What does it mean to be “Blue-Collar” at something? We know that a Blue-Collar job is one that does not make a ton of money where you typically work with your hands. The perception is that these jobs are taken by people with minimal ability, who obtain a good work ethic and take pride in the job they do. Blue-Collar comes with a badge of honor that no matter what tough times are ahead, or battles get in your way it won’t slow you down and you will always power through to get the job done.

This is what it means to be a Blue-Collar Athlete. This athlete is born with the ability to play the game but may need to work harder at sharpening their skills. The sport they are playing may not come as naturally to them, but their goals and aspirations drive them to succeed. These are the Diamond in the Rough athletes’ coaches should want on their teams. These are the players that get overlooked during tryout season but the coaches that see the hustle and heart these players possess understand they can mold this raw talent into the superstar they can be.

The Blue-Collar Athlete is the player that shows up on time if not early to each training session and game. They are the ones that don’t expect much but will give you their 110% in everything they do. They understand that they may not be on the starting roster but will never complain about their playing time. They appreciate the opportunity to even be on the team and soak in every lesson that can be learned.

The biggest mistake a coach can make is by doubting the growth opportunity in a Blue-Collar Athlete. These are the players whose drive and determination are hard to diminish no matter what is thrown their way. They are the players that speak with a positive tone and will pump the team up during hard losses. These are the players that when given the right opportunity to play amongst the best will sharpen their iron to match the iron they are training with.

These athletes are loyal, hardworking, focused, and in it for the long haul. They are the patient ones that understand their growth is a marathon, not a sprint, and will invest in themselves to benefit the greater good of the team. We applaud these Blue-Collar Athletes, the underdogs as in the end they will prevail. They will become leaders in life in the long run because they understand with every small win develop into a big win. These are our champions in life, our lifelines who never quit on themselves and certainly will never quit on their team.

Oh, the joys of competitive sports. Your kids are getting exercise playing the sport they love. They enjoy time spent with their friends while growing as a competitor and the parents create a special bond on the sidelines. But it all comes with a cost. If you are new to the competitive landscape, we want to help you understand what this entails. There are annual fees, uniform fees, coaches fees, ref fees, tournament fees, travel, and hotel fees…the list goes on and on. But it’s worth it and the kids only play sports for so long before they grow up and move out.

So how do people afford it all? How can we offset all of these never-ending fees???? It’s simple, fundraising. Not everyone likes to do it, they feel awkward asking for financial help from their friends and family because well, it was their choice to sign their kid up for competitive sports in the first place. What you have to remember is that while not everyone is going to pull out their wallet eager to donate or buy those raffle tickets there are many people who do.

I have found that the majority of those that help out are the grandparents who miss it all and “remember those days, enjoy it while you can” so they chip in as much as they can. Then there are the supportive parents who are living the same crazy lifestyle you are living so you scratch each other’s backs because you all belong to the same club. The big question is HOW do you fundraise? What can you do? We don’t have cookies to sell like the Girl Scouts.

Here are a few ideas that have worked for our kid’s teams and maybe they will spark some fresh ideas of your own.

The first tip we have is to kick off the season with a fun fundraiser that helps with team bonding. Remember, the teams typically change every year, and the new kids may feel shy to meet their new team. We have found that a fun Car Wash helps with this. Everyone participates, the parents, kids, and coaches, and most of the locals love to help out the kids. The money raised goes into the team’s bank account and now you can kick off your season's tournaments with money without having to pay out of your own pocket. The kids had fun and the ice was broken for them to get to know one another.

Another way to kick off the season is with a Lotto Board. Yes, a Lotto Board. What you do is fill up a poster board with about $250 of scratch-off Lotto Tickets and $100 cash and you sell raffle tickets for ONE lucky person to win the entire Lotto Board. Every family member donates about $20 toward the purchase of the tickets and in return, they receive 10 raffle tickets in the bucket to possibly win themselves. This fundraiser is very popular because most people love to join in with the chance to win it all.

If your season runs through the holiday we have created a Gift Wreath. This Wreath is much like the Lotto Board but instead of lotto tickets, you tie gift cards to the wreath as well as cash because who doesn’t love cash right? You pick one lucky winner before the holidays, and they can use those gift cards for the holiday season.

You can also put together a bundle that includes a cooler full of goodies to raffle off. But another quick and easy one that is fun is the Sponsor a Day fundraiser. This one requires no up-front costs from the team. All you do is select a month out of the year or maybe a few months out of the year and you ask people to Sponsor a Day. For example, if someone would like to sponsor on April 5th all they have to do is donate $5 but if another person sponsors on April 22nd they will then donate $22 to sponsor that day. It’s quick, easy, and fun.

The biggest tip we have on this topic is to understand that not everyone on the team would want to participate in these fundraisers and that is ok. On the flip side, some families actually rely on these fundraisers to help support their child's ability to participate in competitive sports. What was a non-intrusive way to raise money with the entire team is once you have your season's total budget you break that down on a per-player basis. The team manager typically communicates and collects the funds for the team so they will set a deadline for when the funds are due. The communication is that by “x” date each player must turn in “x” amount. The families are responsible for their part of the team fees no matter what so they can either just pay the fees or help raise their part of the team fees. With every fundraiser only those families that participated get to have those funds carved out of their part of their personal fees due.

Fundraising is not necessary, but it definitely helps lift the financial part of competitive sports. All in all, it’s for the kids. If your kid is committed and possesses the skills needed to play above rec league in the sport they love, it’s worth the investment financially and in time. It’s a short-lived part of their childhood before they join the real world. Embrace the moment and try not to blink.

The best thing we can do for kids believe it or not is to not teach them how to always be successful but to teach them how to respond when they are not successful. This valuable lesson that they learn at such a young age will carry them through life. What better way to learn this lesson than on the field, with teammates and a coach to help guide them through this.

This teachable moment makes them a coachable athlete who will prosper in every aspect in life. Think about it…it’s one thing to learn how to walk, talk and how to not cry over spilled milk but it’s another to learn the aspect of a sport with your teammates guided by your coach. While you may “mess up” you have to deal with that in front of your peers and overcome all of the emotions that follow. Are you able to roll with the punches? Are you able to handle the coach correcting you in front of your team? Do you know how to listen to constructive criticism, or do you talk back with excuses? Every kid should know how to lose with sportsmanship and win with grace.

Becoming a coachable athlete starts at a very young age. Ask yourself this, are you the athlete that listens to your parents over your coach? Are you the parent that coaches OVER your child’s coach? Unfortunately, your parental coaching is forcing your kid to now make the difficult decision of listening to their parent or their coach. Either way, they are in the wrong by either side and that is not fair to put your kid in that predicament. Especially at a young age. I learned real fast that my side line coaching was not helping my kiddo at all after my kid turned around during a game and said “stop mom!!! That’s not what coach instructed me to do!” Was my guidance correct by telling them to get wide and put her heals on the line to open up and receive the ball? “Yes” but what I didn’t realize is while that was “good advice” for any given game….in that game the coach was teaching them a specific tactic. You see, when they are young they are learning many technical and tactical skills. It’s not about winning or losing and I was creating a monster of all about the win and not about the baby steps of learning….making my kid a non-coachable athlete. My heart sunk but I realized that I need to be the supportive parent, the cheerleader and not the coach.

It was two seasons after that moment that I witnessed a coach cut a kid at the ripe age of 10 because they were not coachable. WHAT?!? 10 years old??? Yes. It was a competitive team, not rec and this kid was already not coachable. This kid, unfortunately, thought they knew it all, listened to their parents and not the coach and was not a team player. They already only thought about themselves, and only cared about winning and not growing and while they were one of the best players on the team, they, unfortunately, had a bad attitude. This was a life lesson not only for that kid but for their peers to realize that talent can only go so far. Talent in every aspect in life will only take you so far but a good attitude will always stand out more than your achievements in life.

Coachability means investing yourself in the team and committing to its overall success. It’s ALWAYS about the greater good of the TEAM. Absolutely invest in yourself because you are an individual contributor to the team's ultimate goal. But never become foolish enough to believe you matter more than the team.

Some sports outside of soccer are individual sports like swimming or golf so being coachable goes beyond the team aspect. Some signs of a coachable athlete are that you are growth-oriented, willing to be vulnerable, and try new things. You are open to change and eager to learn. Being coachable means you are action-oriented and self-aware. You understand that your coach sees things about you that you may not see yourself. Being coachable is a great asset in life because you are mature enough to realize that being “picked on” means that the person “picking on you” is actually trying to help you grow in that skill, mindset, or as a whole package.

Learning all of these valuable lessons will carry into life. Learning how to deal with a difficult teammate helps you learn how to work side by side with a difficult employee one day. That strict coach you play for will be the boss you work for in the future. Waking up early for a 6 am run or powering through a training session that should have ended 30 minutes ago helps you understand you are bettering yourself to accomplish that specific goal you are about to achieve because you put in the work to get you there.

Being the most talented player on the team or in your school doesn’t matter if you are an un-coachable one. The coachable player that works hard and values the skills their coach is teaching them will overshadow the skilled player in the future, every time.

If you are anything like me, you always have an amazing meal idea but life happens and you hit the easy button. In reality, I am doing a disservice to my family by not following a simple nutrition plan.

Here are some simple nutrition ideas on what a perfect meal looks like that I received from an amazing coach and Ambassador of Florida Soccer Life Jonathan Thompson. This is going to show what each meal should look like and how to meal prep along with how to cook some foods. Everyone’s goals are different when it comes to nutrition. Hopefully, this guide helps you along the way to a healthier way of eating.

In this article from Precision Nutrition, they outline five simple steps on how to create the Perfect Meal. Precision Nutrition is the home of the world’s top nutrition coaches.

The first step is to choose one main ingredient from these four categories: Protein, Vegetable, Smart Carb and a Healthy Fat. This will help you enjoy your meal because your selection is based on what you are in the mood for while maintaining a healthy balanced meal.

Next, you will properly Portion Your Ingredients! Yes, you can overeat and you want to make certain that one category is not overbearing the other category of your well-balanced meal. If you portion each category properly you will eat your entire meal and your body will thank you for it. Make sure that you adjust your portions up or down according to how frequently you eat, your size or caloric needs, how active you are, and your personal results.

Have you ever heard of a Regional Profile before? This outlines what Aromatics and Garnishes you prefer. Don’t worry, this is where you select a regional flavor profile such as Italian, Mexican, Thai, or Caribbean to name a few. This step is especially important because, well, simply put we must enjoy our meal right?

After you outline all of your ingredients you will cook the food. Did you know that garlic can be a flavorful garnish or that onions can add sweetness to your vegetables? Maybe you did but this article will help outline how to use preparation methods such as garnishes and flavor tips. Flavor counts but making your plate look good is always a plus.

Finally, you get to ENJOY your meal! Remember, as a competitive athlete it is vital to understand what you should eat, the proper portions based on your body’s specific needs, and time of day to eat based on when your next training session is. Maintaining a well-balanced nutrition plan will absolutely help you maximize your performance on and off the field.

For more information on Precision Nutrition please feel free to learn more on their website:


Click here to download the How to Create the Perfect Meal PDF

Everyone has heard the old saying “You are what you eat” but how much of that is true for competing? Do you have to watch what you eat on game day only? Is the meal the night before really going to impact your performance the next day? How many fluids should you drink? You are just going to burn all of those calories anyway right? WRONG!!

Much of how you perform while competing in practices and especially games is a science and while we are not experts in the manner, we would certainly like to help set you up for success.  For example, did you know that not only should you have a Pre-Event Meal but a Recovery Nutrition Plan as well?  Calculating not only what you eat and how much you hydrate before the event matters but making sure you properly replenish your nutrition after the event is even more critical. 

Here is an easy-to-read “Guide to Nutrition” by Nutrition By Mandy that we found gives really good examples of what to eat and drink prior to training and matches. Mandy is a Sports Dietitian Nutritionist in the San Antonio, TX area. She teaches athletes the importance of nutrition combined with a proper training program to improve performance, prevent injury, and promote overall health and wellness.

In this article she covers how taking the time to put together a proper Pre-Game and Post-Game nutrition plan will help improve your overall performance and long time health. It’s important to think long-term vs short-term when it comes to playing not only competitive sports but high-intensity sports like soccer. You need to nurture your muscles, ligaments, mind, and body. With a proper nutrition plan you can maintain your focus, health, and even help prevent injuries.

Take care of your body and your body will take care of you. Just like practicing the sport you love with training and exercise, following a proper nutrition plan will help you outperform your opponent.

Those of us that were born and raised or simply lived in Florida long enough understand our dreaded heat. Our states motto of The Sunshine State is an understatement when it comes to competing in the SUN.

For those of you that are new to our wonderful State of Florida Welcome!!! For those of you that never competed in the heat and need some tips on how to combat the sun here are some tips we have learned along the way.

These are just a few of our top key ways to adjust to competing in Florida. The sun can be brutal but we love living our Florida Soccer Life which provides amazing conditions to play all year long!

These old cleats debuted on the field polished, perfect, stiff, and not broken in.  They were selected as the next level up to help maximize their abilities while competing.  But they put in their time, ran many miles, and may have been stepped on a time or two.  They practiced many times a week and fought a good fight on the pitch to beat their opponent.

These old cleats are dedicated and will never let you down.  They never complained about the playing conditions whether it was too hot, cold, or rained on.  No, in fact, that’s what helped mold them and appreciate the battle that they have overcome. 

These old cleats clinched onto the grass to sprint down the line and win that ball.   They attacked the enemy within the lines, drove the ball into the back of the net with their laces, and jogged back to their team to celebrate the many wins big or small.  No matter how many times they were defeated these old cleats laced back up, straightened up, and got back to work.

As time went on and hours of training were put in, they stretched as far as they needed to so they can grow.  When their seams would bust, they were taped up almost to perfection.  When their studs wore down, they dug deeper to regain traction.  When they got too tight and needed more room to grow…..they were retired after their last victory.

These old cleats never let you down, never give up, and are always there to help you grow. 

Most parents of athletic kids want the best for them.  They start out with the best intentions but can get derailed real fast.  Derailed?  What do you mean by derailed?  It happens when we least expect it.  Picture it, tryout season….the fun-loving, nail-biting tryout season no matter how old your kid is.  You pump up your kid by a motivational speech, make certain they eat a hearty meal, get them all laced up to do their best and leave it all on the pitch.  You watch them run out there high fiving the coach or players but the parents are scoping out the competition.  They chat, introduce themselves and roll out the scroll of their kids experience playing.  Great relationships are made, and good times are had but the season starts.

The coach is playing out their plan for the team as a whole but all you can focus on as a parent is how is it playing out for your kid.  Are they a starter?  What position are they playing and why?  How much playing time are they getting verses the rest of the team?  The list goes on and on.  The parents get derailed on what the purpose of playing sports in the first place.  How we see things can be completely different from how our kids see things.

The focus of playing a team sport quickly shifts to “what’s in it for the player” and the parents are derailed.  Take time to connect with your kids and how they see things.  What are they getting out of season and are they happy?   Try to understand what the coach is trying to accomplish and teach not only your kid but the team as a whole.  Remember, much of what the kids experience and learn by playing team sports translates into life.  They need to learn how to earn playing time, a starting position and most of all how to win with grace and lose with sportsmanship.

Much of the kid's experience playing sports is how the parents behave as well.  What are you teaching your kids with your words, body language and behavior towards them and others?  Most kids are in the moment and actually having fun but remember, they are going to feed off of your emotions.  Your Looking Glass is probably different from theirs and there is a fine line between what is best right now and how is that going to impact your athletes experience long term.

Your player’s journey is a marathon, not a sprint.  Embrace every moment.

Ok, you are a parent with a kid that wants to play soccer for the very first time. Maybe you grew up playing soccer and you are feeling EXCITED because YES our kid will follow in my shoes this is AMAZING!!! Maybe you are a parent that dabbled a little bit in sports and are thinking to yourself, OK, this is cool, my kid will get some exercise, make new friends and not stuck on devices all day. Or… maybe you are that parent that never played a sport in their life and this new world just TERRIFIES YOU and you need help figuring this sports life out. Either way, we are here to provide help from our personal experiences.

I’m sorry, silly me I should probably introduce myself and our family. My name is Nicole and my husband is Jim. We were born up north but moved to Florida as kids with our family and have lived here ever since. Both of us grew up playing sports from youth up through college and just love what sports provided in our growth in life. Blessed with two daughters and a dog we are living the dream where we run around and time escapes us. Olivia (14) and Sydnie (11) definitely keep us busy. They have dabbled in dance, softball, track, basketball but the sport they fell in love with is soccer. So much that they both committed themselves to the world of competitive soccer. Yes, the level where they have 3 practices a week, travel local and far just to play one game and the season last all year long.

Now, Jim and I figured, why not? They are both talented, focused and committed kids and heck, we played competitive sports growing up. HA! We neglected to remember that we PLAYED competitive sports as kids but we never knew what our parents went through to provide that amazing experience. It is a very different perspective comparing the experience as a young competitor verses the parent paving the way.

In our short time navigating this competitive soccer landscape we have learned a lot. There are many ups and downs, pros and cons, ins and outs and it certainly takes a village to manage it all. Bottom line the only thing that matters is your child’s experience. What do they want out of playing soccer? How happy are they? Is the focus on them or you? Time flies by fast and it is later than you think. So just kick back, relax and embrace every moment.

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