LIFE ON THE PITCH: Walker Sees Growth In Second Season At The Helm Of SBS Men's Soccer
HOW DO YOU MEASURE GROWTH WITHIN A PROGRAM?
Some may argue that the biggest sign of improvement comes in the form of wins. For Second Baptist School men’s soccer that argument could be made about this past season.
From Doug Walker’s first season at the helm – one win in 2021 – to finishing with six wins in 2022, there is definite growth.
“It felt like a massive step forward in a lot of different ways,” Walker said. “Physically and skillfully, we improved a lot. We saw that success in our win column.”
But the work for this season began immediately after their last match of 2021. The team took two weeks off and then dove into the offseason program.
Part of that program was building the culture.
During the summer, Walker and his players met weekly for Bible study and community. It was a laidback atmosphere to get to know one another and create genuine camaraderie.
“Building relationships ahead of time was really helpful, so day one, everyone knew each other,” Walker said. “The freshmen coming up felt like they were part of something already.”
At the start of the season, the team had a retreat, which was new for everyone. Throughout the season, they also had some intentional “family fun time” to continue building a healthy culture.
Every step was part of Walker’s process.
“Doing [the retreat] together was a bonding moment, and it set the tone for the rest of the season,” Walker said.
As the team pieced together win after win – even stringing together three-straight at one point – Walker’s joy came from seeing his seniors celebrate.
It is a senior class that has gone through the lean years. The winless seasons. The 10-0 losses. But now, they were winning and doing it consistently.
“This year’s senior class worked so hard,” Walker said. “To finally see our first win happen and turn into two and then three wins, the joy that was on their faces, the raw joy of winning together is something I’ll always remember.”
Despite an 0-8 start to the year, with five of the eight games being decided by just one goal, Walker said the seniors never gave up. They finished the year 6-3-1 to go 6-11-1 overall.
“We preach in Second Baptist School soccer that we want everyone to be faithful to the commitment they’ve made, adaptable to playing different roles and teachable,” Walker said. “Those are the three qualities we really look for in players and the seniors took that seriously.”
With a big season behind them, what’s next in year three for Walker and company?
“We are really pushing our chips in on our culture building,” Walker said. “Showing Second Baptist School soccer is fun. We love playing together. We want to see more player ownership where it is player led.”
With grit and determination combined with a growing sense of family, it’s clear the future is bright for this team, even as its seniors graduate.