One week after all the Division I teams had begun, I welcomed 27 players to Belmont for the 2009 season. This is the largest roster I have ever had. 11 new players. I made a welcome back slideshow for the team. Seeing pictures from winning the 2008 conference tournament with them again was special, and it somehow seemed so long ago. This feels like a brand new team with greater potential and greater goals. I have not seen anything that makes me think this team is going become complacent.
After the fitness test and 4 days of training, it was time to spend time getting to know each other. We took the True Colors Personality Test. It was a group discussion on different personalities, the strengths and weaknesses (characteristics) of each personality, and how others perceive certain personalities. We had a lot of fun with it. We call each other gold, orange, green, and blue. I am green, and it's not easy being green. We stereotype each other according to the color of their personality. It has been a good tool for learning about each other and about oneself, and it has been truly memorable. Just like camping last year was memorable.
We also went canoeing. I matched up the partners in each boat by position, and put people together who would have to work together and communicate on the field. Is it a bad sign that the only 2 canoes that tipped were those of the center backs and the coaches? This was no leisurely canoe trip. There were about 12 canoes racing down the river. It was crazy. Even when we would try to relax, we would all just end up maneuvering for position.
Thank you to all the people, schools, and organizations that allowed us to use their fields while ours was closed. Father Ryan, MBA, Nashville Metro, and Vanderbilt. Thank you to the families who provided food for us while the cafeteria was closed. Trocino, Loftis, Sanchez, and Musacchio.
When we played Southern Indiana on Sunday, it was our first game and their 3rd game. There were times in the game when I thought that was evident. I was happy with our progress on defending higher up the field and very happy with the number of scoring opportunities we created. There were definitely some nerves and some unfamiliarity with each other, but we won 1-0.
Today was the first day of classes. We are preparing for our first regular season game against UAB, who is 2-0. They have wins over Alabama and Ole Miss. They usually get large vocal crowds, and I expect we will be playing in a rowdy, unfriendly environment. Actually, it should be fun. Maybe in my pre-game speech, I will talk about my 1999 team that tied Georgia in front of 3000 Bulldog fans.
I am excited about this team and look forward to the season ahead. Communicating with, motivating, and keeping the focus of 27 college students is going to be a big challenge for me. So far, the team is doing great and showing no signs of disinterest. (That would be just like an orange.)
We will be at UAB this Friday night and home on Sunday against UT-Martin. I hope to see you there.
We play at Vanderbilt tonight. The crowd was over 1000 at last year's game. Hopefully, we can add to that tonight. Hopefully, we will continue to improve our defensive presence in the midfield, moving the ball from the midfield third to the attacking third, possession in the final third, and consistency. Come see for yourself!
We had a team meeting back at the hotel, and I was exhausted. You would think I would have a hard time falling asleep the night before a championship game, but I couldn't keep my eyes open. I was up in the middle of the night going over a list of penalty kickers, so I never fully catch up on my sleep.