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Chatham Soccer League

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25

Apr, 2018

Coach Spotlight: Lance Kupka

Lance Kupka, a resident of northern Chatham County, likes to do many things. He is focused on his work as an associate director at a database management company. He is an impressive woodworker, building outdoor and indoor furniture for his family and friends. He also really enjoys spending time with his wife and children in their backyard, or out at local events. Seems like a busy, full life!

Lance also finds time to volunteer as a soccer coach with Chatham Soccer League, for not one, but two teams!  He coaches two recreation soccer teams, each in a different age level, as his son plays on one, his daughter on the other.

Players and parents who find themselves assigned to the team Lance is coaching count themselves as lucky, as Lance sees this opportunity primarily as a teaching gig. He is a great soccer player, a student of the game. And this shows in how his teams play in formation, with lots of tactical skills on display. All while Lance is taking moments to teach details of the beautiful game to individual players, and in group settings.

We thought Lance would be an excellent choice to spotlight as a volunteer with Chatham Soccer League. Read below for our interview with him:

How did you get into coaching soccer? How long ago? 

"My first coaching experience was back around 1997. My buddy and I were recruited by a friend of ours to coach his son on a U12 Boys Travel team. I then got more involved when both of my kids were old enough to play, coaching both of their teams for many years now."

Why did you say “yes” to it? Why do you still do it?

"I said "yes" because I grew up playing club/travel soccer where all of our coaches were volunteers, and this was a great way to give back to the community. I still do it today because both of my kids, Sam (14) and Ava (10) both play and I enjoy seeing them grow, as well as many of the other kids I've coached."

In season, how many hours a week do you suppose you devote to it? What is involved? 

"Between multiple practices, games, emails, etc. I probably spend 6-8 hours per week."

What is the best part? 

"The best part for me is the kids. Its so great to see that "aha" moment for many of the kids when something they've worked on in practices translates into success in a match."

What are some of the challenges? 

"Parents for sure. Not as much at the recreation level, but more in the travel leagues. I think many parents think their child is going to be the next Ronaldo, or Messi. But that's not reality."

Do you have a personal coaching philosophy? What is it in a sentence or two? 

"#1-Have fun. Its more of a life philosophy, but if you aren't having fun playing the game, you should probably find another hobby.

#2-While technical skills and conditioning are extremely important, I feel we often forget about the mental aspect of the game (as players you need to think about where I need to be, or what will I do if the ball comes to me).

#3-I would rather have a team full of "good" players that are "great" kids, will work hard, and play within the team, rather than having "great" individual players with poor attitudes. The team will be more successful too."

What is one thing parents of youth soccer athletes could do better? 

"Parents should remember that the number of kids that go on to play in college or professionally is so small. Let the kids enjoy themselves. They aren't going to make a career of this (that's why its an extra-curricular activity). There are a lot of other valuable life lessons they will take away from their time playing soccer."

How is the best way you have found to motivate your players to train, improve, progress? 

"Find a way to praise every kid during practice or a game. Keep it fun. You can always make your point/teach a skill and still make it enjoyable for the kids."

What do you see going well with CSL? What are some things it needs to improve / work on? 

"CSL has a great group of volunteers, and it continues to grow (especially with the population growth in Chatham County).

One thing CSL needs, and will continue to need is fields. The number of players continues to grow year over year, but field space is still limited. And a turf field or two would be awesome. Thus, it could get year round play (with no worry of overuse), and it would help with weather related issues."

Do you play soccer? Do you have a favorite player? Team? 

"I have played off and on for years, and I still play pick up games regularly with a great group of friends here in Chatham County. My favorite professional player is Ronaldo. I like watching the US National Teams, as well as Portugal."

As you can see, Lance Kupka has a real passion for teaching kids soccer, and volunteers so that new generations learn a lifetime love of the game.  If you share that same love of soccer, teaching the game, or helping to ensure the growth and success of a non-profit soccer club in a growing Chatham County, know there is a place for you within Chatham Soccer League!  Contact our Executive Director, Martin Slavin, with questions (director@chathamsoccerleague.org or (919) 205-9977).

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