Coaching Soccer

IMG_5329What satisfaction last night, as I helped coach my first youth soccer game. As with baseball, soccer is not about winning, first and foremost it’s about having fun. Once the smile leave the faces of your kids, the fun has been lost. That is not the case with this group of 12 boys who make up the Blazers. My voice is still recuperating after all the yells of encouragement and positioning through the 50 minute game.

While the team won’t winner any championship (who cares!) they boys laughed and smiled all game long. It was just a few minutes into the game and we were already 3-0 down, but the heads remained up and the boys played well and tried to climb back into the game. In fact, the head coach remarked this was the best the boys had played to date!

Through out the game we have many positive signs that what they are being taught is being used on the field. We had some great passes and a few strong and accurate shots, including out first goal of the season, thanks in part to my son’s best friend, Alex. For the most part, the boys were receptive to our shouts.

Even some of the lesser skilled boys put in some very solid shifts and made positive strides with and without the ball. One in particular, who has never played soccer before listened to nearly everything I said while on the field, working on his position and playing his heart out. I would have given him player of the game, if we awarded individuals. Since soccer is a TEAM sports, there was no award, but his smile was all I needed.

The coach did a good job fielding the team, mixing the talent with timid. It’s a fine line in hopes to field a team that plays well at each end of the field and together. There were some shortcomings, which will need to be worked on, such as positioning on the field. I think the concept of fractions is lost on some kids as it relates to soccer. Dividing the field into thirds in attempt to keep boys spread out has been challenging and as of last night it seems everyone wants a piece of the ball.

Playing defense was challenging and the goalkeepers were left on too many 1 v 1 situations, at a disadvantage. Many times our defender would make an initial challenge, but not follow through and before they knew it, the ball was rolling toward the goal. Teaching boys how to be aggressive shouldn’t be difficult, right? Many boys like to play rough, but that concept seems to be lost when going against another player who has the ball. Many times players would misjudge the ball and overrun the play, taking themselves out of strong defensive position and end up chasing the opposing player to the net.

Regardless of those “must improve” areas, the boys had fun. It was great to see the smiles and high fives through out the team after their first goal. The season is still young and in my opinion, like baseball, as long as the boys can take away a positive experience and learn something this year on the pitch will be successful!

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Fantasy Premier League 2015-2016

eplThe 2015-2016 Barclay’s English Premier League is upon us! Time for “football” fans to rejoice as the chase for the cup begins. There have been some big moves in the EPL this year, not surprisingly coming from the top teams; Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal. Yet we can’t forget the middle of the pack teams who make up a bulk of the action, as well as the newly promoted clubs; newcomers, AFC Bournemouth, Norwich City and Watford!

This is 4th year I have participated in Fantasy Premier League. While I haven’t done well in the past, it’s been a real learning experience. Much like jumping into fantasy football that is played in the US, following the NFL, it takes times, lots of studying in order to “get it right” the first time. Now I won’t say I have a got anything right when it comes to spending my £100 on 15 players that will make up my squad, Go’Orns (which is short for Go Hornets, the nick for Watford).

I have spent more time this year than I have the previous 4 years learning, studying and tinkering with my squad. Every time I finish a new article I find myself shuffling players in and out. Unlike NFL fantasy football, where you a waiver wire, you only get a single transfer (not including your wild cards) per week playing the EPL.. So getting your team correct starting gameweek 1 is very important. My confidence is running very high, as it usually does before the start of any fantasy league.

Injuries and fatigue from summer play have impacted a few notable players on the eve of kickoff. This has seen players like Alexis Sanchez, Sergio Agüero and Diego Costa, all questionable, all of whom were top scorers last season. I don’t know how many times I have shuffled my lineup with all three them on the pitch at one time or another the last month. Yet, as we look towards Man. U v Spurs, I think I have finally secured my lineup for the start of the season.

Goalkeepers: Petr Cech, ARS / Wayne Hennessy, CRY
There were two schools of thought for the man between the sticks, go cheap and rotate keepers on lower teams based on their strength of schedule. Initially this is how I was set up, but after further thought and consideration I decided I wanted a goalkeeper I could start and forget. The man to fill that position, Petr Cech, Arsenal, newly acquired from rival Chelsea. After relegation to a back up roll at Chelsea last season, Arsenal might have the final piece of the puzzle to challenge for a league title. No doubt Cech will take that defense to the next level with the likes of  Per “BFG” Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny anchoring the defense. Cech alone is with a 5-10 wins during the year and will increase the number of of shutouts Arsenal records this year. At £5.5 he didn’t come cheap, but I feel the extra money is well spent. Backup goalkeeper is Wayne Hennessy of Crystal Palace, I don’t expect to use him, but at £4.0 he will see some starts as Julian Speroni is injured to start the year.

Defenders: Laurent Koscielny, ARS / Nathaniel Clyne LIV, Aaron Cresswell, WHU / Robert Huth, LEI / Matt Targett SOU

Defenders, much like goalkeepers can be had cheap and with a good rotation could benefit you based on their weekly match ups. It comes as no surprise that Chelsea has the top three defenders based on price (Ivanovic, Terry and Cahill). At one point I decided to anchor my defense with Ivanovic, but soon realized that would leave me a few million pounds short through the midfield and up front. For much of the month I had Caesar Azpilicueta slotted as my route into the Chelsea defense, a rock solid performer who will undoubtedly see improvement this year from last. Yet it was just a few days ago I opted for Laurent Koscielny to anchor my defense. The reason why, falls to the man between the sticks, Petr Cech. Koscielny can perform on both ends of the pitch. He is prone to yellow cards, but 3 goals and 11 shutouts last year could potentially increase by the end of the season. Nathaniel Clyne moved to Liverpool and will control the right side, with ability to get up and down the field, he scored twice last year and added two assists with 13 clean sheets. At £5.5 he isn’t cheap, but could be worth every pound spent on his return. Aaron Cresswell rounds out my starting three, he played every minute of every game last year and recorded 129 points. With some questions in the Hammers midfield, Cresswell could improve on his 4 assists last year. Robert Huth and Aaron Targett round out my 5 defenders and currently I don’t plan on playing either of them unless there is an emergency.

Midfielders: Eden Hazard, CHE / Santi Cazorla, ARS / Victor Wanyama, SOU / Raheem Sterling, MCI / Jordan Henderson LIV

As expected the bulk of my £100 went into the midfield position, spending £40.5! If I were to adjust my forwards and save £1.5 to £2.0 I could conceivably be starting 5 midfielders. The thought has crossed my mind numerous times, but only realistically started looking at that option last night. Not sure I want to tinker too much with the lineup at this point. No surprised to see Hazard leading the group, high scorer last year and I don’t see him slowing down this year. He is a “must have” on your fantasy team. In a surprise move I decided to add Raheem Sterling, after his move to City, playing with a group of talented midfielders, Sterling could shine in his first season. It’s money well spent and he comes in £1.0 less than David Silva (another midfielder I had slotted a few times). I fully expect to sell Sterling when Aguero is healthy to strengthen my forwards, which means I will trade down for a second tier midfielder such as Yannick Bolasie from Palace or Matt Richie, Bournemouth. For a few weeks it was Mesut Özil in my starting five, finally playing in the 10 spot for the Gunners, but after further consideration I swapped him out and added Santi Cazorla, who is favored from the spot and free kicks. Behind Sanchez, he was the second highest scoring Gunner last year. I could see him clipping 200 points this year with the addition of a few more assists and an increase in shutouts, thanks to Cech. Since Liverpool didn’t keep Steven Gerrard, the armband was passed to Jordan Henderson, 162 last year topped the team. With new boys Firmino, Milner and Ibe, I do see Henderson being a 90 minute player. The addition of Benteke and Ings up front with a healthy (whenever that it) Sturridge and Henderson could come into his own this season for L’pool.  Victor Wanyama was my budget buy coming in at £4.5, while playing near 2400 minutes last year with 3 goals and 1 assist. Hopefully Wanyama won’t get lost with Tadic and Mané prowling the midfield for Southampton.

Forwards: Wayne Rooney MUN / Christian Benteke LIV / Callum Wilson BOU

This group has undergone many changes and might see one more revision before I finalize my starters for the weekend. Rooney was actually my third choice for a starting forward. Initially Agüero was penciled in as my starter, but after fatigue from Copa America this summer and the possibility of missing gameweek 1 I pulled him for Diego Costa (CHE), who’s start is in question because of a hamstring. So, Rooney it is. Playing back up top with a good complement of midfielders, Rooney could flourish this season, coming off a disappointing campaign last year. I will plan on selling Rooney when Agüero returns (along with Sterling). At one point it was Danny Ings slotted to start, but after Benteke made the move to Anfield, Ings fell by the wayside. But it was Romelu Lukaku who was going to partner with Rooney, but a hamstring injury might slow him. Benteke is a monster, who, when on is really on, but when off, can be a complete disaster. He’s got the midfield to feed him up front, so I will take a chance with Benteke as my #2. Third forward has been flip flopping between Troy Deeney of Watford and Callum Wilson of Bournemouth, both play for the newly promoted teams and while I favor Deeney because I am a Watford fan, I penciled in Wilson. Why? Wilson is the point of the attack for Bournemouth, while Deeney has Ighalo and Vydra in the mix. Still 3 years with 20+ goal season is how to deny, yet it was the lower league, but for now, Wilson gets the now. Hopefully one of these two bargain players end up being the new Charlie Austin.

I plan on a 3-4-3 lineup to start the season and have no money in the back. With any luck I will be able to hold on to my wildcard until Agüero returns. I don’t plan on rotating any players right now, but the rotation will show up in the defense first. Hopefully I can improve on my finish last year, but confidence is running very high, although there are still many unanswered questions.

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New Beginnings

It’s with somewhat of a heavy heart that I sit typing this today, as I have lost 6 months of experiences and opinions on The 6th Floor. One would think after 16 years of web site development and posting and some 30+ plus years operating on a computer I would remember one thing. BACK UP! Yet when I started the ball rolling to change hosts from iPower, I took for granted the fact that I had not backed any files up. It shouldn’t have mattered, as all the files were stored on the host computers, so a backup on my end would be redundant. Or would it?

On July 21 I made the DNS change so my domain name would point to my new host at Siteground, it was an anticipated move as I would finally be free of iPower, moving to a better, more reliable hosing company. As I changed the DNS and hit ‘ENTER’ it would take 24-48 hours for the DNS to propagate. I didn’t think anything of it, as I waited.

Unfortunately, when I pulled up The 6th Floor, now pointing towards Siteground, I was agast at what I saw, a post from February! I immediately contacted iPower, who gave me the bad news that they would not be able to recover any of my files since the domain name had been parked. I was upset, more at myself for not taking the necessary steps to avoid this sort of problem.

While it’s only 6 months of material, there were some experiences that were well written and captured the moment. I lost a 50k race in April, my first 50 mile race in May. That probably hurts the most, as it truly my greatest personal accomplishment in 45 years! I lost many posts on nutrition and plant based eating, as well as information relating to Julie Marie at Protective Diet. More recently I had run Mt. Diablo (Eagle Peak) for the first time and posted about the craft beer journey co-worker, Johnny C. and I had begun.

Those stories are nothing more than a memory and honestly I can’t even remember what I posted, attempting to recreate them wouldn’t do the original story justice. So I will keep those experiences as nothing more than memories and move forward from this point. Hopefully there will be no further problems, as I am very happy with what Siteground offers. So apologies to those who might have missed T6F, it’s back and we will move forward.

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Let food be thy medicine…

hippocrates_quoteI don’t expect many to understand my rational for changing my eating habits and opting for a healthy lifestyle, even when many consider my decision “extreme.” Yet it never ceases to amaze at what comes out of individual mouths as it relates to how I and many others eat following “a diet rich in whole plant foods, free of all animal products, saturated fats, oils, nuts, sugar, artificial sweeteners and food additives,” as Julie Marie Christensen explains over at Protective Diet.

Many question and criticize how I eat, but don’t give a second thought as what they put in their mouths and how it will affect their health. This as they pop another pill, or inject themselves to control a plethora of diseases that ravage their body. Good health comes in the form of food, it won’t be found a magic pill or fad diet or labeled on a box. These are a collection of quotes from many individuals when questioned about the plant based lifestyle they follow.

“I could never give up my meat. I love it too much.”

“But avocados and olive oil are healthy fats.”

“So, you don’t care about plants? You know carrots scream when you pull them, right?”

Where do you get your protein?

“So…you’re in a cult?”

We all have to die. So, why not enjoy yourself first?

Well, what did you eat when you were a toddler?”

“So all you eat are fruits and salads”

Wow that’s a lot of food! You eat all that?

“I can’t believe you eat all those starches.”

“You need to eat protein.”

“You can’t do it with diet alone.”

“I could never give up cheese.”

What DO you eat?

You can’t lose weight without exercising.”

” Well what’s left, what can you eat?”

You do not even use olive oil? Olive oil is healthy.

I will literally die if I don’t eat meat!

Nuts are good for you, why no nuts?

“You’re setting yourself up for osteoporosis and infertility.”

Everything in moderation!

You’re food is nasty, I wouldn’t eat it!

“What is hippie dust?”

“Carbs are so bad for you.”

Animals are meant to be eaten.”

I would get fat eating all those carbs!

Fish is not an animal, it’s healthy.”

I can’t afford to eat like that.

The bible says we should consume meat.

I don’t have time for all of that cooking from scratch. It’s not realistic.

“Come on…live a little!”

I could never give up cheese or ice cream!

You need healthy fats!

You need fat to absorb vitamins.”

Healing is much longer and harder when you are vegan (not enough protein).”

Why can’t you eat normal?

Do you think maybe your diet caused the kidney stones?

You have to spend all day in the kitchen.”

“It is too expensive to buy the proper cooking tools.

“You can’t tell me that you don’t miss a good piece of meat.

Why don’t you eat dried fruit? It’s good for you.

When you get to your goal weight, will you eat meat again?”

You can add some nuts back in when you get to your goal. They are healthy. It won’t hurt you.

Where do you get your calcium? You need to drink milk don’t you.

That so extreme!

I can’t do that. Maybe if I had someone to do all the cooking for me.

Carbs are not your friend…

You’re not getting enough good fats and protein. No wonder you feel tired all the time.

Why do humans have the kind of teeth we have if we aren’t supposed to eat meat?

One time isn’t going to hurt you!”

“No, I’m actually a healthy weight for my height.”

Are you trying to live forever?

“Well what CAN you eat then?”

“Okay, what did you give up this time?”

Humans need the vitamins found in meat.

What about all those GMOs and pesticides in vegetables, at least meat is clean.

I can’t do PD because I’m type O positive.

Soybeans cause cancer and soy gave me my thyroid problem.

I can’t give up coffee because I have to go to work.”

“I only eat organic fish.”

“You shouldn’t eat wheat it causes belly fat.

“That’s not a complete protein!”

“Do you eat fish?”

“Seafood?”

God created animals for us to eat.

Coconut oil is good for you, it is antibacterial, helps you lose weight, cures Alzheimer’s, cures cancer, blah, blah, blah. You can’t eat wheat or corn, those domestic crops are foreign to our bodies. I only eat grass fed organic meat and butter (grass fed butter?).

It won’t hurt you just this once to eat this.

It’s filled with things you don’t like to eat; meat, cheese, mayo…”

“You got to live a little.”

“One bite won’t hurt .”

Is it a religious thing?

“Your husband is going to get man boobs if he keeps eating all that soy.”

“Your kids are gonna crave meat anyway…why not give it to them and stop shoving your beliefs down their throats?”

“It’s extreme when you cut something, like meat or dairy out of your diet.

We each make our own choices, but with obesity levels continuing to climb something must be be done. Could it go as far as government intervention? Possible. The USDA 2015 Dietary Guidelines are up in public domain for comment before finalization (thanks Lani Muelrath). “The federal committee responsible for nutrition guidelines is calling for the adoption of “plant-based” diets, taxes on dessert, trained obesity “interventionists” at worksites, and electronic monitoring of how long Americans sit in front of the television.” There is a demand to “reduce unhealthy options,” limit access to high calorie foods in public buildings, “limit the exposure” of advertisements for junk food, a soda tax, and taxing high sugar and salt items and dessert.” *source

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No Cookies

gsa_cookiesIt happens this time every year. The mini cookie peddlers, in their green vests seem to invade many retail establishments with heavy foot traffic pushing their boxes of sugary “crack.” While I respect the Girl Scouts organization I won’t be buying any cookies, in fact I haven’t bought any in the last 2 years and this year won’t be any different.

The attraction to these boxes is pretty amazing worldwide. Prior to changing my diet I would have purchased a few boxes to help support the Girl Scouts. Now that support has waned because there is nothing healthy about these little bites of love. That in itself is an entire writeup of just how bad these cookies are for you. Sadly, you won’t eat just one.

Another topic I won’t hit upon are the GMO that are included in Girl Scout cookies including the sugar, cottonseed and soybean oil, as well as the corn syrup and soy lecithin. All these are consider toxic and contain GMOs. Yet this is another topic for another time. Little Brownie Makers, a division of Keebler/Kelloggs must be held responsible.

Reading on their website, cookie sales helps girls learn, “goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics—aspects essential to leadership, success, and life.” I don’t experience the back end of this temporary business (goal setting, money management and decision making) but like millions of others, see the (lack of) people skills and business ethics.

This year I have seen them set up outside Lowe’s and Raley’s. Not once have I been greeted with hello or a reason why they sell the cookies. The first thing out of their mouth, “do you want to buy some Girl Scout cookies?” Obviously they are after one thing, my money. Not sure what is discussed when it comes to business ethics, but to taking up post regularly at retail establishments becomes frustrating to encounter. I have been approached multiple times in a single visit, going into a store and coming out. Not sure what the Girl Scouts have to say about that. In their defense I have seen tables and girls set up at the exit of some business only.

Fundraising is at the heart of many non-profit or not for profit organizations. I have been involved in fundraising with the local PTA as well as the Boy Scouts of America. Like the Girl Scouts fundraising is a necessary part of the organization in order to function. While I have been supportive of these fundraisers, I don’t support what some of them sell.

Our PTA has an apple fundraiser each year, by far one of the biggest ones opportunities with a good return on investment to help put coins in the coffer. While the apples are large and most likely juicy they are covered with sugary crap including M&Ms, carmel, Oreo, Snickers, nuts, white chocolate and chocolate, just to name a few. So basically this fundraiser, like that of the Girls are selling nothing more than sickness, disease and obesity. Just what Americans need in a county that sees a third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of our population obese and overweight.

To date the only fundraiser I have been involved with in scouting as been the selling of wreathes during Christmas time. Another great fundraiser, at least it was for our pack this year, but having nothing to compare it with I can only go off what leadership quotes based on last year. Of course during scout sponsored events, such as Pinewoord Derby, dens were asked to bring sugared goodies that would be sold during the event to raise money for the pack. So in retrospect this sort of fundraising is no better than other organizations.

Yet the Girl Scout cookies dwarfs both the PTA and local scouting events. Based on an NBC News report, “revenue from the sales of Girl Scout cookies has been around $700 million since 1999, based on sales of 200 million boxes at $3.50 per box.”

“Donna Ceravolo, CEO of Girl Scouts of Nassau County, New York, says a majority of the sales price of each box stays in the community. For each box sold, 85 cents per box goes to the baker to cover production, packaging, shipping of the cookies to the troop, and other incidental costs. Out of the remaining $2.65, 50 to 57 cents goes to the selling troop, which will use the funds to cover the cost of programming, community service projects and scholarships, and to offset the cost of participating in Girl Scouts.” *

While I don’t want to sound like a Grinch each time cookies selling season rolls around, I am more akin to lending support by giving a $20 donation as opposed to buying cookies. Selling seems to be so cutthroat to, with moms taking to social media, such as Facebook offering free delivery around the clock. So what are the girls doing if moms are the one peddling their cookies? Don’t see that as a good business ethic. So when school returns on Tuesday I will find my favorite kindergarten teacher and offer her $20 for her girls that are involved.

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