Sunday, October 5, 2008


Ryan Scarpino

Everyone in his or her life will receive a motivational speech. You know, one of those speeches where a parent, teacher, friend or in this case, coach, tells you what is necessary for success.

I can remember many of those speeches. My parents used to sit me down and teach me right from wrong, my teachers told me what it takes to be a successful student and every coach I’ve ever had gave my team a speech.

A few weeks ago, while covering the Ohio Women’s Soccer Game, I got to listen to one of those speeches. But this time, I was an outsider. I was just some reporter with khaki pants, a polo shirt and a camera. I was not a teammate, and I was not a student. I was just an observer.

Game Time
The Bobcats were set to play the Xavier Musketeers who came into the game without a win. Ohio Coach Stacy Strauss reminded her team before the game to disregard the record and just play their game. But Ohio was not focused, and only 26 seconds into the game, the Musketeers went up 1-0 on a goal from striker, Jessica Brooks.

The Bobcats came out flat and Coach Strauss knew it. She kept telling her players to focus and to keep talking. But only 5 minutes later, Xavier scored again, and the game was over before it began.

Coach Strauss and her players were furious.

A Loss is a Loss

Losing never feels good. And Coach Strauss gathered her players for the post-game meeting so they could discuss the adjustments that needed to be made for their next game. I stood about ten feet behind her as she addressed her team. And this is where I witnessed one of those speeches.

Listen Up, NOW
Coach Strauss expressed her anger with the team.

She did not single out any particular player but she did ask the team captains what they thought about the loss. After the captains spoke, Coach Strauss commented about the lack of communication among her players. And as she continued to talk, I looked at her players. And what I saw was unexplainable.

Players had their heads down, some were talking to others and I even witnessed three players sending text messages. No one was even looking at Coach Strauss.

And that's when I heard someone scream, "FOCUS," and that person was Coach Strauss.

I can remember one time when my high school basketball coach yelled at the team because we were not focused. He made us run sprints at 5 a.m. the next morning.

Coach Strauss though did not threaten her team with sprints, she just told her team a lack of focus was the reason for losing. And when she screamed, every player was all ears.

Umm, Can I Get a Few Words, Coach
She continued to speak to her team, and then let them go home. I was the only reporter at the game. I stuck out like a sore thumb. And Coach Strauss knew I was going to ask her questions. She walked towards me, I introduced myself, and she said jokingly, "I haven't yelled like that in a while."

And even before I turned the camera on, and before I brought out the microphone, I just chatted with the coach. I even told her about my experiences with former coaches when my teammates were not focused.

Finally, I turned on the camera, and I asked Coach Strauss a few questions about the game.

Thanks For Not Telling Me To Focus
Coach Strauss was very kind and answered every question I asked her. And though I was a little intimidated at first, the fact that she joked with me upon us meeting was the perfect ice breaker.

If I was not the sports reporter for the weekend, I would not have witnessed one of those motivational speeches.

And for the record, the Lady Bobcats are 1-1-1 since that speech. That speech just might have given the Bobcats the extra spark they needed to save the season.

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