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Coach Fred Miley picked up his early soccer background as a kid in Guadalajara, Mexico and Miami, Florida. He came up in the North Miami youth leagues in the '70s. As a sophomore, he played on his Miami high school squad to a narrow loss in the State title match, and as a senior captained that team to a 13-4-2 record with all-conference credentials as central defender. He answered an invitation to play for the Rollins College Tars (Central Florida), for three seasons, where he adapted to an international level of ball as an outside midfielder in the '80s under legendary Coach Gordie Howell's final seasons and the Tars' first playoff years as Sunshine State Conference Champions. He finished his B.A. in Economics and Business at Rollins, and went back for more studies at Colorado State University, for a degree in English with a teaching emphasis. Not long after moving west, he backpacked from Colorado, following the Rockies into Canada. Ironically, despite that long solo trek, his jobs have always led him into team building.
Since that time, he has coached high school and youth soccer in Florida and Montana 16 seasons, and has returned to some refereeing also. While living in the Colorado and Montana Rockies 1985-2002, he started his 19 years teaching mostly high school and middle school English and Journalism, and guided whitewater raft trips sixteen of those summers. When coaching, he aims to help families build a warm and enthusiastic community around the players that he leads. In 2005 he led the Shores Christan Academy Tigers soccer team into a national final four finish, and continued coaching up his daughter six seasons through the Ocala YMCA soccer leagues until 2011. That summer-long trek up the Rockies injected a few recurring messages through his teaching, guiding, and coaching.
"We're all on a journey."
"We can only go so far before we cherish the value of connecting with others. We know we wither and die if we don't keep going forward. But sometimes we forget that we also wither and die when we try to go it alone. The important thing is to connect, and to know what we bring when we connect. Team sports will always push us to share a few imperatives: how to get up when we fall down, accept and connect with others of different backgrounds, bounce back from failures to successes, win humbly and lose graciously, and never be defeated by a loss."
"Soccer parallels life in a few constant ways. We need goals, and we have territory to defend. Opportunities require action and not just creativity. There are no time-outs, and our most important decisions are often made under pressure. A goalkeeper is a little like a baseball catcher -- the last man -- or, anyone defending a home or a company or a nation from intruders. A striker is a little like a CEO, with a new marketing plan, who needs a true team to help make it happen. A midfielder is a little like an outside salesperson turning prospects into clients whenever a loose ball is fetched and distributed properly. A defender is a little like a military or security guard, or a pest removal expert, or a software security designer, protecting citizens or clients."
"A cool head will always crown the best soccer players, the best leaders in business and military ventures, and the best leaders in life. However, a cool head has no purpose without clear goals and a passionate heart to reach them with responsible action, and by helping others with responsible action, for worthy results. This is why we train at all ages and sizes and in all nations through all weather (except lightning) for the mad yet logical pursuit of a checkered ball -- because we need goals. We need to reach them within a framework of a field and laws. There will be opposition, fatigue, criticism, flattery, distractions, and injuries. There will be people who get why they are there, and people who don't. My job as a coach is to find how far toward excellence I can get each one of them to buy into with the work, and then take them there together. This group has a great work ethic, and we are doing quite well again even as one of the youngest squads. We have only one two players who are 15, one who is 14, four who are 13, and eight who are 12. All but two of them are in middle school, and over half our squad are not even in their teens yet, in this U15 league, but my kids know they can measure well against older and bigger players if they stay connected. We are well aware that we are the youngest squad in the league, but we enjoy setting a standard for the power of connection with one another and with our families behind us."
"Soccer is great for growing kids. The calls are not always fair, they may get an elbow to the ear, (especially from taller players) cleats to a knee, or a ball to the face. They get up when they fall down, learn to be creative and quick with their intelligent decisions under pressure leading to teamwork, not hogging the ball or the attention. Soccer rewards sharing, endurance, efficient angles on attack and defense, timing, anticipation, circumspect awareness, communication, and hard work. The list of positive qualities promoted by soccer goes on and on. Popcorn is for spectators, mud is for players. If our eyes and ears are about us and we make things happen for each other, there will always be a way forward. We build from the back, by hammering our defense with the rest of our squad regularly. We have fifteen players, and habitually attack our diamond defense and goalkeeper with rapid fire, using the other ten players, with thirty or forty reps each practice. We lean on this drill heavily, and we call it "hot box". Our goalkeeper and sweeper prepare to lead our diamond defense through heavy crossfire every single time we meet. They expect war. They mix it up with passing drills and small-sided scrimmages, too, and are plunged into hundreds of scenarios between each weekly match. Confidence is accomplished behind the scenes. The more decisions our players are pushed into at practices, the more I can let them roll through a match. We are stringing together five to eight consecutive passes in matches before the midseason mark. That is a coaching goal of mine that these kids already met by Game 3. Another coaching goal was to secure shutouts in half our outings. We did that with shutouts in all of our first four outings."
"Our team rally word is 'Overcome!' Each season we need to find whatever style and beauty happens to be ours to claim as a group, to overcome any obstacles and resistance afoot. Most of that resistance is eventually found within ourselves, even as adults, so as a team of kids they push themselves with more than mere fundamentals and tactics. We also aim to be stretched with our connections as people, not just as players on a pitch, but with our families behind us. Soccer is potentially the world's greatest family event if the families are included and celebrated properly. We finish every match with a gratitude lap led by our team flag, thanking our families and supporters. That tradition was halted by the league when someone complained that they felt taunted by our flag. Perhaps this is because we have never had to run that flag around the field after a los, but little do they know, we would. So now we run our gratitude lap with our team flag furled in my hand at the back of the run, to make sure nobody feels taunted by our gratitude. Our leadership in this league can adjust to how anyone feels, and still pursue excellence on the same footing with the same family values. We know what our flag means to us more than others can -- this is about family -- and we can live with that. Life is too short for distractions, and so is a soccer match. Soccer is for family. When someone tells me soccer is supposed to be just fun, I tell them family is more important than that, and excellence is fun. Soccer is a game of diminishing time and space, like life which is no game, and we must use both responsibly."
Coach Miley was very proud of his 2017 Ocala Hurricanes completing a perfect 10-0-0 season in the Big Sun Youth Soccer League's U14 division last fall, after being away from coaching for six years.
"In prayer, I took inventory of my background, giftings, and vision, after hearing a message in church that those three circles overlap for our callings in life. I believe everyone has a calling or maybe more than just one calling in life. I could not deny that it was time for me to return to coaching, even with my kids now grown. I'm very happy to be back helping the kids who come under my care and responsibility as their coach. I take this opportunity more seriously than ever now. It's just an area of my life where I know I can make a good difference for others. We never need to trade away excellence for fun. When I was in youth leagues in Miami, we had the perfect Miami Dolphins and some great youth coaches to remind us: Excellence IS fun.""
"Last fall we had a dozen fighters who learned very fast how to connect and grow together as a group. Now we're off to another strong start with four returning players and another great group that is gelling together fast. I expect our new squad to build some special memories, as they build their life skills with their soccer skills and love of the game. This is a fun group with plenty of personality, and the extra year up as a U15 team makes a big difference in maturity and athleticism. We maintain an emphasis on communication and passing to help us connect and grow as a team. Because we have only eight matches to measure our journey as a group, these players are buying into working hard. I like how fast we are establishing our confidence and identity as a hard working, passing team."
"It's an honor to be part of such an amazing group, and to watch the way our families unite and back our kids. We want to do more than just have fun. We want to make a strong run at excellence with the short time we have, and with everyone on board. That requires relationships and hard work. And we can feel that coming together again. When our kids look back on this season together, I want them to know they did something extraordinary."