ITHACA, NY -- Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts, famously told scouts to “try to leave this world a little better than you found it.”
When Maureen McCarvill Whitehead steps away from the world of soccer in the coming weeks, I hope the head coach at Ithaca High and the Director of TC Waza Soccer (a local non-profit youth soccer club) will sleep well, knowing she did her part to leave that world a little better than she found it.
Maureen started coaching youth soccer 22 years ago when her oldest daughter showed an interest. As her daughter’s skill level and interest grew, Maureen said, “I was planning to hand her off (to other coaches), but I wanted to see more focus on skill development.” She added, “I had left my previous job at Lockheed-Martin, and my first ‘official’ job in soccer was coaching the modified team at Lansing.” She “wanted to get better,” so she went through the various levels of coaching certifications and eventually was elevated to the varsity coaching position at Lansing. “That,” she said, “was when I became more focused on youth soccer.”
Over the years, Maureen has done her best to expose local soccer enthusiasts to the best possible opportunities to take their game to the next level — either as players or as coaches. “We have partnered up with other clubs, as we felt doing so offered more opportunities on more levels,” said Maureen, who also coached for several years for the NY West Soccer and the Olympic Developmental Program. As Assistant Director of Coaching for that organization, she said, “Part of my role was to teach the licensing levels, from youth modules up through the professional level.” (Maureen herself has numerous licensing certifications, working up through Levels D, C and B. Given Level A is primarily meant for coaching at the professional level, Maureen has not sought to attain that level.)
Her motivation has been more about “broadening my understanding of how to coach children.” Elaborating, she stated, “Attaining higher levels of certification is not necessarily about coaching at higher levels — like collegiate soccer — it’s more about developing a deeper understanding of the game, it’s about learning how to deliver information as kids get more advanced.” In climbing the certification ladder, Maureen has done a wide range of trainings – from four-hour clinics to weekend-long trainings to a nine-day residential certification program to get her B license. Of those trainings, she said, “I’m always excited to come back and be a better coach.”
Speaking to her decision to retire from soccer, Maureen told me, “It just felt like it was time. Given I am so invested in the community and in the kids, it’s hard to imagine there would be a ‘perfect’ time, but I need to spend more time with my kids and with my husband, who travels a lot in his job.”
“We will be staying put — Ithaca will be our home base for now — and we will see how that plays out.”
As for leaving the world a little better, Maureen is utterly confident that the club is in good hands. “Lamar Peters will be the sole guy in charge of the club,” she offered, “and he knows I am a phone call away. We have that type of relationship, and I am leaving feeling youth soccer is in a good place.” She added, “A huge part of me is very excited that we have a great group of young players coming up, but I am staying with my plan, knowing we have a great young staff. Our structure is such that we will have a smooth transition.”
Sounding for a moment like she was reconsidering her decision, Maureen said, “The kids made the decision a difficult one, but it’s time.”
While the word “uncertainty” has hovered over the sports world in so many ways over the past year and a half, that cloud has been lifted for the Cornell men’s lacrosse coaching staff. Connor Buczek will shed the “interim” tag and continue as the Richard M. Moran Head Coach, Jordan Stevens will serve as the Mario St. George Boiardi '04 Associate Head Coach and Paolo Ciferriwill take over as a full-time assistant coach. Congrats to all as they work to rebuild a program and maintain a tradition.