The first time I attended the (then) NSCAA Convention was way back in 2002. I was 18 years old and accepting an award for NSCAA High School All-American, a huge accomplishment in my short-lived life up until that point.
The convention was in Philadelphia that year; it snowed like crazy the day of the awards banquet. I don’t remember much about it aside from accepting my award. My mom and grandparents came with me. They don’t remember it.
I didn’t think much of the whole event at that time in my life. I thought it was just for giving out All-American awards (oops – living in my bubble).
I attended last year’s (now) United Soccer Coaches Convention and this year’s in Chicago as an exhibitor, which is much different than receiving an All-American award. No free meal. No family tagging along. No glory.
It’s different. A good different.
While I was at the convention this weekend I found myself wearing many different hats. If you saw me, you probably saw me wearing my Duktig Brand beanie. But the hats you couldn’t see me wearing included that of a student, a teacher, a player, a coach, an entrepreneur, a friend, and a very tired and hungry human being. (Still an All-American right? They can’t like take that away from me).
I found myself continually engaged in conversations where I had to figure out who I had to be in that moment. I had some really fun and interesting conversations too.
I met Bob Armell, the founder of Pugg Company and found myself completely immersed in his story and what he had as advice for small businesses. (Also, if you’re not using Pugg Goals, you should, Bob is freakin awesome).
I met Todd Beane who I only spoke to for a few minutes but for all he has accomplished and all the amazing people he knows, took the time to say hi to me every time he saw me for the rest of the convention. He even stopped by our booth.
Jerry Smith remembered a goal I scored against Santa Clara back in 2005. That was such a cool memory for me and Penn State soccer for him to bring up. (Jerry got lots of bonus points for this, go Broncos).
I got to see my incredible friends work on their businesses in the exhibit hall. It’s one thing to see players perfecting their craft on the field, but something completely different to see them working on running a business. Really shows the value of high-level female athletes in business in my opinion.
Kudos to: Yael Averbuch (Techne Futbol), Skye Eddy Bruce (Soccer Parenting Association), Becca Moros and Mandy Laddish (Footyboard), Jordan Angeli (The ACL Club), Ali Krieger (AKFC).
The whole convention really got to me. In a good way. It reminded me of a quote I had read about writing, “the best things come, as a general thing, from the talents that are members of a group; every man works better when he has companions working in the same line, and yielding the stimulus of suggestions, comparison, emlulation” (Henry James about Nathaniel Hawthorne).
I love this quote so much because even though we all might be in our little bubbles (my All-American bubble) we still need outside influences. But we also need to be in our bubble.
It is so important to actually work on your craft. It is important to get out there and do. Figure out what works for YOU. Figure out if what a presenter said can even be applied to your environment. Life is literally this: getting a whole bunch of information from a whole bunch of different people and places and figuring out how the hell to plug it into your life if it can even be plugged there.
Sometimes people forget this. Sometimes I forget this. I don’t have enough plugs. I have too many plugs.
At the end of the day, we have to remember a few things:
1. I was an All-American – we can’t forget this people.
2. We have to, have to work together and help each other.
3. The best ideas are a combination of your stuff, my stuff and some stuff we found on the street.
4. No one person as all the answers. Not even Raymond.
The soccer world is messy. Not Messi. Like it should be. Messy. Especially US Soccer. It’s not all cleaned up and tidy like we would all like it. Some people are making millions off of the game. Some are losing millions. Some do it for free. Some do it in order to pay the bills. Players, coaches, administrators… I would like to sit behind my computer and say we all do it for the same reasons. We all want what’s best for the game and for the players and for the coaches and for the country. But as I get older, it’s much more difficult to believe those words. Doing the right thing doesn’t always equal money and money doesn’t always equal doing the right thing.
How can we fix this?
I don’t have the answer to this unfortunately. I think we have to figure out how to navigate within the mess. But what I do know is this. Duktig Brand is going to try to find its place in the soccer world and work tirelessly to impact it from the ground up. We are a small but powerful force and it is absolutely time that we give soccer people what they deserve.
I also know that I am going to try to be in this somehow. If anyone would like to work outside their bubble, let me know. I’m in this. I’m motivated. I’m hype. I’m all in and all out. I don’t know what I am. (Tired? Overstimulated?) But I want to make some shit happen.