Seasons change. We’re in the midst of a seasonal change here in the “north country” ; somewhere between fall and winter. Dates on the calendar are only a rough guide. You really have to go by what you see and feel. Trust me, if the thermometer said 20° next week and there were six inches of snow on the ground it would no longer be fall. The same is true when it comes to developing young athletes. Age or grade or competitive level or past performance give us a rough idea of where people are but when we’re actually working with players we have to work with what’s really there and what they’re capable of here and now.
Certain aspects of development, like seasons, are pretty reliable and predicable. The big maple outside my window is going to turn bright orange and red sometime between the end of September and the middle of October each year. But it wont be the same every year because it’s not the same tree and it’s not the same weather or exactly the same environment. It’s growing, getting bigger, maybe it’s struggling against a drought or damage from a storm or it had a perfect summer of sun and rain.
It’s like that with these young athletes too. They’re coming back for another cycle in their development but they’re not the same athlete they were last winter or spring or even at the start of the fall. They’re maturing and developing physically, mentally, socially. They may be healthier than they’ve ever been or dealing with an injury or illness. Their last season may have been a tremendous success or a real struggle. Same person and yet … not the same.
I’m especially mindful of it because yesterday I had a nice conversation with one the players who played his last college game on Saturday. We’ve worked together since he was a freshman in high school and it’s been such a blessing to watch him develop as a person and an athlete. Then as soon as we got off the phone I started with a new group of U12 soccer girls. That’s a big jump.
So one season’s ending. Another one’s starting. Next week we jump back in with four new groups of high school soccer and lacrosse players. It’s going to be great. Some of them will be new – most will be returning. Either way it’s a brand new season. We’re building on the past and yet it’s a fresh start. Pretty cool when you think about it. Can’t wait for Monday!