Archive for Sunday, October 23, 2005

Competitive edge

October 23, 2005


To the editor:

The only part of Mark Craig's "No sportsmanship" letter that is relevant is the last sentence: "The Kaw Valley Soccer Assn. and all soccer parents should take notice of those who are leading the youth of Lawrence." Kaw Valley Force parents have noticed and overwhelmingly support the Kaw Valley Coach, Mauro Nobre.

Coach Nobre is the Kansas Youth Soccer 2004 Boys Coach of the Year and also serves as a coach for the U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program. He is loved by his players and provides an excellent role model for them.

What Mr. Craig left out is that he is the coach of the team that lost in that game, and that in the past when these two teams played, Mr. Craig's team came back to tie the game. With limited subs on the bench, Coach Nobre rotated his players as he, the coach, determined was right. Premier soccer is much more competitive than club or recreational soccer. In many premier tournaments, not only does the win/loss count for points, but so does winning by a shutout, and goal differentials are counted if there is a tie.

The teams train and play like they are in a tournament. Premier teams must play fairly and competitively, and Coach Nobre has done an excellent job of instilling proper values in his players. It sounds to me like it is time for Mr. Craig to hang up his coaching cleats or move his team to a less competitive division.

Brad Williams,



Shelley Bock 12 years, 4 months ago

Yea, right, "Craig pansy-ass loser crybaby."

Craig is the only coach in Lawrence High history who has come close to having a winning record. He was the 1993 Sunflower League coach of the year when he guided them to their best year ever. He knows soccer and how to coach with dignity.

Always a leader, he never allowed his players to engage in inappropriate behavior. Many of his players from that year went on to play in college. They have become doctors, lawyers, businessmen and professors. He knew how lead intelligent and hardworking soccer players to play their best.

And, another commentator mentioned that SM East coach was trying to save his stars by pulling them when they were up 3 - 0. Knowing the SME coach and players, he pulled his starters because he didn't want to embarrass anyone. He's done that many times and will do it again because he loves soccer and doesn't want to take the fun out of the game. He's not like others who want to win at any cost to prove something.

fixx25 12 years, 4 months ago

Please...Hepburn, give me a break...maybe Mark took the GRE, SAT, ACT and all the other exams for those kids too. A soccer coach is only one dynamic in a child's say that Mark is the reason people became a successful lawyer, doctor,'ve been watching too much reality TV . Mark may have been a great coach in 1993, but soccer has evolved...and his coaching style has not. Mark and a host of other people are tearing the community apart. Instead of sticking around with established organizations to help ensure change, they cherry pick players, form their own team and disassociate themselves from the very people and organizations that supported them. Marc Francis and KSA is another great example of this.

The bottom line is that Mark's letter is misleading in many ways. He poses as a detached spectator, strictly concerned about sportsmanship, failing to note that he was the coach. He holds up a silly notion of sportsmanship, so strict that even he fails to observe it. This season his team beat another team 6-0 - this is up on the Heartland website right now. He misleads also by implying the high score was due strictly to one players efforts alone. But the victory was the result of outstanding play from the entire team. Mark wants to make it seem like one player alone won the game. I guess that makes his team and his coaching look better. Mr. Craig uses a coach-driven, static and bureaucratic approach is easy to read and defend against - defenders like to make play predictable. Teaching self-reliant and insightful decision-making takes longer to bear fruit, but in the long term it produces better soccer - more effective, more entertaining, more beautiful and happy soccer.

Mark also misleads by implying that the score was 8-0 early on. The score was actually 3-0 at halftime.

Sorry, I'm not buying what your selling...and I'm glad my kid won't be playing for him.

Shelley Bock 12 years, 4 months ago

Your comments about ":are tearing the community apart. Instead of sticking around with established organizations to help ensure change, they cherry pick players, form their own team and disassociate themselves from the very people and organizations that supported them. Marc Francis and KSA is another great example of this."

You don't know your history in this area.

At one time, Lawrence Select Soccer Club was the provider of select soccer within the community. KVSA started up the "Classic / Club" organization in an effort to provide lower cost soccer than premier. That worked so well that it drove people away from LSSC. Seeing the future and being promised a vertical structure so that the most talented would be promoted to the top, LSSC closed in order to let KVF take over premier soccer. (KVSA didn't support an established organization then as you would like people to do now. Rather, it sought to eclipse that organization and make premier it's own.)

At that time, KVSA was tearing up the "community", so where were you?

KVF worked for the first year.

Then, KVF direction went from development players to money making. The last year before independents, the entire fall season went by without a statement as to what the costs were. Then, a bill arrived in December which was 150-250% bigger than indicated in the summer during sign-ups. That tore up the high school team. Very few remained in with KVF to play. Some players were selected to teams because they could pay, but not play. Then, the coaching turned off players and parents of younger teams. THEY, players and parents, started seeking alternatives.

In 2000, a single independent team was formed and coached by a former KVF coach. The next year, that team had cuts. In 2002, a new coach who played in college and her father, who had won State Cup several times, developed two teams. In 2003, those two teams had cuts. In 2004, KSA took over and there were 3 girls high school and 2 boys teams. Three independent teams were also formed. Now, KSA has 8 teams in the fall and two more in the spring. Two independent teams remain. These teams were not developed on the basis of following a coach or "cherry picking" talent. They came about because of general dissatisfaction with how KVF was operating and the lack of player development.

More to come...

Shelley Bock 12 years, 4 months ago


KVF tells everyone that they have the best quality coaches. Some KVF coaches have college playing experience and others played overseas. The only KVF coach with high school head coaching experience went 0 16 this year. KVF discounts the coaching ability of KU coach Marc Francis, Free State Coach Jason Pendleton, Ivan Huntoon (former Baker and Emporia State coach), Matt McCune (former KU club player and KU club coach), Pat Watkins (Free State and Southwestern, TX), Colin Baumchen (Free State and Baker), Jenny Anderson (Clemson, (freshman All American) and KU aid) and Kavon Sarraf (Free State and KU Club). All, with the potential exception of Anderson, have either USSF or National Soccer Coaches Association certification. Mark Craig coached at LHS. Andrea Anderson who coaches the independent U14/15 girls played at Baker and was an All-American.

You put down Mark Craig as a coach and laud Mo as being KSYSA Coach of the Year. Truth be known, Coach of the Year selection was because of a letter writing campaign and not selection by his peers. It's great that his parents cared enough to write, but that means more that you're popular with your teams than that you can develop players.

Did these coaches try to work within KVF / KVSA organization? Yes, they did, but they weren't able to change KVSA. McCune was a coach for several years and then got out. Pendleton coached a KVF team for at least a year until he became frustrated with them. So did Francis and Craig. All were coaches in the KVSA structure and all left because of mismanagement and frustration. And, other coaches such as Frank Travato and Ken McDaniel left because of differences with club operations. Don't you ever question why so many qualified soccer people have left KVSA / KVF? Many people have suggested change to KVSA / KVF and been rejected or ignored. They did that many years ago to a parent who came in from Kansas City to have his daughter play here. KVF totally ignored his suggestions. Too bad though, KVF can't ignore that parent now beause he's the president of KSYSA. To not conform with the KVF "party line" means banishment for yourself and your children.

more to come...

Shelley Bock 12 years, 4 months ago


Did these teams cherry pick talent to develop? No. When the first independent team formed, they did so because they were tired of KVF failing to provide leadership, quality coaching and a reasonable cost. This year's U14/15 team coached by Andrea Anderson was told that there wasn't going to be a team for them in KVF. They did so and formed their own team. This year's U12 girls team was formed last year from recreational players, younger siblings of independent players and word of mouth. KVF had these people in the fold, but elected to ignore them.

As to the high school girls, they saw opportunities and acted upon them. Again, they felt like they weren't being supported and that there were alternatives. They wanted good, reasonable coaching and they received that from the independents and KSA.

KVF hasn't developed players. Independent girl high school players from Lawrence who have played in college include Schonberg (JCCC), Wilkinson (U-M Rolla), Bock (Baker), Mellard (Winona State, MN), Matthews (Ft. Lewis, CO), Mayo (Penn), Garito (SE Louisiana), Isbell (Baker), Fisher (Ottawa, KS), Humbarger (Emporia State), Romzek (Byrn Maur) and maybe others. Several current KSA players are being offered the chance to play in college. Only two KVF players have gone to college and played. They are Sellon (Grinnell) and Seibert (Washburn).

KVF claims they have "supported" these players in the past. That goes back to a philosophy of one of the coaches that once you start with a club, you are that club's player. That would mean that once with KVF, you have to always stay with KVF. They "own you". When KVF charges outrageous fees or doesn't have a team for you to play, that's just too bad. Players and parents aren't willing to move on to a new club if they're satisfied where they are. Now, 100 120 families believe that there is a choice. Maybe the KVF hierarchy has changed over the years. Maybe you're getting improved coaching and organization. But, if there wasn't any competition in town and no alternative existed, you would be seeking an independent program.

You do have some valid criticism of Mark's letter, I will admit that. But, I will never question Mark's sincerity and willingness to improve his players. He wants to see Lawrence players compete with the state's elite programs. He is working towards that goal.

As to guitbitchin, one liners are all that your intellect can possibly generate.

fixx25 12 years, 4 months ago

THAT was a long response. Must have hit a nerve? I appreciate the details you have provided. I still stand by my comments...I've seen the "cherrypicking" first hand. I don't necessarily think competition is a bad thing, but in such a small community you'd think people could let their egos go and work with each other...not against each other. The kids note the conflict too, and it stresses them. My kids have been playing KVSA soccer for about six I am more familiar with the later developments that you mention...however, some of the controversy you cited is one sided...not the entire story. You speak a lot about the girls teams...I am not familiar with that side...mainly the boys side and I have seen what has happened over the years. I don't believe it is strictly KVF or KSA or an organizations fault...but it is failure of communication and a willingness to work together by all.

What I can tell you is that I have seen KVF (KVSA actually) undergo some change over the last year...and it is positive. I think more changes will happen and ultimately, it will benefit those involved...especially the children.

Thanks for the dialogue...I do appreciate the intelligent discussion.

Shelley Bock 12 years, 4 months ago

Cute response, quitbitchin. As before, you can't add anything to the discussion. You probably played football too many times without a helmet.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.