As the evolution of Locker Soccer Academy continues, I recently found myself taking a step back and examining just what it is that we are attempting to accomplish. Through the early years, I was constantly reminded of just how much fun I was having working with preschoolers all day long. Because I spent nearly twenty years working with collegiate players, this examination always seemed to be a comparison between college players and young children. (I was coaching at a time when sports were beginning to take on a different perspective, and it seemed that the insulated environment of collegiate sports was starting to crumble a bit. It was the advent of the helicopter parent.)
I was enjoying a totally different level of fulfillment in my day-to-day work with children, and the fact that we were impacting so many lives certainly added to that sense of value. Over the years, we have worked with over 25,000 children, compared to the 25 or so I got to work with each year as a collegiate coach.
About five or six years ago, a somewhat serious injury to my back forced us at Locker Soccer to begin to re-shape our business model. No longer could I serve as the primary coach, new coaches needed to be developed and the introduction of these coaches has had a profound impact. My time off the field allowed me to take a very close look at what was happening with youth sports, listened to our customers, and thus began a passionate effort towards making a difference in this much maligned area.
We launched Second Nature Sports about a year ago and that effort is beginning to have an impact on a different level. We are engaged in a national campaign to help parents and children enjoy youth sports in a way that youth sports are meant to be enjoyed. I saw how successful we were locally, and because of my experience at the higher levels of the game, felt a compelling responsibility to make a difference in this much needed arena. Second Nature is focused on Parent-Coach Education, Parent Education, and growing the Locker Soccer brand nationally so that other children can enjoy what we have been enjoying in central Ohio for the past ten years. That’s right, Locker Soccer will celebrate its’ 11th birthday this summer!
I have been truly enjoying the chance to get back on the field and do what I think I do best....play with kids using soccer as a means to make a difference in their lives. I enjoy sharing my experiences with parents and helping them understand how to support their children so that they can develop lifelong, positive habits towards fitness. But most of all, being out there with the kids is the biggest joy of all.