We love to watch our campers play.  This video captures the secret of MSC.

 Influences

Several key people have shaped my thinking about how to teach and coach.

The Great Jack Mackenzie

In 1974 I arrived on the Quincy College, Quincy, IL campus as a wide-eyed 17-year-old freshman from Florida.  I knew very little about soccer.  I was a basketball and hockey guy and generally a sports nut.  The Quincy College soccer team was the defending NAIA National Champion.  Their unique Coach - Coach Jack Mackenzie - is the reason I became a soccer coach. 

 

I became a huge fan of the soccer team.  Because Quincy was such a small place Coach Mackenzie got to know me and took me under his wing.

Even though I wasn't one of his players, I was one of his students.  Coach was a PE Professor and he taught me an amazing amount.  He also gave me the confidence to strike out on a soccer coaching career.  He taught me that while winning was very, very important - what was more important was that the way that you won was everything.  He also taught me that even though you can be great - even nationally or internationally renowned - you must always make time for people.  Especially the little guy.

He has been named to the NSCAA Coaching Hall of Fame and is one of the top college soccer coaches ever in terms of total victories and national championships...but Coach Mackenzie takes as much or more pride in the post-playing accomplishments of his hundreds of players.

After I left Quincy Coach Mackenzie stayed in touch, following my career.  He even recruited some of our players.  Coach Mackenzie remains in touch to this day.  Without his influence I would be a totally different person today.  

 Watch this interview with Coach Mackenzie.

Coach has written an amazing book called Quincy College: A Soccer Dynasty.  Click here to review and purchase this book.

 The Great Dr. Thomas Fleck

 

Above: Dr. Fleck is inducted into the US Youth Soccer Hall of Fame

One of the great honors of my life is to have been associated with and mentored by Dr. Thomas Fleck.  Dr. Fleck was a giant of American soccer and youth soccer in particular.  He was an original - he did things differently than anyone else I had encountered.  His Doctorate degree from Lehigh University was in education and he was a certified elementary education educator.  He was renowned for innovative educational approaches and ways of thinking.  He combined the principles of coaching with general education principles. 

Dr. Fleck is recognized as the leading authority on youth soccer development and education. In 1997 he was awarded the first National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Bill Jeffery Award for dedication and commitment to youth soccer. 

Dr. Fleck was the Director of Coaching for the Florida State Youth Association for 13 years - that's when I met him.  Early in my coaching career Dr. Fleck saw in me something that at first I did not see in myself.  He gave me an opportunity to join the FYSA (Florida Youth Soccer Association) state coaching staff in 1984.  From this position I was able to interact with and be mentored by brilliant coaches and leading soccer voices such as Jay Miller, Tom Fitzgerald, Jim DiNobile, Sam Snow, Logan Fleck, and others.  By 1989 Dr. Fleck entrusted me with the selection of a boys ODP state team, a position I held for several years.

Dr. Fleck was an innovator.  He was not afraid to try things and was not afraid to fail.  He strove to lead with integrity and during his tenure as FYSA Director of Coaching the FYSA State Coaching Staff was THE place to be.  Through Dr. Fleck I learned to fight the principled fight.

Dr. Fleck was the Director of Coaching and Player Development for the Idaho Youth Soccer Association. He was the first United States Youth Soccer Coordinator, the General Manager of the Philadelphia Fury of the North American Soccer League (NASL), and Head Soccer Coach and Principal of the Centennial School at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Dr. Fleck is a past president of the NSCAA, a senior member of the United States Soccer National Coaching Staff, a technical advisor to F.I.F.A. (soccer’s world governing body) and a member of the US Youth Soccer Coaching Committee.

However, he is best known as the co-author of the US Youth Soccer Parent/Coach Series, an age-appropriate series of coaching booklets, and as the key author of the USSF National Youth License.

US Youth Soccer has created the Dr. Thomas Fleck Award of Excellence to honor the top youth soccer influences in the country.

  

Dr. Fleck has had as great an influence on my coaching and teaching philosophy and method as any other individual or source.   Dr. Fleck was aware of and supported the development, direction, and philosophy of Marauder Soccer Camp.  I am eternally grateful for the attention and wisdom that I received from Dr. Fleck. 

I am honored to have been included in the formation of the Dr. Fleck Foundation to support coaching education.  

Pat Logan 

Pat Logan continued to teach me that relationships, love, and a sense of family are the essential elements to building strong teams, strong learning cultures, and an effective learning environment.  I learned patience from Pat - which is ironic because Pat was at times impatient....however Pat was a genius at feigning impatience as a motivator to get his students to reach beyond what they thought they were capable of.  Pat stressed the importance of empowering students/players and allowing them to lead.  In 11 years of daily recess duty with Pat it was like going to school every day.

T. Logan Fleck

Logan Fleck has passed away at the far too early age of 54.  Logan was special - different - a very bright and creative light in US football.  To refer to Logan as the Head Soccer Men's Coach at Stetson University (which he was) is to refer to Einstein as a Physics Professor at Princeton.  Logan meant much more to American football than merely his impact as a college soccer coach.

Logan would have been right at home at MSC.  Logan's father - Dr. Tom Fleck - mentored so many of us in an earlier generation when the US was trying to gain a foothold.  He will be missed.

Logan was a tireless genius and a wonderful person.

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Rise and Shine - Jay DeMerit Documentary

The inspirational soccer documentary "Rise and Shine" about US International Jay DeMerit will again be screened at MSC 2012.  Jay was a starter for the US World Cup team at South Africa 2010.  MSC contributed to the effort to fund the film and thus  got to know the film's Producers.  The Producers latched on to the MSC vibe and had this comment:

A message from Rise and Shine Producer and Jay DeMerit college teammate Ranko Tutulugdzija to MSC:

"MSC sounds like such a cool place!  I'm thinking Jay would have loved it there - I know I would have.  I love the 'old  school' game, that freedom is so important for an athlete. Having freedom in soccer is why a lot of Brazilian players  for a certain time were unmatched, they are losing that now but they had a certain freedom on the field and their  mind/spirit that transfers to their play. Teaching kids that at a young age is invaluable. Great stuff. And the 'Names'  mission, who thinks of these awesome ideas and where were they when I was growing up! Letting them embrace  their identity so they don't let drugs, crime and trouble embrace it for them - brilliant!"

Thank you Ranko for embracing the essence of MSC!  Rise and Shine is now available on iTunes.

To view the Rise and Shine trailer click here.

Update: Jay DeMerit announces his retirement from competitive football.

Click the link above to read a moving open letter to the US soccer community from Jay.

Above: Jay DeMerit

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Check this out
The article below was written by Al Reuchel of Bay News 9.  Al sent his children to MSC and he is a great believer in the MSC philosophy.  The thinking reflected in the article is right on the money. If more coaches thought this way, less kids would quit soccer!  This article is repreinted here with Al's permission.

Soccer is a great sport… and youth soccer has the potential to shape the lives of thousand of young people each year with positive messages. That’s the good news! Sadly, it also has the potential of scaring young boys and girls forever at the worst, or at least, making them hate the sport and the men and women who call themselves their coaches.

Is it the yelling? Is it the overbearing coach? Is it losing a lot of games? Is it the competitive nature of the sport? No. Soccer gets a big fat “F” from many former players and parents because of the way it handles “the bench”, those unsung players who end up spending most of the short careers riding the pine, or better put, the aluminum!

Somewhere along the line the importance of bench players and practical suggestions to make their experience just as positive as that superstar striker has gotten lost. Coaches have become so focused on winning and putting the strongest team on the field they’ve forgotten the word “team” means ALL of the players, all 17 or 18 boys and girls, not just the starting 11. Quite frankly, apart from injuries, there is no excuse or even any occasion when a coach can’t use every player on his bench in a game, be it recreational or competitive soccer.

There is no empirical evidence to suggest teams that only play 11 or 12 players do any better then teams who substitute the entire bench. It may be an acceptable way of life for professional teams dealing with mature adults but it’s not acceptable for teenagers and youngsters. “Coaches just can’t seem to grasp that keeping a player on the bench while all of his other team mates are taking the field, participating in the victory or loss, is viewed as a form of punishment by the bench player, “ says sport psychologist and Olympic trainer Mike Ridder. “ If you want to shatter a kids self confidence then just keep him on the bench long enough; make him do all the laps, all the work, all the drills, put on the uniform, travel hundreds of miles to the games, taste every part of being on the team except getting a chance to play, you’ll destroy all but the strongest of kids no matter how supportive the parents may be.”

Think back. Haven’t you seen this happen before? Starters have 65 to 80 minutes to hone their skills. Even if they make mistakes that’s okay because they’re learning how to play the game. But coaches wait till the last minute to put in a bench player and the poor kid is under so much pressure to instantly perform that unless he scores a bicycle kick from outside the 18 into the upper corner no one notices his efforts. And if the player makes a mistake he thinks everyone is watching and thus begins what sport psychologists call the descending spiral of confidence. “The player pushes himself to do things outside his comfort or skill zone. He makes a mistake that he thinks everyone notices. The coach pulls him from the game for the mistake even though it’s not his fault he didn’t have enough time to get into the game. It just never ends, “ says Ridder in his most recent research paper.

“Then heaven forbid if the bench player or the parent complains about playing time. I’ve actually heard coaches tell players if you don’t stop bugging me about playing time you’ll never get in. This is just sick!” I’ll take it a step further. I’ve seen older boys and girls absolutely collapsed in tears because they felt embarrassed and humiliated by coaches who not only didn’t play them, but didn’t have the guts or brains to offer some strong words of encouragement. That level of condemnation for our coaches is the dark cloud soccer enthusiasts need to remove as quickly as possible. Now the good news! Bench players can enjoy their season and career just as much as the starters if coaches would follow these guidelines.

1. The team is the entire roster! I’ve never seen a team go all the way without having a strong bench. You need those subs and you need to make sure they feel a part of the team or you will end up losing both on and off the field.

2. Make your objects crystal clear from day one! You need to commit yourself from day one to all the players and clearly spell out in writing your objectives for the team. And by the way, no teenager ever expects they will be a bench player for the entire season. Every kid believes they can win themselves a starting position or you wouldn’t have them on your team in the first place.

3. Have a planned rotation in mind Don’t be a lazy coach and wait till someone gets injured before you think about substitutions. In the quiet before the game pencil in the players you have with the positions they can fill. If you’re smart you will have multiple positions each bench player can fill.

4. Substitute sooner then later Don’t wait till the final few minutes of the game to sub. If it’s a close game you know darn well you aren’t changing your line up. And putting subs in the last few minutes of any game when the outcome is already decided is almost a slap in the players face. In 90 percent of all games you can safely substitute players about half way through the first or second half or at the beginning of the second half. Midfielder and forward positions are often the easy places to sub and can really give your team the need spark to change the outcome of those hard fought contests.

5. Pay attention to your bench players Teach them how to play multiple positions. I’ve found by teaching my subs how to play offense and defense I can more freely substitute them into the line up. Also, bench players are often times better barometers of your overall team morale then the starters. If you can keep them happy and interested and ready for their few seconds of glory you will have succeeded where hundreds of coaches have fallen flat on their faces.

Finally, there are many, many excellent coaches, parent coaches, and volunteers who already follow these kinds of rules. Some have learned the hard way that taking care of your bench pays lifetime dividends whether it’s recreational or competitive soccer. Others have always practiced good team cultivation skills and know the importance of those subs. They would agree with me. The relative success of a team shouldn’t be measured by the number of wins or loses, it should be measured by the enjoyment each player had and their overall improvement in soccer skills. It’s only then that a coach can step back and say, “Hey, I’ve done my best for this sport and done right by these boys and girls who have honored me, by allowing me to shape their lives in a positive manner.”

© Copyright 1999, 2000 Al Ruechel. All Rights Reserved Worldwide

 

 

 

JIM HARTE'S MSC SOCCER CAMPS
Email:
msccamp@aol.com