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Albert H. Gordon Professional Development Athletic Fund

An important component of the ongoing Curriculum Initiative at Saint David's involves the Athletic program. One aspect of this initiative includes the professional development of coaches. Due to an incredibly generous donation this past month from an anonymous donor in memory of long-time Saint David's friend, alumni grandfather, and patron Albert H. Gordon, the school's ability to fast-track its scheduled implementation of new goals and objectives has increased excitement and momentum within the department.

This past February 25th through 27th, for example, coaches Jeremy Donohue and Jorge Roman attended the three-day Soccer Champions Coaches Clinic at Uncasville, CT. The primary goal in attending this workshop was to attain the Coaching “E” Certification.  The curriculum focused on the development of the player, both individually and as part of the team. According to Coach Roman, "Overall, the “E” Certificate Course further developed our coaching and soccer skills associated with coaching players ages 9-12 years by increasing knowledge and understanding of the technical and tactical demands of the game of soccer." The classes also provided an understanding of practical coaching methodology and foundation necessary to prepare players and teams for competition.

Highlights included sessions by Anson Dorrance, UNC Soccer Coach with 20 National Championships, Thomas Rongen, U.S. U20 Men’s National Team Coach, and Emma Hayes, former Academy Director with England’s Arsenal Football Club. The 23 hours of coursework and guided practical application will be utilized by the coaches in the 2010 Fall Soccer Season. The coaches now feel even more confident in breaking down the teaching of soccer into four components: Technique, Tactics, Physical and Psychological. Through the use of a consistent coaching/teaching strategy, they will teach soccer techniques, tactics and incorporate physical and psychological aspects in a more successful manner.

During the workshop, the coaches had a chance to actually apply their skills and receive professional critique. Every lecture was a practice. Connecticut youth soccer teams were put through their paces by each of the coaches. General topics included injury prevention, nutrition, conditioning and goalkeeper training as well as more specific topics such as zonal defending, transitional attacking, final third attacking activities and coaching a 3-4-3 formation.

The coaches also spoke of learning how to economize practices, ensuring that all players are engaged. "Cutting out three minutes of dead time does not seem like a lot until you add the numbers up over the course of a season. You can keep your drills simple yet specific, spending less time explaining and more time playing. Being able to watch entire teams participate in hour long sessions really helps you to visualize and grasp every concept each coach was looking to convey," commented Coach Donohue.

"Overall," Coach Donohue reported, "this was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about a sport I love to coach and be provided with new ideas and perspectives on coaching in general. I cannot wait to start implementing some of these methods and ideas in my practices."

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