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Soccer Poet

Signing Day

Make It a Holiday

Make It a Holiday

I typically avoid using this blog as a sales pitch for my books. Or at the very least, I think it’s fair to say I take a soft-sell approach. But today I’m going rogue. Today I’m going to tell you about a book and why you should buy it.

Wednesday, Feb. 7th is National Signing Day. And the fact of the matter is, we don’t do enough to celebrate it.

Signing Day is that most wonderful of days when rising college freshman officially commit to the college or university of their choice. The deal is done in writing, and the dynamic between prospect and university transitions from dating to marriage. The union is solidified under the holy bonds of athletic and academic matrimony, and extraction from said union comes with entanglements that did not exist one day prior. The long and short of it: It’s officially official.

So here’s my thing… We don’t give nearly enough attention to Signing Day. We fall woefully short of paying it sufficient homage. We don’t do enough to celebrate the athletes who, when they were no taller than a fire hydrant, kicked a ball for the first time, and kept kicking and kicking and kicking until the highly-populated plane they once occupied had become significantly less crowded as players with less drive, less ambition and less talent abandoned the race. And now that the dust has settled, there stands only this select collection of individuals who have scaled the athletic pyramid and risen to the position of college athlete. Now that’s an achievement worth celebrating!

Okay, maybe it falls a smidge short of warranting a federal holiday, but Signing Day should at least be a national day of recognition, if for no other reason than the people it recognizes freaking earned it. It’s a sort of lifetime achievement award for student-athletes.

How many holidays have you actively earned through time, effort, pain, sacrifice, physical risk, bodily harm and relentless commitment to the cause? How many holidays reflect the hours you spent running yourself into the ground in scorching heat, torrential rain or a blanket of snow? How many holidays reflect those moments when you had to throw yourself into harm’s way and choose courage because your friends were counting on you to do exactly that? How many holidays have you bled for?

Veterans (and their families) have earned Veteran’s Day and Independence Day and the Fourth of July. And rightly so. But beyond that, what holiday is a reflection of an individual’s steadfast commitment to climbing to the top level of a stringent meritocracy?

Christmas and Easter are religious observances. George Washington, Christopher Columbus and Martin Luther King Jr. each gifted us a day. And I’ve never been totally sure what Thanksgiving is entirely about other than commemorating a really cool picnic (That’s not to say I don’t thoroughly enjoy it, and I do say thanks.).

Sure, moms and dads each get their special day, but they aren’t required to earn them. It’s great when they do and that’s what we’d all like to hope for, but let’s face it, a rotten father gets the same day as the Father of the Year. It’s just a matter of shifting into a different demographic subset, sort of the way that buying a kayak reclassifies you as a kayaker, not necessarily an involved one. All I’m saying is that there’s nothing merit-based about those days. But Signing Day… Well, Signing Day is nothing but merit-based, right? And still we make a bigger deal about prom and high school graduation, which, although nice and all, don’t exactly winnow the talent pool. Loosely speaking, high school graduation is the participation trophy to Signing Day’s MVP award.

This year, I beg of you, make Signing Day a BIG DEAL. Because that’s exactly what it is. All those other holidays reappear annually (and there’s a reasonable chance your child will walk through two or more graduations), but Signing Day is quite literally a once-in-a-lifetime event! We don’t get a second crack at this one! There’s a level of achievement here that cries out for celebration and we shouldn’t let it pass quietly! It’s the microcosm of the American Dream: You were given nothing more than an opportunity and you turned it into something remarkable. We need to exalt that achievement! We should be shouting it from the rooftops! We need to rise up and shake the walls in recognition of a job very well done! We need to throw parties for these kids – big ones! There should be cake and ice cream and a preposterously loud band and that big Gumby-lookin’, blow-up thing that dances around when the wind blows.

And there should be gifts – lots of gifts. Which reminds me why I began this entry.

Singing Day is the top of one ladder, but it’s also the bottom of another. It’s time to start the climb all over again. You see, the winnowing process doesn’t end on the first Wednesday of February. Signing Day is like leveling up in Call of Duty. You’ve conquered Phase One. Now you’re faced with a whole new set of challenges. You must conquer new opponents who are bigger, faster and more experienced than you. It can be an overwhelming experience for an eighteen-year-old, especially if that child is moving far from home. Wouldn’t it be terrific if someone put together a survival guide for these rising college freshmen – something that told them how to prepare for preseason, and how to develop relationships with teammates and coaches, and how to give themselves the very best chance to earn playing time? Wouldn’t that be delightful?

And wouldn’t it be absolutely amazing if you could give that survival guide to the soccer player in your life to help him or her navigate the landmines of college athletics? And wouldn’t it be spectacular if you could do all this for under ten bucks?

Well my friend, you’re in luck. Because you can get all that information and much, much more in my book, ROOKIE – Surviving Your Freshman Year of College Soccer.

All infomercial aside… ROOKIE really is a darn good book. It’s packed with solid advice. There’s no fluff. It’s just straight-to-the-point information that will help your kid.

Here’s what national champion coach Ronnie Woodard told Soccer America about ROOKIE: “It’s really insightful and every young woman that is about to start her freshman year of college should get a copy. I actually give that book to all of my graduating seniors.”

That’s exactly why a bunch of club coaches buy it each year for their own graduating players. That’s why, about this time each year, I get invited to talk about it on Sirius XM’s The Coaching Academy with Glenn Crooks. Why? Because it’s a darn good book, and it’s one that any college coach would be tickled to learn that his players read. It’s going to solve problems that players never even knew they’d face.

I wrote ROOKIE because I was tired of watching perfectly good freshmen make the same self-destructive mistakes year after year after year. I wanted the players I would someday coach to have a head start. So I wrote this book to help them avoid the pitfalls that have flummoxed so very many of their predecessors. College soccer is a journey, and ROOKIE is a wonderful GPS.

Let me put it another way: If my daughter was about to start her freshman year of college soccer, I would beg her to read this book.

I hope you’ll buy the book, and I sincerely think you’ll be doing your soccer player a wonderful service if you do. But even if you don’t… even if you think the book won’t help… have the party anyway. Like I said earlier, the kid freaking earned it.

Happy Signing Day! Let's make it a bigger deal!

Just click here to visit ROOKIE’s Amazon page.