BY DANIEL WINDHOLZ
“We realize that we have talents from God, and the only way to give them back is to play our one-hundred percent best.” This statement sums up the mission which coach Claire McBane has in mind for her women’s soccer team this season.
As a new coach, McBane is fresh off the team with years of soccer experience. Although nervous, she and her experienced team come ready with their faith leading their ambition wherever it goes. So far it has led them to a 5-3 start to their season and a lot of hope going into conference play.
McBane said that this year’s team has the ability to score multiple times in a game. Last year, with McBane as an assistant coach, the Lady Barons could control the ball for long stretches of time but couldn’t seem to score.
“There are two big differences between last year’s team and this year’s,” McBane said. “The first is that we kept the same girls who all have at least one or two years of experience. And the second difference is our finishing; we only had one striker but now we have five.”
The strikers are not the only new addition to McBane’s team. Transfer student Hannah Cook, who has played soccer since the age of four, came from a D-II school but loves the companionship and faith aspect at Franciscan.
“The girls here are all really talented and are my friends,” Cook said. “I also love daily adoration and Mass.”
Cook has six goals recorded for the Lady Barons, which puts her 36th in Division III. She also just recently received the honor of “Player of the Week” from the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference.
McBane’s faith was the biggest factor that drew her to the campus where she would attend and work. She was promoted to assistant coach in her final semester as a student and was offered the position of head coach over the past summer.
As a head coach, McBane has defined her team’s mission on giving talents back to God and has adopted coaching techniques which back it up.
“All of the teams are partnered with a program called SportsLeader. It encourages coaches to talk about a virtue each week, and how that virtue relates to athletics and life on and off the field, as well as how to use sports to better that virtue within ourselves,” McBane said.
McBane has many motivational techniques but the most important is prayer.
“One of the most effective ways to motivate my team is with our cheer,” McBane said. “We chant ‘Who do we play for?’ three times; twice we answer ‘Jesus!’; and the last time we answer, ‘Barons!'”
When the team goes on sprints, each girl calls out the intention for which she is running. These intentions are repeated when the team prays together, before and after every game and practice.
“On our training shirts, we have a quote on the back which says, ‘We play for an audience of one,” McBane said. “It’s to remind us that we’re not playing to please the audience, or ourselves. We are serving in a vocation that the Lord has called us to at this time.”
However many coaching techniques she has, McBane is still nervous about the unseen waters that coaching still has yet to challenge her with.
“The unknown is always a little nerve-wracking, and as my first year of head coaching, there is a lot of unknown.” McBane said.