We were honored to have the opportunity to feature Lindsay Basalyga and learn a little bit more about her during this process. We are so excited to share who she is as a coach and where she started on her path. Lindsay has had an incredible impact on the game over her years of involvement. She is an inspiration and an outstanding role model for the younger generation interested in coaching one day, especially girls and younger women.
Here is what Lindsay had to say about her path to where she is today!
When did you begin playing soccer? I started playing organized soccer in 3rd grade at the recreational level. I didn’t tryout for a club team until I was heading into 5th grade.
Can you talk a little bit about your youth and collegiate playing careers? I was a soccer junkie growing up. I spent my summers going to camps my dad ran for local communities, I trained with my dad’s high school team when I was in 7th and 8th grade and spent hours a week training on my own in my backyard. Soccer was literally my escape from the insecurities and self-doubts I felt as a young person. I was born with a cleft palate, which means I have a hole in the hard palate in the roof of my mouth, so my speech was very nasally. I was picked on a lot in elementary school and was terrified to speak in class. I think my need and desire to be “accepted” drove my work rate in the game paired with the mindset that there was always someone out there working harder than me. The better I was as a “soccer player” the less I’d be judged by how I sounded. I tried out for ODP in 7th grade and made the regional team. That was the first time I thought I might be a decent player. I still can’t believe I was good enough to play in the ACC at Maryland for 4 years, an environment where I completely felt outside of my comfort zone for the first 2 years. I went through 3 different coaching changes which was really tough as I never felt like “someone’s recruit”, but it also drove my work ethic as I felt like every session was the deciding factor between finding minutes in a game or not playing at all. My college experience helped me become the person I am today. I’m so grateful that I was exposed to so many different people, athletes, cultures, and values from around the world as College Park is a few miles outside of DC.
In what ways did you further your knowledge of the game while playing as well as once you began your path to coaching? I had no idea what I wanted to do with myself beyond playing soccer. I had a difficult time picking a major and eventually landed in Art Studio, which kept me eligible and on a path to graduate. I saw teammates ahead of me who went on to be graduate assistants at college programs and thought the route could buy me some time to figure out what I wanted to do while also getting a master’s degree. Week one of preseason at the University of Toledo, I knew I wanted to be a coach. I’m really jealous of all the resources and mentorship younger coaches have today. I learned in the environment I was in, but I really didn’t get on a path of licensing and education until I was a head coach at EKU.
Who were your biggest role models growing up? My biggest role models growing up were probably the USWNT members I saw in front of me at regional and national ODP events. Seeing these players, who were on posters in my room, in front of us… coaching us, inspired me.
Did you have a specific coach or groups of coaches who inspired you as a player and as a future coach? My dad was a high school coach in three different sports, so I always knew being a “coach” was a thing you could grow up to be, but he was also a teacher until he took over at NKU for the men’s program.
Was there one singular time or event that made you fall in love with the game or did it just flourish over time? I played different sports growing up, basketball and softball for a few seasons in high school. I’ve honestly been someone who sees and lives life on MY terms. Although it pained me in high school, trying to fit into the “cool crowd”, I’ve been someone who wants to push the envelope, ask questions, and go against the grain. I think the game of soccer provided me creative freedom, even though I didn’t know it at the time. I played what “I saw” and felt, not what other people were telling me to see which is why I excelled in the game.
When did you decide you wanted to become a coach and how long have you been coaching? I became a coach straight out of college because a degree in art really wasn’t going to get me far when I was a subpar artist :-). I’ve been coaching since 2001. I’ve coached youth teams, college teams, and now the business I run specifically works with high school programs. Every single level and environment is different which has definitely evolved my ability to adapt and grow as a coach.
What impact do you hope to have on the game? I’ve learned so much in the last 3 years, being out of the college game, about the coach and person I want to be, which doesn’t look the same as it did in 2005 when I became a head collegiate coach. The real impact I want to have on the game is to teach and coach with an awareness and empathy for everyone in the game (coaches, parents, players, officials) and meet people where they’re at, not where I think they should be.
What message do you have for young people, especially women, who want to start coaching? Find a mentor or a group of coaches with experiences you can learn from, lean on, and feel comfortable being vulnerable. Coaching can be a lonely profession at times and a strong support system is invaluable. Utilize all the resources available! Podcasts, YouTube, social media, coaching education, everything! An eagerness to learn and self-awareness that you don’t know everything YET is great value to possess as a young coach. Females specifically: Continue to be brave and realize YOUR value regardless of how coaches may perceive your value. Also, never compromise your moral code/values to “fit in”. Finally, the value we bring to this game has nothing to do with the level we are coaching at and everything to do with LOVING exactly WHERE you’re at….
If you could go back in time and share some advice with your younger self, what would you say? Advice to my younger self: The way to navigate this career is by building real, authentic relationships. There’s a lot of ego in this sport and not everyone truly has your best interest at heart. The relationships you build with the people you’d want in your life, regardless of title, experience, or background… those are the people to keep the closest.
What has your coaching path looked like from the beginning to now? If I would have been told I’d be working with high school teams in and around my hometown back in 2002, I would have laughed. I thought in 2020 I’d be coaching in a Power5 conference. My coaching path has been a journey of highs and lows, tons of education and learning, saying YES to every opportunity that’s been put in front of me, and realizing how to truly use the game to serve others. Which is why I LOVE where I’m at with Competitive Edge.
I’m also glad that I spent 2 years working in the youth game after I moved on from the college game. Having to adapt and simplify my coaching style and verbiage to get U-11 players to see and understand the game, HANDS DOWN took my personally coaching to the next level. I also had an opportunity to better understand parents and their role in the developmental process. Even though I don’t have children, I can empathize with parents and the pressure’s they might feel to provide their child with the best opportunities. EDUCATION, COMMUNICATION, and CONSISTENCY is so important when connecting buy-in with parents and also adding VALUE to their hard-earned money.
What is the Competitive Edge Mission (From the Competitive Edge Website):
We believe that a strong and healthy culture leads to positive results during the course of a season. Individual and collective team behaviors, values, standards, and expectations are the foundation of any healthy culture.
Our mission is to use our collective experiences and skill sets to assist coaches in the establishment and reinforcement of their unique culture while providing athletes tools to succeed in the various challenges facing today's student-athletes.
Every program and each individual are different. We work with coaches and programs to help grow and influence their culture while meeting each group in their unique environment.
How did Competitive Edge come about? I wanted to serve high school programs and coaches with the knowledge and resources to influence their team culture and create competitive, healthy environments. I knew I had skill sets and experiences that could serve a population that is often overlooked in our soccer culture, the high school game. We started in 2017 with 9 programs and we’ll be heading into 2020 with over 30 different programs that we’re working with. I’m a firm believer that there are young people who NEED the game, more than the game may NEED them and just because their skill sets may not be taking them to a career after high school, they hold VALUE. High School soccer programs have a wide variety of individual skill sets, passion, and abilities and we work to blend these factors together so each program can have a healthy and successful season.
Learn more about Competitive Edge at https://www.trainyourculture.com/