Both girls’ varsity soccer and softball teams at Waxahachie High School have undergone character coaching from Traci Alverson. The weekly meetings have paid off as Alverson's words of wisdom have created tighter bonds and stronger leadership on the field.
Even though Alverson was not the most athletic growing up, she has an extensive background working with children and teenagers in the worst of situations. She currently works in student ministries with the Avenue Church and has been int he position for four months.
“I felt honored to be asked. Quite honestly,” Alverson admitted. “I was excited to have the opportunity but a little intimidated by walking into a locker room full of girls that I don’t know.”
She meets with the girls for 30 to 45 minutes a week and hangs out on the sidelines during home games. As her time with the girls grows longer, so does the bond between her and the players.
Alverson greets each player with a hug and briefly checks in on them. For the first ten minutes or more, she opens the floor for discussions about conflict and tensions the players may have.
“The biggest thing for me and working with these girls is that I get to play a really important role for them that’s not a parent and just a support,” Alverson expressed. “I just want to support them and be there for them when they need someone to talk to.”
She focuses on opening the player’s up and having each other point out other girls’ strengths. During these times, she has the girls reflect on the tough times as well.
“That’s one of the hard things to do on a team this size is to not get mad on the field for making mistakes,” Alverson shared. “And so, we focus a lot on having grace, focusing on our own thing and just loving each other off the field so when we are on the field, we have grace.”
Players can also find Alverson on the bench during home games encouraging and helping girls mentally who are unable to play due to an injury. She said these girls are so tough that sometimes there are not any words to say to make them feel better. But, instead, she rubs their back and ensures everything will be okay.
Waxahachie girls' head soccer coach Jason Venable said, “The lessons she covers show their relevance in our daily lives, practices, and games. This only reinforces her value to me and the girls in our program. She is a caring and compassionate woman who truly and deeply cares for all of our ladies. Her caring heart is very evident and makes the girls include her as one of our own.”
But about a month into working with the soccer girls, the head softball coach Stephen Howell asked for her assistance. Howell said the most significant thing on his team is respect, leadership, trust, and encouragement.
Alverson has met with the senior softball players and discussed how to effectively lead a team with eight girls. She put into perspective how it’s difficult to give leadership with seven other people and to receive direction from eight people.
During one of the first meetings with the team, one of the players shared how she was dealing with a difficult time with her family. Alverson relayed that moment was influential for the girls because it was a realization that they don’t know what others are facing when they walk out of the locker room.
“I don’t need to spend time talking about it and she kind of already reinforced a lot of ideals that I’m coaching,” Howell said “So she has been an outstanding asset to our program. I think it’s very beneficial.”
Before Alverson meets with the softball girls, Howell will debrief her on what’s been going on, on and off the field. Even though she’s reiterating what coach has to say with her little twist on it, the message comes across differently coming from her.
But Alverson has made a lasting impact on both the male coaches. Venable said he has a better understanding of what the girls are struggling with in life after having the chance to see through Alverson’s perspective.
“Traci has helped us understand the issue of empathy and caring for one another. She has been a tremendous partner to our program,” Venable shared.
Alverson has impacted Howell’s teaching strategies when it comes to senior leadership and seeing eye-to-eye with the girls. As Alverson reiterates Howell’s messages, the focus of the message sinks in with the girls and allows him to coach more on the catching, throwing and betting.
“I think the girls understand more now than ever what we expect and want from them in regards to the classroom, on the field, and for their future. “Alverson is a new softer voice expressing our same philosophy and ideas,” Venable emphasized. “Her woman's perspective is a fresh new voice we haven't incorporated before this year, and I can see the excitement and interest in Alverson and her teachings.”
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