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Josie’s experiences about university soccer

Assignment for playing University-/ College Soccer

College soccer, especially in the U.S is a very rewarding experience. Playing college soccer requires a lot of work, dedication, and commitment, but if you put your mind to it, it is a level that can definitely be achieved. Being from another country requires you to take the recruiting process into your own hands. It is truly up to the athlete to be apart of a traveling squad, contact college coaches, and send out player profiles through numerous emails. It is up to the athlete to make their future happen. But when coaches respond in a positive manner… it is very exciting as well as rewarding.

I play on the Women’s Soccer team at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. Choosing to play soccer in the U.S., let alone for SWOSU was the best decision I have made. I have learned so much by being in a different country and around a different culture. Of course the soccer is the best part of my day. I have never experienced such a demanding training schedule but it has strengthened me as a player in areas I would have never known. From 6 AM weight training, to 7AM running and 2 hours practices after school, you have to mentally ready to endure the season. Not only is the training demanding, but we also spend hours on the road traveling across the southern states. So being able to balance school and soccer is crucial.

The level of play at U.S colleges is something one must adjust to as well. Players are bigger, stronger and definitely more aggressive. The play is faster and not necessarily fair throughout the game. Each Coach coaches differently and so as a player, you much adjust to their coaching methods and learn as much as possible at the same time. Soccer at the college level can be one of the greatest experiences to have and as a college athlete… I strongly suggest those wanting to achieve that level to keep working hard and never give up because it is achievable.

Josie Price
January, 16 2011

Tryout in Potsdam by Josie Price

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It all started at a table in Tim Horton's 9 month ago. I was meeting Henry, my coach from High Performance Soccer Academy, as he had something to tell me. Between coffee and donuts, the meeting started and Henry said three words formulated into a question that impacted my life from that day on: "Professional, soccer and Germany". In a million years I would have never thought these words would ever have been said to my face…but it was true. Henry was asking me if I wanted to try out for a women's professional soccer team in Germany. Women's professional soccer? Are you serious? Do I really have that potential? I had so many questions to ask, so much to understand, but instead of pinching myself to see if this was a dream, I jumped at the opportunity and without hesitation I accepted the challenge.

The first three months were the most stressful, busiest month of my life. This new goal I decided to take on distracted me from school, family and friends. I was constantly thinking about the time running out and how much I needed to improve before May 2009.
Before I started making soccer my number one priority, I had to sit down and plan, as I had three very important diplomas to write. Henry, my family and I developed a new system of planning to stay on track for the upcoming months. We decided to take one month at a time, planning and only making commitments that we knew wouldn't jeopardize my school marks. We had monthly meetings to discuss my improvement and what I needed to work on for the following month.

I began training with the U16 Gunners team 3 times a week. Henry thought training with the boy's team would be a great challenge for me, and he was right. I improved tremendously in the first 2 months. Training with the Gunners was a great way for me to increase my speed of play and helped build my confidence. I started to work on individual training as well and my shots, dribbling and moves became increasingly better. All of this extra training was hard work for sure but after seeing the results and personally feeling the improvement, I was excited and motivated to keep Training!

As each month passed, I trained harder and harder. Once diplomas were over, soccer became my number one priority. My friends and family were extremely supportive. They knew how important this tryout was to me and helped me with every step.  My friends understood that I didn't have time for a social life and my family began to understand how important food, hot tubs and sleep were to me.  This journey clip_image002that I decided to take on was a bumpy one for sure. Along with all this extra training, came the stress of not being prepared and ready in time. I constantly thought about time running out and all the other unknowns in my life. I did not know if I was going to be ready and I had no idea what the soccer would be like over in Germany.  I have always wanted to play soccer for a university team in the USA and it was now my back up plan if Germany didn't work out.  I had three big trips planned before I left for Germany. In March, I was going down to California to visit a university and practice with the varsity team. In April I was travelling with my coach Goran Buconjic and my Willowridge soccer team to Dallas for a soccer tournament and from there, I had a visit scheduled to Brownsville, Texas to check out another university.  A lot of traveling but all three trips were great experiences.  Travelling and competing with my club team and working with my coach helped me tremendously as well.
About, 5 months in, I met an amazing woman by the name of Lorie Pulliam. I would not have done so well in Germany if it wasn't for her. Lorie worked with me on my mental preparation throughout my training. She helped me believe in myself, gain confidence and overcome many obstacles. For example, I came back from the University in California with a lot less confidence then when I left. I didn't feel I had a positive experience. I didn't feel confident about how I trained with the team and I didn't understand how Henry thought I could train with a professional team in Germany when I wasn't even able to impress this university coach. With the help of Lorie, I was able to turn this experience around and learn from it. Not only did Lorie help me with this trip, but she encouraged me to practice and play every game as if it was my tryout in Germany. In Dallas, this is exactly what I did and I had the game of my life. Lorie is an incredible woman and I have learned so much and grown so much because of her.

I was so excited and motivated during the last couple month to be the best I can be, I decided to train as much as possible. I couldn't get enough of soccer! I trained during school on the football field, at home in my backyard, I worked on pace, acceleration, speed and stamina with Henry. Henry and I even analyzed soccer games on T.V.  Pretty soon I was training nine times a week and still couldn't get enough soccer. My biggest fear was going over to Germany and not being ready or able to compete and falling behind. Henry was really understanding about this and when he saw that I was questioning my ability, he asked me one question,
"Josie, do you trust me?" I did trust Henry, how could I not. He was the one person who believed in me and had dedicated so much of his time. Henry had so much confidence in me and always told me how well I was doing. I had to trust him. Without that trust, I would not have been able to achieve as much as I did.
As time ran out and the tryout became closer and closer, Henry made sure that the last couple weeks were exciting, positive and enjoyable. The last thing Henry and I needed to do was undermine all the progress we had made and fall into the trap of questioning my ability.  Henry, Lorie and I worked together to ensure that I trusted them and myself and that I knew I was ready, that I was more than ready. I had trained so hard and sacrificed so much, I was prepared!

We started to Germany early in the morning. It was Sunday, the 10th of May and the night before I had my graduation party, not too much time to sleep.
We arrived in Potsdam the next day and went to the hotel. I used the afternoon for a little workout, stretch, run and some kicks.
Tuesday we went in the morning to the office of 1.FFC Turbine Potsdam. We met the head coach, the assistant coach and the manager.  The head coach, Mr. Bernd Schroeder had set up the training sessions and schedule for me.  In the afternoon I practiced with the U17 team the present World Champion of Schools.  Most of the players live right at the sport school facilities and were selected from the province of Brandenburg with one player from South Africa.

I was surprised that I was able compete at the level technically, tactically and physically.  We scrimmaged on a shortened field, and I felt a part of the game from the beginning and scored several goals.  As I was on the level of the top players of this group (all youth national team players of Germany) the coach invited me to train Wednesdaclip_image003y with the U23 women's team which plays in the 2. Bundesliga.
It was an amazing chance for me to experience this caliber of play and workout with excellent players and in front of this national class set of coaches. It was also a lot of fun to have the opportunity to go through the paces with players who are so focused and skilled.  I really enjoyed all my practices while in Potsdam.  Practices over there have a completely different level of intensity and speed than I have experienced.  Every practice included game play with players strong on the ball and the play was very aggressive but not chippy at all like we see in Canada.  I did not see one injury during any of the sessions and games.   The players at this club have great facilities, demanding coaches and are dedicated to soccer.  Of course they have fun but no one fools around and they push each other to get better.  It was a great training environment for the week I was there and these players train like this year around. Each day and each session I felt more and more comfortable and now I realize that I know I was totally prepared for the training and the levels I was challenged to play to. Thanks to Henry for preparing through months of training sessions, for believing in me and for the opportunity to find out for myself that I can reach the best international level of soccer.

After we completed the training in Potsdam we travelclip_image004led to Frankfurt/Main to watch professional game between the defending German champion FFC Frankfurt and 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam.  Over 2000 fans at the stadium enjoyed the world class soccer game. It was an amazing game and Potsdam won 2:1, maintaining the chance to win the league and earned a spot in the cup final as well.
I know that I have to continue to work very hard, I need to develop more power and I must get more game experience to get to this level.  I have a dream…I want to go back and play in this league!  Potsdam will give me the opportunity.

Josie Price
WRC Mustang

Josie's Tryout in Potsdam

IMG_11 When Josie came to me in August 2008 asking for more soccer training I was surprised.  I saw her potential but did not know what more soccer meant to her?   I knew that if Josie wanted to improve her soccer level she needed to work toward a very significant goal.  I thought why not offer to set her up for a tryout with a professional women's soccer club in Germany.  I had a trip scheduled for May 2009 to go to Berlin for my dad's 80th birthday and this would be excellent timing for a tryout.  This will give Josie time to train and prepare for the tryout.
Josie agreed and became my "project". This will be the first time, as a professional soccer coach, that I will have the opportunity design an individual training program and work closely with such a dedicated player like Josie over several months - what a great challenge!
We had nine months in front of us.  The first thing we needed to do was to find a way to make it all work. The goal was to help Josie reach her best level without compromising the other commitments Josie had in her life.   We met with her parents to discuss the goal and the plan and they agreed support her and help set priorities along the way.
I promised Josie to give her "my life" for the next 9 months and she made the commitment to do everything she could to reach the highest level and prepare for the tryout.tryout%20in%20Potsdam%202
In the beginning I planned out exactly what she had to do but over time Josie took on the responsibility of building her own training schedule for each month.  We worked on her individual skills first, including dribbling, passing and receiving and shooting.  Early on, during the individual practices I discovered that she was very coachable, learned fast and had the ability to grow and get better in every training session.  I offered Josie the opportunity to practice with the U16 Boys "Gunners" two to three times a week.  These practices were critical to her development, challenged her to work at a faster pace and improved her understanding of the game.  By the end of the indoor season Josie moved into the top of this boys group.
The path we took together was not always smooth or straight toward our destination.  We needed to learn to communicate clearly and work through a few misunderstandings.  Josie also felt uncomfortable at times with her team environment and was not sure that all of her teammates supported her through her extra training.  Her coach Goran Buconjic, was very supportive and recognized and supported her extra commitment and schedule.
tryout%20in%20Potsdam%2012 An additional challenge for Josie was that I was teaching her to play the game that often was totally different to what the team was expected to play.   This made it very difficult for Josie to find her way on the field and in the play. 
After we analyzed a few soccer games on T.V. together, Josie started to understand what I had been trying to explain to her, and the kind of soccer she will be expected to play in Germany.
As we got closer to the tryout in Germany Josie trained harder and harder.  I could see that she had developed a new passion for the game…because after some of the hardest and most intense practices she would say, "Henry I love it!"   Josie is an amazing girl with power and excellent stamina, this is the type of player who can reach the best level. I have really enjoyed the time and opportunity to work with Josie and watch her move up the levels. 
Sometimes she closed down a bit with me and I sensed she was questioning herself.  I worried that her performance in games was falling short of her expectations.  I think she was afraid that she was not meeting my expectations.  This was also the time when Josie was fighting the hardest fight against herself.  But as an experienced coach, I was confident with time and support she would be able to work through the mental challenge.  Again and again I told her that she was good and that I believed in her.  I reminded her that I was very confident that she was prepared and that she would reach her best level in Germany!
In March I met Lorie Pulliam, a mental toughness coach.  She works with high performance athletes and helps them prepare for important events and international competitions.  From the first day we met, I had the confidence that Lorie would be a great help in developing Josie's mental toughness.  In a couple weeks she helped Josie so much that I thought now nothing can stop her.  Josie developed a totally new outlook, opened up, was more relaxed and at the same time became even more focused.  Thanks a lot Lorie for your great job!
The last days before we left for Germany Josie was overly anxious and excited so she struggled at times. I worked with her to bring her excitement level down sotryout%20in%20Potsdam%206 she would relax and enjoy the experience. I think we both know that you can only be successful if you have fun.
The first practice that Josie experienced in Germany was with the U17 team of 1.FFC Turbine Potsdam, the present World Champion of high schools.   This is a very talented and skilled group of athletes. Josie did very well and was at the level of the top players of this group.  Then Josie was invited to move up a level and train with the U23 team which plays in the 2. Bundesliga. The teams in the German league are in the final 2 weeks of their season and as you would expect are in terrific game shape.  Josie improved in every practice, could match the intensity level and took on the physical challenge.  The exercises and drills that the team did were not a surprise for her, she was prepared perfectly and could enjoy being part of a group of players which are very strong and play so aggressive but not chippy at all like we see in Canada. The difference is that they challenge the ball and not the player. 
I'm very proud of her, in particular the way she presented herself in every workout. I my opinion I would see her in the first eleven of the U23 team.  The reason that the club didn't take her right now is that they are focused on preparing the four youth national team players on the team for the Women's World Championship 2011 in Germany. This is their #1 priority!
Josie now understands that she can fit the level over there and that it is a realistic goal to reach the international level.  I believe that with her abilities and commitment, that all she needs is to be a part of a system like this.  She has to continue to work hard, develop more power and take advantage of every opportunity to get more games in a better quality.  Then she has an invitation to go back to Germany for another tryout for Potsdam's first women's team or another club of the 1. Bundesliga.  This is a new exciting goal for Josie.

Henry Haeusler
Head Coach and Technical Director
High Performance Soccer Academy