Coaching the coaches
MCLA's head women's soccer coach knows a thing or two about soccer: Deborah Raber travels the country, teaching coaches how to coach the game of soccer for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).
The NSCAA fulfills its mission to provide coaching education through a nationwide program of clinics and courses, teaching more than 6,000 soccer coaches each year. The demand for Raber to teach at various conferences and workshops has increased over the past four years, as she serves on two different coaching staffs for the NSCAA.
"I'm dealing with coaches who are new to soccer, all the way up to coaches who are very seasoned in the game," Raber said.
Over the summer, her travels took her to Minnesota, where she taught coaches how to train their goalkeepers. And, last year, she conducted a field player session where hundreds of people sat in the stands to watch two coaches run a training session with youth. Other recent activities include a discussion workshop on leadership and an all-day workshop for aspiring coaches.
In January, she will participate on a coaching panel at the NSCAA's national convention in Philadelphia.
Raber's association with the NSCAA began when she was a new coach at MCLA, and Athletics Director Scott Nichols suggested that she earn a national diploma from the coaching organization. "I just got hooked from there," she said.
"It's a tremendous organization of wonderful people, and I wanted to learn more and more and more from them," Raber continued. "So, I got every diploma that the NSCAA offers. And then, because I did well, they recognized that they needed someone like me on their staff."
Raber joined MCLA in 2000. Since then, her expertise has been of benefit to the many Trailblazers who play soccer for the College.
"I've been working hard, and I've been presented with a lot of opportunities to do new things," she said. "I continue to learn and work on my craft of coaching."
What is it about soccer that Raber is so passionate about?
"There's just something special about it," she explained. "It's the energy. It's the amount of coaching that you really need to make sure you get done in training sessions.
"I think what makes soccer so wonderful is that's it's the world's game. It's the most popular game in the world. You don't see baseball or softball being played in the Middle East, but you see the passion for soccer pouring out of the Middle East. You see countries coming together to watch soccer, like when the United States and China were at battle in 1999. It's just an international passion that's not there for any other sport."
Raber is a three-time MASCAC Coach of the Year - for 2007, 2009 and 2010. She served as the MASCAC soccer representative to the NCAA/New England Region Ranking Committee and as an NCAA National Tournament site representative. The recipient of the annual NSCAA Silver Ethics Award eight times, Raber also was awarded the 2011 NSCAA Gold Ethics Award.
She said Trailblazer soccer fans should expect big things from the women's soccer team this year.
"The group of freshmen we have this year is outstanding," Raber said. "And, the returning core of players really worked hard over the summer. Our team is gelling beautifully. They are fit and ready to go, and are excited to play."