At Balconi Top Training we are lucky to work, learn and assist with some of the top collegiate soccer programs in the US. We recently made a trip down to the University of Florida(AKA: Gators). We visited with Becky(Women’s Head soccer coach), spent time with some of our Balconi players who are so happy, healthy and kicking butt! As well as setting the bar high for our upcoming Balconi players who have recently committed to joint the Gator family in 15′! We also toured the University of Florida’s academic & athletic facilities, including their strength and nutritional programs. Ok, before I navigate you through our awesome trip in Gatorville, let me tell you this;
Becky(Head women’s soccer coach): Celebrating 20 yrs as Head Coach at Florida!
Unbelievable host and spoiled us with tons of her time, which we know she has little of. True definition of a professional, personable, raw, real and just “WOW” kind of person. This is exactly why Univ. Of Florida women’s soccer team has won numerous of Championships, been ranked top in the nation for consecutive years and have sent many players to the US National team and professional level every year.
- What is her secret; Family: She truly cares about each individual that plays, played or supports her “Gator Family”. Becky cares more about growing her players off the pitch then she does about the actual results of the game and-or season. Now, yes the results have to come too, but as she and we all have witnessed, they do come. Why? The more personable the more profitable. As a player, the more you feel you’re coach believes and cares for WHO YOU ARE, and the closer you are to your team, the better results in ALL areas of life. Winning on the pitch being one of them, right….
From here on out in the blog, I will only throw a line or two(ok maybe three or five out there:) with pics, but before I go “post it note” on you.
Words to describe Coach Becky, her staff, players and program;
Passion, Raw, Real, Family and Fun yet Professional.
Arrived: Becky guides us to their training grounds, personally greets us outside, opens a private gate outside practice pitch and allows us to park VIP inside.(NICE!)
Training room and coaches office tour: Training rooms and coaches offices were all decked out in Florida stats, logos, saying and pictures of alumni leading up to the present. Becky’s office was full of Gator decor and her room screams the color of blue, orange, white and gator heads every where. The most prominent decor that stood out of everything; Pictures -letters from all alum and present players.(Abby Wombach being one of them.)
Locker Room and Jerseys: The locker room is Gator’d out, with a few leather couches for the athletes to chill on. As for lockers, each player has their own block of space, with a sit down area in front of their locker, name above the locker with inspirational words that mean something significant to them. Design their own jerseys; Yep, the team selects team members to be the fashion design team of their Florida gator jerseys. The Jerseys style: Flashy, loud, fun yet professional.
Our chat with Becky in her Gator out office: Becky was so personable, so real and we enjoyed our convo time that took place. Again, time is limited for a head coach(especially with game tomorrow, recruits on campus and arriving, along with her phone going silently off by the min) yet she gave us all the time and more. As my Dad says; “Time is the most precious gift you can give a person.”
Becky’s Secret to success: Personable and Fun. Becky finds way to make the current players, past players, old-new staff and fans all come together to feel like they are one big family.
Hitched a ride with Becky to practice: We jumped in Becky’s car and off to practice we went. Major points here; She likes the mints, caramel nips, and gum too…We were meant to be friends.
The practice field: Gated off, unless you’re part of the Florida family. As we walked through the gate, their our stadium chairs under a roof type cover above and the stadium chairs are covered with the players bags, sweats, etc. The players have already started arriving 45 min early, kicking around, etc. Immediately on our left, are high looking light pole fixtures with soccer balls hanging from them. These fixtures were built by a man who did a study on the Florida women soccer players technique when heading a ball. The fixtures are still training tools today to teach each player the correct way to approach and head the ball…good idea! The actual soccer pitch is huge, nice flat grass, goals covering all ends and a solid wall for players to hit ball against.
- We see 3 players on the pitch, getting coached up by Coach Allen…we know 2 of these players very well, they are our Balconi kids-family:)
Individuals, small group tech training before practice: 2-3pm. 3 Gators players are putting in the “extra step”an hour before practice. Coach Allen, is coaching Liz, Claire and Pam in a technique, shot placement drill. Liz and Claire look awesome, playing incredible and loving life at Florida…and we of course interrupt this session with hugs, hi’s and excitement.(Just how girls do)
Day before Spring Game practice: Most players and anyone associated with the womens soccer team(trainers, recruits, alumni, coaches and dogs…yes they bring their pups, they are family too) arrive 30-45 minutes early. Kick around, practice prep talk, team dynamic, partner inj prevention-stretch, ladder competitions(team divided into two teams) small sided, set pieces to corner kick games, team cool down, team talk wrap down. Noted: They compete in everything, makes things fun and the players LOVE it!
- After practice, Becky gives us a personal tour of the Univ Florida facilities:
Weight Room: The weight room was impressive needless to say. The Gator logo was of course on everything in the room. From the hardwood platforms, to every kind of weights,pro performance equipment, core equipment, Rogue equipment and a variety of all cardio equipment on the markets today. Basically, the athletes have every tool they need to be at their best and healthy on the pitch. Kerri, who’s been working as the strength coach at University of Florida since 1984(again, impressive) is the Head Asst strength coach at Florida, and she is the Womens soccer teams strength coach. As for womens soccer team workouts- mostly core functional movements with some olympic movements. Therefore, most of the soccer players time is spent on the turf located in the back of the weight room. The turf area consist of plyo boxes, weighted ball, Physioballs, bands, TRX’s, ropes, free weights, and balance tools-cross core tools.
Nutrition: Each team/player works with a Florida Nutritionist, who helps each athlete take in the right amount of nutrients to recover and re-energize correctly. The nutrition meeting room is decked out in fridges filled with different kinds of repair shakes. Depending on what sport you play, your body type and your own personal goals will depend on what kind of shak you are advised to take in. The nutritionist not only advises the athletes with correct nutrition in the weight room or field, but during their off time.
Yes, the gatorade pop dispenser. One of the many cools things we crossed as we walked the Florida digs was a soda like machine, EXCEPT it’s filled with a variety of Gatorades. Just grab a dixie cup, fill n go!
Awards, Professional teams, Stats and Hall of Fame wall: As we started wrapping up the tour, we walked through a hall full of plaques, name plates, pictures, etc. This hallways should be names the “Hall of fame” of Gators. Basically, any player who is now playing in the pro’s, or player-team that has earned an incredible award, or broke a record is on this wall. Needless to say, their were a lot of names and teams on there…
Until next time: The day was ending and Becky has given us all her time and more. Yet, she still invited us over for dinner that night with some of her close friends…again, so thoughtful and just real. You know, this is exactly the feeling we felt about our Gator trip, we couldnt get over how personable, thoughtful and real the whole program was. Simply put; They let the product speak for itself.