In need of more work, Utah coaches walk out on team’s practice, inspire unlikely win

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Usually, a coach will want to spend more time with a struggling team. Evidently that wasn't the case in Pleasant Grove, Utah, where the Pleasant Grove (Utah) High boys soccer coach Chris Ecalono walked out on his team a day before his team faced a near make-or-break region game.

Pleasant Grove soccer coach Chris Ecalono — Facebook
Pleasant Grove soccer coach Chris Ecalono — Facebook

Interestingly, the move was a strategically motivated one, with Ecalono hoping to inspire a sink-or-swim team spirit among his squad by simply leaving them to sort out their issue themselves. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the move followed two losses to open up region play in what is generally considered Utah's hardest area.

Incredibly, taking the coaches out of the equation seems to have worked like a charm. A day after leaving team captains to run practice in the coaches' stead, Pleasant Grove rolled to a 4-1 victory against American Fork (Utah) High on the road, keeping alive the program's hopes of resurrecting a flagging season.

"It sounds like a cliché: 'We came together as a team,'" Ecalono told the Tribune. "But we actually did that."

The Pleasant Grove soccer team in action — Facebook
The Pleasant Grove soccer team in action — Facebook

In fact, the strategy seemed to have a profound effect on the team's seniors, who were driven to prove that they could reach the heights forecast for them by their absent coaches.

"It was a shock when they said they were going to walk out and let the captains run practice," senior Ryan Fonseca said. "I was like, 'What? Are you guys crazy?' …

"We wanted to prove to our coaches that we could do it."

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