When Woodstock North boys soccer coach Lauren Farley took over the team this season, she implemented a simple rule: No swearing.
The punishment? Ten pushups for every letter in the swear word. It’s a rule Farley also has in place with Woodstock North’s girls varsity soccer team, which she has coached the past three seasons.
“Swearing has no place on the soccer field, especially swearing at other teams or officials, which is something that has happened in the past,” Farley said. “Last year, there were some problems with behavior … not really playing as a team.”
Farley doesn’t accept her team getting yellow and red cards, and that enforcement has helped the Thunder play better, junior forward Josh Jandron said.
If a North player is playing too aggressive – to the point of playing dirty instead of being aggressive – Farley won’t hesitate in taking that player out of the game to chill out and reflect. Farley said she has little tolerance for dirty soccer and doesn’t want her team to emulate that style of play.
“It was an adjustment," Jandron said. "In the beginning of the year, we were kind of testing her limits and now we’re settled in and we’re determined.”
As the only woman coaching an area boys varsity soccer team, Farley is well aware she is an anomaly. She believes it’s important to have diverse background and insight within a program, part of the reason the Thunder’s JV coach is a male.
“It is neat because it shows women can do the same coaching jobs as men and that’s pretty fantastic,” Farley said. “It’d be great to see more female coaches out there, because I think boys and girls can learn things from both male and female coaches.”
Farley has needed to work with the Thunder to be more willing to pass the ball, set up their teammates and play as a team.
“Just their speed of play and the creativity I see out of the guys, it’s really fun to watch,” Farley said.
Having coached Woodstock North’s boys soccer junior varsity team last year has helped Farley, a 2000 Cary-Grove graduate, but she still knew she had to show her new team she understood the game. However, Farley never believed she needed to prove herself.
Farley had some reservations before accepting the job to coach the boys’ soccer team – “High school boys can be a little intimidating, I’m not going to lie,” she said – but ultimately she felt her knowledge of the game gave her confidence she could handle the job.
Farley played soccer at Augustana College and after graduating in 2004, she spent a year in Ecuador where she routinely played pick-up games with locals. In 2005, she started working at Woodstock where she helped with the girls soccer program.
“She’s motivated us and made us play as a team now,” sophomore goalkeeper Ricky Rodriguez said. “She doesn’t tolerate our behavior so she knows how to keep us in check and keep us focused.”
Farley is the third coach Aaron Jones, a senior midfielder, has played for during his career at Woodstock North. Jones said when Farley first took over the team this year she had to win over some players who were skeptical of how she would run the team.
But toward the end of the season, Jones believes the Thunder have bonded with their coach, which has shown through their improved play. The Thunder (10-11-1, 3-3 Fox Valley Conference Fox Division) have won four of their last five games as they head into the playoffs looking for their program’s first regional title.
“She’s been very supportive of us,” Jones said. “There’s times where she does get angry, but she knows that she just has to keep supporting us, encourage us and make us do our best at all times.”