New Episodes Released Every Tuesday!
Aug. 2, 2022

Putting Players in the Best Position for Success w/Michael Wiggins

Putting Players in the Best Position for Success w/Michael Wiggins

#50. This episode features Michael Wiggins, Head Boy's Soccer Coach at Hinsdale Central High School in Illinois. Coach Wiggins has been a head coach for over 28 years, and during that time, he has tallied 385 wins. He has also coach for (4) All-Americans, earned Coach of the Year honors multiple times, and won a state title in 2014. In this episode, we discuss:

  • Coach longevity
  • His soccer central program
  • How he develops better people, not just better soccer players
  • The importance of a coach's family 

Review The "I" in Win on Apple Podcast or my website to let me know what you think of the show.  Follow me on Twitter (@LukeMertens)

Transcript

Michael:

We both approach, coaching the players that we work with every day, um, with the same idea. And that is how can we best support you? How can we put you in the best position to succeed? if you ever need anything, how can we help you so that you can be better?

Luke:

Thanks for listening to another episode of the podcast. I'm your host, Luke Mertens. And today I welcoming Michael Wiggins head boy's soccer coach at Hinsdale central high school in Illinois. Coach Wiggins has been a head coach for over 28 years. And during that time he has tallied 385 wins. Here's also coach for all Americans, earned coach of the year honors multiple times and won a state title in 2014. In this episode, we discuss longevity. In a career that does not necessarily promote longevity. His soccer central program. How we develop better people, not just better soccer players. And the importance. Of family. To help a coach through those tough and dark moments. Hope you enjoy this episode with coach Michael Wiggins. Coach Wiggins. Thanks for coming out in the show. And 28 years as a head coach, it's a long time. So what's your secret to longevity in a profession that is seeing a rise in burnout in young coaches, exiting at younger and younger ages.

Michael:

so Luke, thanks for having me on, and I've enjoyed, uh, I've enjoyed talking with you and, and learning about what you've put together here. I think it's, uh, I think what you're doing is, is terrific. So, thanks for having. And so I've known for a long time. and when I say a long time, I'm, I'm gonna probably go back to elementary school days, that I wanted to get into coaching that I wanted to be a teacher. it's really all I've ever wanted to do. And so. All the years through high school, all the, you know, going into college, knowing that I wanted to go, on a teaching track and a coaching track, um, I've had that in mind. And so really it's just been looking forward and, knowing that that's exactly what I wanted to do. So really every, decision that I made along the way was. With the idea of paying attention, paying close attention to, the people that impacted me that that were my teachers were my coaches. And, and that has been, not only helpful for me looking forward, but it's also been really good in, in reflection.

Luke:

I'm sure you've had moments where, I mean, it's no different than any other profession where you're like, I'm not sure. I could continue this at the level I need to, because it's a, it takes a lot to be a coach and a teacher. You come home. If you do it the right way, you're pretty spent. What kind of drives you? Is it those impactful teachers that you said that you have been washing throughout, you know, your youth? I mean, what is it that you somehow must up that energy in those dark moments?

Michael:

Sure. So, um, that's an easy one. So, I was fortunate enough to play collegiately, um, and play soccer for Illinois state. and. I had met, a gymnast named Bonnie Higgins, who had a very successful high school career. And there's no way you couldn't know it. Cuz back when we were in high school, it was all newspaper prints. So to see the high school sports page and see Bonnie Higgins and her gymnastic success in high school, when she got into college, you know, when our, you know, teammates went to. Gymnastics meet, you know, who, you know, some of the Chicagoland area gymnasts were. And so I met Bonnie Higgins and eventually Bonnie Higgins became Bonnie Wiggins. And so Higgins, Wiggins wedding is what we had in 92. Um, and, and together, we've had three, three of the greatest kids and, uh, that has been really what has been the support that I, I don't know how, I don't know how you couldn't do it without. Just a, an incredible, family support. My wife is just amazing and, very straightforward and honest and that's, what's so great. She was a, an elite gymnast when she was younger. She was a former state champ on the vault. She had, uh, great success in all around in her four years of high school. And then, then went into the collegiate, uh, years. And that's where we met. And so, with 30 years of marriage, this past June, it's easy to look back and say, could, could not continue to do this without not only her support, but three great kids who, grew up, being a part of the ups and downs along the way, but that's really what makes it happen. That, that that's truly what, it doesn't matter what happens, weekend and week out, you know, when you go home, that your family's number one and that's that. You know, the single greatest thing about having, not only is a, a career that has, that has been very fulfilling for me, but, but to be able to share it, you know, with, with three great kids and, supportive wife. So.

Luke:

Well, that's a great story. Thanks for sharing that. And congratulations on the recent 30 years of marriage, and there is no doubt. I know when I interview young coaches like to join my staff, I do have that conversation with them. Are, are you sure your girlfriend is aware of what this is going to take? Are you sure your fiance who's about to mirror? You understand? What this is about to take, because although we like to throw around the word balance, there is not a true work life balance as a head coach at the high school level. So you have to have a spouse that appreciates and supports that. And that's awesome that, that you do have that. And you have your family that supports it. And I know I share in that too. My, my kids are probably my biggest fans and want me to coach. So I'll apologize to them about missing some of their events. My daughter is a soccer player by the

Michael:

there you.

Luke:

And my son is a football hockey player, and they're like, it's okay, dad, we get it. Like, we love that. You're a coach. So yeah, that support system makes it so much easier for me to sometimes miss things that maybe I don't want to.

Michael:

Yeah, and I, and I have to tell you too. And I, and if, if the listeners are, you know, either, considering getting into coaching and teaching or currently in, in that, at that point in their career, or have got several years, You know, there is a, there is a, an intense, feeling that you have when you're in your younger years to prove yourself, you're driven to, to, you want people to know that you do a good job. You want, uh, your players to, hear what you're or hear what you're saying. You, you, you want to be successful. And it's a lot. And so, you know, I, I would just say that that balance can be achieved. And, and fortunately, you know, I feel like with, you know, over the years, it was never, so over the top that we lost sight of what was important because it's, it's always been about our family and making sure that we don't forget, you know, that we are all there for each other, no matter what. and so I, think The message is for all younger teachers and coaches just, just, don't forget that, you know, when, when the day is done, you know, it's important that you, you know, keep it in perspective and, and really, and I'll get into more about, you know, a little bit about what we've talked about with creating that, culture within our program that hopefully. gives perspective to, you know, the student athletes that we work with every day. So, yeah, I, it, it's, it's important for sure, but again, very fortunate that we've got families that understand that.

Luke:

Yeah, and this is not a podcast about wins and losses, but I have to ask you you've you've had a lot of wins. Think you're at 3 85 and you're 28 years. You're coming up on 400 win. What's a victory that just really stands out to you and why? I like, I, I just like when people tell their stories of great wins,

Michael:

that's, that's such, and that's such a great question for any coach, really. I mean, there's so many that I can, that I can then come back to. I mean, obviously winning the state championship in 2014 was, certainly a highlight. that whole playoff run was remarkable. There was a game, in the 2014 playoffs we had. We were in the sectional final. It was at lion's township. we had advanced after. Uh, let's see, we had, we advanced the sectional final. We had Morton. Now we had played Morton earlier in the year and lost three zero. And it wasn't the game wasn't close. So we had a team that was, really special. From the first, uh, I mean, really, from the first day of that season and, and moving through, it was really remarkable just to see that team come together. But when we got to that sectional final and we had Morton, there was never a doubt that when we went into our pregame meeting and talked about what it was gonna take in order to get that result, it really stood out to me how we had a classroom of guys that. Heads were up. Eyes were focused, nodding their head, turned into each other, emphasizing the different points of emphasis for the game. And so we get on the bus and we go on over and we get into the game. And within the first 20 minutes, we were losing two zero. now here's the significance of that. So you play in the first time and you play 80 minutes and you lose three zero. So we lost the first time, three, zero playing 80 minutes of soccer in the next 20 minutes of playing this team, we had given up five goals. And we just kept hoping that there was some way we were gonna be able to get at least one before halftime and we did. And so we went in a halftime and we said, okay, we're in this game, we've actually done something that we didn't do in the previous 100 minutes of playing this team. We actually got a goal on him so we can hang in there. Let's play with him. So. We get to the second half. And we said, you know, if we can just tie this game, then they know that they're in a game and, and they're just so good. And, and year in and year out, they're just so good. And so we managed to tie the game up and so we get through that second half, and then we actually take the lead. And now we're up three to two. We get to less than 30 seconds left in the game. And our goalkeeper accidentally trips, one of their players at the edge of the penalty box. So all of that, that we had gone through and we find ourselves in a position where we had the lead. We were 30 seconds away from a win. And we find ourselves in a position where we have to defend a penalty kick. And so they had a player step up, he stepped away. Another kid stepped up. We had to adjust the which way our goalkeeper was gonna go. Cause we felt like we had an idea of which way he was gonna, which way he was gonna play. and our goalkeeper makes to save time, runs out. We win three to two, but here's the best part of this. And this is what stands out and that's this, what makes that game so special? we talk a lot about in our program. What's the value? so you're playing. You're playing for your high school, you are competing. You're, you're dedicating your time. you're making the sacrifices to get where you need to go to do what you need to do to be in the best position, to, to compete, to play, to be prepared, to compete. Uh, you dedicate your time to practices and games. So what's the value? What, what are you getting out of this? And we talk about this in our soccer central program that we have, but, but what was significant was. As we talk about all the things that are important about being a student athlete. I think it was apparent that sent me a picture that was taken from the stands. And what had happened was on the final whistle. There were players. From the opponent that were down on their knees that had their hands in their faces. And they were just clearly distraught and they had that, you know, they had lost. And for every player that was down, there was a Hinsdale central player that was literally right by him trying to help 'em out and, and. You know, I, I don't see that as the coach right away, because I'm trying to gather people up to shake hands, to go talk to the other coach to do all that stuff. But that picture meant everything because what that showed me was something that, we talk about, You know, obviously you're playing to win the game, but it was even more important for our players to find their players, to tell them good game, to help them up to, get to a position of, you know, that recognition of, Hey, you know, you guys were fantastic and, and to consult. so not only the significance of the win, sending us to a final eight, but the way we handled that game, and to have, our players have felt that success, but to in the moment, know that it was even more important to go find those players. And that meant a lot that's the type of win that, that strikes me more than.

Luke:

Yeah, that's a great story. And that's why I love asking that question to veteran coaches, because there's a great moment that just came from that is it's not the win. It's how you won. What do you think you did leading up to that moment that helped your players to recognize. How important it was to be a human in that moment. That was a very human moment that they recognize that even though within their own joy, their own euphoria of happiness, that there was a worthy opponent that feels horrible. And I'm sure your players recognize that because I'm sure there's moments that they felt that way. What have you done in your program to get them to realize that, cuz you had to have some part in that, that you had that picture, that all of your players took the time. To congratulate their opponent.

Michael:

Yeah, and I, I don't know that I can say that, you know, we've got something that you'd say, you know, turn to page three, and this is what you do. If this happens type of a thing, it's an ongoing conversation. but the ongoing conversation that that we have is, about doing things the right way, to being first class, to demonstrating good sportsmanship. and a credit. I mean, a lot of credit goes to not only those players in that particular moment, but really to the players that we see regularly that come through our program, we're just, we're fortunate to have, not only, you know, really neat young people that we're able to work with every day, but, competitors too. but yet, we just, we it's an ongoing conversation. We just, we talk about it. Now. We do have our program that we call soccer central. that's not something that we've had in place. in all my 20 years of being in Hinsdale central, that's been something that has evolved. and, and I am by not by any stretch of the imagination, the expert on this I'm learning from not only. My experiences over the years as an athlete and a head coach of 28 years. But I learned from our, you know, our student athletes every day. the way we've structured soccer central is, is it's the opportunity for our, to have a say and give their thoughts on what's important, on the field. As a program what's important for us off the field, as a program, what's important for us in the classroom and what's important for us in the community. So when we talk about soccer central, we're talking about those four areas. So it's not a, it's not a rule sheet. it's a, it's an authentic document that is constantly. Through conversations of not just the varsity players, but all of the soccer athletes in our program. So over the years, by having conversations, by listening to our athletes, by recognizing their great behaviors, um, here I'll, I'll share another story with you. Um, so state championship game 2014. Now keep in mind this whole season. We've had such a remarkable group of guys, and by the way, the year before we had an undefeated regular season and lost, in the, in the, in the playoffs. So we had a group coming back, um, that was pretty motivated. certainly had their obstacles along the. But the one thing that that team had said from the first game was, we just need to be positive. If you've got something to say, make your words count, be positive. I mean, that's fantastic because there's gonna be times and games when I'm gonna want explanations from a referee. I'm not gonna go after 'em, in a bad way or an in sportsmanlike way, but I'm gonna, I'm gonna wanna make sure that I get an understanding of where they're coming from and I'm gonna wanna communicate with 'em. and so we always talk about with our players, that you wanna worry about things you can control, and don't worry about the things that you can't control. And so we start that season of 2014 losing our first game five to. So we start off the season and I'll never forget the look on the faces of the, of those boys. When we stepped on the bus, I mean, they were all sitting in their seats, heads up, looking forward with that look of what just happened. and it was with every day and every week that went by. an opportunity to come out, give your best effort be positive. So we get through the whole season, we get through all the ups and downs through the, the playoffs and the big win against Morton. And then, we get through, uh, Naperville north in the final eight. We get to the final four game and we hit a come from behind when, over friend who had also beaten us earlier in the season. And then we get to the state championship game. So we start the game and it probably wasn't in the first five minutes. That, normal community had come down. Something had happened. I felt like there was a call that was missed by the referee. I said, referee, I, you know, and I, and I start trying to get the referee's attention and our, and our Illinois player of the year. captain turns to me in the middle of the game and says, coach not now. And, that's a moment right there where I said, man, that that was fantastic. And, and, and I mean, and so talk about not only a level of maturity, but the level of focus that was needed at that moment. And what that did was as much as I had been able to coach him throughout the. I learned something there. And, I talk about that a lot, especially when I give, you know, when I'm speaking and talking to groups and doing coaching clinics and whatnot, it's worry about the things you can control. Don't worry about the things you can't control. and in that moment it was a learning moment that. As I talk about the things that we pass on to our players year, you know, year in and year out through soccer central. It's also stories like that that are important to realize that we're all learning through this. And, and so as I talk about soccer central, and I talk about what contributes to that, we take feedback from our players. So I'll just give an example. So we can, we can talk about, on the. So on the field, it's not the coaches telling the guys, this is what we expect. And this is what we have to have. It's year after year, we've asked what is important for you that is gonna make you individually and our team and our program collectively successful. And they've, they've identified things like work for your team, mental toughness, show up and compete. Find a way to win with class. Um, make smart soccer decisions. Pre-game during game post-game being on time, demonstrating sportsmanship, bench support, uh, respect to officials and the opponent, positive reinforcement, being accountable, teamwork, commitment, resilience, patience, perseverance, work ethic, best effort. I mean, and I can go on and on pride, punctuality responsibility, determination. I mean, these are all things. that we know as coaches. but in creating this program, we've put the players in the position to say, you, tell us, we want to hear you. We want to hear what you feel is important so that when things don't go the way we want it, this is what you've said is important. And because we, and because you have to evolve as a coach, this is gonna change the priorities to the athlete are gonna be different year in and year out. and so what we do is we have a day where we get all the guys, whether it's in a cafeteria school, whether it's out on the field, I bring out the principal, I bring out the athletic director, they kind of kick it off. and then we take the, uh, seniors. And we group them with an E somewhat of a, a distribution of the juniors, the sophomores and the freshmen, and we get 'em into different groups. And what they do is they lead discussions on the four areas that I talked about on the field, off the field, in the classroom and in the, in the community.

Luke:

So soccer. Kind of like your own, I guess it's kinda like your own curriculum that you use within your program then.

Michael:

You know, it's just an, it's just a a student athlete driven, authentic document that is evolving year in and year out that allows the athletes to have a voice to say, this is what we value. This is what's important. This is what we want to hold each other to a standard. and as a result, we get that feedback where, the seniors have an opportunity to reflect on their three, you previous years and say, you know, here's an example of what happened to me or, you know, so it's not, the coach coming back and saying, yes, do this, do that. We can reinforce it by the values that, you know, we put in this and we've certainly had some influence on it, for sure. I mean, when we first started this and started. Collecting ideas and thoughts and values. you know, we certainly would provide, you know, leading questions like, well, what about this? Or what about this scenario to kind of get them thinking? but man, it's been really, really it's, it's rewarding and it's nice when you've got, the principal and the athletic director to come on out and kind of kick it off to say, guys, this is, great that you're being put in a position to, take the lead. In your athletic experience by having that say and how you want to be a part of a first class program. So.

Luke:

It's a great idea to always get multiple adults voices. In front of your kids. I think that's really important. Something I try to do as a head coach too. Otherwise you just become like that Charlie brown effect. Do you go back and revisit the feedback? So you have these four areas. They give you the feedback and then mid-season do you go back and evaluate it, cuz I'm sure you have to tweak it and change it. And the kids are probably savvy enough to recognize, wait a minute. Our perspective has changed a little bit.

Michael:

You know, I be because it's an all program, event, our coaches. Bring up the concepts, the ideas regularly. So it's not something where it's all right on this date. We're gonna do this, but I have to tell you it's an evolving, like I said, I, I, I don't know that we've perfected this. It just works for us. I think that when I first sat down with some of our teams and started putting this together, I really didn't know which way it was gonna go. I just knew one thing was for certain, and that was, I wanted the players to have a voice. I wanted them to feel like they had been heard. I wanted them to have a say in what they want this to look like, because I didn't want to have a program that was, being led by coaches that were constantly. having to fight the battle of, you know, being punctual or being prepared. I mean, we, we spend a lot of time in our program trying to put the players in position to be successful both on and off the field in the classroom and in the community. And that's really what it comes down to. we've talked about for years, so how can we put you in a position to be most success? When you play, you've made a decision that you want to play for your school. You've made a decision that athletics and playing soccer for Hensdale central is important to you and you're coming on out and you're, and you're being a part of this. So how can we maximize the value and how can we make this experience so great for you? That when you look back on it, you can say, you know, it wasn't because we won it wasn't because we lost, you know? Oh, we won. So it was a good experience. We lost. Oh, it was terrible. No, it can't be that. It has to be. Can, can you look back and say, my time playing was really impactful for me because I learned, you know, this, this and this, um, we had a player that played for us that came back and shared a story with me. At one point, he said, all right, wiggy, here's the deal. He said, I went to a college interview and, I went early and I was sitting outside the doors in one of the, uh, individuals from this prestigious university came outside and said, oh, can we help you? And he said, oh no, I'm fine. I, I, I just, I had a, I had a high school coach that had always said early on time on time is late. And I just, you know, I wanted to make sure that I was here early enough so that I was prepared and ready to go. And this prestigious school had. That's incredible. We just don't see that. And the fact that you're here early and prepared and ready to go has really impressed us. And he wasn't, he hadn't even entered the interview yet. And he came back and said, Hey, I just want you to know that kind, you know, you've had an impact on me because, and it actually really helped me in my college interview when I went and met with college. And I thought that's what we're talking about right there. That's what we're talking about right there. you took something. That you gained that had nothing to do with wins and losses that had nothing to do with the amount of playing time you had, you took something that was important to you and applied it to your world. And it made a difference

Luke:

yeah, that's a rewarding moment. Congratulations on that. those are the. Cool moments of a coach that the fans in the stands don't get to see, and don't understand, but that I asked you earlier, what kind of keeps you going? You talk about your family. I agree with that statement, but I agree what you just explained there. That keeps me going it's those little victories that have nothing to do on the field when the kid reaches out to you 10 years later, and he said, I'm making a dent in this. I'm not just wasting my time because sometimes you do feel that way, right? Sometimes you're talking, you feel like nobody is listening. They're listening. They don't always do a great job of being active listeners and engaging you, but, but they are listening nonetheless. And you know, um, I'm a football guy. I told you my daughter plays soccer. I'm starting to understand soccer a little bit more. She been playing her whole life. She's now 16 years old. And the one thing I've come to really appreciate about soccer is this extreme. Unselfish team oriented game. That's the only way you could win. And it seems to me as I watch my daughter go through it, the older you get, the more unselfish you have to become as a player, if you want any success. So I too coach a sport like that as well. What's the advice you could give to taking a player who is selfish and Eagle driven. And breaking him or her down to put the team first and become an unselfish.

Michael:

Again, I don't think this is turn to page four and then this is how you do this. I think that, And I, I spent over 20 years licensing coaches through the Illinois youth soccer association and, and, and I continue to, provide coaching education for parter coaches all over Chicagoland. And I, I really, I mean, as much as I enjoy teaching kids, I enjoy teaching adults as well. and when you talk to coaches about how you can be the most effective. Teacher and you and I can both appreciate teaching is coaching and coaching is teaching.

Luke:

Yep.

Michael:

You really need to understand who you're working with. And so you have to understand the player and it doesn't matter if you're working with five and six year olds, five and six year olds effort equals ability that that's what you know, when you're coaching the five and six year old player effort equals ability. you do, are you a good soccer player? Yeah, I'm the hardest. Okay, there you go. Well, then that Alfred equals ability seven and eight year olds. What they know is they, they can now start to understand that you know that because they work well together, you can start to introduce partner type activities. Now I'm talking about soccer. So that's an ideal time to introduce passing, passing, and receiving understanding the youth player puts you as the teacher, you as the coach in the best position to maximize their. I think the same thing goes when you're working with re regardless of the age individual, that you're coaching, understanding that individual starts with having those individual interactions with them, you know? And, and we, we try, we we've, we've done it a couple of different ways over the years. I, I started something just before, um, oh, it's just been a few years and, and we're gonna hopefully start this up again, but. I I've done something that I call extra time, over the years. And we're gonna try to bring it back again this year. And it's extra time in soccer is obviously like overtime. Right? So, extra time in this sense is that extra time just individually with players. and just checking in, how are you, what's going on? What's new. You, you learn so much about the individual by just having. Those conversations and it doesn't have to be, why are you doing this? Or why can't you do this? Or, you know, you need to do this differently. Sometimes it's really, it doesn't have to be the Xs and OS sometimes it can be, how was your day? Sometimes it can be, um, you know, Hey, who, you know, what's your favorite team or what, you know, the more you learn about the individual. I think the closer you get to being more effective in understanding how you can best put that position, that, that individual in a position to be successful. And I think that once you come to get more comfortable with understanding the individual, you can start to look at their strengths and weaknesses, both, you know, technically tactically. When you start putting them out on the field and what's gonna make, them the most effective player within your team, but then also, you know how that's gonna benefit everybody else. And again, I think it just starts with getting to know that individual. So I don't know that there's a, like I said, turn to page four and this is how you do it. I think it really comes down to because everybody is so different. I think it really comes down to, More than ever today. I think it's, it's really getting to know the individual and I don't think it's just the head coach. I don't care for the good guy, bad guy type thing in coaching. We're my assistant and I, Tony, Tony, Madonia, who's the head girls coach. And Tony's fantastic. both on the same page and we both approach, coaching the players that we work with every day, um, with the same idea. And that is how can we best support you? How can we put you in the best position to succeed? Uh, if you ever need anything, how can we help you so that you can be better? And I think that's, you know, and, and we're fortunate. I mean, my coaching staff at Hensdale central, we we're, we're so lucky to have such dedicated individuals and great coaches. they are a big part of that. Um, they don't just focus on their team. They're always coming around and. Our coaches are trying to, you know, be involved with all the different levels and getting to see how they're doing. And, and if you're a freshman coach, you know, seeing a varsity game and, you know, if you're one of the older coaches getting down to watch some of the younger games that makes a big difference in the overall environment, um, that learning environment, that coaching environment, that those kids feel support.

Luke:

That was a great answer. And really what you're focused on there is how to be a good coach is really what you're explaining there in like, just to kind of summarize that response. And you've done a lot of coach education throughout your career and you continue to do so now. So what are some crucial areas? And this is the last question I'll wrap up the episode with this. What are some crucial areas? That you feel coaches need the most help or the most education on in today's world.

Michael:

So I'm glad you brought that up. education is, has, been a. Piece for me for a long, long time. It's why I was the director of the, Illinois high school soccer coaches association, annual clinic every year, trying to bring to high school coaches throughout the state, um, opportunities to better themselves, whether it's a weekend coaches clinic like that, or whether it's going and getting their licensing. Um, I, I was brought up in my early years of coaching with it being. presented to me that, coaching education should be a big part of your development as a, as a leader and as a, a teacher of the game. And so I went and got my, my national youth license, um, spent a week in New Hampshire, and went and got my us SF C license. I got my national B license. but I went and did that because I was committed to staying current in the game to understanding what's most important. Um, and I. as the high school game continues to grow and continues to, develop, I feel very strongly, and this is why I present at the national convention on this topic of connecting with your community. Communities need to know who I, I feel they, they should know who you are. They should know that you're involved. They, it, it not only helps in the community knowing who you are, but it also helps in, the younger players in the community, knowing the program and knowing the coaches and knowing that what that looks like. and so getting the coaching education piece covered, You know, your licensing can take, the form of not only. The technical piece, but the tactical piece, um, but really all aspects of the game. And it's gonna keep you current. And, you know, I, I don't, I can't really speak to football. but I know for soccer, I mean, some of the best coaching education that I'm able to, take part in is a lot of times just sitting down with colleagues and, and, uh, I met with, uh, a good friend of mine. Who's a former collegiate coach just this past week. Um, I talked to another coach. Another big 10 coach earlier this week, just talking to him about just some ideas, you know, related to the game. I'm always looking just to gather and get ideas and stay current just because these are ways that we can stay. Like I said, connected, um, and, and know what's going on within the game. I've got another former player that runs a club in Cincinnati. I talked to him, I said, Hey, what are you doing? You know, with regards to this, this and this. And when you do those types of things and you're proactive in staying in current in the game that what you're doing is you're bringing to your environ. You know, what's considered best practice or what's most current in the game. And I think that's the type of stuff that, as the game continues to evolve and we start to get, I mean, we're just not only are we getting, players coming through that are playing at such a higher level than we did when we were younger. We're also getting more families that have grown up playing the game. And that's something that we didn't have a long time ago. and so all of that really just comes down to. If you're getting into coaching, investing in coaching education and staying current with what's involved, whether it's soccer or any sport for that matter is a big deal. It's a big deal. It's important. It should be a big part of what you do, uh, because it demonstrates your commitment to your, to your area specialty. Um, but it also demonstrates a, a willingness to stay, you know, current in the game and, and provide best practice for the players that come out and work so hard for you every day.

Luke:

Yeah, there's no question that you have to take pride in your craft. That will sometimes frustrate me if I have some assistant coaches that throughout the whole off season. Haven't read a book, haven't gone to a clinic haven't done anything. Just kinda rely on their past experiences. I think that's, that's a bad practice to be a part of. And, uh, football is like soccer, where you call people, you pick their brain, you exchange ideas. And that's part of what I want this podcast to be. This is not for monetary reasons. I'm not gaining anything from this financially. Neither are you by volunteering your time. My hope is to just exchange ideas. I've had so many coaches as I came up through my career that I could just cold call and they would drop what they're doing. Say yeah, come in and watch practice or come in and I'll sit down with you. As long as you want. I'll show you film. I'll show you my playbook. Everybody was so open. And now I feel like, sorry to get my soapbox. Now. I feel like we have moved into everyone's trying to monetize everything. So it's like, you'll find someone on the internet and you'll email and be like, sure, no problem. We could talk. It's a hundred dollars for a clinic session. You're like, whoa. You know, and I believe in entrepreneurship, I think it's great capitalism. I'm a little bummed out that we've lost some of that in coaching because I think that's what made a profession. So. Is everybody was an open book and willing to help each other. And I think that was really cool. And hopefully this podcast does that. And I know you mentioned the clinics that you're in charge of you are doing that as well. It's important that we do continue to educate because it's every evolving, right? I mean, never in this profession. Can you ever say, okay, I know it all. It's good. I mean, every, every year, every season, every team, every individual. Is unique and different and provides its new challenges and rewards. So couldn't agree, Martha and I can't thank you enough for coming on. It's gone very quickly. Hopefully it did for you as well. Cause that means you enjoyed the conversation too. So thank you so much for sharing your expertise. If any of our listeners would like to learn more about soccer central or how you go about winning or how to even get into some of your clinics, what's the best way to get in contact.

Michael:

You know, just, just reach out to Hinsdale central high school, ask for the athletic department and they can, they can, they can get you in touch with me. And I'm, I'm, I'm happy to spend the time. and I mean that, when I say that I will always get back to, whoever reaches out. I was very fortunate in my younger years to have people that spent the time with me when I asked the questions. You know, what, how do you handle this situation or, or what's the best way to, to go about this? And, um, I'm telling you right now, 28 years as a head coach. I mean, this, when I say this I'm I'm I'm right now, at this point in my career, feeling like I can look at the body of work and say, okay, I think I'm actually. Moving in a direction that I, I maybe I'm starting to get it and never have I ever felt like I've had it at all together because you always feel like you can be better. You always feel. And, and I, and I don't by any stretch of the imagination suggests that I've got this figured out. I feel like right now I'm, I'm getting there and this is three years left in. but many more years to try to get this coaching thing, right. I'm I'm not perfect. Um, I'm not the expert. Um, but I, I, I think with an incredible wife and three terrific kids, um, a, a supportive school, a terrific principal, a great athletic director, athletic trainers that are beyond out, out of this world with our athletes. And a coaching staff that, is tireless in what they do. all of that in place, has put me in a position to feel like, moving forward. we're getting, we're moving in a really good direction and doing some really good things with kids. And I'm so thankful for the community I'm in, uh, the families and the kids that participate for us. and I think you're doing a great job. So thanks again for having me. This is.

Luke:

Yeah, thank you very much. And congratulations on your success. And I'm really happy to hear that you are happy where you're at. I think that's really important that we remember as coaches it's okay for us to enjoy it too. It has to be much more than just winning. We need to enjoy the sport. We need our players to enjoy the sport. And then everybody wins from that. So thanks for being so giving with your time. I know you've had a crazy summer and it's about to get even crazier this fall as the season ramped up. So best of luck in 2022.

Michael:

Best luck to you too, coach. Thanks.

Michael Wiggins Profile Photo

Michael Wiggins

Teacher / Head Soccer Coach

Michael Wiggins – Head Boys Soccer Coach
Hinsdale Central High School
28 years as a High School Soccer Boys Head Coach, with 385 wins.
Winningest coach all time at Hinsdale Central, coached 4 All Americans.
Coached the 2014 Illinois High School State Champions.
Illinois High School Soccer Coach of the Year in 2004 & 2015.
NHSACA National Coach of the Year Finalist 2017.
Illinois High School Coaches Soccer Person of the Year in 2012.
Coached in the High School All American Game in 2015.
Served the Illinois Youth Soccer Coaching Education staff from 1991-2012.
Served the Illinois Olympic Development Program as a head coach at several age groups.
Coach Wiggins has served as a scout for US Soccer.
Served Major League Soccer as an Independent Observer with its Reserve Division initiatives.
Named to the Chicago Magic SC Hall of Fame in 2005.
Former collegiate player: Illinois State University.
Professional: Chicago Power SC (NPSL) Summer 1993.