Stainton has his focus set on reaching the WPS Playoffs (Photo by Howard C. Smith, ISI Photos).
Join us in welcoming our newest contributing writer, Rick Stainton, who is the head coach of our partner Sky Blue FC of Women's Professional Soccer. In his first post with us, Rick talks about the emotional balance of being a family man and also the head coach of a defending league champion that is making a late-season push for the playoffs.
As I wake up this beautiful September 1st morning, I find a few things running through my mind. First, and always foremost, my family. My wife Amy is preparing our older daughter, Rian, for her first day of Kindergarten. It amazes me how quick 5 years passes by and how proud it makes me feel seeing her grow as an independent young girl. Tomorrow, our younger daughter, Kylie, begins her first day of Pre-K. My wife will soon have some sort of “empty nest” feelings at home a couple days per week. There is too much to do throughout a day, and if I know my wife well, everyday will have tasks lined up. So many that she will be asking, “where did the day go?"
September 1st also marks a very important game for Sky Blue FC vs Gold Pride FC. We are currently in the hunt for the final playoff spot with 3 games remaining. A victory and the 3 points are important for us because it evens our team up in the standings with the Washington Freedom and puts some pressure on them. They own the tie-breaker against us due to the heart-breaking loss we had against them last weekend. So every victory we can post, the Freedom will have to match because of our game in hand.
As we train in preparation, much consideration is given towards the mental and physical demands that are put on the athletes, especially during this late portion of the schedule. Our goal is to have them “fresh” for game day. Many of our athletes have never endured this long of a season and it certainly takes its toll. I too, feel the effects of the daily grind, having been part of this organization since the season start (March 1). Our sessions are prepared with thought towards the duration of time, the levels of intensity, areas of strength and weakness, and our plan of attack against our upcoming opponent.
We have made some adjustments to the line-up. It’s never an easy task when changes are made. There are many conversations to be had, and you will never have everyone agree or accept it. I don’t expect the athletes to accept it, nor should they! They wouldn’t be at the highest level if they did. Your hope as a coach is that whatever decisions you make is for the betterment of the team for that specific occurrence. My intent as a coach is to always have lines of communication to keep the respect among each other within our team. Hide nothing and be honest… your decisions will be supported by doing so.
So here I sit excited, anxiously awaiting our upcoming game tonight, and thinking about the many different scenarios that may play out and how we can / may deal with them. I look forward to the thousands of screaming fans and the outpour of support from them.
Continue to support Sky Blue FC and the sport of Women’s Soccer! Go Sky Blue FC!