As the sports editor for The University News, one of my weekly jobs is to write headlines for the stories in the sports section. Writing headlines for sports stories is something that most headline writers relish, mostly for the bad puns. You know the headlines I’m talking about: like when an athlete named “Nick” makes a clutch play at the end of the game, and the next morning the bold letters in the newspaper say, “Just in the ‘Nick’ of time.”
Personally, this isn’t my favorite part of the job, because frankly I’m not very good at it. That’s why you’ve probably noticed a lot of boring headlines like, “Men’s Soccer wins again,” and “Two losses for women’s soccer.” But one thing I’ve noticed being an uncreative headline writer is that, at least for the fall sports, the headlines seem the same every week.
In team sports, teams usually take on an identity, and successful teams definitely take on an identity. Successful teams know who they are and have a system that works. If you notice, most successful teams succeed in the same way almost every time they play. Watching a New England Patriots, Alabama football, San Antonio Spurs or Los Angeles Dodgers game is almost always the same, because the teams know who they are and why they’re successful.
Relating this back to UD, there is one team on campus that has a system and identity that they execute, and that’s the men’s soccer team. I’m not an expert on the x’s and o’s of soccer, but the team always comes out with an aggressive style, typically outshooting their opponent by a wide margin in the first half, and typically strikes first in their games. They play from ahead most of the time, and shut their opponent down defensively.
Men’s soccer, as I’ve noted before in this column, is one of the few teams on campus with stability at head coach. David Hoffman is in his 15th season as the head coach of the soccer team, the longest tenured coach at UD. As I mentioned in one of my earlier columns, most of the other sports have been a revolving door.
It’s easier to have a winning system in professional sports than college sports because in college, players are only there for four years. In college, systems come from coaches, and at UD most of the programs haven’t had a chance to establish themselves or their identities because they have a new coach every two years.
Success is repetitive, and success is boring. In life and in sports, true success requires a team to find what they do well, and then to do it over and over again. Of course, successful systems evolve and are tweaked, but their essence remains the same. For UD to have more teams successful like the soccer team, the programs need to find their footing, find what they do best, and stick with it.