By: Tim Moore (Head Coach, MI Jaguars 2009 Girls White)
You may not know our team very well, but we are the MI Jaguars 2009 Girls White team based out of the Wixom branch of the club. We don’t have any state championships or flashy hardware, and we haven’t been on too many highlight reels yet even though we’ve had some highlight plays this year!
However, there is one area that we feel we are really pretty talented in, and that is being the best Jaguars we can be. Our club implemented this idea that we should be as professional as we can at each practice, extra training, and game. The girls make sure that all of them give a handshake or knuckles to any coach, ref, or adult they work with. They make sure they arrive early and that they warm up properly without the need of the coaches to tell them everything to do. They make sure their bags are lined up neatly with their ball in the bag and that they have the correct bibs on the bench to sub. Sometimes they win games and sometimes they lose games, but at the end of every game, they know they’ve done their best.
During the Jaguar Invitational on Saturday, we had a tough go of it. We played a pretty talented team in Cap City and even though we played some really talented soccer, the scoreboard didn’t favor us. Then we had to turn around and play another good team in Pacesetter and after the first half, we were down 4-1. The girls came in knowing the score didn’t reflect the game, but they also knew it was due to a lack of effort on our part and inconsistent play that we were down. A quick look to the sideline and you could see it was felt by parents and coaches alike. But that is the exact moment that this team taps into what it means to be a Jaguar. It means that when the game isn’t going your way, you work harder; you dig in and work your way out of it piece by piece. That is what the girls decided to do in the 2nd half, and it was pretty fun to see.
It started with a few players deciding that the thing they could do for our team was run harder and pressure the ball. This led to a few turnovers and after a couple of great shots, we were right back in the game. Two girls who were subbing into the game decided the thing they could do the most was support the midfield by telling them what a great job they were doing coming back to help defend as a team. Wouldn’t you know it, after one girl heard the support she ran back, got us the ball, and transitioned us back down the field to score another goal to tie the game. We finished the game scoring two more goals, playing some great team defense, and in the end, we all felt pretty great about the game. The girls were excited to win the game, but after we talked about what the real victory was, we didn’t quit when most teams would, and with hard work and a team mentality, we fought our way back into a game we probably should have lost.
If you ask me what it means to be a Jaguar, it means learning how to be the best possible version of yourself. On May 11th during the Jaguar Invitational, I got to watch nine '09 Girls do just that.