My name is Jesus De Santiago and I have been coaching the beautiful game for eight years. In the 2016 season I made one of the best transitions that I have made in years, which was joining Crusaders Soccer Club. Having Rene Miramontes as a director with his extensive experience in the game and a vision for his club has really made an impact on my coaching. It made me motivated and more confident to start my new journey at my new club.
I know in coming to a reputable club like Crusaders the challenges were going to be bigger and boy were they. Once given my assignment as head coach for the girls CSC Girls 1998 team, I was excited to get started and looked forward to tryouts. I was confident with the fact that my most of my team that I coached the previous year was going to follow me over to CSC.
Unfortunately, that was my first mistake to assume the families and players were going to follow me over to the new club. Once tryouts came I did not see anyone from my previous team show up and started getting nervous. I finally started to accept the fact that no one was going to follow me. I began to even think if making a team at this age group was possible.
After tryouts were over there were five girls that accepted to stay and see what happens. Some rejected offers to go other clubs and definitely made a difference in numbers. It was difficult because I felt like it was not fair to the ones that accepted to stay and miss out on any other potential opportunities at other clubs. Center Midfielder Melissa De Santiago expressed “I wasn’t sure at first that I wasn’t going to play that season, but I had hope that we were going to have more girls show up.”
I knew had to develop a method of recruiting new players and fast as time was against me. What I learned that in this age group though your best recruiters in fact are the players themselves. So I kept thinking to myself what would motivate the players to scout for more talent? One word: Starbucks. At that point I was willing try anything to help scout more talent as my resources were already exhausted. I told the girls that I was willing to give a $5 gift card to whomever they manage to recruit and have them commit to playing for our team. Once the word was out the results were surprising. Every week a new player came to tryout and by the end of June we had a committed sixteen-player roster. $55 in gift cards were spent after all the recruiting the girls did.
The record at the end of the Presidio League season was four wins, seven ties, and two losses. The numbers were not the best, but for a team that was built from scratch that was more positive than negative for sure. The greatest obstacles that I had to overcome with this team were of social aspect- I wondered how I could get this team to work together and build chemistry. Development was also a key objective, I asked myself how can I develop this team technically and tactically despite the experience these players already have. Finally, results- how will our performance be throughout the season.
These obstacles were overcome by grasping the coaching education our directors gave us every month and the feedback they provided on our training sessions and games. It was up to us as a team to set the standards every game, though it sometimes they were not in our favor the girls always gave it their all on the field. These talented group of ladies made me a better coach and now thirteen out of sixteen players will be graduating high school and will encounter new ventures and endeavors. I know a new chapter awaits me at CSC for the 2017 season and now I am more ready than I have ever been.