Building Relationships On and Off the field
Opposing coaches sometimes ask women's soccer head coach Sarah Strickland how she
makes it so players on the sideline aren't bitter about not playing in the game.
Strickland has a simple answer: one person’s success is not your failure if they’re your
teammate. She stresses this throughout the season and it is one of the reasons App State’s
sideline is so good.
“If someone else is succeeding and stepping forward, then you having to step back does not
you failed,” Strickland said. “It means our team is moving forward no matter what and we keep
that team concept in all of our decision making.”
Alexa Asher, junior defender, said that the energy at games is amazing on and off the field.
“I think that the energy that we bring when we’re on the field and when we’re off the field, it’s just amazing,” Asher said. “Just coming to the games, seeing the excitement of people that play or may not play, our coaches -- it’s just an unbelievable feeling.”
Starting to build relationships around the team starts with the freshmen according to Strickland.
She believes that building up the freshman and making them feel that they belong right off the
bat is very important.
“We always say ‘invest in the freshmen’ before you ever ask anything from them,” Strickland
said. “You have to invest in them and make them believe that you believe in them and they feel
Strickland said that by doing that, she really sees their confidence grow and really start to
believe that they belong on the team.
For Easley, she has met people in the spring on the team and now consider them to be one of
her closest friends.
“I meet people on my team I feel like I didn't know at all and now they are one of my best
friends,” Easley said. “It’s such a good feeling and we are all so close.”
A study from Perceptual and Motor Skill science journal found a positive correlation between
social cohesion as a team and team performance during games. Having great chemistry as a team but being in a good community environment also helps. One of the things that helps build relationships among the soccer players is how the community of App State.
“App is just such a great community,” Jessica Easley, a redshirt sophomore center back, said.
“We have friends from our dorm who still come to our games because they lived down the hall
from us and they just wanted to come and support us. They are the biggest fans we’ve ever
had, I mean our parents can’t out scream them.”
The team as a whole works hard to create great chemistry and that’s one of Strickland’s main
“Every personality impacts the group differently from those that leave and those that come,”
Strickland said. “We work hard to at really building chemistry and that's something we spend a lot of time on, its something that we ask them for a lot of feedback about.”