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I have had several roles as it pertains to soccer for all levels of the game, such as player, trainer, student, coach, referee, and parent. With that experience and along that journey, I have also encountered other individuals who posses knowledge of those various roles. My desire is to interview them and share their knowledge with aspiring soccer players, and those who have interest in the Beautiful Game!

The following interview is with Coach Michael Nance. When I was in high school, he was the coach of Druid Hills High School which my school Sequoyah/Cross Keys played against. Druid Hills was a school that was very difficult to beat and I was always impressed with their set plays. Interestingly after college and when I started coaching club soccer, his daughter, Renee was one of my players. I asked Mike for an interview concerning soccer coaching and the important of mentors. He responded during his downtime from soccer camp


You can listen to the digital audio here!

Coach Mike Nance:

Stafford, I am honored to be asked to contribute to your blog. First, I want to say we sought you out to coach Renee. I knew that someone who had done so much to develop their own skills - like you - was who I wanted coaching my daughter. As a high school coach, I knew very well that skill acquisition came from the club experience and how transformative you were in Renee's development. The most important thing I can say is how crucial it is for the early training is done right; Renee's success is directly related to the quality training she received from you. I was fortunate to know you and have confidence you could raise her level of play.

Stafford:

Thanks for the compliment Mike and it was fantastic coaching your daughter Renee. It’s great to know she went on to play college soccer. I can go on and on about her. But back to you! How were you inspired to coach High School Soccer?

Coach Mike Nance:

I owe everything to Scotty O'Neill. He was the coach of the DeKalb Hotspurs, the first Georgia team to make the national youth finals. Scotty was a tough taskmaster who motivated me to be the best I could be.

Stafford:

What specific thing did you learn from Scotty that you were able to transfer to coaching?

Coach Mike Nance:

He taught me the importance of being a team player. I was the backup goalkeeper; on a great team; although I could have started on other teams (I guess), he helped me treasure my role on his team, an experience I treasure to this day. My most treasured memory of Scotty is not our final four appearance ( as treasured as that is), but of seeing him by chance at the Omni before an Atlanta Flames hockey game. He saw me and asked "what are you doing?". I responded that I was teaching and coaching High School soccer. He said - and I will always remember it - you're giving back to the game. Nothing has motivated me more over the years than the memory that he approved and felt I was paying back the debt I owed to the game - and to Scottie.

Stafford:

That’s wonderful. As I mentioned in my intro, one of the recollections of Druid Hills High School was the set plays your team displayed during games. I was very impressed with that. How did you figure to incorporate that in your tactics?

Coach Mike Nance:

Your recollections of my time at Druid Hills are cause for pride. We did establish a reputation for success with set plays that was the result of Jerry Smart's tutelage and my player’s tolerance for rehearsal. Coach Smart taught me key principles of restarts; I was able to apply what I learned about the game from others to create innovative set pieces that help us score goals. I still regard this as a source of pride, but one that owes others. Such is the game.

Stafford:

So was Jerry Smart one of your Mentors?

Coach Mike Nance:

As a high school coach, I was fortunate to learn from several great mentors. Jerry Smart, Bill Holleman and Jim Mitchell all helped me understand the game and how to teach others. Jerry Smart taught me about practice organization and the principles of set plays. Bill Holleman helped educate me about the game and what a winning tradition was all about. Jim Mitchell educated me the hard way about what being a champion required. I am still learning that lesson and striving to be the champion he was. I hope one day to reach the level of greatness he, Bill and Jerry made me aspire to.

Stafford:

You gave recognition to four coaches who inspired you in one way or another: Scotty O’Neill, Jerry Smart, Bill Holleman and Jim Mitchell. Of the four mentioned, I know the names of two: Jim Mitchell who I believed coached at Lakeside High School, and Bill Holleman who coached at Lovett. Both of those coaches were active when I played for Sequoyah High School in the late 1980’s and they both had great teams during that time. You mentioned Jerry Smart and his contribution with the set plays. I thought Druid Hills set plays not only looked awesome, but it confused the markers in the penalty area as well. When you coached your Druid Hills team, do you recall winning games as a result of set plays and did you observe that many of the teams you played against did not work on set plays and as a result those teams were predictable and not a threat in that area?

Coach Mike Nance:

We won a number of games from set play goals. We won a first round playoff game by scoring on all four first half corners. We rehearsed them a lot and few other teams at that time had coaches who really practiced them, attacking or defending. We also beat Bill Holleman in the state quarterfinals with a set play goal to tie the game with only 17 seconds left, and then win it on another in OT. Bill's teams were prepared, but sometimes you just out-execute your opponent.

Stafford:

Coach, thanks for taking this time to do this interview and thanks for responding during your downtime of Soccer Camp. What camp were you assisting?

Coach Mike Nance:

I was at the Lundy Camp. I’ve been doing the camp since June began and have one more starting Saturday. Coach Ralph Polson is the main admin for all camps and I am proud to have been brought in as an assistant - too old and broken to coach camp teams but still a "believer" in Coach Lundy's system.


*** Coach Mike Nance is still involved with high school soccer as of the date of this interview. He is currently the head varsity girls coach at a high school in Alpharetta, Georgia.***