Mary Page James from Mahwah Raiders Soccer Club is the latest Sky Blue TeamSnap MVC. She currently coaches the U10 girls’ team along with the U8 and U9 boys’ teams. With the COVID-19 pandemic significantly decreasing her teams’ ability to stay active and engaged, James has worked through Zoom work with her players digitally.
Sky Blue’s TeamSnap MVC honors coaches in our communities that exemplify an undeniable commitment to player growth and education. During this challenging time, we aim to shine a light on coaches going above and beyond for their team while navigating the impacts of the pandemic.
Working with both young boys and girls, James has focused on helping her players improve their technical skills. Hoping to have her players continue working on their touch, James created informational videos teaching passing and receiving, juggling, and first touch skills through weekly Zoom sessions. She created beginner, intermediate, and advanced level versions of the videos to help the players progress during their digital sessions. James also used the Techne Futbol app with her teams to add variety to their exercises. Though she coaches some of the youngest aged players, three of her players were consistently in the top 15 across the whole club for time spent in the app, showcasing their desire to improve.
Acknowledging the mental challenges with social isolation due to the pandemic, James used her Sport Psychology degree to emphasize the importance of mental health. “Having little to no contact with and teammates is incredibly difficult,” said James. “Every week, I tried to have us play a game where everyone could all laugh together and enjoy normal kid social interactions.” Her players could focus on being kids first and players second. Treasure Hunts for various household items, interactive quizzes about everything from soccer players to Disney characters, and tactical soccer trivia are played during their weekly Zoom meetings.
“Coach Mary Page James has stepped up tremendously for the Mahwah Raiders Soccer Club during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sky Blue Account Executive Cassie Varvaro. “Ensuring her teams are staying connected and training at home is a huge initiative and something we continually look for in our Most Valuable Coaches. I am very excited to see Mary excel in her coaching career and helping to bring knowledge and smiles to the soccer community.”
James also notes the importance of her having the opportunity to coach two boys’ teams as a woman. “It is a very special experience for me because I had the chance to break through the gender barrier,” said James. “It is very typical for men to coach both and girls, but rarely do women have the same opportunity to coach both genders. My boys’ teams had the opportunity to see a woman as an expert in their sport and be their direct resource for soccer knowledge.” James noted that while other teams exhibited some sexist language such as ‘don’t be such a girl,’ her players never engaged in these hurtful comments while playing. Sky Blue FC is committed to acknowledging great coaches in our communities that go above and beyond for their players. If you have an amazing coach, nominate them for Sky Blue FC TeamSnap MVC here.