.
Sat in that room, I could say that I wanted to achieve all that he had. I was able to get to talk with him many times, but there was one significant moment that stands out. We had just finished a class session and I was able to ask Tony all about the World Cup and Olympics, but I was really setting him up for the punchline question. Remember, I had sat and said I wanted to achieve all that he had so I casually added ‘next time we get together, can you bring your Gold Medal?’.
- Who doesn’t want to hold that, feel the weight, and try to comprehend everything that went into earning it.
Tony laughed and said ‘I didn’t get one...’. He went on to explain why, but I don’t remember anything except being shocked that he had worked so hard, to not get the medal! And it meant that I couldn’t hold it either!
The lesson, I think.
Whatever medal or trophy your team is playing for, which probably is not the pinnacle as Tony experienced with the events like the Olympics, you won’t get a medal either. Those are pinnacle tournaments and he instead focused on the memories he created and the amazing experience to get to those games - the way he lit up when talking about his players was wonderful to witness.
Now, if you listen to my podcast, or have joined the mastermind, you’ll be aware of my encouraged intense focus on the individuals that you are working with - shaped in part from the conversation with Tony. It’s not just the W’s and L’s nor the tournament victories. 99% of the readers here are working with players who are pushing for the next thing (high school, DA, college, U15’s etc.). If you have an IDP with them, you’ll know their goals and you’ll be able to push them far beyond winning a youth soccer trophy.
Don’t get me wrong, we all want to win, and I’ll do everything I can to set them and the team up for success. However, we can plan and plan and plan, but Soccer is Soccer and some occurrences in the game are out of our control, so remember they are people first with ambitions and goals beyond that moment.
Ultimately, think about the players / families / communities that you impact and the lives you are changing every day, most of which you might not even be aware of. You are talked about over family dinner and definitely on drives after practice/games! If you stay true to the idea of development, if you’re focused on that player as a person first regardless of the game situation then I think the lesson is that those are your medals and if you really care about your positive impact, you are probably the winningest coach.
Thank you, Tony.