Hello Vivettes! Welcome to the series where we feature some of our fellow St. Louis senior athletes all around town. Here are the wise words of SLUH Soccer Captain, Kevin Cooney. He sure has a big senior season ahead. Enjoy this special insider to his life as Captain of the soccer team.
Rounding off the 2021 SLUH Varsity Soccer season with a loss in the district finals, I felt accomplished with what I had put into the season. First of all, without starting a single game over the course of 26 games, I was able to score 12 goals and 6 assists. Prior to the season, my coach said to me, “If you can score 5 goals this year, that would be huge”. Not only that, the friendships I made with both players younger and older than I was, we’re long lasting.
Aside from the season, I had realized that being a captain of the team next year was a possibility. Over the summer, before my senior year season started, I took the steps to get a shot at being captain. Most would describe a captain as a player who holds himself and the team to a high standard and gives 100 percent effort at every event. I, on the other hand, described it as being the player who takes control over the whole team, as I wasn’t aware of the real attributes a captain should possess. This mindset was something I had engraved into my brain in which I needed it to be changed. Instead of trying to have all of the players be held to a standard, in other words, the fluctuating level in which I played, I aspired to reflect on what it really meant to be a captain. That is, encouraging others to perform at their best, communicate and build relationships on and off the field, and most importantly, be the player that others can go to when they need it.
This mindset helped me a lot to become the player I wanted to be. Later, about a week into the 2022 season, I had been voted to be one of the two head captains of the team. Players were asked to give a reason why they picked so they picked. One that stood out to me the most, was from a teammate that said, “I think [Kevin] should be captain as he is one of our strongest players skillfully, and thus, [he holds] much respect from me, as well as he has a distinct friendliness off of the field”. Another was from a teammate that said, “Kevin because he is a really strong player who works really well together with other players on the field. He is really starting to take initiative this year and I can tell he is all in/giving his full attention to the team. I can see his growth from last year and I think he is going to be a really good leader this year”.
Although these comments were undoubtedly heartwarming to read, they also set a high standard for myself. It was a realization that the team would now be looking up to me. Through this past week, I have been lacking the attributes that I previously noted a captain should have: “[giving] 100 percent effort at every event”. I have noticed that being a captain becomes most difficult when you aren’t giving what you have to offer, no matter what might be going on with your life.
In the first 3 games of the season, we won all of them. For me, they felt like losses. Being a captain of the team created too high of a standard that I put myself to. That standard being, scoring every game and being the star player of the team. Although I am currently averaging .5 goals and assists per game, I wanted more. I have been encouraging myself to take a step back and apply my standards to the team. Soccer is a team sport, not a “me” sport. A captain shouldn’t get upset that he is not holding himself to his unreasonably high expectations. Instead, he should focus on creating an environment where the whole team can be held to the same standards.
The End. See you all next time!