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The Michigan Fire Juniors Board of Directors is pleased and excited to announce the hiring of David Wood as our new Boys Director of Coaching!
Along with the hiring of David Wood as our Boys Director of Coaching, Rick Fett will be joining our soccer leadership as the Boys Assistant Director of Coaching!
The six most important words a parent can say to a student athlete? "I love to watch you play.
Read the full article here.
By Kristin Englehart, Girls Director of Coaching
Chloe Finney played her first scrimmage with Unity Christian's varsity team on April 9th after one year and three months of not playing competitively. Chloe played for me last year on our club's U14 premier team. It was her first year playing premier soccer, and she struggled a bit technically and tactically during the fall season. It was during that off-season that I saw tremendous growth in Chloe. She was more committed to the sport than ever before. She consistently trained on her own and was playing with more confidence every day. It was during one of our mid-winter team trainings that Chloe suddenly fell when pivoting to get to a 50/50 ball. Torn ACL.
I met with Chloe shortly after her injury and discussed her road to recovery and the possibility of her playing premier level soccer again. She did not waste a second of recovery time feeling sorry for herself or thinking negatively. She was incredibly steadfast and focused on her long-term goals of making her school's varsity team and again playing the game she loved.
Chloe dedicated herself completely to improving her strength, regaining her technical skills and playing with confidence again. She worked for over a year without a secure place on any club or high school team. She didn't have teammates rallying around her. She didn't even have a uniform to remind her of what she was working toward.
She is now playing significant minutes for a State Championship high school team (as a freshman) and looking forward to playing premier soccer again starting in June. This is a shining example of one of our own players overcoming adversity. Congratulations, Chloe!
I have seen many of our players and teams overcome great obstacles over the past year. They have displayed courage, strength and humility in very difficult situations. On a daily basis I also see our players and teams rise to less significant challenges. Our responses to life's challenges are a reflection of our mental attitude. How we carry ourselves, the way we take instructions from coaches, and even how we react to our own mistakes are all reflections of our ability to overcome difficulties.
We are always going to make mistakes. We will occasionally go down by a goal or two. We are not going to agree with every call the referee makes. We will get knocked down both literally and figuratively. We are going to experience these challenges and possibly much greater hardship as we play this game. However, the player/team that is best at overcoming adversity will most often win. Sometimes you won't will the particular game, but you will win in life!
Stay after it Michigan Fire!
The second annual Chicago Fire Elite Female Player Identification Camp took place last weekend in Lake Forest, Illinois. Last year we sent 9 players to this elite camp/tryout. This year we felt that 20 of our own MFJ players (ranging from U13 - U17) were ready to train and compete against the best players from all nine Fire Juniors clubs!
Mike Dickey, Chicago Fire Juniors Technical Director and ODP Region II Head Coach, gave the opening address on Thursday night. This was a perfect kickoff to the four day event. Mike spoke about the Women's National Team standards and expectations. Every player in the room was inspired to play her very best over the next four days. The rest of the camp consisted of skills testing, trainings, games, classroom sessions and a trip to Toyota Park to see the Chicago Fire reserves play against the Charlotte Eagles. The camp atmosphere was certainly challenging, competitive and professional. I know our players improved much throughout the weekend and walked away from this camp with a much better understanding of what it takes to play at the highest level.
The coaching staff for the 2013 Chicago Fire Elite Female Player ID Camp consisted of all top-level coaches from many of the Fire Juniors clubs including Illinois, Michigan, Florida and Kentucky. Our own Coach David Wood was able to go down for the weekend and lead the U14 group. I was fortunate enough to work with the U16's.
Many college coaches came to watch the training and ID games. They were impressed by the level of talent we have in the Chicago Fire Juniors program. I received multiple emails after the camp regarding our U17 girls!
We could not be prouder of the 20 players who represented the Michigan Fire Juniors. They came into the camp much more prepared (technically, physically and mentally) than last year as they have been working toward this for over a year. Coach David and I both felt that our players showed well in every age group. They were also very professional off the field -- arriving early to every training and classroom session, being respectful of the staff and displaying good sportsmanship.
Congratulations to all 20 players for being selected to participate in this fantastic event. We want to wish them the best of luck on making the Fire Juniors Select Teams as well. Also, a huge thank you to all of their Michigan Fire club coaches for helping them develop and reach their full potential. None of this would be possible without you!
We hope to send even more players to this outstanding event next year. To all interested players...keep training on your own, get as much as you can out of your team trainings (work hard, stay focused) seek advice from our staff, stay positive and know that you have what it takes to make this dream a reality. GO FIRE!!!
- Kristin Englehart
Kristen Eible has been with our club for two years now. She is also a rising star in the coaching world! She graduated from Grand Valley two years ago where she was an Academic All American, a team captain, a 4-year starter and a 2-time National Champion! Kristen immediately started coaching after graduation, and she is now a professional coach (coaching full-time). As Grand Valley Coach Dave DiIanni says, "Eible was born to be a coach." Most recently (as Assistant Coach), she helped Davenport University reach its first ever National Tournament and become a top 25 NAIA team. She is also the Varsity Head Coach at East Grand Rapids where she was just voted District Coach of the Year!!!
Coach Kristen will be coaching our U11 Girls' Academy team and our U13 Girls Premier team this year. I am 100% confident that Coach Kristen will help these teams reach new heights. I can't wait to see these players and teams develop over the year with Coach Kristen.
You will see Coach Kristen involved with many camps, clinics and additional trainings this year as our new Girls ADOC. The first program she will be involved in is our Summer Excel program. She will be working with the U14/U15 group all summer!
I am so excited to be working alongside such a wonderful coach and person. I know she will help the girls' side of our club continue to grow and thrive!
- Kristin Englehart
By Dan McAllister
Technical Skills are the foundation for every player in the game and is likely the biggest single area that will affect every player's opportunities to advance throughout their career. Technical proficiency is an ongoing process of first learning the proper technique of a skill, then the much longer process of perfecting it.
In an article by John Rennie from Duke University entitled "Taking it to the Next Level", John writes: "I view skill as receiving and playing balls under the pressure of defending players. A player must demonstrate skill under pressure in order to play at the collegiate level. Success or failure in this situation determines further evaluation." WOW!! If you CAN play with skill under pressure, then you have a chance for further evaluation. If you CAN NOT play with skill under pressure....WOW! Players must be constantly working on technical precision, or what I like to call "Ball Mastery."
The Michigan Fire Juniors, through the curriculum and guidance of the Chicago Fire organization, are committed to the technical training of our players. As the Technical Director, I have spent much of the past two decades studying what so many successful professional clubs are doing to develop their youth players. I have had first hand exposure to our own Olympic Development Program at the state, regional and national level and have paid very close attention to what our national team coaches at every level are asking us at the youth level to focus on and why. I have had indepth exposure to some of the world's most reknowned youth development programs such as the Liverpool Academy and how they develop their youth players in an attempt to prepare those players to play in the English Premier League one day. A huge amount of their focus is technical development.
Many of our US players do not get the opportunity to advance to the next level, which is different for every player, because of the inability to play technically fast with technical precision to match. Recently, my Cornerstone University Women's Soccer Team played the Haiti National Team. In assessing the play of their national team players, we determined that in virtually every element of the game, the Haitians were "faster" than most of our players. Their technical "speed" was effected by their supple, sure touches that so often put the ball just out of the reach of our defenders allowing them to maintain possession under our fierce pressure, dictate the flow of their attack without hindrance from us, and control the ball more than we were able to.
Another important element in terms of skill development is the focus on ball mastery of the basic skills, as opposed to the entertaining "tricks" with the ball that we all enjoy watching. While these are fun to learn, they typically have little to no application in the a game, and even when they are attempted in a game, they rarely do anything to positively affect the game. The most dangerous element in the game of soccer is Speed. However, it is not simply physical speed of the players that effect the game. Technical Speed, Mental Speed, Tactical Speed, and Vision are the key contributors to overall speed of play.
Our focus at the Michigan Fire Juniors in terms of technical development will be the foundation of our overall philosophy of Player Development. This year, with our U10, U11, and U12 teams (boys and girls) we are offering an in-season supplementary Technical Training session each week in order to further develop these young players technical skills. We have developed a skills monitoring program where we will offer testing to any of these players who choose to participate at least 3 times per year in 21 different skills. We believe this gives every player a good measure of where they are in terms of technical skills, an ongoing measurement of improvement, and a central focus on the most prominent skills the game demands from our players. We have also developed a "Skills Workout" package which is all available on the Michigan Fire Juniors website under Technical Training. All of these resources are openly available to all MFJ's players regardless of age/gender and all players and parents are encouraged to use them in your own development regardless of age or ability.
If you want to see someone special in terms of mastery of the ball, check out Messi here!
Kristin Englehart, Girls DOC
The teams that I have coached know all about “training on your own.” This is one of the first lessons that I teach my teams.
I made my first premier team (Santa Rosa United) and fell in love with soccer when I was 12 years old, although the only reason that I made that team was because of my speed. I was way behind the curve compared to my teammates who had grown up as one-sport athletes, training year-round and preparing for premier soccer. I remember my first team practice like it was yesterday. We worked on passing patterns, and I was so focused on my first touch that I wasn’t able to remember the patterns. Since I had decided that I wanted to go as far as I possibly could in the sport, I had A LOT of catching up to do. So began the next ten years of training on my own.
Our Technical Director, Dan McAllister, has already posted some amazing resources under “Technical Training” on our MFJ website that you can use to help plan your individual sessions. I highly encourage you to use these resources. I think it could be helpful for you to get a glimpse of what this may actually look/feel like on a daily basis.
Quite honestly, none of the games, tournaments, practices, lectures or team meetings taught me as much as I learned through training on my own. Based on my own experience, here are some tips for training on your own:
1) Know WHY you’re training. Your long-term goal will be the only thing that gets you out there some days.
2) Make a plan for your training and stick to it.
3) Don’t make excuses. I trained before school. I trained in hotel parking lots when we were on vacation. I trained on Christmas day. Every day counts!
4) It’s not glamorous. I worked on dribbling cuts and turns in my dark and dreary garage on winter days. I would reach for that last touch when juggling, and the ball would knock my dad’s tools off the wall, crash into trashcans and land behind bikes and lawn mowers. I once did a 25 minute training in the corner of an airport terminal while waiting to board a plane!
5) Push yourself. Set goals during the actual training session as well. For example, I wouldn’t allow myself to go back in the house before I broke my juggling record. I had to hit a certain amount of targets when working on shooting and finishing, or I would run sprints.
6) Use a wall! This was the BEST thing that I did for my game when growing up. You can use a handball court, a racquetball court, a garage door or a brick wall. Work on 1 and 2-touch passing, receiving balls out of the air, turning with the ball and more!
7) Lastly, of course it’s hard. It can be boring, repetitive, even painful. The trick is pushing past that. You’re working toward your goals and dreams!
‘The vision of a champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion, when no one else is watching.” - Anson Dorrance
11/18/13 5:42 am
Please avoid goal areas!!!
|Hudsonville Chr. School|
|Jenison Christian School|
|Jenison High School Soccer Complex|
|VanAndel Soccer Stadium|
|Grandville Fellowship Morren Field|