Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Tennessee SC's Ronnie Woodard: 'Start teaching and stop yelling'
by Charley Nordin, June 23rd, 2017 5:14PM
Subscribe to Youth Soccer Insider

TAGS:  u.s. youth soccer, youth, youth boys, youth girls, youth soccer


Interview by Charley Nordin

Last year marked the first time a club from Tennessee won a U.S. Youth Soccer national championship. Coached by Ronnie Woodard, Tennessee SC’s U-18 girls lifted the Francis J. Kelly Cup and Woodard was named the 2016 NSCAA National Coach of the Year.

Woodard (née Coveleskie) started coaching after playing goalkeeper at Duke (1988-91), where she captained the Blue Devils and was the program’s first scholarship player. After serving as assistant coach at Charlotte and goalkeeper coach at North Carolina State, Woodard was the head coach at Vanderbilt for nearly a decade, before arriving at Tennessee SC.

Ronnie Woodard on …

Coaching start
I walked into my coach Billy Hempen’s office after my last exam in my senior year at Duke University. I was unsure about my future plans. He said something that struck close to the heart: “Ronnie, soccer has given you so many opportunities and shown you so many different places of the world. Now it’s time for you to give back to the sport. A great way to give back to the sport is to start to coach.” I was 22 years old, my first team was a U-11 boys team.

Most enjoyable thing about coaching
I love having the opportunity to empower young girls to become strong women. It’s really important to me, being part of that Title IX generation, that we help grow the sport and that we help create strong female leaders in our communities. I think sport does a lot for a girls' confidence and teaches them great leadership abilities.

Least enjoyable thing about coaching
Being away from my family when I’m on the road with my team.

Your influential coaches
The first would be Eric Vaughter, he was my goalkeeper coach in ODP and he was my college goalkeeper coach at Duke. He taught me an awful lot about persevering and a work ethic and mental toughness in general. He taught me a lot of the intangible qualities that I still hold today and teach my team. Of course, Billy Hempen, who inspired me to give back to the sport. Finally, there is Robbie Church, who hired me for my very first assistant coaching job and I’ve been blessed to have him as a great mentor, leader and one of my best friends as I’ve gone through my entire development as a young aspiring coach to the dinosaur that I am today.

Biggest mistake youth coaches make
Please stop yelling. Please stop getting very emotional on the sidelines making the events of the game into personal attacks.

Your advice for youth coaches
Try to solve the tactical and technical situations that are causing the problem on the field -- instead of only addressing the effort of the players.

I think that we’ve all been really guilty of getting caught up in the emotion of the game, but it’s really important that we ground ourselves and force ourselves away and have the ability to sort through the happenings of what’s going on on the field at that time, what your team needs to do better, and then how you can fix that at halftime and address the situation moving forward.

Start teaching and stop yelling. That’s the biggest thing that I try to implement in how I coach, how can I be a leader and teacher without being a dominating force on the sideline. How can I make sure that my players hear my message instead of dread my message.

Soccer movies
The 99ers,” which is the story of the 1999 Women’s World Cup team and the follow up is “Dare to Dream: The Story of the U.S. Women's Soccer Team,” another documentary about our women’s national team. Every time I watch that I get chills and tear up. I can remember watching it first hand and experiencing every part of it.

Soccer books
What Drives Winning” by Brett Ledbetter. I love the leadership model that they teach through that book and I try to implement that with my team as often as I can. It makes me realize that soccer is more than Xs and Os. It's leadership and characteristics that are important for champions to possess.

And “Rookie: Surviving Your Freshman Year of College Soccer” by Dan Blank. It’s really insightful and every young woman that is about to start her freshman year of college should get a copy of that book. I actually give that book to all of my graduating seniors.

If you had a magic wand
Instead of running off children because of the high cost of youth soccer and travel demands, implement opportunities for our younger players and our socioeconomically challenged athletes to be able to afford soccer at a young age. I want to see more young kids from all backgrounds coming together and having a more balanced approach to their development. Specifically, young girls. I would like to see more young girls running around in our rec programs, and then going into our select programs and going through the process. I want more and more of our female athletes kicking soccer balls than what we see now.

Special memory
The team that just graduated and went off to college, I had them for four years, and so we started our journey when they started their journey in high school. Watching them grow from these 14-year-old girls into young women who are moving on to college. Those girls have brought me so many memories that I still smile whenever I think of them.

  1. Craig Cummings
    commented on: June 24, 2017 at 9:09 p.m.
    Why do so many goalkeepers make good coaches?
  1. Fanfor soccer
    commented on: June 24, 2017 at 11:03 p.m.
    Keepers are similar to a catcher in baseball. They are the only player on the field that can observe the entire field of play. Gives them a better perspective of the game.
  1. Nick Daverese
    commented on: June 26, 2017 at 5:42 a.m.
    Ususally they manage from more of a defensive perspective.they see the game from the back to the front.
  1. Craig Cummings
    commented on: July 2, 2017 at 11:37 p.m.
    Well said guys.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now



Recent Youth Soccer Insider
Tab Ramos on 2017 Development Academy finals and Mexican-American tug of war    
The U.S. Soccer Development Academy concluded its 10th season last weekend, with the Texans SC Houston ...
Efrain Alvarez, age 15, helps shoot Galaxy into U-17/18 Development Academy final    
Efrain Alvarez, who turned 15 on June 19, sparked the Los Angeles Galaxy's comeback against the ...
Texans SC Houston are only non-MLS club at this weekend's Development Academy championships    
Texans SC Houston, which beat Real So Cal, 2-0, in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-17/18 ...
The Road to 10,000 Games (Part 2): How I'll commemorate the milestone game    
In my last article, I wrote about some highs and lows in officiating thousands of soccer ...
USA to face host India, Ghana and Colombia at U-17 World Cup     
The USA was drawn into Group A for the boys 2017 U-17 World Cup and will ...
The Road to 10,000 Games     
It has been said that a referee never has a home game. But this is negative ...
A coach's life: Phil Savitz, NSCAA High School Coach of the Year, South Carolina legend, big Bruce Arena fan    
Phil Savitz has coached boys high school soccer for 37 years and serves as the Girls ...
Development Academy: Only FC Dallas has a chance to return to final four    
Only one team that reached the semifinals of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy national championship in ...
Take care of the mighty hamstring     
We're learning more and more about the importance of the hamstrings in injury prevention and overall ...
Hugo Arellano is latest player from 2015 U.S. U-17 squad to make first division debut    
Hugo Arellano, the USA's captain at the 2015 U-17 World Cup who signed a Homegrown contract ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives