21 DAYS OF RADNOR: Q&A WITH KIRK JOHNSON
A conversation with Kirk Johnson, RSC’s Director of Coaching, Boys Travel:
Q: You have had a very successful career as a player and coach of club, high school and college programs. Why did you select RSC as the place you wanted to settle?
A: The community and club have always placed a balanced emphasis on player development. It is the whole child that matters, rather than wins and losses. That is my philosophy, too, and is the best way in my view to approach youth sports.
Q: Why now?
A: When I stopped coaching for FC DELCO, now FC Continental, and began pursuing my doctoral degree at Immaculata University, I always knew that it was a hiatus rather than a permanent decision. I worked with Alan Mezger for over a decade and, although we were no longer coaching together, we continued our friendship. It was an easy decision when he asked me to be a part of his vision for rebuilding his childhood club.
Q: What have you seen so far that you have liked?
A: Alan has assembled a great group of coaches. Some of the new Radnor coaches are former players of mine; seeing them give back to the game gives me a sense of pride. I know they will create an environment in which players can learn to love the game for life.
Q: What have you seen that you would like to work on?
A: One area that could be improved is the timeliness in which the players approach practice sessions. It is our hope that players arrive to the field for practice, not on time but early. To encourage this practice, we may set a standard amount of time dedicated to free play in every session. Allowing players a chance to play small-sided games fosters a sense of excitement and growth where players can practice moves, difficult passes, and challenging shots in a low-risk, fun setting.
Q: What are your hopes for this year?
A: I hope to learn more about the ways in which I can support the community and develop the sport of soccer in Radnor Township. As always, I hope to grow as a coach too!
Q: What are your expectations of the players and the families?
A: My expectations for the players and families are simple. I want to ask for clear communication and consistent effort.
Q: Why have you chosen to coach the youngest age group?
A: I requested the youngest age group for two reasons. First, it is gratifying to watch the young players grow over time. This group will be a true measure of our impact. Second, I am hoping to provide these young players with the foundational tools to be successful as they mature as athletes and contributing members of society.
Q: What do you expect of the coaches you are overseeing?
A: I expect the coaches to inspire the players to be creative and have fun while learning the fundamentals of the sport.
Q: Which is more important in your mind, practices or games?
A: I think practice is the most important aspect to the season. Games should be a time for the players to show off what they have learned in practice. Especially in the younger age groups, the emphasis needs to be on growth rather than results. The goal is to make the athletes mirror the same intensity at practices as at games.