Lawler reflects on coaching, mentoring soccer players

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(Photo by JUDD WILSON) Boys soccer head coach Rob Lawler has prepared young men such as Caleb Gleason, pictured, to compete for Priest River Lamanna High School for five seasons.

PRIEST RIVER - Boys varsity soccer head coach Rob Lawler earned a great ending to his 2017 season when he was named his sport’s 2017 Intermountain League Coach of the Year. The coach has been working hard at it for about 15 years, including the past five at Priest River Lamanna High School. He said “Being voted Coach of the Year is very humbling and an honor to be recognized in a group of six very talented coaches.”

Lawler endured through a difficult season with few seniors and many injured players. As a coach, he said he has to plan thoroughly but be prepared to adapt and adjust to changing situations. He said it “was comparable to my first season when I had a team of 12 players and majority were just beginning their first or second year of high school soccer. The team this year played most of the season with 11 or 12 players. We had no incoming freshmen and the majority of the players were in their sophomore year. Coming off a season last year with 21 players, it was a considerable adjustment for the players to play a full 80 minutes with no substitutions. Each player had to adapt to a position where they could contribute the most. For many of the players this year, that meant playing in a position that was not their first choice. This was a great life lesson for the players and it provided them an opportunity to adapt and flourish in a new way.”

His peers around the league recognized him for helping his players overcome their obstacles. To Lawler, being a coach is about far more than just wins and losses.

“Being a coach means being involved in the life of each team player, pushing them to be the best they can be and recognizing how far they have come in their schooling, as a family member, as a teammate, and in their community.”

With that in mind, Lawler said he has learned to accept the outcome and look at scores and records through the lens of each player’s life. His advice to those interested in coaching boys soccer? “Be confident, keep learning the game and the different ways it can be played, get to know each player on a personal level, and have fun most of all.”

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