The Man Watching: Anson Dorrance and the University of North Carolina Women's Soccer Dynasty

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9780312616090: The Man Watching: Anson Dorrance and the University of North Carolina Women's Soccer Dynasty

As coach of the University of North Carolina women's soccer team, Anson Dorrance has won more than 90 percent of his games, groomed far more All-Americans, and captured more NCAA championships than any other coach in the sport ten times over. Author Tim Crothers spent four years interviewing Dorrance and Tar Heels players from every era, along with players and coaches from rival college programs, to create the most comprehensive, intimate, and unfiltered look ever inside the most prolific dynasty in college athletics. Updated to include the story of the Tar Heels's 2008 and 2009 NCAA championships, The Man Watching is the authorized biography of a fascinating man and the more than 200 young women he inspired to believe that anything is possible.

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About the Author:

TIM CROTHERS is a former senior writer at Sports Illustrated who graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1986 and has lectured in the university's journalism department for the last seven years. He is the coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Hard Work: A Life On and Off the Court with Roy Williams.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Infancy
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1 Roses
“Here is my secret. It’s quite simple: One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”
“Anything essential is invisible to the eyes,” the Little Prince repeated, in order to remember.
“It’s the time you’ve spent on your rose that makes your rose so important.”
“It’s the time I’ve spent on my rose...,” the Little Prince repeated, in order to remember.
“People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve nurtured. You’re responsible for your rose...”
“I’m responsible for my rose...,” the Little Prince repeated, in order to remember.
—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Allllllrightthen, here we go. I’ll tell you, I loved last year’s Final Four because of the position we were in. I loved coming in as an underdog. Guess what? I think the same thing is happening again at this Final Four. In the press conference yesterday all the questions I got this year were about how well Portland is playing and about how we’re struggling. Well, I can play that tune. I went right along with them. But I was thinking that if you people had seen the second half of our quarterfinal game against Penn State, you pinheads!, you’d have known that we outshot them 9–1. Where the hell have you been? I didn’t deliver any of that to the media because I know what we can do, and if right now they have written us off, then I want us to show everyone what this team can do out there on the field tonight because I tell you, when you guys play your best you are devastating. You are frigging inspirational. You play through your hearts with extraordinary passion, and our opponents know that if they don’t bring it, you guys are going to humiliate them.
In the press conference I thought one of Portland’s players talked about their confidence with a little too much confidence. You know what I mean? They think they’re on a roll and they think that we’re collapsing. They think we’re toast. They think they can grind it out. Let them try to grind it out with us for ninety minutes. We are professional grinders. Everybody’s talking about all of their great players, but do they have our personalities all over the field? I don’t think so. I think we have great weapons and we need to bring them to bear. We have something to prove. The media doesn’t think we’re going to play. Portland doesn’t think we’re going to play. I think we’re going to play. Are you with me?
The man delivers this speech before an audience of women. Coach Anson Dorrance conveys this message to a specific team inside a specific locker room during a specific season, but these are words he could have said at any Final Four in any season in the history of the University of North Carolina women’s soccer program, because, like so many of Dorrance’s speeches, this one is timeless.
On this day Dorrance will not talk about the past. He will not talk about the ludicrous number of national titles won by women wearing the same distinctive blue uniforms as the women gathered around him. He will not talk about all of those championship trophies back in Chapel Hill that are stuffed into the display case like a set of encyclopedias, or about the fact that runner-up trophies are traditionally utilized as doorstops because anything less than a national title is considered a failure. He will certainly not remind these players that they are the caretakers of the greatest dynasty in the history of collegiate sports. Because, this being college athletics, every season, every team, is totally different, and the women in this room are not even the same women they were at the Final Four last year or the year before that. Far from it. So Dorrance will not mention anything won in the past. Or anything not won. In fact, he will not mention winning or losing at all. Everybody present already understands the one quest that binds them all. Shared expectations. Shared destinies. The roses.
As Dorrance concludes a brief synopsis of the game plan, the team’s manager, Tom Sander, carefully removes the roses from a duffel bag in the corner of the room. And thus begins a ceremony that ushers the Tar Heel senior class out of the locker room. Each of the seniors is handed a bouquet of roses. Most of them wipe tears from their eyes. The underclassmen, many also crying, applaud and cheer each senior as she walks a receiving line, stopping for a hug and a few encouraging words from Dorrance and then from assistant coach Bill Palladino, goalkeeper coach Chris Ducar, and finally the team’s trainer, Bill Prentice. During these moments, there is a collective flashback to three weeks earlier, when Dorrance walked into the team meeting room back in Chapel Hill before the opening game of the NCAA Tournament carrying a vase of flowers, and told them all about the roses. He had explained then that each red rose in the vase represented a national championship won by the current senior class, and he had read them a passage from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince about caring for a rose. Then he had summed up what it all meant to him. “The rose is symbolic of wherever each of you are athletically, and it’s symbolic of championships because you’re all responsible for them,” Dorrance had said. “What I like about the symbolic use of flowers is that we’re celebrating our past, but after a while, the flower shrivels and dies. That glory is dead. Athletics is about renewal, and you guys are sitting in the places of all the previous classes who have tried to send their seniors out as champions. If we lose a game in this tournament, there’s no tomorrow for them. Their careers have died. So we play for them.”
As the locker room door closes behind the final exiting senior, Dorrance pulls several photocopied sheets of paper out of the breast pocket of his jacket. As is his custom, he has worked through much of the previous night in his hotel room, writing and rewriting a personal letter to each of his seniors in his barely legible longhand. Then he has awakened early this morning to polish his words, editing until the last possible moment, because that is the only way the letters can be genuine, the only way they can express what he sincerely feels at that instant. Then he has delivered the original letters to each of the seniors a few hours before the pregame talk.
He knows that he’s only got a moment with these letters, and that this could be his last chance to make sure each senior knows how much he cares about them. He wants each young woman to know that even though he has spent four years telling her this isn’t good enough, that isn’t good enough, she isn’t good enough, that what he’s been secretly searching for all along is what really is good enough in her. When he recounts a personal story or two about her that she’d never expect him to remember, he wants her to know what he thinks is her finest quality—and this is never a soccer quality, but a human quality—because he believes that’s what his women appreciate most. When he reads the copies of the senior letters to the underclassmen left behind in the locker room, he wants his admiration to resonate. As he shares the words he has written to each senior, no matter how large or small her role on the team, Dorrance wants everyone inside that room to be in awe of her.
We’re all familiar with our tradition here, and part of it is that I get to share my memories of the kids we’re going to lose. These are the letters I wrote to our senior reserves. It’s always hard. Obviously you guys think you’ve got all the time in the world. You think you’re going to be in college forever. At least that’s what I thought when I was there. Then all of a sudden it’s gone and we’ll never play with these kids again...
Dear Katie,
There are many great memories that I will treasure from this year, and one that will stand out was after the conference championship game when you were jogging off the field smiling from one ear to the other after playing in just the second game of your career. I heard someone’s voice calling my name, and I turned to see your father. Reaching down to extend his hand from above the rail at the Wake Forest soccer stadium, a tear was rolling down his cheek. He was so proud of you. I told him that you were going to take a piece of history with you. Until the end of recorded time in the pantheon of great goalkeepers that this program has had who have won world championships, Olympic medals, national championships, no one will beat the goals against average of his sweet and humble daughter, Katie. Please take that history with you, Katie, and one day brag to your grandchildren that, yeah, Tracy Noonan, Siri Mullinix, Jenni Branam were all pretty good goalkeepers at UNC, but how about 0.00 goals against?... How about that?...
So we play for Katie.
Dear Whit,
You are a triumph of the human spirit. Every image I have of you is a catalog of your guts and your indefatigable will. My first image of you was seeing you sprint and dive across the finish line your freshman year to pass your first fitness test. My second image is when we were desperate that first week of games your freshman year, and we asked if anyone wanted to play up front to make up for the lackluster effort of our starters, and you volunteered and with sheer effort turned the game for us. The next image was you as a sophomore on a stretcher after they put those rods in to repair your broken back. And where are you? You’re not in the hospital. You’re on the sidelines with us. Part of our team. The most recent image brings it all back together. It was this year, and like your freshman y...

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Descripción St. Martin s Griffin, United States, 2010. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. St Martin s Griffin ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. As coach of the University of North Carolina women s soccer team, Anson Dorrance has won more than 90 percent of his games, groomed far more All-Americans, and captured more NCAA championships than any other coach in the sport ten times over. Author Tim Crothers spent four years interviewing Dorrance and Tar Heels players from every era, along with players and coaches from rival college programs, to create the most comprehensive, intimate, and unfiltered look ever inside the most prolific dynasty in college athletics. Updated to include the story of the Tar Heels s 2008 and 2009 NCAA championships, The Man Watching is the authorized biography of a fascinating man and the more than 200 young women he inspired to believe that anything is possible. Nº de ref. de la librería AAS9780312616090

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Descripción St. Martin s Griffin, United States, 2010. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. St Martin s Griffin ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. As coach of the University of North Carolina women s soccer team, Anson Dorrance has won more than 90 percent of his games, groomed far more All-Americans, and captured more NCAA championships than any other coach in the sport ten times over. Author Tim Crothers spent four years interviewing Dorrance and Tar Heels players from every era, along with players and coaches from rival college programs, to create the most comprehensive, intimate, and unfiltered look ever inside the most prolific dynasty in college athletics. Updated to include the story of the Tar Heels s 2008 and 2009 NCAA championships, The Man Watching is the authorized biography of a fascinating man and the more than 200 young women he inspired to believe that anything is possible. Nº de ref. de la librería AAS9780312616090

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