The student newspaper of Nicholls State University

Photo by: Rachel Klaus

Photo by: Rachel Klaus

Stay Humble, Hustle Hard: For the love of the game

December 5, 2017

Although I loved my role as a soccer player and the action I got on the playing field, I always knew I
wanted to coach the sport as well, and eventually trade in my view as a center back for a view of the
game from the sideline.

In my head, the transition from player to coach seemed like one that would be natural. Over the years, I
have had experience coaching large groups of kids at Nicholls summer camps, training youths in
individual sessions, working with recruits and prospective college athletes and even running Special
Olympics clinics.

When I got the opportunity to volunteer coach with the middle school boys and girls’ team as well as the
high school girls’ team at Covenant Christian Academy in Houma after my Nicholls soccer season came
to an end, I knew coaching was what I wanted to do next.

While I knew coaching would be a bit different from playing, I wanted to keep soccer in my routine and
be around the game as much as possible however I could. Even though the thought of being finished
with college soccer is still upsetting to me, I can’t deny my love of the game and my desire to share that
love through coaching.

After a few weeks of coaching the teams at Covenant Christian Academy, I decided to reach out to my
former teammate and one of Nicholls women’s soccer’s greats, Spencer Valdespino, about her transition
from playing college soccer to coaching it.

Before she graduated in the spring of 2016, Valdespino set the Nicholls women’s soccer team single
season record for points, points per game and goals per game. She was awarded Southland Conference
Player of the Year, Louisiana Sports Writer's Association Player of the Year and was named Southland
Conference Offensive Player of the Week multiple times.
Above all, Valdespino was a member of the 2014 squad that birthed the first post-season victory in

Nicholls soccer program history against McNeese State University in the Southland Conference Playoffs.
After finishing her soccer career and graduating with these honors, Valdespino was offered a graduate
assistant coaching position at Auburn University at Montgomery for the women’s soccer team.
Valdespino revealed to me in a personal interview that while she had never given much thought to
coaching in the past, the opportunity to coach college soccer has taught her more than she ever thought
it would.

“This was the first time in my life where my job was to use my knowledge to help others at what they
came to college to do,” Valdespino said. “I never thought I would be good at that and at the beginning, I
certainly was not. The girls helped me grow as a coach more than I could have ever asked for.”
Valdespino said the responsibility that comes with coaching has given her a new perspective on the
game and has forced her to realize the differences between playing and coaching.

“I have a bigger perspective on the game now because I have to look at the smaller pictures instead of
the bigger picture. I am the one who now puts together the plan for the games. I can’t just go out and
play anymore.”

Overall, Valdespino said the best part of coaching is being able to pass down helpful information to
players, including things she wished she could have been told while she was still a player herself. She
said any opportunity for her to lace up her cleats again is a good opportunity.

“My biggest benefit of coaching is just seeing all my knowledge being passed down to my players. I say it
all the time that it feels good to be asked by players on what they should do. It means they trust me as
their coach and friend to come up with something to help ease their mind and benefit them in the
game,” Valdespino said.

Valdespino concluded the interview by saying that she will always miss playing soccer, but that being
able to coach has kept her close to the game she loves. While Valdespino has coached the women’s
team at UAM for two years, my journey as a coach is just beginning.

Hearing Valdespino’s insightful testimony of her experiences so far as a coach and thinking about all the
great coaches who have provided me with knowledge of the game of soccer in the past has validated my
desire to share the love of the game, and has made me want to focus on this new path that soccer has
led me to.

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