Tuesday, July 18, 2017

ODP Weekend (Jacob)

Two years ago I joined the staff of Flordia Youth Soccer Association (FYSA) a state organization associated with US Youth Soccer. The FYSA runs coaching education, the Olympic development program, and various state leagues. It's actually pretty well run in Florida. I work as a staff coach with ODP. Every year we scout the state for the best players and invite them to be part of our state team and then compete at a Regional camp held at the University of Alabama. At this camp, they get to train in front of regional coaches and be selected for a regional team to play in front of national coaches. In a way, I am looking for national team players in Florida. Last year I skipped the regional camp because it was the same time as my parent's homecoming in Utah, but this year I went.

After a nearly sleepless night and a 3:30 am alarm I was off to the airport. Why do we always sleep to poorly the night before an early morning flight?

Mocking Cindy
Coolest room/hall at the Atlanta airport
The first flight, the plane was packed but the start of the art with touch screen personal monitors. To Atlanta.  Second ⅔ full, but not as nice. But it gave me time to read This is your brain on sports.

Birmingham airport is nice and I got Breakfast... again Chick-fil-A. Sat around for a few hours waiting for our bags to take us to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

After arriving we headed to the 7th floor of the President's dorm where we got keys to our dorms and lunch bands for the cafeteria. Dorms are half apartment half hotel, I actually never stayed in dorms in college, so this was my first time. We were provided furniture but not TV's or bed sheets, but the accommodations were pretty good. The coaches of each team room together, so we share an apartment but not a bedroom, thank goodness! I had forgotten what living with other guys is like … we are gross, but the other guys were polite and cleaned up as well as expected.   

 So, who're my roommates? Coach Zoz and Coach Gram we're all pretty different, but I think we got along pretty well.

Zoz, single, no kids and loves his soda and drinks it like it is life giving water. Gram, quite, married, 2 kids and is the definition of chill.  Both coaches are very smart.

Dinner (and all meals) was in the cafeteria at UA.

The first day you arrive and after check in, we have a training session run by the state coaches.  The first training session was run by state coaches but we were given the topic, build out of the back. Future sessions are run by regional coaches. I was very curious to see how different they are from what I usually do in a session, not much. The field is so far from the dorms we ride buses to the fields. Got to sayk, camp feels like a glorified summer camp and I am a camp counselor. But it's also pretty legit as kids here really do get looked at for national team stuff.

Next, it was opening ceremonies.

10:30 Coaches meeting, then bed. The dorm walls are paper thin, so I figured out how to listen to a fan noise on my phone to help drown out the sounds. The dorms made me appreciate the home I have and worked hard for. I am never going back to apartment life. 

Day 2

Breakfast was typical cafeteria fair but the staff is quite friendly.

Now the state games. The state games are the regional coaches first opportunity to scout out players and decide who is going to play in the pool games. Winning doesn't mean much, but everyone still likes to win and we did 3-2. 

This is the Oklahoma state team. My secret hope was that they did really well as Oklahoma is just not known for soccer like its southern neighbor Texas. 

Lunch and more food, then off to a player meeting/lecture. This is the player's opportunity to listen and learn. It's just too hot to be out side training anyway.

Player meeting about possession. Specifically, 10 principal of possession, it was a good presentation, I took notes... on my phone, which I hated.

Next was a coaches meeting where we discussed the future of USYS and ODP. 

More food, dinner…

Training day 2 was by the regional coaches. I'm always surprised that the supposed experts never seem to coach anything different than what I know. They are just way more confident in their delivery in front of others than I usually am. Building out of the back was the theme.

Then pool games.  These games are supposed to be the main event. If a region coach sees you play well in a state game and likes you, you get invited to play in a pool game that night and receive extra observation and a possible invite to the region team. These games made me most excited for Friday night lights.

4th meal. I had my first 4th meal at ODP. Basically, the idea is after pool games go back to the cafeteria and eat more. Keeps the guys occupied and “fueled.”  Oh, my there has been so much food!

Day 3

Breakfast, more food and it's beginning to take it's toll, so I ate way less.

Game 2 big win 6-1 I can definitely see some improvement in the team and I am really impressed by a few of them. Way better than I was at the same age.

Time to eat again, lunch. And a free afternoon. Before dinner, training and pool games.  Finally some downtime but it does make you wonder why have downtime at all just make camp shorter or give something to do, lectures maybe. I spent time on Netflix and resting, sleep has been hard to come by. Today we had 3 make the pool team it's a big deal to make the team and really get looked at. Guess it helps to win, big.

Nature is not easy to work with. I always breathe a sigh of relief when the season ends because I can stop thinking about it. Rain ended our games last night. All practices and games canceled. Our three pool players didn't get their game. So we ended up watching the men's national team play in the gold cup. 3-0 win to win the group. Then it was a late night snack and bed.

Day 4

Breakfast and games against a south Texas 5 team. It's a slotter. 10-0 we should not be playing such a team. Fields are super wet from last night's rain.

Lunch and nap time. Which brings me to the internet here on campus. It sucked. I couldn't keep connected and ended up using my data. After naps, it was individual meetings with regional coaches. I noticed this coach used his interviews to teach more than anything. Again I am struck by how type-A so many coaches are. A laid back coach is rare. My surprise mostly stems from how unimportant a game can be, I think to type-A personalities would be attracted to more important things.

Pool list is out, this time we had 4 make the team, fortunately, the players who missed their chance last time made the list again. No rain so games are a go. Again I volunteered to go with the pool players who have a separate schedule than those who don't make the pool game.

Dinner again, but this time with the pool players, and wouldn't you know it the best meal of the cafe all week is the same night that Florida ODP special orders ribs from a local joint. Why not on spaghetti night?

Training for those who didn't make the pool game. Pool games in the women's soccer stadium! What a cool facility! Ribs from Dreamland. The weather was amazing, perfect night. What an awesome way to finish the week.

Day 5

Final games. Started with an earlier rise, 5:45. Breakfast at 6 games at 7. It was a big win for us as we beat a higher ranked Georgia team.

Closing ceremony and the regional pool player were announced, we had one From our team make the pool Mossimo I doubt he will make the actual regional team.

It's time for clean up.

In reflection, this was not exactly the experience I thought it would be. I felt more like a camp counselor than a coach and I didn't learn as much as I thought I would on the topics I thought I would. But, I did learn. First Florida ODP is pretty successful and a good program to be apart of. Which goes to what I have always said, if it ain't broke don't fix it. 

My assumption is USYS is going to have to make some big changes over the next few years to keep up with the changes taking place in the world of youth soccer. Clubs all over the nation are doing more and trying to be a one stop shop. Specializing is a bigger and bigger thing, but I also believe it will cycle and people will learn that a variety is better. So give it a few years and ODP will be cutting edge, again.

Friday, July 14, 2017

My Official Review of Spiderman: Homecoming

To be honest, I kind of forgot that this movie was even coming out.  And then I had a feeling that it was going to be totally lame.  Cindy saw it already while out in Utah on her dream vacation of a lifetime, so Jacob and Luke and I hit up discount day at the Cinemark on Tuesday to see if it was as good as she said it was. Let's see...

An actual young Spiderman (not a 30 year old pretending to be in high school)
Did you know that Tom Holland is actually British and speaks with an American accent the entire movie? check it
High School was portrayed fairly accurately for once
The movie didn't explain the spider bite or make us sit through yet another version of Uncle Ben dying. Hallelujah!
The movie wasn't all about the girl and the girl wasn't super popular and going out with the super popular jock
An actual surprising plot twist there towards the end!
Ned was a pretty good sidekick (though he was a little too good at hacking...everything)
Enjoyed "Karen" and her plethora of suit customizations
The Asian kid in the bathroom scene with Happy and Peter. Priceless.
The preview for Jumanji actually kinda makes me want to see it
Luke did not have to go to the bathroom the entire time

About 30 minutes too long
Aunt May's high-waisted pants burned my retinas and her glasses made her look 112 years old
Not enough Captain America.  I like A LOT of Cap, ok?
Took me a while to buy Micheal Keaton as a bad guy because of the whole Batman thing
Fight scenes take too long and are always predictable (general action movie gripe, I guess)
Super weird trio of guys in the theater in front and to our left were kind of scaring me at the end

I asked Luke to contribute to this list and his only thought was that under "cons" I need to mention, "Happy was not very happy in this movie."  Excellent point, young boyface.  Overall I was really impressed with how good it was!  It was entertaining, light-hearted, and had some genuinely funny moments. The Avengers movies are fun, yet they are always facing some enormous threat on a global scale that affects all of humanity, which makes it feel kind of heavy at the same time.  This film gives us more of a 'slice of life' look at a kid trying to prove himself by beating his local bully. It wasn't perfect, but it was still excellent.   I give it four out of five lost backpacks.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Well Enough Alone

Cindy has now been gone for 5 days and I have been wondering if Luke will ever get to a point where he admits to missing her.  So far, no :)  He has been filling his days with copious amounts of Call of Duty and MANY, MANY hours with his buddy Ben.  They have spent as much as 9 hours in one day together.  Minecraft, basketball, FIFA- they always seem to find things to entertain them and they never get tired of each other.  Not a bad way to spend your summer!

Yesterday Luke and I hitched a ride to the north side with my parents, mostly so I could get Luke out of the house and into the real world for a short time.  The only reason Luke even agreed to step foot in an actual store (the equivalent of his Kryptonite) was the promise of a trip to the magical Toys R Us. And the only reason that Toys R Us was appealing to him was because of a show we watched on TV called The Toy Box; basically a reality show where toy inventors try to win a deal with Toys R Us. The winning toy was a 3D liquid art set and ever since Luke saw it on the show he has wanted it really badly.

Well, all his wildest dreams came true and the $10 that was burning a hole in his pocket was enough to buy a starter set.  Basically it uses colored water and special stenciled paper to make designs that rely on the surface tension of the water.  I was skeptical that this would hold his attention very long, but he has played with this non-stop, over and over since he got it.  Pretty easy to use, easy to mix lots of different colors- I'm impressed!  Mostly because this means that the TV show actually got it right!  And got his money.

And bonus, at the store we found Boba Fett!  Or, as we say in the south, Bubba Fett. Talk to ya!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Leavin' On a Jet Plane

This morning I put Cindy on a plane by herself to Utah.  I have spent the last few weeks wondering if she is really old enough to fly by herself and if she is really mature enough to handle being alone. Her flight to Dallas this morning was only an hour and a half long and I told her to text me when she landed.  So finally I got this:

And I quote:

"It's a double chocolate frappuccino, no coffee."  Because when I was 13 I was totally ordering frappuccinos while I was alone in the airport flying across the country.  Not even close. I think my only goal at that point was trying to memorize all the songs on my Aladdin soundtrack cassette tape.

RABBIT UPDATE:  I got a call about a rabbit sighting last night at 10pm.  They said they had a bunny cornered in their yard with flashlights and we should come quick.  We all raced down there and began chasing the bunny around like madmen, only to realize after about 10 minutes that the bunny was NOT ours.  Seriously?!??  What are the odds that you would find a rabbit in your yard and it's NOT the one everyone in the neighborhood is looking for?  Yep, that pretty much seals the deal that Bun Bun is not coming home.  Cindy has fully accepted the situation, mostly in part to her Dad's promise that she can get multiple bunnies when she gets back from Utah.  ????  It's like I don't even live here...

Sunday, July 2, 2017

May the Forest Be With You

So while Luke and Jacob were here living it up having their supposed manly men parties, Cindy and I were out roughing it in the wilderness like actually manly men.  We spent the week at Flaming Arrow Scout Camp in Lake Wales for our YW Camp.  I admit that I was initially terrified of going to Flaming Arrow (and not the church ranch)- I have three brothers that have camped there and let's just say their experience was less than positive- but it turned out to be a pretty great week.  Though I do understand now exactly why they call it "Flaming" Arrow.  Pretty much anything on the surface of the sun catches fire, right?

Our theme this year was "Choose the Light" and went with a Star Wars theme.  So I guess you could say that this camp was kind of made for me.  I even got a sweet new Jedi patch for my camp hat...

This year I was assigned to help with the 4th year campers and they were awesome.  Pretty much drama-free and they got along great the entire week.  The real leader of this group was Allie, my partner in crime.  Couldn't have survived without her :)

And now it's time to see my very limited and very mediocre photos:

Here I am with a sweet gopher tortoise...

I never know what to do with my hands

These are my feet in a lake that totally has alligators in it...

Here I am the morning after I had to sleep in a tent that NEVER cooled down the entire night...

That is bacon on a stick, friends.  Be jealous.

Camp leaders 2017.  This was the dream team.  And not just because I was there.

I have to hand it to Cindy.  She slept without A/C in Florida in July for four straight nights and didn't try to escape and hitchhike home at any point.  She participated in the activities and had a good experience.  I was really proud of her.  Except for when we were taking this photo because the only reason she smiled so great is because the camp cook bribed her with cake.

You're mocking me, aren't you?

And here is a picture of rabbit that Cindy and I found at flag ceremony the last day of camp. Ironic because at this point I had already gotten a text from Jacob that Cindy's rabbit had run away the day before :( We still haven't found him.  Not sure if he will ever really return at this point, but you never know.

And now, the rest of my camp experience in convenient meme form:

Allie got approximately 1 million

They're lucky I'm great with a kayak and have phenomenal arm strength

Those fools!

It's always a little touch and go

No seriously, I slept in a tent

Always ask teenagers before you do anything.

Joke's on you, 4th years

Every single girl at camp.

I tried. I really, really tried.

We need more camp songs.

Oh, okay fine. I admit it. I like Young Women's camp.  The week is long and hot, but I always come away with a spiritual boost and a deeper appreciation for my own testimony.  Plus, Cindy was there and I guess it was okay to spend time with her.  Hey, I'm only giving her the level of compliment she would give me :)