Lauren Abraham, class of 2015 decides to give back to her school and the sport she loves. Mills Godwin Alum and Richmond Strikers club player talks about coaching and what it means to her.
“You Can Call Me Coach Abe”
It’s been well over a year now since I stepped out on the field for the last time wearing the blue and white. I remember as soon as I “hung up my cleats” it only took me a couple days to realize I couldn’t stay away from the game long.
Like most Grandma Gennies I started exploring my retirement options. Don’t be confused – I didn’t join a golf club or start playing bridge – instead I began trying out different indoor soccer leagues and pick up teams around the Richmond area where I live. While it was fun to get back out on the field, I felt pretty unfulfilled by these options. I’m not sure whether it was the guys on my team who refused to pass me the ball or hearing that my senior captain K-Law (who I always considered a freak of nature and indestructible) blew her knee out in a “friendly” league game, but whatever it was I felt like I needed something more.
Luckily, I had a right place, right time kind of moment and was offered the position as an assistant soccer coach at my alma mater, Mills. E Godwin High School. Going back to Godwin to coach meant not only returning back to a program that I was apart of for four years and meant so much to me, but it also meant coaching alongside my former coach, Ali Toole.
Ali, hands down, has been one of the most influential figures in my soccer career. As a former University of Maryland player and assistant coach, Ali ultimately returned back to Richmond to start a family and coach at Godwin where she also attended high school and played soccer. Ali and I always connected through the passion and love we had for the game. She taught me what it meant to be a good player, teammate, friend, and just overall person. As you can probably tell from my rambling, being asked to come back to coach with Ali was a huge honor and something I was over the moon excited about.
Coming back to Godwin to coach has not only filled that desire I was looking for after my college soccer career, but it also has provided me a different type of satisfaction and joy that I don’t think you can necessarily get from just playing this game. The group of young women that I have had the pleasure to coach is the main reason I have felt such fulfillment. The team is made up of nineteen players that are all different and unique, but each one of them bring something to the program that makes what we have extremely special. Similarly to the W&L program, we are a family at Godwin. We work to not only develop these girls as soccer players, but also as people.
Now don’t get me wrong – we are competitive on the soccer field. Thus far, we have six girls committed to play college soccer at the Division I level (still working on some future Gennies as well) and many of our girls play for ECNL teams. We currently have a record of 6-0 and have only let up one goal in regular season play. Our goal is to win a state title – something that no Godwin Girls Soccer team has done before – and there is no doubt in my mind that this group can achieve just that.
Since earning my new title of “Coach Abe,” I have learned more over these past two months of coaching than I really could have ever imagined. A few highlights… 1) Thank you Coach. I have to thank Coach for all the hard work that he does behind the scenes that often goes unnoticed. Without you there is no program and sometimes I think people forget that. You made my college soccer career what it was and I will always be grateful for the opportunities you gave me. 2) Less is sometimes more. I often forget that half of what coach’s say is in one ear and out the other. I have started to learn that being short and concise (you can imagine this is hard for me judging this blog post) when talking or explaining things to your players is far more effective then rambling on forever. 3) Individual relationships are so important. Sometimes coaching revolves so much around big picture, team stuff that individual relationships are overlooked or not given much attention. In my short coaching experience, I make the individual relationships with my players top priority knowing how important this is when helping them not only on the field, but also off of it. 4) You will always want to play, but you can’t. I’m pretty sure some of my players thought they were going to have to pull me off the field during our first scrimmage. There was a moment where I literally forgot I wasn’t allowed to sub into the game. I now recognize that all you can do as a coach is provide your players with the tools to succeed, but they have to do the rest. 5) Passion for the game. One of my favorite parts about coaching is being able to share my passion for the game with others. You can’t fake passion and players can feel this energy you bring everyday. My hope is that my passion for soccer inspires my players and helps them develop their own love for the game.
While I certainly miss working hard at practice everyday, lacing up for big games, and being out on the field with my teammates, I now have a new outlet where I can share my passion for this game that I love so much – coaching.
GHS Team Picture