The Kennedale Lady Kats Go Back-to-Back

With targets on their backs all season, the Kats used world-class preparation to help them win. Find out how

The Kennedale Lady Kats Go Back-to-Back

With targets on their backs all season, the Kats used world-class preparation to help them win. Find out how

Just a few months ago, the Kennedale High School Lady Kats won their second consecutive Class 4A state championship with utterly dominant performances in the state semifinal and championship games. Their 12 combined goals over the two game series was a record, but behind the scenes there was so much more that helped the Lady Kats to a state title.

We sat down with head coach Michael Strange - who just finished his 14th year of coaching at the high school level - to learn more about their soccer program and to hear what the has led to their success over the last two seasons.

Coach Strange chuckled as he talked about his coaching philosophy in the beginning of his career as a soccer coach. “I apologize to the kids who were with me when I first started. I was learning as I went,” said Strange. “When you’re a really young coach, you want to establish yourself and you want to win. But as you get older, you realize there’s things that are more important than winning. And usually, when you take care of those things, winning follows.”

For Strange and his staff, it’s all about taking care of their kids - making sure they are passing their classes, that they’re being respectful at home and in the classroom. “As you mentor kids to do those things first, they become more coachable. They become better students of the game. As a young coach, I didn’t see the bigger picture. It’s about growing a complete person as opposed to what’s on the scoreboard.”

As the Lady Kats have grown off the field, their success has blossomed on it. Strange gushed when he spoke about his team. “We have really awesome kids. You don’t have great coaches without great players, and in our case, our greatest athletes were also our hardest workers.” It truly is a team game at this level, and every player on the Kennedale girl’s team is an integral part of their incredible success. But above all, they love the game. “You can talk players like Allie Thornton and Abby Olmos and their success on the field, but they’re great kids. They have a passion for soccer and are great teammates. That makes a big difference.”

When you have great players and a great community that supports the team, a successful program is bound to grow. “You have to have good support from everyone. They have to all buy in. I would even go as far to say that Hudl has been a big part of that as well.”

The Lady Kats break down just about every game. Whether that be by possessions, shots on goal, corners, etc. It’s become a part of their routine week in and week out. “After the game, it’s already broken down for the players. So if they’re a midfielder or a forward, they look at the team’s shots and analyze the build-up. What mistakes were we making? Were we shooting too early? Did we miss the extra pass? Things like that.”

The simplicity of breakdown is what makes this all possible. “If it takes an hour to upload the video, it takes one minute to have the game broken down. The new platform has completely changed how quickly we can do things. Of course, the girls have access to it on there phones or wherever. So I can shoot them a quick message and they can see it on their own,” said Strange. “It’s completely changed the way we do things on a weekly basis, because we can quickly scroll through each match one after the other, and the girls don’t have to watch the entire thing. It’s within two minutes - and you’ve watch all 15 shots you had.”

In a playoff competition - that frequently sees matchups between two teams that may have never seen each other previously - the preparation the Kats do using Hudl is vital to their success. “It’s a big big part of what we do, especially as we get further into the playoffs. The girls can see the players they’re lining up against, and they can know what they do before they get in the game,” said Strange.

“We wouldn’t have had the journey we’ve had the last two years without having Hudl there to support us. Especially in the state championship games the last two years. We played teams we had never seen before both times. We got some film from the other coaches and we walked into both of those games better prepared and ready to take on the task at hand. We wouldn’t have been able to do that without Hudl.”

He continued as he talked about recruiting - mentioning the success he’s had with his own players. “Our freshman phenom is already committed to Oklahoma State, and part of the reason is because the coaches asked to see her Hudl film. Not only did they see her club film, but her high school film as well. So that was a big help. Coaches can only go to so many places to see kids,” said Strange.

Video analysis is new to the game of soccer, and Strange spoke at length about the improvements the game will make as more and more teams adopt it. “You’re going to get much smarter players. They kind of already have an idea of what’s going to happen. With video, you see exact trends and tendencies,” said Strange. “We’ve never had a program like Hudl that makes it so easy. It made sense for our soccer program immediately.”

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