The ASA Recreational League would not be possible without the support of amazing volunteer coaches. We thought, who better to share expertise, tips and experiences than the people who coach each season?! Today we’re thrilled to highlight veteran ASA Rec coach Veronica Babineaux! Thanks for answering our questions Veronica!
When did you begin coaching?
I first coached my daughter’s first grade soccer team in 2016 and have since coached my son’s soccer team for maybe 4 seasons after that, and I am now currently coaching my youngest son’s pre-K team for his first soccer season ever.
Did you play soccer growing up? What is your experience with soccer playing or coaching?
I have played soccer since I was a kid and I was on the travel team back when it was WAGS in charge of travel teams (go Alexandria Hurricanes!). I continued to play club in college and then played in adult coed and women’s leagues post college. I had to stop playing, though, due to tearing my ACL twice.
What is one of your favorite things about coaching in the Rec League?
I genuinely enjoy seeing the growth. I’ve always coached the younger ages between 4-6 years old and it’s so cool to see them play when something finally clicks. I’ve heard people say that soccer at that age isn’t soccer, but I think it’s soccer at its core – get the ball and score.
What has surprised you most about your coaching experience thus far?
As a coach for 4-5 year olds, I am always surprised at how much the kids want to play. They play 6-minute quarters and it never seems long enough. They may look tired and walk off the field on occasion, but they always come back looking to play some more. And before you know it the game is over.
What advice do you have for a parent who is interested in coaching? Any tips or tricks?
This answer probably will depend on the age group you coach. As a coach for 4-5 year olds I say- be flexible. You may have a drill or game planned out in your head and when you try to execute it the kids are all over the place either not understanding or just not into it. I try to have a few fun games and activities that I know they like to always fall back on. Also at that age, don’t be afraid to ask parents for help. Coaching 4-5 year olds can be a lot like herding cattle. Parents are more than willing to help and it makes it so much easier when you them.
Do you have a memorable moment from coaching that you would like to share?
My first practice coaching my youngest son’s team was definitely one I will never forget. I had about 10 kids show up and three of them had similar names plus similar features so I was completely confusing them all up. One little girl was crying constantly that she wasn’t playing well as she was successfully dribbling skillfully around all the other players. And, while we were scrimmaging, a kid followed me around telling me what he was asking for Christmas this year. I thought “This is going to be a long season.” And then after only a couple of weeks I had all their names down, the little girl didn’t really cry anymore, and I
found ways to get the Christmas-wish kid on task. Things just fell into place.
What is your coaching philosophy?
Learn the fundamentals and have fun. I am a true believer in practicing the fundamentals of soccer, even at age 4. Learning the touch on the ball at that age is so imperative to learning the game and so good for their development. But in the end they play the game to have fun, so that’s what it should be – fun.
Anything else you’d like to share about your experience?
I have coached all of my kids’ team at least once. I find coaching rewarding, but in the end I’m their number one fan. What better way to admire them when you get a front row seat to every practice and game. I could watch soccer all day, and it’s so much better watching your own kid play and see them growing as you watch.