Incoming Boise State senior Brooke Heidemann thought she knew what she was getting into when she agreed to become an assistant coach for FC Nova, a youth club soccer team based out of Meridian.
The midfielder for the Broncos’ women’s soccer team figured she’d teach the girls of the U-12 FC Nova Academy Pink squad a few tricks, run them through a few drills and impart some of the knowledge she’s gained throughout the years.
Heidemann said they quickly proved her wrong.
“You think you’re going to go in and teach these girls a lot and help them out,” said the Rocky Mountain High graduate. “And they really teach you more about the game. You’re watching them and the things they do, and I’m like, ‘Wow, I guess they had that right and I didn’t.’ ”
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The U-12 FC Nova Academy Pink club had plenty right Saturday, rolling to an 8-2 win over the Sandpoint Strikers in the group stage of the Idaho State Cup — the state’s top youth club soccer tournament — at the Simplot Sports Complex. The win lifts Nova into Sunday’s semifinals by goal differential.
Heidemann started all 21 games for Boise State last fall, leading the Broncos with six goals and adding three assists for a team-high 15 points. She also drew national attention when she was named the NCAA Division I women’s soccer player of the week.
Kevin Coyle, head coach for the U-12 Nova club, pointed out anything Heidemann says to the team carries extra weight because of her career at Boise State. And he said having her on hand to demonstrate a drill he’s trying to coach is invaluable.
“I’m an old guy,” Coyle, 46, said. “I still play, but I know it doesn’t look as cool when I’m doing it as compared to when Brooke is doing it. With her playing and being able to do things is such an asset to have. The girls look up to her and just think that whatever she does is amazing.”
Heidemann, 20, said she started coaching in August to give back to the club organization that helped train her and would like to continue if her schedule allows it.
She ceded most of the on-field direction to Nova’s other coaches Saturday, instead hanging back and offering one-on-one tips to players during Nova’s rout. After coming up through the club system, she knows how important confidence is to players, especially at the U-12 level. She said she’s more vocal at practices. But during games, she knows players don’t need four coaches yelling at them and tries to find ways to settle nerves and restore morale.
“I just look to be more optimistic than anything,” she said. “At this age, they need to be filled with confidence. I know as a player that’s something I really looked forward to.”
But she also knows her first year as a coach isn’t a one-way street. She said the creativity Nova’s U-12 players shows has surprised her, and she’ll try to carry some of that into her final season with the Broncos.
“They’re so young that they try things that you wouldn’t expect at their age to try,” she said. “They’re showing me more creativity than I’ve seen in the college game at some points. It gives me some ideas going into the fall.”