Photo: Ashley Beall
Boys yelling. Girls giggling. Kids chasing each other. This isn’t a typical scene where you’d place a Drake soccer player to be. But for junior Drake men’s soccer player Nick Marshall, this is how he spends some of his week.
Marshall helps coach the West Des Moines Soccer Club and works with the academy, which is a pool of 60 nine- and ten-year-old boys, and he is what they call their “professional coach.” The teams have parent coaches and Marshall floats between games and helps out each team. The teams also have professional coach’s nights which are run by Marshall and several other Drake soccer players.
Marshall got involved in coaching youth soccer during his first year through assistant coach Gareth Smith and head coach Sean Holmes, both of whom are his coaching inspirations. His high school club soccer coach Dale Schilly is also one of his coaching inspirations.
As for how Marshall feels about coaching, he can’t get enough of it.
“One of the best parts is whenever you are working with kids over a long period of time and you are focusing to get them better at one aspect and then you see everything click,” Marshall said. “Working with little kids, their foundation is pretty much nothing so we have to help them, build a foundation, and it’s cool to see the difference one year makes between year nine and year 10.”
“It gets so business-like whenever I’m playing. It’s just nice to see these kids having fun and learning to work with all sorts of people and it’s also humbling to work with little boys and girls,” Marshall said.
As for his coaching style, Marshall likes to make sure the kids work hard while still having fun.
“Because I have such young kids with wild energy, it can sometimes be challenging to rein them in and get them to listen. I have to provide a professional environment for them to learn and get better so I will have to be firm in the beginning of a training session to get them focused and even more so at the beginning of the year,” Marshall said.
For Marshall, his ideal player is one that can listen to what the coach is saying and be able to make the adjustments and implement them into their game when they are pointed out. As for the performance perspective, he believes that, “The player needs to be able to keep the ball in possession and find the right spaces to play in to keep the field spread. I think if a player has these qualities at this age they will be a great player.”
However, Marshall isn’t holding a double standard because he makes sure to live up to these expectations as well.
Marshall isn’t one of those coaches to remain strictly professional and not bond with his players. Outside of practice Marshall tries to connect with the kids and be someone that they can talk to.
“I make sure to establish a relationship (and) friendship with them outside of coaching, like after and before practice, so that they understand my being stern is not a personal attack towards them, and that I’m only trying to make them better,” Marshall said. “Being their friend makes the players way more receptive to what you say also. As a player I know we play for the love of the game so I also let the kids have fun and encourage them to cheer for their teams in competitions and try new tricks.”
After college Marshall hopes to continue coaching.
“I definitely plan on coaching. I am not sure of what caliber though, be it for a club or as a parent,” Marshall said.
Either way soccer will remain a big part of Marshall’s life.