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Oldham Soccer Club

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31

Jul, 2017

Congrats, Coach Dinga!

10 QUESTIONS WITH COACH MICHAEL DINGA:

1. Coach Dinga, congratulations on being named 2017 Kentucky Girls Select Coach of the Year by KYSA – how does it make you feel to have been awarded this title?

Thank you—this was truly an unexpected and special honor.  With so many outstanding coaches within the ranks of KYSA, to be recognized this year means that I am doing something right.  It is also very satisfying that one of my team’s parents, Jason Yamnitz, took the time to fill out and submit the nomination; and then to actually be selected by KYSA to receive the award…that’s really something special.

2. Can you tell us a bit more about the achievements of the girls team you coached during the year?

With the KYSA change to the age-years this past year I ended up with a 22-player roster of combined U14 and U15 players.  We played the younger group in KPL and the older group in KSSL.  We also separated out our tournaments, giving both the U14 and U15 groups their own tournaments.  While we struggled a bit in the Fall, we continued to work hard and improve during the course of our Winter trainings and into the Spring.  In the Spring, our U15 team ended up winning our home Derby Cup tournament, while the U14 girls made a fantastic run to the finals of the President’s Cup tournament before falling in the finals to an excellent opponent.  That said, I actually think I am most proud of how our U14 team responded to some unique circumstances in a tournament in March:  Due to a couple of players being injured or unavailable, we had only 12 players available for our first game and were without our goalkeeper, so I called upon a player who had not played keeper for me for a couple of years—Anna Yamnitz—and she responded with excellent play in posting a clean sheet while leading the team to a victory in the first tournament game.  Later in that tournament, we played our last game with only 10 players—and even 9 players for a brief time due to a player having to come off the field to tend to an injury—and the fact that we lost the game only by the score of 2–1 does not tell the full story of how well our players supported one another and competed in some certainly less than favorable conditions.

3. What was your coaching philosophy throughout the season? Was there anything you really stressed?

My players and parents would answer that I always stress our technique and decision-making, both as attackers and defenders.  In addition, much of our focus throughout the Spring was on “speed of play” and trying to have the players be prepared to do what they want as quickly as they could so as to execute that decision.  We also worked a great deal on our finishing in the attacking third of the field.

4. Did you coach the girls to play a certain style of play?

Our style has always tracked Oldham Soccer Club’s overall mantra of “possession with a purpose,” with a focus on a positive, controlled first touch; additionally, we also worked on recognizing that we needed to be ready and willing to quickly attack and to take advantage of our finishing opportunities.

5. What was the culture like in the group?

With the age change, we had a number of younger girls who were brought up to the U14 age group, so it was important to have them become “part of the team” as quickly as possible.   I think we accomplished this through our trainings, which kept all the players inter-mixed and allowed them to get to know each other and their individual style of play.  I actually think many of the players knew the newer players from playing with and against them on the many middle school soccer teams here in Oldham County, so that also helped the transition.  I certainly want to commend all the players for being able to bond together as a team, and also their families for a strong circle of support.

6. Did you have strong leaders in the team? Who were they and what did they bring?

No doubt—and I think having the combined age groups and splitting the tournaments allowed different players to step forward.  On the U15 team, Alivia Nettesheim has always taken charge—whether it be at a training or before a game—to help keep things organized, on track and in focus; and Presley Crowe always brought her maximum effort to every training and every game, which certainly rubbed off on all the players.  On the U14 team, Hannah Longstreet took on more of a vocal role, while Anna Yamnitz grew tremendously as a “no-nonsense” leader.  I want to especially commend Anna, who with the age switch was slightly challenged for more playing time—and who responded not by sulking, but by coming to me and offering to play different positions if it would benefit the team.

7. You’ve been coaching at OSC for almost 10 years – how did you start off as a coach here?

When my family and I came to Oldham County in the Fall of 2001, my daughter began playing rec soccer in OCYSA; my son soon followed a few years later.  I grew up as a “soccer brat” in the 1970’s, and with a strong history of coaching in my family tree, I almost naturally made my way across to the other side of the pitch as a rec coach.  Once my daughter made the switch from rec to select soccer at OSC, I volunteered as an assistant to Coach Joe Wisdom on my daughter’s select teams (a team that ended up winning the Girls U11 Kentucky State Cup tournament in 2008), which spurred my interest in earning my E license in 2007 and then my D license in 2012.  After coaching a number of my son’s select teams at OSC for a few years, I was able to transition to different teams here at OSC.

8. What do you do to improve as a coach year on year?

In addition to trying to attend at least one soccer coaches’ clinic each year, I think it is important to observe—how other coaches may coach, looking at available websites and training regimens, and watching and attending games, be they other teams from Oldham Soccer Club or other clubs, or middle school or high school games, or even professional teams.  I think Oldham Soccer Club had a great plan last year by having our coaches work together on a particular team, which allowed me to pick up and learn new coaching tidbits from a number of my fellow OSC coaches in a collaborative way.

9. You’ve been coaching these girls for a number of years but this season was very successful for your team - was there anything different that you did this year; what do you put your success down to?

No, nothing different, really.  My teams have traditionally had some good showings, including some very good results for these girls in tournaments from year to year, while also improving their play from the Fall to the Spring.  I do think any success a team has stems at least in part from the commitment that the players show—to the coach, to themselves and to their teammates—and this team showed a tremendous amount of commitment.  I also want to thank my Assistant Coach for this past year, Chad DuVall, who was very helpful in stepping in for me on those occasions where our tight training schedule often found me hustling to get from one training to another, and who provided excellent insight during the course of our trainings and our games.

10. And finally who and what do you attribute this award to?

Well, first and foremost, it certainly falls on the shoulders of the players.  This is THEIR game, THEIR team, and THEIR decisions—and to see them improve as soccer players and mature as individuals is very special.  I want to thank the parents and families of the players, who continue to support their players and what we are trying to accomplish here at Oldham Soccer Club, as well as my team managers.  I also want to thank the other coaches at OSC—both past and present—from whom I continue to learn on a daily basis.  Lastly, I certainly want to thank my family—especially, my wife, Mary Therese—who has stood by me and supported me for years while I have spent countless hours away from home at trainings, games, and on the road.  Thanks again to all—and GO OSC!

 

Coach Dinga recieved his award at the KY Youth Soccer Hall of Fame and Awards Luncheon in downtown Louisville.  Well done, Coach!