Live As a Learner

Last evening, I poured myself a cup of coffee in my Batman mug, sat down at my desk and did something I haven’t done in ten years – homework. 

I started the online MA program for English and Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, which is something I’ve wanted to do since I graduated. Only until recently with the Boston Breakers partnership with SNHU did it become a reality. 

Last year I took a course online with Second City and learned a lot about sketch writing. Sometimes one of the best lessons I can learn is that I don’t like something.  One of my strengths as a human I believe firmly is that I know with ease what I like and don’t like. I finished the course, but it wasn’t for me. 

Starting this program earlier this week, I already know it’s for me. I want to be a better writer and storyteller. If that means write a book, great. If that means write better blogs, great also. If that only means I write better for myself and my people, great again. I have realized that I just want to get better for myself (though I hope you all can benefit). 

One of the first lessons we “talked about” in “class” – see yeah, it’s going to be like “that” because it’s online and not in real life- was the idea of reading like a writer. 

Reading like a writer means simply to read in order to learn for your own writing. I’ve spent my whole life reading for pleasure and for the content of the book. I was reading as a “fan” I guess I can say. Now, I’m starting to read books with the intention of gaining more from them.

The idea that I can improve my own writing through the act of reading made perfect sense to me once someone else said it. I have been doing that same thing my entire life with soccer. 

I know there are professional players out there who don’t watch much soccer and still have successful careers playing the game the right way. I can’t argue that whatever they did or didn’t do has worked for them. For the majority of players though, especially young players, watching the game is vital to development and there is a major different between watching games as a student in order to learn from it and watching as a fan for pleasure.

When I watch games for pleasure, I am in my bed with my coffee and one eye open at 7:30 am on a Saturday morning. Sometimes I sit up but usually I’m still under the covers and have the volume up so I can be more attentive when the announcers get excited. 

When I watch as a student, I’m sitting at my desk with the game on my computer using the tactical cam options on NBC Sports with a pen and notebook --- plugs company for soccer planner (www.duktigbrand.com) --- and the volume is off. 

I watch the players that play my position (wingers, attacking midfielders) and their movement off the ball, where they receive the ball most on the pitch, how they get back into defensive shape (and how quickly), their body language (it is extremely important to see good and bad body language to think about our own) and where their best chances come from.

If I’m not watching other games, I’m watching my own film. It’s hard not to watch that for pleasure sometimes (haha sorry, couldn’t resist). I can see the good things and the bad things I do in a game and see how those decisions impact the team and the game. It’s how I can learn to be better for next time. 

As young players progress through the game, it’s good for them to know that there are two ways to watch games: for pleasure and enjoyment and to learn. Obviously, a little of both is always going on while we watch. As coaches and parents and mentors, we can all help to encourage players to rethink the way they watch games. That is something in our control. 

The reason I liked this idea from my writing class so much was that it applies to everything. Obviously, soccer is what I know. Some consider me an expert or something. I don’t know. Don’t ask me. 

Writing is something I’m not as good at. So, this is a way for me to train it. And it’s something I’ll take into other parts of my life that I want to improve. 

The beauty of our everyday lives is the ability to get better no matter our circumstances. I know everyone has their shit. I have my shit. Some shit is really, really bad. (LOL, to Yael and the rest of us dealing with gastrointestinal problems) I don’t pretend to think life is always wonderful for everyone. 

So, what can I do? I can try to live as a learner. That’s about it. And maybe help others do the same.