One Key to Succeed as a Coach – Finding Your Why

The high school soccer season for Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School began in mid-February 2017. 11 losses and six torn ACLs later, it was a Friday in late April and the week of our first round playoff game against Carroll High School. The year previous the team had made it to the playoffs for the first time in three years. With the majority of our starters returning, I had high hopes for the season. When the season didn’t go as expected, especially in the win-loss column, I began to become frustrated with God. Why did God allow so many injuries? Why did God allow so many losses? I knew He was trying to teach me a lesson, teach us a lesson, but I kept thinking, “Wouldn’t just one win against a formidable opponent be ok?”

It had been an odd spring off of the field as well. My grandmother with whom I was very close passed away. I was turned down after applying for an administrative position at our elementary school that I thought I was sure to receive. I came down with the flu one week before the season began. All of these things led me to ask, “Lord, why do you want me to be at Montgomery Catholic? Why do you want me to coach? What do You want from me?

I spent a little bit of extra time in prayer in the days leading up to our match against Carroll. I reread a fiction book called Lead for God’s Sake by Todd Gongwer about a high school basketball coach who, after losing more games than he thought his team would in a season, asked the same questions I was asking, but eventually found his “Why?” Finally, the morning of our playoff game, I read this passage from Saint Matthew’s Gospel, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” It finally clicked. Like a student finally figuring out a math equation after many attempts-AHA!-I not only knew but experienced and felt the reason God wants me to coach: to help the student-athletes I coach get to heaven. Was I doing that before? Maybe, but I can honestly say that I focused more on more immediate goals such as winning than I did the ultimate end goal.

I remained in the chapel for a little while to plan a speech to give to the team that day about this new purpose. I was feeling great! Then, right when I walked out of the chapel, I looked to my right to see Ale Vazquez and Riley Aaron running down the hall towards me. Ale and Riley signed to play soccer at Ave Maria University, my alma mater, several days before. A little out of breath, one of them said, “Coach, Ave Maria is looking for a new soccer coach. You should apply!”

The team ended the season 8-12-1 and was the only losing team to be ranked in the state. We advanced in penalty kicks against Carroll and ended up losing to the eventual state runner-up, Faith Academy, 2-1, after a hard-fought match. When we walked off the field after that match, I was so proud of the girls because they had responded to this new found purpose-to play for God, to help one another get to heaven-perfectly. And, though the discernment was a bit rocky-selling our house, leaving a prestigious grad school program, etc.-my wife, Dene’, and I made the decision to move down to Ave Maria, Florida for this new adventure! It was quite the move with our three-year old James, and one-year old Johnny, in toe!  


From left to right: Riley Aaron, Coach Rosser, and Ale Vazquez at signing day!

As the months have gone by, I know the Lord had a plan all along. He was preparing my family and me for this amazing mission we have here in southwest Florida. It hasn’t been easy, but I can honestly say that my purpose for coaching is to work with the team to build a culture that helps each team member be on the path to heaven. We believe our vision, mission, and virtues, put us in a great position to be successful on the field, to build long-lasting virtuous friendships with one another, and to set the world on fire for Christ now and when the student-athletes graduate. If we do those three things, we will be on the path to heaven!

If you are interested in learning more about Ave Maria Women’s Soccer, please visit our website. You can look specifically at our blog, and our team culture page. We look for young ladies who are simply open to our culture and live it with a smile on their face, who can succeed academically at Ave Maria, and who will impact us positively on the field. If you are interested, come and see!


Coach Tyler Rosser is the Head Women’s Soccer Coach at Ave Maria University. He also worked as a Varsity Catholic missionary before returning to the coaching profession.

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