What do the Syracuse Silver Knights have in common with the SDA ’02 girls?
Coach Ryan Hall.
The coach spends mornings training the professional men and evenings training 15- and 16-year-old girls. With the Knights, he mostly monitors their conditioning, plus studies game videos with them as they prepare for specific opponents. With the girls, he teaches technical aspects of the game and strategic thinking.
“To be honest, there are a lot more similarities,” Hall says.
The players from both teams share a love of the game. The high school girls make a huge commitment to be involved in club soccer. And not one player in the history of indoor soccer has become a millionaire.
All the players are at risk for the same sorts of injuries: muscle strains and pulls, concussions, bruises.
The training philosophy is the same. “They have to have a good first touch, be able to anticipate plays and find weaknesses in their opponents’ defense,” Hall explains.
“The training, itself, is different only because indoor soccer and outdoor soccer are completely different games.”
The Knights’ indoor play is very methodical, very specific. The SDA girls play mostly outdoor, on a more spacious field, which allows for more free thinking.
Both teams take the game seriously. For the Knights, of course, it’s a job. For the girls, Hall strives for fun. “I want them to enjoy it and not be stressed out.”
Hall is not a coach who yells, because as a player he never liked to get yelled at. But he is clear in his expectations. During tough games, he’s noticed, the girls who get upset tend to be visibly upset. “But guys tend to internalize, and take it out on their opponent.”
Players on his SDA team travel to Syracuse from throughout Central New York, and he encourages them to arrive a half hour early. That way they have time to socialize before practice begins.
“The guys are the same way,” Hall says, explaining that Knights players arrive early to catch up with one another. “It’s just different conversations.”
Hall says team travel also provides for team bonding. The Knights are like a band of brothers. On the road, they all dine together.
Same with the girls — who follow Hall’s rule of depositing their cell phones in a bread basket before team meals.
He enjoys going back and forth between the two teams, although sometimes he has to remind himself when he’s coaching the girls. “I have to put into perspective that I’m coaching sophomores in high school, not grown men, and it’s OK that a player doesn’t know her position well.
“At the end of the day, I try to teach the same philosophy,” he says. “It is a game, and you need to enjoy it.”