Clean Sheet Goalkeeper Academy

One could say CSGKA began in the early 80's. "VHS recording was the rage and a teammates father purchased a camera to record our games. I read every book I could find at the library as videos related to soccer coaching were not available.  Since our team didn't have a GK coach, I instructed myself, my back-up along with the other AYSO  goalkeepers in our area. Often, we recorded these sessions with me giving the points of emphasis to the exercise, stepping into the exercise and demonstrating, and then serving to the training goalkeeper. It was rudimentary, but from those moments, I learned a great deal and it helped shape what I knew would be my career."

 

My first exposure to goalkeeper training in a camp environment was in 1984 on the campus of University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill at the Rainbow Soccer Camp. "I was the least experienced GK, out of eight, having no coaching except for reading books and training myself.  I learned more than I could have imagined. Technique wise, I was very close, except for more advanced ways to perform movements such as the "Rocking Chair" to recover back to my feet had I given up a rebound, or the importance of footwork." Camp ended for me on Day 5 when playing inside the "Tin Can". While diving for a shot high and to the right, I was slammed into the goal post, hitting my thigh with such force, it bruised from the front, through the bone, to the back of the leg.  I continued to play, but later that evening, it swelled, and my right thigh was completely purple from knee to groin. The trainer put me on crutches and I was done for the next two days. Sitting in the lobby when my GK coach walked in. "I'll never forget his expression of disbelief, even disappointment, upon seeing me. He walked over, sat down and asked, "what happened?" I explained, gave him the trainers directions and what he uttered impacted me throughout my career. "The sessions won't be the same without you. What you bring to each session inspires me to give my best, because you give me everything. What you lack in experience, you make up for in focus, energy and attitude. The others are better only because they got training. What they lack is your spirit, the passion to learn without complaining." I asked to still attend, take notes, listen. That was met with a laugh and a hearty, "you better be there." Over the next two days, I asked questions, even shared ideas about different things experienced when training or playing.  No one can ever tell me that attending a training, if only to listen is useless. Three ideas stuck in my mind from his words...1) Coaches put players in training environments, but players CREATE the environment...the intensity, the work rate, and focus;  2) Coaches feed off this energy...and... 3) Opportunities to learn abound.

 

After graduating from Farragut HS in 1987, Coach Maples attended Hiwassee College, a small junior college south of Knoxville. His freshmen year, he started every game, played in the JC National Championship where he set a NJCAA record for saves (49) in a single game versus University of Miami-Dade. The achievement earned him a ride around the field on the shoulders of the opposing team no-less. Still in college, he became well known for his knowledge of the game, specifically the position of goalkeeping. Knoxville, TN was not a hot bed of soccer, and East Tennessee was even less experienced with the "Worlds Game". For many,  AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) was the only outlet to play or coach. At age 19, Coach Don became the head coach of a co-ed U13 team with AYSO called the "Huskies". Parents, opposing coaches, and coach instructors quickly became aware of Coach Maples differing approach to teaching the game. His teams excelled in a style focused on player development emphasizing clean technical skill, tactical awareness, and a defensive philosophy unmatched by opponents. After his first season, Coach Maples became sought after to instruct AYSO coaching courses in areas of player development, technical skill, game theory, and goalkeeping.  Over the next two years, Coach Maples, backed by parties eagerly seeking better training and more competition in a travel format, started Loudon-Monroe Select. Two teams formed, U12 and U14 co-ed,  made up of players from those counties. Coach Maples teams were competing against seasoned travel teams, such as Vulcan United (Blount County), Knoxville Stars, Concord United...and winning. Building upon the same philosophies learned from all his coaching influences, his coaching style began to form. "Every coach had an impact on me, teaching me something. My first coach, Adrian Cooper, instilled in me to have fun, enjoy the game. My second coach, Eric Clauberg, was a thick accented, in your face German, demanding discipline, focus, and toughness. My third coach, Dr. Leon Potgeiter, was from South Africa, having a high regard for technical skill,  which allowed the pieces of the puzzle to come together tactically, especially with regards to defensive philosophy. "You can't play the game without SKILL...and it made sense. Player A has the skill to pass the ball, Player B makes great runs, yet can't trap the ball...play is dead. Technical skill connects the tactical parts of the game."

 

Spending two years as a pool player in Colorado, his playing career ended in 1991. Coach Maples turned his attention to coaching, continuing to conduct camps, private lessons. In 1998, Coach Maples was hired as the head coach of girls and boys soccer at Loudon HS. "The girls team was an add-on. The AD hired me to coach the boys. Then as I was walking out of his office, he asked, "Would you want to coach the girls team as well?" After some questions, I agreed." The next conversation I had changed my coaching philosophy, career goals, hence changing my life. The internet was brand new, opening the ability to have information literally at ones fingertips. I sought information about coaching females. I entered info into a search engine, and up came the name, Anson Dorrance, and a book. I read a bio, found his office phone number and being impetuous...called. I knew Coach Dorrance as the director of the Rainbow Soccer Camp. I was sure he wouldn't remember me. I was shocked when he actually picked up, and being nervous, I confirmed it was indeed him. Confirmation given, I introduced myself, explained why I called and asked if he could help? For the next hour, Coach Dorrance answered every question, told me about his video series to go with a book, and taught me this quality about coaching which seemingly is absent today...ALWAYS GIVE BACK! I bought the book, and each book since, and set out to coach a girls high school soccer team in a small town in East TN. In two seasons, the Lady Redskins program grew in numbers and notoriety, earning an appearance in the District Championship (programs first ever), and highest ranking ever achieved, #9 in the State, which spawned a day dedicated to this achievement. "I guess the term used now is "fluidity". Ones coaching philosophy must be fluid, meaning be adaptable...coaching females is different than coaching males. Females expect more from a coach than mere X's and O's. They seek to be coached like athletes with demands, high standards, etc...but with more of a humanity, personal side woven in."

 

In 2003, Coach Maples was hired by the Knoxville Football Club (KFC) to coach a girls U13 team. Former professional coach, Gary Hindley was the Director of Coaching who interviewed me. "It wasn't until later, I realized Gary cut me as head coach of the APSL, Maryland Bays." By the time the "Mustangs" reached U16, three state championship titles, a Region 3 semi-finalist and finalist, had been achieved with many continuing to play in college. He was named Director of Goalkeeping in 2005, maintaining that position until leaving KFC, and Knoxville in 2008, taking the reins of his first college coaching job at Montreat College in North Carolina. "Two people, Gary Hindley and Hans Hobson, aided in shaping my coaching career. Coach Hindley is a walking encyclopedia, teaching me professionalism, how to organize training sessions for more effective/efficient use of time, all the while expanding my knowledge bringing experience from all over the world. Coach Hobson was a living breathing example of developing elite female players. When his squad came to KFC, the Mustangs trained on the field beside his team. I often caught myself watching his training session more than my own.  If coaches are "thieves", meaning they steal training ideas from one another and adapt to their needs, then I am guilty of grand theft."

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In 2010, Coach Maples returned to TN and officially started Clean Sheet GKA. The partnership with D1-Knoxville provided the facility by which athletes could train rain or shine, despite the temperature, along with a trained staff offering strength, SAQ training and physical therapy.  Coach Don continued coaching teams as well. The SCOR Mavericks '94 squad became highly successful, winning two state titles, Region 3 Finalist with several players moving on to successful college careers. GSA '99 squad came together adding a state finalist in 2014 and state championship in 2015.

 

For the last eight years, goalkeepers and field players, seeking a level of training preparing them for their chosen goals, have sought out what some consider to be one the best coaches and goalkeeper instructors in the United States.

 

"I am humbled when I hear colleagues express such sentiment about me. I am fortunate to have such great mentors throughout my life willing to be open, sharing from their experiences. People I regard as friends, whom I can contact for ideas. There are many, many more not mentioned here, but they are no less important. I genuinely regard my players, former or present, achievements as an achievement for all of us in soccer. When a player makes a great save, perhaps the first one, that success filters down from me, to Chris Ducar at UNC, to Gary Hindley, to Anson Dorrance, to Coach Leon Potgeiter, on and on. They all had an influence on what I teach today!"

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