Thursday, August 24, 2006

My Dinner With Anson

If there's one thint that really stuck with me from my time working as a reporter, it's this: don't be afraid to ask, cause all they can do is say "no." And sometimes they'll say "yes."

As I was getting ready for last week, the guy I hired to shoot mentioned to me that he was coming from Chapel Hill. I didn't realize where we'd be working was that close to the University of North Carolina.

For those of you who don't know much about women's soccer... Anson Dorrance is the most successful women's soccer coach ever... and some might say the most successful coach ever in any sport... coaching 16 national champions (the NCAA has only had women's soccer for 23 years) and leading the US to the title in the first women's World Cup.

So of course, as soon as I realized I'd be in the neighborhood, I e-mailed him... asked if I could buy him dinner and pick his brain for thoughts about improving what I'm doing with my program. To my surprise, he replied the next day and said sure.

Chapel Hill, for those of you who have never been is beautiful... exactly what a college would look like if you had to imagine one at its most beautiful. And there was a buzz on campus as kids were packing the book store and wandering around.

Anticipation hit me too... as I was about to get one on one time with the coach who has set the standard for excellence. We met at 6:00 at 411 West... this cool little Italian place in the center of town. He was very gracious, answering what must have seemed like a machine gun of questions...

I told him about my program and the very bright future I see with our town's first ever traveling team coming up in a couple of years.

We talked about how our culture and how the socialization of young girls doesn't match with the culture of athletics and what he does to combat that. We talked about the differences between boys and girls in sports... and about building a culture of competition where girls don't have to acquiesce and settle for the expectation... where they don't have to feel bad about wanting to compete... wanting to succeed on the field.

We talked tactics and strategies related to some of the challenges I anticipate facing in the coming years. For a soccer coach, it was like getting to sit down with a Nobel Prize winner. He had a speaking engagement at 7:00, so the fact that he took time to meet... spoke volumes to me... and it left me with a lot to think about for the future.

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