Q: Gina, tell us how long you have been playing soccer and which was your first club?
A: “I have been playing soccer since I was 5 years old; my first club was Cliff Avenue.”
Q: What inspired you to take on the role of coaching a younger girls’ team, and how did you first get involved?
A: “Coach Kat Tomic reached out, asking me if I could help assistant coach a U13 girls’ team, I was at first hesitant to agree because I was already very busy between school, work and soccer, but I made the time to help and I’m glad I did, it’s important to be a female mentor for these young girls.”
Q: Can you share some valuable lessons you have learned as a player which you hope to pass onto the younger team you coach?
A: “Soccer has taught me how to be a leader on and off the field, I must use my voice on the field and help my teammates mental game as well. I really want to help these girls understand that if they wish to play at a higher level, they need to put in the time and effort and they can reach their goals.”
Q: In what ways do you believe coaching a younger team has helped you as a player?
A: “Coaching makes me think back to when I was their age, and it helps me see how far I’ve come and developed my skills. It also reminds me of the basics of soccer, such as dribbling, passing, and my first touch and how fundamental they are to a player’s development.”
Q: How do you approach coaching to make it fun and enjoyable for the younger girls?
A: “I am always asking their thoughts on different drills and games trying to get their input. Drills they enjoy and have fun doing are ones I try to incorporate into practices frequently, and others that they didn’t enjoy I try to adjust it to make the game more fun. I started playing and continue to play soccer because I always have fun playing and enjoy it and I want the girls to always be excited for practice.”
Q: Considering your age, do you find any unique challenges in balancing your responsibilities as a player and a coach and how do you overcome them to be effective in both roles.
“I think my age is an asset, I believe the girls feel they can really talk to me since I’m closer to their age than other coaches, although this can lead to challenges in getting them to respect me as their coach. I’ve learned there is a time to be their friend and a time to be their coach, you just have to find the balance.”
Q: How and why would you encourage others to get involved with coaching younger players?
A: “If you really love the sport coaching is a really rewarding way to give back, share your knowledge and inspire the next generations. You start to make connections with the players, and you’ll want to see them succeed, I am so happy I chose to start coaching and encourage other athletes to ask about taking on a team.”