Monday, November 19, 2012

Garinger soccer coach uses iTunes to motivate players

David Garrett used his experiences helping inner-city soccer players with his organization, One7, to turn Garinger's boys' soccer team into one of the best in the ME-GA 7 conference.

Garrett coached several of the Garinger players with One7 and when they told him the Garinger job was available, he took it. He wanted to create a "new culture" within the soccer program, where players are held accountable, show sportsmanship and ultimately succeed on the field.

"We devoted several hours each day to rebuild the program from the inside out," Garrett said in an email. "Bringing discipline, excellence and a focus of integrity to our program."

Garrett trained the team hard, holding weekend practices at 6 a.m. and running timed two-mile runs before training sessions. He struggled for the first month finding eligible players, but once he did Garinger was competitive. The Wildcats (9-4) shutout Berry and Olympic in their first two conference games and had competitive matches against Charlotte Catholic, which made it to the 3A state semifinals.

Garinger was the top 4A seed from the ME-GA 7 3A/4A and lost in the first round of the state playoffs 2-0 to North Mecklenburg.

The team also started a tradition of awarding a member of the opposing team a "man of the match" award, given to the player "who shows the most class and sportsmanship during the game," Garrett said. The award was usually a $15 iTunes gift card.

"This is a valuable lesson for our boys about the importance of sportsmanship," Garrett said. "Our captains also praise the team as a whole for the positive things they did in the match."

Garrett was hired just two weeks before the start of the season this year. He looks forward to continuing to the improve the program next year.

"I feel that (this season) totally transformed the lives of the kids involved," Garrett said. "Even after the season has ended our players grades are continuing to get better. ... Next year you will be blown away at what happens with Garinger soccer."