Local coach helps youngsters grow as soccer players and as people
● By Richard Gaw
Collins was an outside midfielder for a state championship high school soccer team at Lancaster Mennonite High School before playing at the collegiate level for Geneva College.
By Steven Hoffman
For Julie Collins, the best part about coaching soccer to youngsters is not only seeing them improve their skills in the sport, it is seeing the children gain confidence and grow as individuals.
“My goal is to make each child’s experience a positive one by creating a safe, fun environment where they can grow both athletically and socially,” explained Collins, a Landenberg native. “I am the first coach that a lot of these kids will have so if, at the end of the season, they want to continue playing, I will have succeeded.”
Collins is currently affiliated with CoachUp, a program that matches individuals with soccer coaches who provide personalized instruction.
An accomplished high school and collegiate soccer player, Collins has seamlessly transitioned into the world of coaching. Starting in 2012, Collins worked as an assistant coach of a junior high school girls’ soccer team in Lancaster, Pa. Next, she started working with CoachUp. She explained how she works with new clients.
“I break down specific skills, such as shooting, passing, spacing on the field, and trapping,” she explained. “The first session involves talking to determine what the client wants to improve and watching the client perform those skills so I can see what our plan of action should be. Then, we will begin to tackle each skill so the client can become a more well-rounded player.”
During her playing career, Collins was an outside midfielder for a state championship high school soccer team at Lancaster Mennonite High School and played at the collegiate level for Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa. Her love for the sport goes all the way back to kindergarten.
“My dad had a big part in my love of soccer,” Collins explained. “He drove me to practices and worked with me in the yard and gave me the push I needed to improve my skills. I remember when he taught my brother and me how to juggle a soccer ball. He taught me the importance of practicing often in order to keep up with my competitors.”
She enjoyed many rewarding experiences playing soccer, and one reason that she enjoys coaching is because she wants others to have similar experiences.
“My high school soccer team won the district championship in 2005 and the state championship in 2008,” Collins explained. “My senior year of high school soccer (in 2008) was one of the most rewarding. A focus on performing as a team and excellence in practice propelled us forward to win the state championship.”
Her accomplishments at Lancaster Mennonite High School gave her the opportunity to play soccer at the next level.
“Playing soccer in college was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” Collins explained. “It provided not only the perfect outlet for me to handle the stress of my schoolwork, but I also met a great group of friends.”
She said that one of her favorite memories while at Geneva College is traveling to Rochester, New York for a November playoff game that was held on an icy field.
When her playing days were over, Collins turned to coaching, first as an assistant coach at the junior high school level and then at the YMCA.
“My hope as a coach,” said Collins, “is to introduce the basics of soccer in a fun way that will inspire a love of the game. I take the time to display how skills are properly executed and stress the importance of repetition when practicing."
She also works with children as a personal soccer coach through CoachUp. Collins explained that CoachUp is an online resource where an athlete can search for a personal coach to work with in order to further his or her game.
“Clients can view coaches’ profiles and book sessions online,” Collins explained.
Anytime Collins is working with youngsters, she makes sure to include an underlying theme to each sessions—respect.
“Although the skills are important, treating others how you want to be treated can be applied in all areas of life, not just on the soccer field,” she explained.
According to Collins, she has developed her own unique way of coaching youngsters.
“As an introvert, I am able to listen and have a quiet but effective coaching style,” she explained. “I allow the kids to have fun but in a controlled way. When someone starts acting out, I quietly pull them off to the side, speak to them for a moment, and then allow them to join the game again. Part of the fun of coaching is playing alongside the kids because that makes them get into the game even more. When coaching kids, you have to forget about feeling embarrassed and jump right into the game.”
Collins said that the most rewarding part of coaching is seeing youngsters grow and develop not only as soccer players, but as people.
“One of my favorite things about coaching is seeing a shy child go from being reluctant and reserved to joining in with the other kids and learning the proper skills that will further them as a player. One boy in particular was very nervous and required a lot of encouragement and patience, but by the end of the season he would run over to me at the start of practice and participate in every game.”
To view Collins’ profile on CoachUp, visit www.coachup.com/searches/coaches/juliec-2.
To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email firstname.lastname@example.org.