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Plymouth’s Alison Foley puts coaching philosophies into ‘How to Coach Girls’
PLYMOUTH – Alison Foley has definitely accumulated enough knowledge to fill a book in her more than 20 years of coaching women’s college soccer. So that’s exactly what the Plymouth native decided to do. The Boston College women’s soccer head coach recently collaborated with her friend, professional blogger Mia Wenjen, on a new book called “How to Coach Girls.”
“I really enjoyed the process of putting this book together. It was almost therapeutic looking back at things that I’ve experienced as a coach, and it helped remind me of why I got into coaching in the first place,” Foley said. “It reminded me of how key a role positive reinforcement plays in successful coaching.”
Foley’s coaching methods have served her well since she first took over her own soccer program in the mid-’90s. After starring as a player at Plymouth-Carver and then Keene State, she took a position as a graduate assistant coach at James Madison University in Virginia. Foley then went on to take over the program at Angelo State University in Texas in 1996 for one year before coming to Boston College, where she is in her 21st season leading the program.
The 47-year-old Newton resident has won more games than anyone else in B.C. women’s soccer program history with a career record of 266-140-38. Her teams have made 14 NCAA tournament appearances, including a trip to the 2010 College Cup Final Four in 2010. Foley is also the senior director of coaching for the South Shore Select club soccer program.
To nobody’s surprise, it was soccer that brought the Newton residents together in the first place.
“Our daughters are good friends and they’ve played on the same soccer teams over the years. Mia and I got to talking about coaching a lot at their games and we eventually came to the realization that maybe we could combine our talents and write a book on the subject that could help coaches and parents,” Foley explained.
So Foley and Wenjen, a professional blogger at PragmaticMom.com, started the writing process. Every other Thursday for five months they’d get together and work on the book, and last month the finished product was published by Audrey Press for the world to read.
Foley and Wenjen wrote the book for coaches of all sports and levels and for parents who hope to have a positive effect on their daughters’ teams. Foley detailed three key ways coaches can start to lay down a path to a successful team.
Step one is scheduling a pre-season meeting that includes the players as well as parents.
“We set certain expectations for players, and there should also be a code of conduct for parents at the games about what you want to see from them on the sidelines,” Foley said. “That pre-season communication is huge because it gets everyone on the same page right away.”
Step two involves forming the chemistry of the team. “Make sure that everyone treats all of their teammates with the same respect,” Foley said. “Togetherness is what builds a real team. Move kids around and have them work with different teammates to get rid of cliques and promote teamwork.”
And suggestion number three? Have fun.
“Girls drop out of sports at a much higher rate than boys do, so you need to find ways to keep girls involved and invested. A great way to do that is to keep an element of fun with things,” Foley said. “Celebrate birthdays and do other team-bonding events. Find ways to build bonds that keep the group growing into a real team.”
Foley and Wenjen will have a book signing for “How to Coach Girls” from 4 to 6 p.m. on May 12 at the South Shore Sports Center in Hingham.
Foley and Wenjen will have a book signing for “How to Coach Girls” from 4 to 6 p.m. on May 12 at the South Shore Sports Center in Hingham. Continue reading “Plymouth’s Alison Foley puts coaching philosophies into ‘How to Coach Girls’ “