The Tillsonburg Hydro Inc. U15 Titans are moving on up.
And just as importantly, they’re doing it the ‘right’ way.
“They really have good attitudes and have worked hard,” credited coach John Twinem. “There has been that drive on their part.”
Coach Twinem was concerned the U15 Titan players, rather than he, get their deserved credit for a promotion from the London District Youth Soccer League’s L5 to L3 division.
“You can say what you want and coach what you want – but if the kids don’t put themselves into it, they won’t progress.”
And progress has certainly been made, said Twinem, with the players committing the time and work ethic required to improve in both skills and tactical understanding of the game.
“All around there has been good progress.”
Credit goes ultimately to the players. But it is only fair to mention Twinem’s soccer pedigree as background.
Typically a midfielder, Twinem played along with Steve and Mike Vanwynsberghe, Brian VanQuaethem, Anthony Simon, ‘the Schroder boys’, Greg Efstatheu ‘and others’ as part of Ches Sulkowski’s high school soccer dynasty of the late 1970s and early 80s.
“It was a good group of players – we did pretty well.”
Twinem went on to play with the Delhi Royals before life (family and entry into the seminary) got in the way.
The Twinem kids (James, Laura and Joel, all three of whom earned soccer scholarships south of the border) picked up his soccer torch, and John made the transition to coaching with them.
“We’ve had some practice working with the kids and enjoyed it.”
Trying to watch them in action with their various teams led to a ‘break’ from coaching the St. Thomas premiere men’s squad, which Joel was a member of.
John’s return to active sideline duty came in the fall of 2011 when he was approached by parents off the then Tillsonburg U13 Titans, in search of a coach. Twinem agreed, and began off-season workouts in October, 2011.
Off-season effort translated into on-field performance, and save for a few ‘unfortunate breaks,’ says Twinem, the squad could have been promoted at the conclusion of its 2012 season.
“They went from the bottom of the league to the top.”
Off-season training continued through last winter, and this year’s kickoff saw a whole new attitude, along with a whole new level of play.
“They came into this season drastically improved,” credited the coach.
‘Drastically improved’ translated into a campaign in which the U15 Titans won 15 of 17 regular season games, tying one and losing one for 46 of 50 available points, while outscoring their opposition by a margin of 90-13. In winning the regular season title, Tillsonburg also earned promotion from the L5 division up to L3, where it will compete as an U16 entry in 2014.
“They really have good attitudes and have worked hard – there has been that drive on their part,” credited Twinem, who believes lessons learned on a soccer pitch translate well into ‘real life.’
“They are understanding benefit comes out of effort put in. Those principles are always going to stand you in good stead.”
Philosophically, he is happier with playing well and losing, than poorly and winning, an outlook which makes the players’ shared accomplishment more satisfying, and in effect, a self-propagating path to further enhancement.
“The guys have worked hard, it has been neat to see the results, and as they’ve improved, their hunger to play has grown.”
Twinem’s goal has always been promotion, which has become more pertinent as the players progressed.
“We needed to step up a level in order that week in, week out, we were challenged with higher competition.”
The LDYSL L3 loop will provide ‘bigger, faster’ opponents says the coach, whose belief the U16 Titans will be able to compete has been borne out by exhibition play at that level.
“If they work together as a team and play with focus, they will do well.”