Change is good

Wisconsin women's soccer head coach Paula Wilkins will keep a consistent blog throughout the  spring season to track the team's progress and other tidbits. Check back to UWBadgers.com for regular updates.

I have a little time between meetings and phone calls to give everyone an update on the workings of Wisconsin women's soccer. We returned from Dekalb, Ill., very late last night after playing NIU. First of all, thanks to all the parents and fans that made it out to the game despite the wind, drop in temperature, and little bit of rain. It seems like the weather is fantastic every day other than the day we are playing.

I was more pleased with our performance last night than I was with our performance in Milwaukee. After the weekend in Milwaukee, I felt the players needed to make a change with how we were playing and do a better job of controlling the things we can control in a soccer match. I have always felt 'earning the right to play' is the foundation of any good program, and I think we have been lacking some of that in our spring training and games.

I thought of the best way to get my point across about our performance over the weekend was to watch some video (as my coach in college would say... the video never lies). We discussed that in the game of soccer you touch the ball so few times in the 90-minute game, that your movement off the ball is so much more important than most players realize. The team responded to my demands and critiques, and I was pleased with their changes especially in their willingness to get forward, better movement off the ball, and better communication. We are by no means where I want us to be, but I was happy to see the players take control and make a change rather than doing the same thing over and over again.

It's incredible to think that our spring ends next week (even though our last game is on Saturday, the team will have end of the year fitness testing to do!). I know the players are very excited for the end of the year testing, not! I believe it's important to fitness test throughout the spring, as this is truly the beginning of our 2010 season. The foundation is being built right now, and the fitness tests help to keep the players accountable.   

My run to Middletown has really hit a snag with my foot has sidelining me.  I have been biking, but I have gotten frustrated with all the non-athletic people passing me on the bike paths in Madison. I have completely blamed my inability to bike fast on a few reasons, my bike's brakes are rubbing causing extra resistance (which is good for my fitness but not good for speed), my butt is so sore from my bike seat, I am riding a mountain bike, or I am enjoying the view of the lake too much. However, as I tell my players ...I have to get off my story and just ride faster. I did take my bike in for a tune-up, and I was outraged on how much it cost to have someone look at my bike...$70.  Incredible! I might as well just drive my car for that price. I did pay it though, and I will be back on the bike path racing against people who don't know I am racing against them very soon!

Bon Appetit was a fun adventure for me last Friday. It is a very small place with a nice, relaxed atmosphere. I enjoyed my time there with my friends, but I don't think I will be running back there for the food. My friends completely enjoyed their meals, but my pork chop was a little dry (as pork chops can be). I am not raving about Bon Appetit, but if you are looking for a very relaxing quaint place to eat on the east side I would suggest trying this little restaurant.  

This week I am heading to The Coopers Tavern which is on the square in Madison. It is a new Irish Pub that I have heard great things about. I will let you know how it goes for sure! I am heading there after I have dinner with the team...they are cooking Thai and Japanese food. It should be very interesting, and I am concerned about food poisoning.  

Good luck to everyone running Crazylegs this weekend.  I wish I could do it, but I am pretty sure my foot would not allow me to run. However, I am happy we have a game (Wisconsin travels to Northwestern on Saturday), and I won't have to run in the rain and cold, yuck! I do want to give a quick shout out to my former teammates heading back to Amherst this weekend for the biggest soccer reunion since I left UMass. I truly wish I could be there, but I don't think the powers to be would be happy with me missing one of our spring matches to recall old college memories. I hope everyone going back to UMass has a great time, and I wish I was there to recall all the crazy things we did. If my players have half the great memories I had in college, they have had a great time. It was truly one of the best times in my life.  I hope everyone enjoys Rafters, popovers, and Pub Fries!

One more shout out, to all of my former players gearing up for the WPS season. Good luck with all of your teams. It has been exciting to see them all play on TV and get the opportunity to live every little girls soccer dream, play professional soccer. I am so proud of all of you, and I am looking forward to seeing several games this summer! Go support the WPS, it's your future.  So go get them Christie, Erin, Tiff, Katie, Alyssa, Joanna, and Allie! Remember they can't score from their knees!

Have a great weekend everyone, and mom... get to the gym!!!
ON WISCONSIN