The Bet—From Daniel Crim
It is the end of his first season with the Flagstaff Revolution, and as my son Parker falls asleep tonight, his thoughts will undoubtedly be of scoring the winning goal of his final tournament coming up next weekend. The U10 boys have trained hard all year. They are prepared. But more importantly, the boys are better, more technical players than they were nine months ago. The Flagstaff Revolution coaching staff has created a competitive club system that develops individual players into better versions of themselves. Period.
They start by educating the parents. There are documents that the Club has created that outline its playing style, milestones for players, guides to playing various positions, and club philosophy. There are instructional moments where coaches talk to parents about what the team is trying to do. The parents understand that the players are trying to win possession and keep possession, so they are not screaming “boot it” every time their kid gets the ball.
Then Flagstaff Revolution adds culture. They teach the kids to rally around their Crest and their City. The kids play for each other. The staff rewards individual progress with lots of recognition. The staff assigns older kids to mentor younger kids. There are bags and pinnies and popups, all the things a kid needs to feel like it is for real and matters. And because they believe it matters, they pay attention. They dig in.
Now, with the focus of both the parents and the players, the Club trains and scrimmages. This happens before tournament play under the watchful eye of the staff in a controlled environment. Every player plays offense and defense. It is drilled to win the ball and keep the ball. It is up tempo with fast restarts. At the weekly scrimmages, the parents are encouraged to root wildly and pump the kids up. The environment breeds creative play, bravery under pressure, and celebrating goals like it is a World Cup final.
After training in a bit of a bubble to start the season, Flagstaff Revolution hits the road. It is the Club’s culture that they go to a tournament to try to win the tournament. I have not heard any staff lamenting that the Club cannot compete because we have a small player pool or because we have to travel to compete or because we are in the middle of trying to develop players and teach possession soccer. This expectation and belief that the team can win has not always translated to winning but it has led to an expectation that they can win. The kids play with heart. They punch above their weight. And sometimes they win.
At the beginning of the year, Lorraine (my wife/#19’s mom) and I made a $300 bet- yes, the club fees are literally $300- that Flagstaff Revolution would be a good fit for Parker. He has flourished under Coach Kirk, Coach Derrick and Coach John. He is a smarter player. He is more situationally aware. He has developed the courage to try to make a play. Most importantly, he is having fun. When I picked him up from practice on Thursday he was completely out of breath, drenched in sweat, and smiling from ear to ear. As Parker dreams of glory tonight, Lorraine and I know that we won that bet.