Month: April 2008

Norwalk game…

I enjoyed talking to everyone that came up before the game. I may not be the best conversation starter, but it was good to be welcomed and I enjoyed hearing the stories. Then once the word got out that Amy and I had visited then I enjoyed talking to the second wave of people too. The biggest reason I miss soccer was the relationships that you build with everyone. It’s not that I just left a soccer team, I left 60 friends, not including the 5 years of alumni that I’d coached.

The JV played really well. They had played 1 less game than the varsity, but you wouldn’t know it from watching. They are continuing their undefeated streak, which dates back to before last year. They played real well and showed how strong the future of Newton soccer can be. I was proud of them. They are also going through a coaching change, losing the best JV soccer coach in the history of JV soccer coaches. I guess that’s what 1 undefeated season does for you. The girls don’t have to worry about having 40 people on JV this year since he platoons the rosters, not allowing girls that aren’t getting much Varsity time to also play JV. Which leads to a much more competitive, developmental team. Instead of conflicting interests between the teammates like we experienced the last couple years. The JV definitely set the tone for the night and played well.

I was trying to figure out where the varsity players were before the game, I guess they were hiding out in the locker room before the game staying warm. Which wasn’t a bad idea on this cold night, but they didn’t come out for warm ups until the JV game was basically over. Not that our warm up during the JV game really did anything, but I felt better that they were at least moving around and getting acclimated to the weather and atmosphere.

The”Night at the Roxbury” themed, star-stretch-warm up. I couldn’t believe they were kicking their feet to the music. In my opinion the pregame music went from an intimidating, feel good vibe, to a 70’s beach party in some kind of a Will Farrel movie. I’m not so sure I’m a big fan of the new look, but I’m kinda weird about what I like in pregame anyways. IMO (since this is MY blog), it should be more of a intimidation, get ready to get your ass whooped atmosphere. And mental prep, than actually warming up and looking pretty. Sure I’ve played some Spice Girls, NSync, & other goofy music, but I felt it made us individuals and confident in our goofiness. (Which I guess could go for the Night at the Roxybury, too.) So the whole 10 minutes they had to warm up must have been enough. I wouldn’t say they were slow out of the blocks. We started the game with an early lead on the #2 team in the state. Norwalk was also #2 when we defeated them last year. The game went as expected, it was pretty back and forth, no one was really dominate. Norwalk eventually tied the score and it seemed like we were just uncomfortable with everything. There were quite a few times people were out of place and timing was off. It wasn’t like it was certain people, it was more like a team adjustment needed made or something. I couldn’t really put my finger on it. We did have some good opportunities and had some good possessions. Our defense also played well. Then Norwalk was able to score what turned out to be the game winner. We were held to less than 2 goals, which didn’t happen much if at all last year. I’m trying to think, I can’t think of a game, win or lose that we scored less than 2. Norwalk’s best defensive player was out and midfielder graduated, so they were definitely vulnerable. I didn’t think Norwalk was as strong as they have been in the past, but I will give them credit, they find a way to win no matter who they are playing or what they are up against. And they were the better team on the field that day. That’s hard for me to admit. Hopefully we will both make it far enough and get matched up at State. I wouldn’t mind knocking them off after they most likely ruined our chances of a conference championship.

I got a chance to catch up with a few parents after the game, which is always nice. I’m glad people care where I’m at and what’s going on in my life. Many people asked if I was coaching somewhere, I guess that means I should get back into it. I’m not sure what I’m waiting for. I also talked to a few girls after the game. They all are so competitive, I guess that’s why we got along so well. After talking to them, it’s really puts into perspective the changes some of them are dealing with, especially some of the seniors. I also got a chance to hang out with one of the biggest fans, the Dave Man. Coincidentally Dave had the same name as one of the officials, which one of the Norwalk fans felt needed pointed out after 1 of the few calls that went our way. That’s another thing, I couldn’t complain much about the refs as a coach, but I’ll let them have it now. We don’t get the best refs for our games sometimes. A few aren’t bad, but they are few and far between. So the Dave man and I waited around to have a brief word with the coach. Yeah, right, brief my ass. An hour later he was just getting done with the press. So we had a good little talk, I enjoy being kept in the loop. It’s really nice that he’s been so open with me. Something that can be hard when you’re trying to make changes happen. I’ll have more on chats with the coach and I should probably make a special dedication to the Dave Man sometime, I like that guy.

Let the Games Begin

Amy has for some reason decided to challenge me to a biggest loser competition. I guess she doesn’t think I’m doing well enough on my own, or maybe she just likes getting beat by me at things. After watching the last season of Biggest Losers, maybe she’s been tricked into thinking that a female will always win. About the only way she’ll win is if she pulls off the 45% or whatever it was that they did in the show.

So the rules are pretty easy. Highest precentage of weight loss in 6 weeks. No use of drugs or dietary supplements. No reason to mention exact weights, but I’m starting at 98 pounds more than her. Weigh ins are on Tuesdays, but really have no bearing until the final weigh in on June 3rd. Oh yeah and the prizes… The loser has to buy the winner a $50 gift of their choice in good taste obviously.

There are going to be a few tough distractions in that time, including our house warming party, a wedding for each of us and hopefullly some graduation parties. We are also hoping to run a 10k together during that time.

A couple possible distractions that would affect one of us more than the other, the release of Grand Theft Auto 4 vs the release of WiiFit. Hmmm, I wonder how much I’ll have to catch up from my time spent on the couch to her time working out infront of the TV. Point Amy 1-0. The next one would be the fact that she has class on Mondays & Tuesdays until schools out. Point Nolan 1-1. I have food provided at work forcing me to eat well during the day, but she eats well during the day anyways and my accessibility to food isn’t necesarily a good thing. Barely a Point to Amy 2-1. I have workout equipment provided at my work that’s free and get time during the day to use it. Amy has to pay a small fee to use their gym and it’s harder for her to get out of the office over lunch. Point Nolan 2-2. So I guess it’s going to come down to the line. A 2-2 battle doesn’t help me much, since I’ll have to lose more weight. So I guess maybe that’s to her favor, but I also have A LOT more weight to lose. It should be fun. I’ll be sure to post the winner.

Fuel for the Fire

I’ll tell you what, it’s as if I needed something to get me more fired up for this season. After I had planned to take vacation from work, drive over 400 miles, and then to have Iowa weather keep me from making it to the DCG game and a reschedule keep me from making the Marshalltown game, Amy and I decided to cancel our trip. So I was quickly reminded how upset it made me to find out 3 hours before a game that it’s postponed/canceled due to weather. You get excited and prepared for days, then find out last minute that somebody is scared to tear up their field. That was one of the things I always enjoyed about football and soccer, is that it can be played in any weather and those are some of the games that you remember. So anyways, I found out in time to save me a lot of driving for 1 game vs Knoxville that may end up getting canceled anyways, to read the 2nd rankings.

Can you believe that whoever it is that makes the rankings, has the nerve to put Denver in the 1A rankings and drop Newton, after Newton’s only loss was to 2A #10(now #9) Ames. Newton has outscored their opponents 11-4, including Ames. Of all people, I would be the first to tell you that rankings don’t matter, but why does Newton always get the short end of the stick. Our record is better than 5 ranked teams (including 1A & 2 A) and the same as 4 more. This is a whole other subject, but somehow Davenport Assumption tied a game. By the rules, this is impossible. A Iowa High School Boys game can end in a tie, but a girls game cannot. So anyways back to my original subject. I’m assuming Newton earned it’s ranking by finishing last year by playing competitively with the top teams in 1A & 2A even though we were the smallest 2A team. So this year Newton has a good core of players back, they lose 1 game so far (at least partly due to scheduling in my opinion) and or just passed by on the rankings. Makes no sense, but I guess that just gives them some bulletin board material and a reason to prove themselves to everyone.

So what does it take to get ranked in Iowa Girls High School Soccer? Does it take a coach willing to run up the score on it’s opponents when it already has them on their knees? Does it take playing in the CIML where all of your scores get posted in a major news paper? Let alone scores getting posted when you send them in, but articles previewing your team and wins over big teams. Does it take having a coach that brags about his team and sends info statewide trying to advertise? Does it take having players that get college scholarships? How good a team did the year before? Or does it really come down to who plays the best soccer week in, week out, no matter the size, conference, scores or any other factors? I would like to know if there is a committee that makes the rankings that actually watches games, or if a person just hears a couple scores and picks names out of a hat. I don’t get it, maybe I never will, I know I’m biased, but give me a break. How about we call the ranking system the BS rankings.

DCG

I’m not real excited about this weather, but I’m looking forward to watching the Cardinals play some soccer tonight. I’m hoping they get the game in, it’s one of the few I’m able to make it to. Then it looks like more of the same weather tomorrow at Knoxville. From trying to figure out how things are going by reading scores. I’m thinking that the Little Hawkeye conference is once again going to be a battle. Norwalk edged out Pella in overtime the other night. It’s starting to look like last year. Only difference is Newton has to win the rest of it’s conference games including Pella.

The ratings usually go up on Thursday’s and I noticed they’ve skipped the last 2 weeks, usually they only skip one week in the begining of the year. I’ll be interested to see if much changes, it’s early and the weather hasn’t been the best for soccer. I doubt any ranked teams have bombed after only a few games.

I expect Dallas Center Grimes to be pretty tough. They have had some good teams in the past and return a couple good midfielders that are just sophomores. I think they’re well coached and they have put it to a couple teams this year. There only loss comes to Johnston, which has always been a pretty quality team. It may help a little that the game is at their place, but I don’t know much about their field. If they play in a football stadium, their won’t be much of an advantage unless one team or the other plays better in poor conditions. So it should be a great match up of ranked 1A schools early in the year. Hopefully my Cardinals can pull it out.

Coach Barnhill & 2008 Team thoughts

So it’s the beginning of another girls soccer season. The weather still sucks, spring break is still the first week of practice and the team has to play #10 Ames on basically the first day that games can be played on. So things seem to be the same right. Not really, I didn’t mention 1 pretty major change… a new coach. After 5 years of coaching and becoming attached to the girls, the school, the town and everything else that goes with it, I made the decision to move on. I was laid off from my full-time job with Maytag and was looking for new direction. I could’ve looked in the DesMoines area and commuted like basically everyone else is doing, but there was 1 more factor that influenced me. My girlfriend a just less than 3 years at the time was headed back to her home town to get her masters. Amy recently graduated from my alma mater, Simpson College, and decided to pursue her political science major at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She is majoring in public administration, a 2 year program there. So I decided I had spent long enough dating a girl that lived 45 minutes away during the school year and 2.5 hours away in the summer. We moved out here in August, I decided I had collected enough unemployment and got a full-time job doing computer work for a small financial company in September. Then due to the housing market being the way it is we decided to buy a house in the end of December. So things have been a lot different for me, but I guess it’s time I grew up a little. I had too much fun working in my hometown with some great people and then getting to hang out with high school girls everyday after school. Coaching soccer wasn’t really a job, it was too fun to be a job. Every day I got to go outside in the sun and run around kicking a ball against people I could beat. 🙂 I’m just kidding on that last bit, it probably helped I had a few years advantage on everybody, ok seriously though I’m not very good. So, soccer season has rolled around again and this time around, I don’t get to be directly involved, so I’ve turned in to the biggest fan the Newton Girls Soccer team has and probably the furthest away from town.

As for the new coach, I had the opportunity to meet him from coaching against him over the years. I think he has a great knowledge of the game and is a great coach. I felt he would be a great fit for Newton since we had similar coaching styles and he has so much experience. Sure things are going to be different for the team, but they could be a lot more different if the new coach was a yeller, or a conditioning specialist. Hint… I was neither, sometimes I liked to act like I was tough on the conditioning, but I thought we got all the conditioning work we needed by working hard during the drills and not taking many breaks. So Coach Barnhill came in with a very good resume of experience and a bright outlook on a chance to take a decent program to the next level. Sure he has different philosophies on formations and practice scheduling, but what coach wouldn’t. I was never part of a structured soccer program in high school or college that ran good practices, so I didn’t have much to start out with. I just learned everything on the go. My dad was a great coach when I was growing up and taught us the necessities to win and give me a huge head start. He’d still ask how everything was going and made practice suggestions last year. Btw, he’s probably the girls 2nd biggest fan. Either him or Amy, they’d probably fight to be 2nd. Back to Mr. Rick Barnhill, I think time will be a great indicator that the school made a great dicision on that hire. He has only improved teams and I don’t know why things would be any different in Newton. Below are a couple comments left after the article introducing him in the Newton Daily News:

Yep wrote on Mar 31, 2008 6:32 PM:
” I played for Barnhill for a very short time in Davenport and he was by far the best soccer coach I ever had. Great job Newton for getting a quality coach! “

A.L. Parent wrote on Mar 29, 2008 10:32 AM:
” Newton, you have an excellent coach in Rick Barnhill. Albert Lea is a small, rural district in a town of 15,000 but in the last three seasons they have finished in the top 16 teams statewide twice and the top 8 once- competing against much bigger public schools and private Twin City schools. His second and third seasons, AL girls soccer had the second highest and the highest grade point average among ALL soccer teams (boys and girls) in the state. Players he has guided recently are now playing Division II at Upper Iowa, Minnesota- Duluth and Minnesota State-Mankato. There are also players at Division III for River Falls and others. Rick Barnhill is not some unapproachable, ultracompetitive screamer, but a competent professional that knows how to get the best out of each player without killing the fun of playing the game. You have chosen well. “


So my outlook on this season. We (I use that like I’m still a part of the team, I can do that since I’m the biggest fan) only return 4 starters, after graduating 6 seniors and losing 1 to a family move. Surprisingly I was the only Maytager that moved this season (that I know of), don’t get me wrong the closing of Maytag has had a huge impact on the school & even our team over the last couple years. The school is also small enough that girls soccer is the first sport to drop down in class. We are now the biggest school in 1A instead of the smallest school in 2A. Another good move for the program. We competed very well with the best teams in 2A last year, but also beat the team that would’ve played for 3rd in last years 1A play-offs. And also should’ve beat #2 in 1A. But that’s behind us, maybe I’ll talk about last year later. This spring’s Cardinals are returning their leading scorer, now career goal leader and a pretty strong core of players. Even though there are only 4 returning starters there are a ton of players that got respectable playing time and aren’t new to being on the field during important situations. They have a lot of experience, are well educated on the game, and most importantly are eager to succeed. They are all very competitive. That has been proved already this year. They were respected enough from last years season to be ranked #12 in the preaseason rankings. A ranking that could just as well be #2 considering how teams #2 through #15 are just a mashup of good teams. The girls are already off on a good foot with a 2-1 record with their only loss to another tough Ames team. The real test will come later this week with a matchup with a good Dallas Center-Grimes team. DCG beat us last year after we had beat them the year before. Last years game was a 3-2 battle where we had fought back for a chance to win after a long week, and then just lost it in the end. It was a heart wrenching loss. I’m sure the girls are ready to avenge that loss at DCG’s home pitch. DCG is a well coached squad returning most of it’s team from last year and are out to prove that they want to go to state this year. It will be a good test for the team to see where they stand amongst the best in 1A. We do have an advantage on DCG, in that we have a new approach and a little different style of play. I’ve been able to keep up with the team enough to that we are still growing and have had a few games to learn a lot about ourselves. They are still growing and are waiting to have that breakout game. I think the girl still have a lot to prove. They aren’t content with just winning the games we won last year and losing in the second round of the playoffs again. This team is set out to make their own name. They can still win out and make it to state for the first time in Newton Girls Soccer history. They are the type of team that won’t let a couple wins go to their head and overlook the next opponent. Especially right now this team is out to overcome their personal feats and play good soccer every minute of the game.

I’m excited to see it happen Thursday. Thursday will be my first game to watch this year. Amy and I are leaving work and heading to DCG to catch the varsity game, then planning to watch the JV and Varsity play Knoxville on Friday. I wish we could make it to the Marshalltown game, but a change in the scheduling of the Nebraska Spring game will interrupt that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so confident I think that the Newton Girls could beat the Corn Huskers in a soccer game, but I got these tickets a few months ago, planning on the game being at 6 PM, where we could do both. I tried to call Coach Osborn to have him change it, but he wouldn’t listen.

I also wanted to note, that Amy and I ( and my Dad) love the notes I have been getting from people keeping me updated on whats up. I don’t know what I’d do without you guys. Like I’ve mentioned before, there are some great people in Newton, the soccer team included. I’ve built some lasting friendships and I don’t know what I’d do without you guys. So keep’em coming, I don’t have a limit on my inbox, facebook, or myspace so I’d like to hear from everybody.

So, more from me later, but go Cards, keep the faith and keep up the good work, great things are going to happen for you this year!

2008 News

Here’s a few of the articles I’ve gathered from the 2008 season so far. Since I don’t get any of the paper’s here in Omaha, I try to find all the articles online. Feel free to grab whatever ones you want. If you have some that I don’t let me know and I’ll add them. Also if you want me to just email them all to you sometime I can do that too. That way the file names will look better.

Preseason Rankings – DesMoines Register
Coach Barnhill Preview – Newton Daily News
Preseason Rankings – Iowa Girls Highschool Athletic Union
Ames Pregame – Newton Ranking
Preseason Preview – Newton Chronicle
Ames preview – Ames Tribune
Ames Postgame – Ames Tribune
Ames Postgame – Newton Daily News
Grinnell Postgame – Newton Daily News
Osky Postgame – Newton Daily News
Osky Postgame – Oskaloosa Herald

Soccer Blogging

Alright, so i suck at this blogging thing. I’ve been wanting to write on here for the last month or 2, hell the last year or 2. Before I wanted to give a coach’s outlook on how the season was going with some behind the scenes stuff that not everybody hear’s about on a day to day basis. And now that it’s not really a behind the scene’s outlook, maybe I’ll be able to keep up with some of my coaching memories. Let me tell you, I have plenty of them. If you have suggestions, or want me to remember a story about you, don’t be afraid to ask. I’ll start out by catching up on a lot of stuff. I have newspaper clippings that I spent a couple weeks scanning into my computer from last year. Then I’ve also been trying to get every news clipping I can find from this year. My next goal is to catch up on this season. Now that I’m not coaching, I have a little more freedom to speak my mind and give my outlook on the season. It’s not that I’m going to lash out on people, I haven’t changed, but I know have a different outlook as an outsider instead of the person that was in the mix everyday. So if you happen to stumble across this, since I’m not advertising it myself, feel free to spread the word. The more interest the more I’ll keep up with it. Here goes.